I had a lot of fun making this list because it made me realise that while reading these books, I wasn’t just engrossed in a story, but capturing a moment; and it all started coming back to me. It also reminded me how important it is to talk about books that are not just new releases. It’s something that book bloggers are guilty of, but there’s absolutely no reason why we cannot write a review of, or rave about, a book that wasn’t published in the last couple of years. And although instant successes and bestsellers are desirable, for publishers to succeed, they need to have a strong backlist that will keep on selling.
I read these books between the ages of 6 and 20, published between 1994 (all right, 1941 if you count Enid Blyton!) and 2008.
The Twins at St Clare’s by Enid Blyton
It would be accurate to say that my passion for books and reading started with Enid Blyton. I had read Topsy and Tim, Rupert Bear, and a ton of picture books as a very young child, but Enid Blyton books were my first ‘proper’ novels. St Clare’s and Malory Towers were favourites of mine. I used to dream of attending boarding school, having midnight feasts, and being a sixth former in charge.
The Bed and Breakfast Star by Jacqueline Wilson
Jacqueline Wilson, one of Britain’s favourite children’s authors, was introduced to me at 11. I read at least 20 of her books and I’m not sure why, but The Bed and Breakfast Star became one I read over and over. I was a little bit intrigued by the ‘poor as Oliver Twist’ scenario and enjoyed imagining what it’d be like to have to live in a run-down hotel, eating sugar cubes for breakfast. Double Act is probably a close second.
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
And then when I was about 13, I moved onto Meg Cabot. I had to get braces, like many young teenagers, and to alleviate the horrible ordeal of having to visit the orthodontist to get my elastic bands tightened, I was treated to a book on the way home. I do not know what spurred me on to pick up The Princess Diaries, since I was never very into pink or princesses, but I started reading it on the way home and adored Mia’s voice.
Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan
I also started reading the Wicca (or Sweep) series as a result of said trips to the orthodontist. (You can really tell just how much I hated having braces). I absolutely fell in love with this series and it was the first time I came into contact with any sort of book community. I’m still friends with some of the people I met! Hunter Niall was by far my favourite character, although I was fascinated by malevolent Rose MacEwan.
The Girl from the Sea by James Aldridge
I picked up The Girl from the Sea to take with me on a school History trip to France. I loved the sound of the South of France: the sun and sea, Provençal music, and of course, hidden contraband. It’s a lovely novel. If you were on the internet in 2005, you may remember that fanlistings were quite popular. I made one for this book!
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I picked up The Time Traveller’s Wife when I was 16 years old. It resonated with me straight away as I had just begun an A Level in Philosophy. I’ve read it about four times and enjoy it even more each time. It’s due a re-read!
Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman (not pictured)
I also read Noughts & Crosses when I was about 16 or 17. I borrowed it from the school library and finished it within a couple of days; it’s outstanding. I’ve seen described as a dystopian novel, but I’m unconvinced. Why is racism only seen as a dystopian element if the ruling class are dark-skinned? Noughts & Crosses is set in an alternate society, exploring racism and prejudice.
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
I have mentioned here before that Nineteen Minutes is one of my favourite Jodi Picoult books. It’s a controversial, poignant, and compelling novel that I’m also planning on reading again soon.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief is another books that is still one of my all-time favourites. It’s a powerful novel, set in Nazi Germany, that shows how well young adult literature can be written. I urge you all to read it.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
And lastly, I picked up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in my final year of university. Although I was running Pretty Books on Tumblr, I had not yet started to write book reviews. I am unable to resist hype, and even though I read a review that said ‘this author is obsessed with rape’, I decided to go for it. It’s a hugely suspenseful trilogy and you will not fail to cheer on Lisbeth Salander.
What are some of your favourite books published before 2008?