Today’s creative writing prompt is to write about my ten favourite books. Trying to decide what my ten favourite books are is not that easy – I love so many different books so the list below is not really in any particular order – they’re just the first ten books I can think of when it comes to my favourite books. I have also decided to focus on just one book for each author in the list – I suspect my top ten otherwise would only consist of books from two or three of my favourite authors! There are quite a few children’s books on this list as well as most of my favourite books are well-remembered classics from my childhood when I had much more time to sit and read. I had quite a reputation as a childhood for constantly being lost in a book – it was a family joke that I became oblivious to everything going on around me the minute I started reading.
1. The Bible
I think this really has to be top of my list. I don’t read it as often as I should and whilst it might be the only book which lives on my bedside table on a fairly permanent basis, it does seem to gather dust a lot of the time. I probably read more Bible verses these days online, either through Bible Gateway, or through verses shared on social media. Still, although it may often just gather dust, the words inside have been a source of strength and comfort, hope and encouragement, a reminder that God is in control and He is always there throughout the good times and the bad. Here are a few of the verses which have helped me:
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13)
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
2. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
This is definitely one of my favourite children’s books and L.M. Montgomery is one of my all-time favourite writers (I have all her books and as many of her short stories as I have been able to find). The character of Anne resonates with me in many ways – I had such a vivid imagination as a child (I wish I had managed to retain it!) and I had a spark of temper which could get me into trouble at times (and still does). Anne is an optimist, someone who approaches life full of the joy of living. L.M. Montgomery’s books are beautifully written, describing a world which has now disappeared but the key element of being true to oneself is timeless.
3. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
I read this book long before I ever saw the BBC series so I can’t blame Colin Firth for sparking my interest in Mr Darcy! I love the characterisation in this book – Elizabeth Bennet is such a spirited heroine, Mrs Bennet so garrulous and gauche, Lydia so supremely selfish and Mr Darcy so aloof and repressed. I’ve read a few of Jane Austen’s books and this is my favourite. Have to confess though I haven’t liked all her books – I gave up on Emma partway through as I just found her such an irritating character.
4. Katherine – Anya Seton
This is the book that first ignited my love of history, and medieval royal history in particular. Katherine Swynford was the mistress of John of Gaunt and the ancestress of the House of Tudor through her Beaufort children. After reading this book, I found myself wanting to know more about all the historical figures mentioned which led me to read many more books – some historical novels, like this one, mixing the facts with a more fictionalised retelling of the story, and others more ‘dry’ accounts of historical figures and events.
5. Matilda – Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was one of my favourite authors when I was a child and this was one of my favourites out of his books. I loved the story of a super-intelligent little girl who manages to outwit some very nasty adults around her in order to create a happy ending for herself and her school teacher Miss Honey. Roald Dahl’s characters are all so vivid and larger-than-life, and the illustrations by Quentin Blake are just superb. Most of my favourite moments in my childhood were those where my nose was buried deep in yet another book, losing myself in another make-believe world and many of those blissful moments were spending reading Roald Dahl books.
6. Guess How Much I Love You – Sam McBratney
Now that I’m a mummy, I’m hoping to pass on my love of books to my beautiful daughters and Jessica so far seems to have inherited my love of books and even Sophie enjoys looking at the pictures whilst Mummy reads a bedtime story. Bedtime can be such a lovely time of day with my two little girls snuggled up whilst we share a bedtime story and this is one of my favourite bedtime stories to read to them. I just love the story of Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare each coming up with bigger and bigger ways to describe how much they love each other – from stretching out their arms wide (my favourite way to demonstrate love as a child – my dad’s response was always “twice round!”) and then finally Little Nutbrown Hare just as he falls asleep telling Big Nutbrown Hare than he loves him all the way up to the moon because nothing could be further than the moon, but Big Nutbrown Hare still has the final word! Telling my girls how much I love them is something I do every day and this book helps to reinforce that.
7. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
Another one of my favourite books as a child – I remember choosing this book as a prize for something I did at school – I think it was for something Maths related but I can’t remember. I love all the vivid imagery in Tolkien’s books and the fantasy world of Middle Earth – hobbits, elves, dwarves and wizards. The Lord of the Rings trilogy were also amongst my favourites although I haven’t read them for a very long time (finding time these days for reading epic novels is not quite so easy!) I haven’t yet seen either of the films though – am waiting for the third one to come out so I can watch them all close together.
8. Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian
Another one of my favourite books from my childhood – Goodnight Mister Tom tells the story of a young boy, abused by his mother, who is evacuated to the country during World War II and sent to live with ‘Mister’ Tom, a grouchy old man who has become somewhat reclusive since the death of his wife and child many years before the start of the story. I love the way the two main characters both blossom and grow as a result of their relationship with each other – it is a beautifully written story and one I have read many times.
9. The White Queen – Philippa Gregory
Another historical novel – this one focuses on the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the queen of King Edward IV. Elizabeth Woodville was a commoner and a widow when she married Edward IV and their marriage had an impact on many of the events during the Wars of the Roses. This novel is one of many set during ‘the Cousins’ War’ and is the first one I read out of this series. It’s another book which sparked my interest in a particular period of English history and led me to read more about that particular era.
10. What Katy Did – Susan Coolidge
Katy is one of my favourite characters – heedless, impulsive and prone to getting into scrapes, she is definitely a character I could identify with! After an accident leaves her unable to walk, she learns to become more gentle and patient although the process of doing so is not easy! Katy’s character after her accident was one I think I aspired to be more like as a child, although even now patience is a virtue that I don’t think I possess in any great quantity! I think I love this book because it is beautifully written and also because self-improvement is something that we all strive for and so we can identify with Katy’s journey in this respect although perhaps she is a little too ‘good’ at the end of the book.