Anatomy of A Bookshelf #1

So, as I attempt to broaden the content on this blog, I thought I’d go through my bookshelves. I live in a small house, with limited space. Space shared with someone who doesn’t have the deepest appreciation for the written word. Therefore, the books I do keep I either haven’t read yet, or have a very special affection for.

Top Shelf

Contemporary, Historical, Signed Books, Poetry

Bookshelf 11. Postcards From No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers

I first read this when I was about 12. Not really the sort of content for a twelve-year-old, but I loved the intertwining historical and contemporary story. And the fact that it was a bit naughty and had s-e-x and stuff. I was the youngest member of a book group at school, and desperate to keep up with the older kids who, looking back, had to be mostly sixth-formers. I must have annoyed them, precocious little twelve-year-old that I was.

Postcards was on a short list for a literary award. I can’t remember what award, but I think I’m right in saying it didn’t win. Another book on the short list about a boy transported back in time to Shakespearean times (can’t for the life of me remember the title) won, much to the grievance of our book group, who all agreed Postcards was far and away the best title.

2+3. If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I had an ARC copy of If I Stay, but loved it so much I had to buy the proper copy – especially as a quote from my review was included in the list of praise. Very exciting. When Where She Went came out, I had to own it.

4+5. Before I Die/You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Another contemporary author I have a complete love affair with. I want to own everything she ever writes.

6. Bad Alice by Jean Ure

A book that is frightening and challenging and brilliant. Every child should own a copy.

7. Skellig by David Almond

Do I even need to explain?

8. Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Another beautiful, uplifting, wonderful story that every child should read. Pure magic.

9. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

You can just about see from the photo how well thumbed my copy of this book is. I read it every year – sometimes twice – and it never fails to haunt and hurt and challenge and make me feel a bigger range of emotions than I would have thought possible.

10. Holes by Louis Sachar

I remember when my mother first bought this for me. I wasn’t impressed by the cover, but the story inside it blew my mind. It combined everything I love – time hopping narrative, fairy tale circularity, romance and humour. A more perfect book, you’ll struggle to find.

11. Regeneration by Pat Barker

I got this while writing a war story at Uni. Kept it in case I ever return to that story.

12. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

As above, though the BBC version with Eddie Redmayne (love him) is a secondary motivating factor for keeping. And I haven’t actually read it yet.

13-16. Forgotten Voices of the Great War, All Quiet on the Home Front, War Poetry

Are you sensing a pattern yet?

17. Number Mysteries by Marcus Du Sautoy

Taylor gave this to me. One of those books I keep meaning to get round to.

18. The Red House by Mark Haddon

The first book on the shelf that actually belongs to the Boyfriend. He loves Mark Haddon, but he hates reading. He will ask me to read it to him, which I don’t mind, except he falls asleep in about thirty seconds. Reading it a page at a time is rather frustrating.

19-21. Them by Jon Ronson, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Stuart a Life Backwards by Alexander Masters

All bought for a Lifewriting course I did at University, all cursorily dipped into for suitable quotes for Critical Commentaries. All to be read one day, as I’m sure they are brilliant. I used to have And When Did You Last See Your Father with them, but I did actually get round to reading that one.

22. Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown

I honestly don’t know why I keep this. The more I watch of Derren Brown the more he frustrates me.

23. Gravenhunger by Harriet Goodwin

The first of my signed books. Harriet Goodwin did a session with some kids I work with, so I got the chance to pick up a signed copy of her latest novel.

24-25. The Dreamwalker’s Child/Blood Hunters by Steve Voake

Got these at the book launch for Blood Hunters, where I drank pregnant Carole Heidi’s wine and generally got a bit giggly. I’d been taught by Steve for two years, but it took those two glasses of wine to pluck up the courage to ask him to sign my books.

26. The Demon Collector by Jon Mayhew

I saw Jon speaking at the Staffordshire YTF book awards. Superb speaker, very funny, and he drew a picture of a demonic cow in my book. Awesome.

27. The Enemy by Charlie Higson

Another hilariously good speaker, another great day of memories and inspiration, another signed book.

28. Trash by Andy Mulligan

I won this in a competition hosted by Carly from Writing From the Tub. The first book I won in an online competition. I’ve won a few more since then!

29. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens… Or is it?

Actually not a book. Actually a secret hideaway. So secret I don’t even know what’s in it anymore. Last time I looked, a stretchy man from a christmas cracker. What can I say? I wasn’t a terribly secretive child, or teenager. Calling mild Autism on this one – I’m compulsively honest.

30-35. Poetry inc. Tim Burton, Benjamin Zephaniah, Paul Farley and Don Patterson

Except I don’t actually know where the Paul Farley book is… It should be there but it isn’t. Hmmm. Mystery. I took it to work, but I thought I brought it home again since then… I’m not a massive fan of poetry. The Benjamin Zephaniah’s were bought for me by my mother when we went vegetarian because she loved his ‘Talking Turkeys’ poems. I saw him performing at a GCSE conference about 10 years ago – he was brilliant. The Tim Burton I bought (very cheap) and the other two were reading list books for Uni. Again. I keep these because I feel I should. Poetry is so outside my comfort zone, I feel I should dip into it now and then, just to keep my mind on its toes.



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