1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. We read this in school, but I've read it again since. There is that juicy moment where you've read ahead at home and you know the swear word is coming in the next english lesson and you can't believe your fifty year old teacher, who looks like a battleship in full sail, is going to actually say that swear word out loud. Oh my life, and she's said it... An awesome book, though. On one level it's about a group of boys who are stranded on a desert island who try to govern themselves and it all goes horribly wrong. Underneath that it's all about the laws that govern society, about politics, power struggles, individual welfare and 'the greater good.' I highly recommend it.
2. Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence. I just had to know what all the fuss was about and was met with a beautiful piece of writing that took my breath away. And then they made a film of it starring Sean Bean, so I read it again, just to make sure I hadn't imagined it the first time!
3. Carrie by Stephen King. One of my rare entries into the horror genre. I must have been sixteen. I was gripped. I probably wouldn't touch it with a barge pole now, but it had a huge impact on me at the time. I didn't dare show my mother I possessed such a thing. She would probably have read it herself, and that would have defeated the object, wouldn't it?
4. Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Okay, not technically a book, I know, but having studied it for my 'O' Level, I can tell you it had a massive impact on me. There was no such thing as an 'open book exam' in those days, no siree! I had to learn great chunks of it off by heart and can still remember them ("Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle toward my hand...) I have only a minor urge to act on stage, but if I ever did, Lady Macbeth would be the one for me. Oh for the chance to stand there and say, "Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?" and be convincing. I love the line in Educating Rita when Julie Walters is discussing the play and she says, "Wasn't Lady Macbeth a cow?!" Yes love, she was.
5. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. I don't do a lot of sci-fi, but this book was truly brilliant. In case you don't know, Triffids were plants that could sting and kill people and move about and communicate with each other in some way. It was a truly gripping story of man's struggle to survive and I was in it with him! It makes me shudder just to think about it, and it comes to mind quite often when I am re-arranging the electric fencing to keep the horses in.
6. Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr: It took me ages to track this book down on the internet as I could only remember the 'thousand paper cranes' part of the title. It is the story of a child called Sadako Sasaki who lived in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped. There is a legend in Japan that if you fold 1000 paper cranes you can make a wish when you make the last one. She lay in her hospital bed, suffering from leukemia, making her paper cranes. She managed to make 664 before she died. It is one of the saddest books I've ever read and I cried and cried at the end. The actual descriptions of what happened to people when the bomb went off are horrific. Reading the write-up on it brought it all flooding back.
7. The Diary of Anne Frank. I read this when I was about Anne Frank's age and was appalled at her life story. It's probably where I get my claustrophobia from. You all know it's the story of a dutch jewish girl and her family who go into hiding in her father's office building during the war. Such horrendous conditions to live in. After two years, somebody reported them and they were taken to Belsen, where Anne and her sister Margot died. I was deeply affected by this book, and this leads me to the next one...
8. Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally: I read this in a matter of days, but I can remember reading ten pages, crying, reading another ten pages, crying again. There are some books, that you wish you'd never started. A truly harrowing tale of a man by the name of Oscar Schindler, a german businessman who set up an enamelware factory during the war and saved the lives of hundreds and hundreds of polish jewish refugees. Just thinking about this book could make me cry all over again.
Oh, I've obviously been deeply affected by lots of books about the war, then. Throw in my love of first world war poets, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke, and there I am, stuck in a time warp, pinging about between 1914-1945, like a butterfly in a jar. I obviously like books that stress me a bit and wrestle with my emotions. I guess that's something I've been aware of deep down, but never committed it to writing before. What started out as an innocent post has turned out to be quite revelatory.
So, what would be on your list in this catagory? Link to this post if you can. I can't wait to read your version, as I am always on the look-out for new things to read.