Books That Stay With You

A few months ago there was one of those Facebook things- “List ten books that have stayed with you in some way, don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard.”

I’ve looked back at my list, and now I’m wondering, how could I have missed out Slaughterhouse 5 or The Color Purple and so many others, but I’ve tried to think, what made me list the books I did? What is it about these that made them immediately spring to mind?

childrenofthedust1. Children of the Dust- Louise Lawrence

I read this when I was eleven and it terrified me. I remember lying in bed at night, the images of a world ruined by nuclear bombs burned into my mind. It’s a powerful book; harsh and yet strangely beautiful.

waves2. The Waves- Virginia Woolf

I read this in my late teens, and I loved how it got into the characters’ minds, even if I wasn’t really sure what the story was supposed to be. In times of trouble I used to close my eyes and open the book on a random page. Seemingly magically, I always found something relevant.

primolevi3. Collected Poems- Primo Levi

Levi’s ‘Song of Those Who Died in Vain’ was printed in the booklet of a Manic Street Preachers tape. I had never heard of him before, but the pain and strength of his words led me to seek out more. It’s a powerful collection.

snowspider4. The Snow Spider- Jenny Nimmo


As a child I loved how this book mixes magic and reality; Gwyn is discovering his power, but at the same time facing school bullies, arguments with his friends and a difficult father. It made it seem like magic was really possible.


dontlooknow5. Don’t Look Now and Other Stories- Daphne Du Maurier

I found this on my parents’ bookshelf one dull Sunday afternoon when I was nine and read the title story. I didn’t fully understand it, but the feeling of fear was unmistakeable. Re-reading it more than ten years later it was still just as terrifying.


downwardtoearth6. Downward to the Earth- Robert Silverberg

This is probably the book that made me like science fiction. Set in a brilliantly imagined world, the story is magical and mysterious, and speaks of humanity.


brisingamen7. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen- Alan Garner

It’s the scenes in the caves I can’t forget. I felt them closing in on me as the tunnels became narrower and narrower. I found myself gasping for air, not knowing if I’d ever get out. This is perhaps the most horrifying children’s book ever written.




solitude8. One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This is beautifully written, evocative and compelling. The story contains both humour and tragedy, and never stops being believable. It is amazing.




earthsea9. The Earthsea Quartet- Ursula Le Guin

It is, of course, no longer a quartet, but I can never think of the last two books as being properly part of the series. Earthsea is a fully-formed world full of magic, and it, and its people feel as real as  this one.




scenesmuseum10. Behind the Scenes at the Museum- Kate Atkinson

I love the narrator, Ruby, she’s so perfectly characterised it seems impossible that she doesn’t really exist. The book is both funny and heart breaking, and can be reread many times without losing its freshness.





2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sandradan1
    Apr 09, 2014 @ 12:05:58

    There are some books on your list that I don’t know. I do agree with the Woolf, Marquez, du Maurier, Garner and Atkinson! SD


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