My Life in Books

We are in the second week of My Life in Books on BBC2 every week day at 18.30. I’ve checked and, at the time of writing, all six episodes are still available on the iPlayer. Run, don’t walk if you love books, writers and reading.   This gorgeous little programme is in celebration of World Book Day and for my money, they could make it World Book Week or Month or Year and no complaint from me. And I’ve just noticed they are re-running the whole of last year’s ten episodes starting next week too. Unmissable TV.

Anne Robinson, in her nicest ever incarnation and sexiest ever spectacles, interviews famous readers in quirkily matched pairs about their favourite books, their life in books.   Sir Tim Rice and Russell Grant. Nicky Haslam and Duckface. Chris Addison and a newsreaderette. You get the picture. And they all share their own four favourite books. FOUR! Just four? And Anne Robinson gives a very good impression of having read all of them and that would be twenty across the fortnight. And I believe her, frankly.

So far I’ve added one to my Wish List at Amazon Kindle and it was Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler. Regrettably I forget who this book’s champion was but it was Anne’s enthusiasm which swayed me to add it to my Wish List. I’m not allowed by my own rules to download any digital goodies until I’ve consumed the ones I already own, so that will have to wait until some idle swimming pool moment when I shall remember Anne and her pals and look forward to this little gem.

Just like Desert Islands Discs, it is almost impossible to choose one’s favourite books. I keep changing my mind and the limit of four is the very antipathy of abundance. Anyhow, here’s my stab. You will note I have cheated.   All of my first four books are those I have read more than once in three out of the four cases.

1.   A Walk In The Woods By Bill Bryson. I think I have read this more than twice. It makes me laugh until I cry and I have a terrible urge to read it aloud and I can quote whole chunks word for word. I am not often one for re-reading books except those I know I love and which inform and entertain me anew each time.   I recognise so much of myself in this although I could never even attempt to do what Bill & Katz do, walking the Appalachian Trail, more than 2,000 miles down the right-hand side of the USA. It’s the stocking up with food for the trail and unfit Katz having to jettison most of it before dinner on the first night. Gets me every time. Being too fat and unfit to carry all the food you want to eat. Bless Katz.

2. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.  I found BK’s seminal work, The Poisonwood Bible, completely impenetrable. How odd, then, that this one should grab me from the very first paragraph. I identify with the heroine, Deanna, despite the fact that she is a reclusive wildlife biologist which is about as likely a career for me as – oh, I don’t know, anything outdoorsy.   But by some synchronicity, I’ve just discovered on Amazon that this is also set in the Appalachian Mountains in Alabama which I suspect is just beyond the end of Bill’s trail having had a quick squint at a map of the States. Deanna lives alone in the woods and takes a younger lover who tracks her through the woods in the opening pages. ‘Nuff said. She’s my alter ego. Backwoods-woman Judith. That’s just how it is round here. In my dreams.

3.   Anything by Lee Child but specifically his first, Killing Floor. Is there anything like the discovery of a crime novel you eat up voraciously and love every page-turning second of when you know you only have fifteen more waiting for you after this one? My Amazon account reveals I snarfed them all in quick succession in the first three months of 2011, my gap year.   Three months? I could do one a day. Junkie.   Although I love Lee Child, this book represents the entire crime genre which is more than my guilty pleasure. For me a good read is an entertainment and an escape, just like a good film or TV prog too.   Take me away, Lee.

4.   Expecting Adam by Martha Beck.   I’ve banged on about this book endlessly on this, my blog, so I wont go into more detail here. Just buy it and read it and be forever changed.

OK, so that’s my four.   And here are my two extra cheats.   I think the guests on Anne’s show then go off and record themselves reading from a children’s book and my choice would be What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. All I can remember is that my hardback copy had a pale mauve ribbon inside it and this book followed me until well into my adult life so I must have been very fond of it indeed. And guess what? You can download it for free on Kindle. Awesome.

And last but by no means least, my favourite personal development book is Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kyosaki mainly because it marked a turning point in my life when I read it first in early 2003 and took my career off shortly thereafter into it’s what has been nearly a decade of wealth coaching.   Rich Dad’s Cashflow 101 game is another life-changer.

What are your favourite books? Tell me about your own life in books please.

P.S.   Whilst we are on the topic of books, I don’t suppose you fancy being in a Virtual Book Club with me, do you? If so, let me know and I’ll set it up. I will always love books and I could use an excuse to prioritise more reading and will need a virtual community even more once my travels begin.   A book a month. We take it in turns to pick. Google Group and once a month catch-up? Something like that anyway…

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3 Responses to “My Life in Books”

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  1. Jan says:

    Great idea. Don’t think I can think of just four books. I’m with Anne in that I devour any by Elizabeth George. Crime – I reckon I could commit murder in just about any way possible as I’ve read so many. I like Donna Leon’s detective series set in Venice and bought my sister the whole set for Christmas.

    Fantasy is another of my biggies and I started with my all time favourite Lord of the Rings.

    Favourite from my childhood has to be Brown Mouse by Frank Jennings.

    Where to stop is the problem, or not.

  2. Yes, Judith, love the idea of the virtual book club. Please, thank you. Love Anne Tyler; love, love, love Bill Bryson, laugh out loud funniness; really enjoyed The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (maybe having children helps you live that one more deeply?); read many crime thrillers but tend to forget which ones… and will check out Martha Beck on Amazon. Will consider my own four – my own blog maybe, love books. However… when my dear mother turned 70, I remember her telling me not to buy her any more books because she was quite happy with her Georgette Heyer’s as she could never remember what happened anymore so it felt like reading each book anew! There’s something to look forward to… Sally

  3. Anne says:

    What a great idea..my favourites would include nearly anything by Susan Howatch (starting from Penmarric). She takes actual historical stories and uses them as her plot…
    Crime wise – anything by the wonderful John Connolly or the rich juicy plots and writing of Elizabeth George Personal development wise I have just discovered the wonderful Maggy Whitehouse (Jesus back as a judge on the X Factor? in Miracle Man she does just that. She also writes wonderfully well about prosperity (Credit Crunch and Pure Prosperity)
    And love the idea of the virtual book club…

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