Top Ten Tuesday is the brainchild of the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish, and this week the task is to list ten books of our favourite genre. A tricky one for me, as I read so many different types of books. Should I list classics? Fantasy? Any particular sub-genre of fantasy? Thrillers? Teen reads?
In the end I decided to go with:
The Top Ten Books That Shaped My Childhood.
These are the kids' books I would reread regularly, and still return to for a bit of comfort reading, the books that inspired my daydreams, make-believe games, fanfiction and not-really-very original fiction.
1. Anne of Green Gables. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed my blog for a while. Anne Shirley was a kindred spirit and probably the most "real" character I'd yet encountered in my reading.
2. The Chronicles of Narnia. For years, the back of my wardrobe was covered in tiny drawings of characters and scenes from this book, cut out and stuck on with blu-tak, in an approximation of a map. If I couldn't actually get to Narnia through my wardrobe, my imagination provided the next best thing.
3. Swallows and Amazons. Oh, for the freedom to spend one's childhood camping, sailing and adventuring, in a world where the lines between real life and fantasy are blurred and where you can live out the stories in your head. That is what childhood should be.
4. Famous Five. I think Enid Blyton was generally disapproved of by schoolteachers and librarians when I was a kid, and I couldn't understand why. Her adventure stories appeal to the imagination of adventurous children with ruined castles, rugged moors and caves galore - and of course, lashings of ginger beer!
5. Malory Towers. I found the first book in this series in the school book box when I was in the middle of my Famous Five craze. This launched me into the world of old-time boarding school stories, midnight feast and hilarious pranks, and inspired my first "novel": First Time At Abbey School, which was basically Malory Towers with the names and events jiggled around. I was very proud of that story, which was handwritten, in pencil, in a Lion King exercise book. I probably ought to type it up before it fades away completely.
6. Chalet School. When it became apparent that I had discovered school stories and wasn't going to give them up, I was bought the first in the Chalet School series by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. This series follows the school from its beginning with two teachers and three students above an Austrian lake in the late 1920s. Little did the author foresee the way the series must accommodate real historical events several years later - but the Chalet School in Exile, in which the school flees Austria to escape the Nazis, is uindoubtedly the best book of them all. It is remarkable for being a contemporary account of Austria in 1938, written by an Englishwoman and for children.
8. What Katy Did. I was probably given my Katy omnibus because of the heroine's name. The books can be a bit moralising and sickly in places - this is Victorian children's literature, after all - but there are such vivid descriptions of Katy and her siblings' antics and games that I could quite happily imagine myself among them.
9. Little House on the Prairie. Let me put my hands up and say that I have never watched the more well-known TV series, which seems to have a reputation for being too sweet and wholesome to be true. I've lived with the movie in my head for so long that I would jealously resent anyone showing me their version.
10. Anastasia Krupnik. This is probably the odd one out, being the only book or series written after about 1950! Anastasia is "the girl who thinks for herself," and with each book she has a brand-new interest or obsession or project - very much like myself, both then and now. Most of the books end each chapter with a list (things I love/things I hate,) a story-in-progress or a school project, which show Anastasia developing and maturing as a character. She's got a loveable, artistic family, even if her little brother Sam is too precocious to be true.