Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week the theme is Top Ten Gateway Books. I really loved this topic as it made me look back over my relationship with reading, from learning to read to studying English Literature at university. Reading has always been an important part of my life, and on reflection there are a number of books that mark turning points in my reading journey.
1) Roger Red Hat - Sheila K. McCullagh
The first point in any reader's journey is learning to read at school. I learnt with what Google tells me were called the One Two Three and Away collection of reading books, but I've always known them as Roger Red Hat, Billy Blue Hat, Jennifer Yellow Hat etc. I remember around ten years ago a friend whose mum used to be a teacher found the books in her attic and we re-read them all in an afternoon.
2) The Tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle - Beatrix Potter
A childhood staple. Family visits to the Lake District, The World of Beatrix Potter on Lake Windemere and to Potter's home at Hilltop essentially drilled the Peter Rabbit books into my conscience. I credit these books with turning me into the animal lover that I am today.
3) Five on a Secret Trail - Enid Blyton
My mum read the Famous Five books to me until I was old enough to read them myself, and one of my earliest memories of reading is staying up way past my bedtime reading Five on a Secret Trail. I also loved the Secret Seven and the Five Find Outers (which no one else seems to remember but me).
4) Lexy Boyd and the Spadewell Sparklers - Michael Coleman
A little known title. I read this countless times from my local library as a child, and the name has stuck with me for at least 10 years so it must have had some kind of impact!
5) Stormbreaker - Anthony Horowitz
The Alex Rider series of books led me away from Jacqueline Wilson and 'girly' fiction. They made me realise that books aimed at boys were actually very good, and very likely fueled my love for all things James Bond.
6) Lord of the Flies- William Golding
An iconic novel in any UK reader's life has to be the dreaded book that you study for your GSCEs. Generally it is (or at least used to be) one of three titles: To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men or Lord of the Flies, and my teacher chose the latter. Safe to say that I didn't particularly like it; I left my copy of the book in the exam hall and never looked back! Thinking back on it now though, I realise what a unique book it actually is.
7) The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
This little gem completely changed my attitude towards American fiction. We studied it at A-Level, and I wasn't expecting to like it, I naively thought that all of the best 'classic' books were British. I read it in a day, completely stunned by what I was reading, and it broadened my horizons in terms of literature for good. I even jumped at the chance to study it again at university, alongside other works by Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton, and since then I have had an obsession with the Jazz Age and all literature written/set in the 1920s. This is how a book can change a life.
8) Lords of the White Castle - Elizabeth Chadwick
I have always been a lover of history but not necessarily historical fiction. Elizabeth Chadwick changed all that. I picked up Lords of the White Castle on a whim in my local library one day and I absolutely loved it. Since then I have read pretty much every one of her books, and I've got my mum back into reading historical fiction too (she gave it up when I was born in favour of more 'gentle' easy reading books). A triumph all round.
9) Peter Pan- J.M. Barrie
I've always loved the concept of Neverland and the film versions of the story, but I had never read the book until university. It was a lot darker than I was expecting which surprised me and made me view children's fiction in an entirely new way. I want to work in children's fiction because of this book.
10) Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
I like to think that this book got me my first class degree. I'm not really a fan of Hardy, but given the choice between him and Shakespeare in my final year I hoped that I'd chosen the easier option. By the end of the year I was borderline first but needed one good final essay to seal the deal. Then along came Tess. I had seen and loved TV adaptations of the book before, but as usual I discovered that nothing can compare to the novel itself, and I found writing about it relatively easy (call me a nerd but I love researching and writing about books that I care about).
How about you? Are there any significant books in your reading journey? Feel free to leave a link to your list in the comments! :)