Five Books: childhood influences


World Book Day seemed like the perfect day for us to introduce a new literature feature. Five Books will be a personal look at the reading history of our contributors. The contributors will choose random themes each week and will be exploring genre, authors, periods of history, characters and personal influences. Five short descriptions of five books we love.

For the first Five Books childhood influences seemed appropriate. Each of the following books are responsible for either getting me into reading or shaping my taste.

1. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Early on in my life Scottish history was forced upon me by my Granny. For a child who’s thoughts were mostly consumed with whether the Ninja Turtles could beat the Power Rangers in a fight (I feel another feature coming on) I didn’t have time for such trivial nonsense as Robert the Bruce. However also on my Granny’s syllabus was Scottish Literature. When handed Treasure Island the promise of pirates grabbed my attention. Right enough it features pirates and pirates are cool. Pirates are cooler than Picts.

2. BFG by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl for years was the most read author on my book shelf. Mostly thanks to this book. I also have fond memories of Matilda and James and the Giant Peach. These thrilling and imaginative stories are rightfully classics.

3. Yukon Ho (Calvin and Hobbes) by Bill Watterson

Though it is indeed a comic strip Calvin and Hobbes earns a place on this list by being one of the few books that, before a number of these books on the list came along, got me reading by myself in bed at night. This book is certainly influential on my future tastes both in literary terms and general pop culture.

4. The Hobbit by JR Tolkien

Before I read The Hobbit I enjoyed the idea of fantasy literature more than I actually enjoyed reading it. Completely captivated by the world that was presented in this book I quickly searched for more, I still have the map of middle earth that I bought to accompany the book. The bloated mess of The Lord of the Rings then put me off reading fantasy for a very long time. Well until a certain boy wizard turned up…

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

If you’re roughly my age then Harry Potter more than likely shaped your literary history. I have never read any books faster and more rabidly than this series. I could quite happily return to this series for comfort reading now.

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