Top 5 Friday – Books Which Have Impacted Me

As World Book Day was this week, I thought for this month’s Friday feature I would look at the top five books that have impacted me in some way. A couple of these novels aren’t what I would consider to be favourites of mine, but they are all ones that have stuck with me in some way, or have been an introduction into something I love to see in books now.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

HERE IS A SMALL FACT:
YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.
1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.

Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with her foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME MORE IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH.

I remember first seeing this novel in a WH Smiths Bookshop at an airport, the cover and the description both really caught my attention. At the time I didn’t have enough pocket money to buy it so I, unfortunately, had to leave it there. After coming back from my holiday I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about the novel so I was determined to find it! I’m so pleased I did as it was such a beautiful novel and unlike anything I had ever read before. As a child I did read quite a lot of fiction around WWII but this one just stood out to me. I loved all of the characters, especially Liesel and the friendship she had with Max who her family was hiding in their basement. I don’t imagine there’s anyone who hasn’t read this novel now, but if you haven’t it is well worth picking up!


Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

Claire and her mother are running out of time, but they don’t know it. Not yet. Claire is wrapped up with the difficulties of her bourgeoning adulthood—boys, school, friends, identity; Claire’s mother, a single mom, is rushed off her feet both at work and at home. They rarely find themselves in the same room at the same time, and it often seems that the only thing they can count on are notes to each other on the refrigerator door. When home is threatened by a crisis, their relationship experiences a momentous change. Forced to reevaluate the delicate balance between their personal lives and their bond as mother and daughter, Claire and her mother find new love and devotion for one another deeper than anything they had ever imagined.

This is either the first book, or one of the first books, that I ever read which made me realise that novels didn’t have to be written in continuous prose in order to be a good book or tell a great story. Whilst it’s been years since I read this novel, I remember enjoying the way the story was told – through a series of notes that a mother and her teenage daughter would leave each other as they rarely saw each other. Whether the novel still stands up now the same as it did when I first read it, I’m not entirely sure, but the fact that I did read this novel so long ago and I can still remember how it was written and how it ended shows that it did make a lasting impression on me. Even now, I seek out novels that subvert the norm in terms of structure.


Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the remarkable story of a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. Here Haruki Murakami—one of the most revered voices in literature today—gives us a story of love, friend­ship, and heartbreak for the ages.

This novel was my first exposure to Japanese fiction, I had no idea when I picked this novel up that it would spark an interest in the genre which has now become one of my favourites. Even before I understood the nuances of translated fiction and how different Japanese novels are from Western ones, I could tell there was something unique about the way it was written. That this storytelling and characters was very different to what I was used to. This is also a fabulous novel if you have never read a Murakami before!


1984 by George Orwell

Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101 . . .

When I was in Sixth Form I was really into dystopian fiction, however I had never read 1984 even though it was said to be one of the greats of the genre. So, I knew that I needed to pick it up and see what all the fuss was about. I adored this novel and quickly understood why so many people still talk about it today and why there are so many references to the novel in everyday life. The future that Orwell imagined was a chilling one, that coupled with the complicated and, not always likeable, characters, really packed a punch. So much so that it was this novel that inspired my dissertation looking into dystopian fiction and how I branched out of YA dystopian novels to classic ones and ‘adult’ ones.


Pet Sematary by Stephen King

When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son—and now an idyllic home. As a family, they’ve got it all…right down to the friendly cat.

But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth—more terrifying than death itself…and hideously more powerful.

A few years ago I went through a phase of reading a lot of Stephen King novels, however out of the ones I read there was only one that managed to actually scare me and that was Pet Semetary. I’m not sure what exactly it was about this novel that I found so creepy compared to his others that I had read too. There was just something about the way King described the characters after they had been buried in the Pet Semetary, that was incredibly unsettling. What probably didn’t help was the fact that I was reading this on holiday and where we was staying was close to a cemetery. But the point still stands!

What books have you read that have impacted or influenced you in some way? Let me know in the comments!

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Animal Crossing New Horizons Book Tag

In my favourite place with my favourite villager…

Firstly, huge thanks to Two Book Thieves for creating this brilliant book tag! As soon as I saw it on another blog I just knew that this would be a perfect one for me to do! As well as books, my other huge passion is video games and I, like most other people, have been obsessively playing Animal Crossing New Horizons since it came out in March. I also thought it was quite appropriate to post this today with the second Summer update going live!

Past Villager – Who is a character you found when you were younger that still has a place in your heart?

I think I would have to say Alex Rider from the series by Anthony Horowitz. Whilst I haven’t kept up with the series in recent years, I loved Alex’s adventures and I was always excited to start reading the next instalment. The character is still very much in my heart, especially after reliving my favourite of his missions, Point Blanc, in the recent TV adaptation Alex Rider on Amazon Prime.

Blather’s Blatherings – Recommend a historical fiction book that you think everybody should read.

No doubt about it, everybody should read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (then again, I’m not sure if there are many people left that haven’t read it at this point!). It’s a phenomenal story set in Nazi Germany and narrated by Death. I read the novel in 2007 and it has stuck with me ever since.

Celeste’s Wish – What is a future book you wish you could read now?

I wish I could read The Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss, which doesn’t yet have a release date. After finishing The Wise Man’s Fear I have been eager to get my hands on the final instalment of the series! However, I trust Patrick Rothfuss and his writing to know that the novel will be well worth the wait no matter how long it may be.

Timmy & Tommy – What is your favourite sibling relationship in a book?

The siblings that immediately came to mind were the Weasley twins – how could they not?

The Easter Bunny – A popular book character you’re not a big fan of.

Professor Snape. I feel like getting backstory for him, and the reveal of why he’s mean to Harry, just didn’t sit well with me. It was interesting but, to me, it made him bullying Harry all these years make less sense. Okay, we get that you hate his father but, is that any way to treat the child of the woman you supposedly loved?

Nook’s Loans – An author you would give all your money to.

Haruki Murakami, I mean, I practically have already with all of the books of his that I’ve bought and read so far!

The Sisters Able – What is your favourite fictional family (found or otherwise)?

Kind of a mix of found and blood family, but I love the Housekeeper, her son Root and the Professor in Yōko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and the Professor. Whilst only two are actually blood related, the way that the Housekeeper looks after the Professor and builds a strong bond with him was beautiful. The way the Professor took to Root too, as if he was his grandson, was also very touching.

It’s a C+ – What is a book trope you don’t like that keeps popping up?

Love triangles. Nothing more needs to be said.

The Wandering Camel – What is your favourite book set in a land far away from yours?

As a literature enthusiast, it is impossible for me to have a favourite book (how do you manage to pick just one?!). However, the one that I have chosen for this question is Dawn by Octavia Butler. This was on my reading list for a module at university and I adored it. I was fascinated by the Oankali aliens and their plans for the last remaining humans on a new planet. Thinking about this book again makes me want to re-read it and finish the series…

What Would Dodos Do? – A fictional land you wish you could fly away to at any moment.

It would have to be the wizarding world in the Harry Potter series. After growing up with the series, it felt like home to me and probably always will. Although, I’d like to go to Hogwarts when Harry isn’t a student: I couldn’t be dealing with the stress of Voldemort making an appearance every year AND exams.