Tag Archives: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Top 10 Books of all time?

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, 1957

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, 1957 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This list of the 100 Best Books of all Time in the world is interesting.  I’ve read 6 thanks mostly to Shakespeare, and 2 halves (100 Years of Solitude; which I’ve been reading for 21 years now and haven’t quite finished, and Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales). I have often laughed at the idea of creating a list of books that in some way ranked them.  There’s a fashion for lists, especially in blogs for all kinds of things.  I’ve tried in the past to name a top 10 of books and failed.

I’m just not able to wittle it down and order them.  So I’m not going to try to do that.  Instead I’m going to record a number of books that I think have changed my world view, stayed with me, or I read at important stages of my life.  I’m going to write this quickly and not think

about it too much, otherwise I’ll get all pretentious.  I might write another post, looking at it in more detail.  I’m really going to try to dredge them out here.  So I’m not numbering them, and I’m not counting them.  Let’s see where I end up.

The Cat in the HatDr Seuss: A book I remember blowing my mind during a “wet play”.  I’d never seen anything like it.

Pauline Baynes

Pauline Baynes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S.Lewis:  Not strictly a book I read, I had it read to me and it changed my attitude towards reading and education.  So very important.

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffeneger:  Probably would be top of the list if it was ordered.  An absolutely unbelievable

premise made believable.  So emotionally real.  A masterpiece (shame about the film, perhaps they should rename it so they aren’t connected)

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown: A good story.  Sorry.

The Shadow of the WindCarlos Ruiz Zafon:  I read this after my brother died and I still really enjoyed it, so it must be good.

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold:  How can this book be uplifting?

Wolf BrotherMichelle Paver:  This is one of those books that make you think you know about pre-history.  It’s so well imagined and researched.  So believable.  I read the whole series.

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee:  A great story, very evocative of a place and time.

Jasper Jones – Criag Silvey:  A great story, very evocative of a place and time.

A Vision of Elena Silves – Nicholas Shakespeare:  It took me somewhere completely different when I was a teenager.

Chatterton – Peter Ackroyd:  A fantastic weaving together of many story lines, introducing me to some great British arty types.  I still find the painting The Death of Chatterton whenever I go to the Tate.

Wolf Brother

Wolf Brother (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte:  A tribute to my English teacher Mrs Seymour, who brought this book alive.  I still look back at those scary English lessons with enjoyment, I can’t remember much else from my Secondary schooling.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen:  As above really, but Jane and I have been moving in the same circles (geographically speaking)

The Giggler Treatment – Roddy Doyle: I loved reading this with my children.  Just what children’s books should be, funny and a bit naughty/rude

Galore – Michael Crummey:  It feels like a load of village gossip and folktales woven together into a plausible history of a family and a place.

The Belgariad – David Eddings:  I can’t think of a reason why, but I loved it at the time.

Eragon – Christopher Paolini:  Some very original ideas here (magic with a cost).

Sandmouth People – Ronald Frame:  Original and a bit quirky, but captures a British town in a way I find believable.

Panic – Jeff Abbott:  Introduced me to a new style of high-octane thrillers.

Before I Go To Sleep – S.J.Watson:  A brilliant, clever story that kept me guessing to the end.  Actually I think I knew and that only made it more enjoyable.

Into the Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes:  Scary but believable, taking me to a world of an obsessive compulsive and an abuse victim (I make it sound great, but it is well worth reading).

Crime ZeroMichael Cordy:  An excellent writer.  Far, far better than Michael Crichton.  A well imagined near future.

The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles: Not some soppy romance, but an analysis of image, stigma and the media.  Surprisingly recommended to me by a guy I worked with, until I read it.

Holes – Louis Sachar:  Symmetry.

Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin:  An introduction to adult weirdness.

The World According To Garp – John Irving:  Gritty honest characters.

Phew.  I made it.  I had to stop myself writing Just Read It at the end of each one!


Does reading run in families?

Pauline Baynes

Pauline Baynes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looking through your blogs out there, and very interesting they are, I’m struck by all the

I borrowed this from my brother

I gave this to my Dad

It made me wonder whether the nature or nurture question applies to reading.  It certainly would appear so.  That if your parents read then you are likely to.  We’re given tons of advice from schools as parents that we should model reading behaviour to our children, particularly Dads for boys! (Does that mean more women read than men?  I’ll see if I can find out for a later post).

I have aimed hard to read to my children every day (mostly succeeded and have thoroughly enjoyed it, I’ve included a few gems to read to/with your children, particularly boys that you may not have come across) and this has only recently stopped.  They’re now 12 and 10.  I stopped because they were not becoming independent readers, seemingly preferring to hear me read rather than read themselves.  They are evolving now into more independent readers (a phase for graphic novels/comics at the moment).  My wife is a keen reader and we do have everyone reading in the house on occasions.  But I would say on balance that all this has not had the desired result.

When I think back to my own childhood I remember my parents reading the paper and flicking through magazines.  But never reading a book.  We weren’t taken to the library, but books were around, it was an unusual extravagance of my parents to buy books for us.  I was also encouraged to buy books.  But all in all not a literary household and in fact neither of my brothers is a reader.  Apart from school I don’t think they’ve read a book at all!  My Mum always says she doesn’t like books.  So those of you who swap books in the family count yourselves lucky!

I can still remember when it all changed.  A school friend read The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeC.S.Lewis aloud to us and did a good job of it.  I remember thinking to myself I want to be able to do that and it all changed from that point on.  So a big thank you to Guy Picken, who read wonderfully all those years ago in his Mum and Dad’s back room.  If I ever see him I must tell him personally.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my sons continue to develop as readers, and that one day we’ll be exchanging books saying You must read this.  I’ll try not to be disappointed it I don’t and enjoy whatever it is they do bring and exchange things with them that they will enjoy.  (I’ll expect whatever happens I’ll always recommend books to them)

So to answer the question.  I’d have to say no.  There are no guarantees whatever you do.  But I suppose if you didn’t show some enthusiasm for reading then it’s unlikely you children will.  I’ve certainly achieved that with football!

Recommended Read with older children…

The Seven Professors of the Far North, The Flight of the Silver Turtle and The Secret of the Black Moon MothJohn Fardell

The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn – Henry Chancellor (The Museum’s Secret, The Hidden World, The Forgotten Echo)


The Collaborator – I couldn’t put it down today,  I just had to find out what was going to happen.