'A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it...

by tosca on Wednesday, May 5, 2010

...or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy.'
~ Edward P. Morgan (1910 - 1993) American journalist & writer

Ordinarily this would be my day to post an oddball/funny book title but instead I'm going to post a top 5 list (which I also posted to our library website today).

In a weird conversation, which is actually quite usual for our family, my mother and I were trying to list our top 5 list of books that we thought had changed our lives. It was hard. We quickly discovered that you get lots of different things out of every book - so how realistic is it to narrow that to five? Mum, however, had no problems picking what she saw as 5 books that were pivotal in my childhood. Mum reckons there were 2 more that made an impact as runners up and they were:

Runners up:
Rumble Fish by S. E. Hinton
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl


The happy prince and other stories
by Oscar Wilde


These special fairy tales, which Oscar Wilde made up for his own sons, include 'The Happy Prince', who was not as happy as he seemed; 'The Selfish Giant', who learned to love little children; 'The Star Child', who suffered bitter trials when he rejected his parents. . . . Often whimsical and sometimes sad, they all shine with poetry and magic. -- Publisher description.

Tosca's note: My mother had unusual tastes in children's bedtime stories and I have definite memories of her reading Oscar Wilde (my alltime favourite story is The Happy Prince - the tears start to well up everytime I think, 'Swallow, swallow, little swallow...) and Shakespeare's comedies. The Picture of Dorian Gray used to scare the bejesus out of me as a kid, but Im pretty sure my love of the Sunday Horrors came from this.


My family & other animals
by Gerald Durrell

J 920 DUR

"When the unconventional Durrell family can no longer endure the damp, gray English climate, they do what any sensible family would do: sell their house and relocate to the sunny Greek isle of Corfu. "My Family and Other Animals" was intended to embrace the natural history of the island but ended up as a delightful account of Durrells familys experiences, from the many eccentric hangers-on to the ceaseless procession of puppies, toads, scorpions, geckoes, ladybugs, glowworms, octopuses, bats, and butterflies into their home" -- Global Books In Print.

Tosca's note: Gran is a Durrell fan from way back and, because of that, Mum introduced me to Gerald Durrell when I was about 7 or 8. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair. His writings incited my imagination, my love of humorous nonfiction and a yearning to travel. I was absolutely tickled pink to learn that my gran met Durrell when he was in New Zealand back in the 1960s to film the NZ segment of 'Two in the bush.'


by Frank Herbert


This epic tale is set on the desert planet called Arrakis, the focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange - necessary for interstellar travel and granting psychic powers and longevity, so whoever controls it wields great influence. The troubles begin when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don't want to give up their privilege and through sabotage and treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet's harsh environment to die. There he falls in with the Fremen, a tribe of desert dwellers who become the basis of the army with which he will reclaim what is rightfully his. Paul Atreides, though, is far more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a very long-term genetic experiment designed to breed a super human; he might be a messiah. His struggle is at the center of a nexus of powerful people and events, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium.

Tosca's note: My parents recommended Herbert's Dune series to me when I was about 11 or 12 years old - it totally blew my mind. I'd read a few teen science fiction anthologies but nothing prepared me for the scope of Dune. It was a whole new world with its own customs, protocols, language, cultures and hierarchies - absolutely brilliant. I never met another kid who'd read/enjoyed this series until I was in high school.


To kill a mockingbird
by Harper Lee


Set in a sleepy town in South Alabama during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Six-year-old Scout and her friends are fascinated by the mysterious Radley place and its reclusive occupant. But their focus shifts when Scout's attorney-father is called upon to defend a black man accused of rape. Classic tale of injustice, friendship, and coming-of-age. -- Publisher description.

Tosca's note: For the first time ever, at age 12, this book helped me put a name to an issue I'd seen, experienced and heard about but had never had the words for: racism. It was a very young age to learn that sometimes, when you're not the ethnic majority, people suck.


The chocolate war : a novel
by Robert Cormier


A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school's annual fund raising drive and arousing the wrath of the school bullies.

Tosca's note: Cormier's gritty and edgy writing (in particular this title) struck a chord during my 'dog eat dog' high school years and I devoured everything he wrote.

back to top


Oh hell snap!


No wonder you're so weird.


by /fish on May 6, 2010 at 2:45 PM. #

HAH! Pot & kettle :) After I posted this to the website a staff member came to see me and ask for recommendations for her 16 year old daughter as she'd read most of the books I'd listed. Which, I guess, was the point of the list, but it still took me aback. I miss readers' advisory!

by catatonia on May 6, 2010 at 7:26 PM. #

Oh definitely posted in the spirit of "takes one to know one"! :D

And give yourself some credit... you are doing readers advisory here, e-styleeee.

by /fish on May 6, 2010 at 8:54 PM. #

Oooh I like that - Southside E-stylee. Selectah! Represent, homez *does complicated hand gestures* Yes, I'm down. I've seen Ali G. I'm keeping it real ;)

by catatonia on May 6, 2010 at 9:19 PM. #

A word to your mother.

Did I get it right?

by /fish on May 6, 2010 at 9:24 PM. #

Was going to type 'I agree' and then remembered that in Urban Dictionary those two words are the two magic gateway words to porn LOL

Instead I'll say, 'Why, yes, that is correct.'

by catatonia on May 6, 2010 at 10:16 PM. #

Oh dear... as in:



by /fish on May 6, 2010 at 10:32 PM. #

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