When you look at your bookshelves what do you see beyond the spines and the dust on the shelves?
For many of the books which matter most to me I see virtual maps leading out of them; Paths and journeys that have ended up or – more often – begun with the book in front of me.
Some books have come in to my life by chance but have then spun me round with such a force it feels like my route onwards has been changed for ever more. Others have have been handed to me with a story of their own and with much love, building ties, threads and colourful strands between me and the giver that can’t ever be broken, however much changes in my life, and even within my relationship with that person.
Picturing these adventures that have brought the books to my shelves, or that have introduced new horizons for my own journeying, I am also aware that there are many directions and destinations and starting points I haven’t tried, that I don’t even know about.
This makes me a very hopeful reader.
Every book has the possibility of becoming that bend in the road, the crest of a hill where a whole new vista suddenly opens out in front of you and takes your breath away.
And so when I read Jake Hayes’ article, 50 Children’s Books to Save My Life earlier this summer when adventuring was in the air, I decided it was time to go exploring.
However, rather than choosing the route myself, I decided to ask friends, family and book-loving colleagues I admire to suggest interesting paths to take.
By signposting their own journeys, not only would I make some amazing bookish discoveries, I’d also build ties and strengthen friendships; reading a book may be a solitary activity, but reading a book loved by someone else starts conversations, brings understanding and builds empathy.
So now I can present to you my forthcoming reading journey.
All of these are books – at the time of asking for suggestions – which I had not previously read (you’ll no doubt raise your eyebrows at some of the classics which appear below). It’s an eclectic and marvellous list, the result of asking for books which meant a lot to the person suggesting them, either a children’s book, or a book which they had read as a child or teenager (even if it was technically something which might be found on a publisher’s adult list).
I wonder what you will make of this list…
In fact this list is only half the story; Several contributors couldn’t stop at just one recommendation, so I have a secondary list which is almost as long again!
I’ve begun gathering and reading my way through these books, inscribing books I buy (I’m trying to buy only from bricks and mortar shops, often second hand, so I have a copy of the list with me in my purse) with the name of the person who suggested it and a note on where I bought it (this was partly the reason behind my trip to Hay last month). I’m gradually building up a very special bookshelf.
Whilst I have enough to read to keep me out of trouble for many months, if you would like to recommend a book to me, please do so. I already know I would love to read it.