I love reading and am one of those people that passes on books after I have read them (unless they are on my Kindle), then I tend to forget them. There are a few books, however, that I haven’t forgotten and a couple of these are so good that I have even kept a copy. My two particular favourites are:
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
We studied this book for ‘A’ level English Literature many years ago, and I still remember my English teacher raving about it. His observation was that every time you read the book you come across something you missed previously because it is full of imagery and symbolism. I agree with him. I have read the book several times now and periodically return to it every few years. The one disappointment for me is that it has a tragic ending.
Guests of the Emperor by Janice Young-Brooks
I had never heard of Janice Young-Brooks, an American author, before I read this book and, from what I recall, I think I just stumbled on the book by chance. I had heard that the 1980s TV series ‘Tenko’ was based on this book, which tells the story of a group of women taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War Two. However, as the book was published after the TV series was screened, it might well be the other way around.
The appeal of the book for me lies in that classic theme of triumph over adversity. Right from the opening, when many ladies had to swim to shore after they were shipwrecked, the book had me gripped. It is a tale of resilience, bravery and resourcefulness, and it is amazing how dire situations can soon become accepted as the norm even by those used to a life of privilege. I enjoyed the book so much that I got hold of other books by the same author and read every one of them. Unfortunately though, I didn’t find any of them as enjoyable.
I also like to explore different genres but there are a couple of genres in particular that I always come back to. These genres appeal to me at various times; sometimes I’ll fancy reading a good thriller and at other times I want to lose myself in a saga, especially a tale of triumph over adversity or rags to riches. Some cynics may say that this type of book always ends the same i.e. the heroine wins through in the end. In fact, my son enjoys teasing me about my love of sagas. My mother in law also enjoyed sagas and when my son teased her about their predictability, she replied, “It’s not about where the heroine ends up in her life, but what she went through to get there.” Well said!
I also have my favourite authors for each of these genres:
I think that I have read virtually everything written by Geoffrey Deaver, Nicci French, Minette Walters and Val McDermid. The first time I ever read a book by Geoffrey Deaver I just couldn’t put it down. He’s brilliant at building up the tension and suspense. Minette Walters is another great writer and one of my favourite Minette Walters books was ‘Acid Row’, another one that I couldn’t put down. Nicci French is actually the name used by a husband and wife team who write together. Their real names are Nicci Gerard and Sean French, a couple of Oxford graduates who also write individually. I haven’t tried any of their individual books yet but I’ve read most of the ones that they have written as a duo. They are excellent at psychological thrillers. Val McDermid has also written many good books, some of which have been adapted for television. I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever read a bad book by her.
When I go on holiday to Spain there are a few English second-hand book stores in the town where we stay, and I love to rummage through for what I call my ‘granny books’. I can really lose myself in a good old rags to riches story whilst chilling on my sunbed – total relaxation! There are so many well-known authors that write for this genre; Catherine Cookson, Meg Hutchinson, Anna King etc. My favourite by far though is Sara Fraser who wrote the Tildy series. Surprisingly the writer is actually a man; Sara Fraser is the pen-name for Roy Clews, a former Marine Commando. The Tildy series recounts the struggles of Tildy, a strong, resilient woman who survives a life of hardship during 19th century Britain. Clews does an excellent job of writing from a woman’s perspective; perhaps the male touch is the reason why the character he has created is so tough.
I am also discovering a wealth of new books by independent authors. The beauty of these books is that there is so much diversity and they are introducing me to a wide range of genres and cross-genres. In the last few months I have read chic-lit, thrillers (both from a male and female perspective), a Western, literary novels, comedies, true life accounts and non-fiction.
I hope you have enjoyed finding out about my reading habits; I’d love to hear about yours too. What type of books do you like to read and why? Do you have any favourite genres or authors? Please feel free to share your views by leaving your comments below.