For the next few weeks we are doing another round of theme weeks, each based on something that each of us is interested in. So, as expected, this week it’s that old favourite, BOOKS.
I’ve been meaning to link to my goodreads profile here for a while so I thought I’d link you to my favourite books page and you can see the books that missed out on featuring in this post.
Now, I know this is such a broad subject but again, this is why I’ve linked to my goodreads page so you can see what missed out. I’ve gone for top 4, but if you look on my goodreads and want me to do a post about a specific book in my favourites list, please let me know in comments.
#1: The Absolutist by John Boyne (published 2011.) This is probably my favourite book at the moment and I’ve only read it once. I really want to re-read it but also feel it may lose something in a repeat reading, though this is a chance I’m willing to take. Set both during and after the First World War, we see Tristan Sadler meeting with the sister of one of his war friends, Will Bancroft to give her some old letters. But it is about so much more that the delivery of old letters and we slowly learn the true nature of the relationship and reasons behind what happened. I love this book so much because John Boyne sent the characters off in a completely different direction to where I was expecting them to go and there’s one line in this book, which is really the absolute breaking point for everyone involved, that I still think about to this day. And I read it in 2011.
#2: Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian (published 1981.) I don’t know what I would do if I met someone who didn’t like Goodnight Mister Tom. I read this at the age of 12 or 13 in a year 9 English class with a teacher we all disliked. I think the book captured everyone in the class though because we’d come into the lesson and people would sit and whisper, “I know what happens next. I’ve read the next chapter already!”. I loved this book so much as a 13 year old that I made my mum buy me my own copy so I could read the rest. I think we also watched the TV adaptation which (while not perfect) is so wonderful, and if they ever, god forbid, remake it they will never get a Tom Oakley as good as John Thaw. My main problem with the TV version is how little they give Zach to do when in the book he is the funniest, brightest and one of the most interesting characters. This was remedied in the stage production though, which I saw with my fellow blogger Jon several years ago in Chichester. I think this was the book that sparked my interest in historical fiction too. More on that later.
#3: The Swallow and the Dark by Andrew Matthews (published 2005.) The only other person I actually know who has read this book is my mum. I couldn’t find a good picture of it so I had to take my own. But it is still such a good books. Very short and sometimes a bit… twee but it does leave me feeling bereft and questioning myself for ages afterwards which is probably why I don’t read it that often. The basic premise is that the main character Sam is diagnosed with a (fictional) terminal illness and he starts imagining himself as a lieutenant in the First World War. The goodreads summary is better than I can explain at the moment, so click here to see that. For a children’s book it throws up a lot of interesting questions.
#4: Journey’s End by R.C. Sherriff (published 1929, first performed 9th Dec. 1928 with Laurence Olivier as Stanhope.) Not strictly a book, but this is my list so I make the rules. I have many favourite theatre productions, but this probably sits high on the list. Journey’s End doesn’t rely on spectacle (There is one set. That’s it.) but instead relies on the truthfulness of real, human interaction to draw you in. And it does. This was another school text, this time read at GCSE level and I think I got to the point where I was annoyed that no one seemed to be taking it that seriously. I actually have the same edition that we used at school because it has discussion points and a list of further reading, though these days I could probably write my own. I’ve probably drawn a lot of inspiration for my novel from this play without realising it. There is also a novelisation written by R.C Sherriff which tells the story before the play as well. I do own a copy but it is very old and falling apart and I’m reluctant to read it in case it does fall apart! This play is probably the sole reason I’ve ended up writing a whole novel about the First World War. Without R.C. Sherriff, who knows what my book would be about?
I’d love to hear yours, please let us know in comments!