I did a post about Six Beautiful Books that Changed My Life back in June and it seemed that you guys, my lovely readers, liked it a lot. There are plenty of books out there that have had a meaningful impact on my life, so I decided to do a piece about six more of these special works that have a place close to my heart.
Author’s Note: This post contains affiliate links. Any books bought with links from this site help me out a tiny bit, so if you were thinking of buying it anyway, I would be very grateful if you went off my blog. Besitos! I xx
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien
Okay, so technically this was published as three books, written divided into six, and Tolkien wanted it published as one. I’m going to go with the latter and treat this work as a whole. This book has had a profound influence on me. I guess that shows that in the first of my ‘Having Coffee With’ series, I chose J.R.R Tolkien. To me the Lord of the Rings Legendarium has yet to be surpassed in it’s detail, depth, and beauty. I think this shows the most in that The Lord of the Rings books actually only make up a smidgen of the total that Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth, it’s creation, peoples, languages etc. I’ve been obsessed with Lord of the Rings since I was young. My dad read me The Hobbit when I was a kid, and then bits of The Lord of the Rings, but by that point I mostly read them by myself (being a bit older!). I remember him bringing to life, with different voices, rhe characters of Gollum and Bilbo in the ‘Riddles In The Dark’ chapter in The Hobbit. I was scared of Gollum for years.
The films also did an excellent job in bringing the books to life (definitely wasn’t sure about The Hobbit trilogy though!), and is one of the few movies that I felt actually did justice to the source material, despite having to take bits out and chop and change it around. The only thing I would say that I have never liked about the movie is how wet they made Frodo. In the books Frodo is quite tough and daring. In the movies, despite having lots of courage, he just comes across as a bit wet. I don’t know, I’m sure there are plenty of people who probably disagree with me on that one!
My obsession extends so much that when I got the extended edition DVDs, I watched all of the appendices, to see how the world was created, how they changed the source material from a dense book to a script, how they made the costumes, the sets, the characters, you name it I was fascinated. If you’re at all interested in film-making/production they are really cool. I mean, probably out of date now given that the movies were being made twenty(!) years ago, but it’s still really interesting.
In my mind Tolkien was really the first English author to make a successful attempt at epic fantasy. There have been many who have tried since, some of which have succeeded (debate away as to who they might be). I think a lot of fantasy these days owes a huge amount to Lord of the Rings, and it is often difficult when reading fantasy not to draw parallels. It is often clear when another author’s influence (conscious or unconscious) comes from Tolkien’s world.
Lord of the Rings on Amazon Books
The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory
This might seem like a slightly odd one to put in here – it’s a light historical fiction read, but hear me out. This book was what really started my fascination with the Tudors as a young teenager. I read this when I was about twelve/thirteen and immediately became fascinated by all things Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII, Tudor court etc. I’d already been interested in history, and had several books on the topic as a kid, but this what really honed me on the subject of the Tudors – a fascination that lasted throughout my teenage years and into my undergraduate degree. I then pitched for an era a wee bit earlier for my undergraduate and masters dissertations, but the Tudors was really where it all started.
The Other Boleyn Girl on Amazon Books
A Street Through Time by Steve Noon
This is an illustrated kid’s book that I owned as a child. It’s kind of a ‘Where’s Wally’ throughout history. It starts with a street in pre-history, with hunter gatherers/nomads, and moves through to modernity, passing through various centuries & time-periods as it goes. Through it all there is the explorer, who is in every picture, and you have to find him. Each page also has other things to find, and short sentences with detail about what is going (e.g. ‘Find the woman tanning leather’ – which immediately sparked the question as a kid, “Mum, what’s tanning? Mum, where does leather come from?” etc. If you buy this book for a child be prepared to answer lots and lots of questions!). I’d guess it’s probably suitable for children ages 5-8, dependent on their reading level.
I loved it as a kid and spent ages pouring over the pages, studying every detail, and learning all about history as I went. It really sparked my interest in the subject, and I spent much of my childhood stomping around medieval ruins, castles, cathedrals and what not, because it lit up my imagination so much.
A Street Through Time on Amazon Books
Outlander (published as Cross Stitch) by Diana Gabaldon
This book is not “just” a historical fiction book. It is an epic fantasy sci-fi historical novel that spans two centuries and two separate continents. I’ll admit, straight from the outset, that I have not read every book in the series. At the last count there were eight (although it could be nine by now!). I have read up to number five. The first four books of this series are stunning. I think this is one of those series that you could actually break down into mini-series’. It is not essential that you read every single volume in order to get a damn good story out of it. The first two books deal with one particular story arc, book three and four with another. Book five is a continuation in that general direction, and as afore mentioned I can’t speak any further than that.
The general premise is that Claire is a nurse during World War Two, and she ends up travelling back to Scotland during the era of the second Jacobite uprising that ended on Culloden Moor in 1745. That is the very basic premise, but in reality it is so much more than that. The novel involves political intrigue, witchcraft, fantasy elements (I mean the main reason it happens is due to time-travel!), war, romance. It’s one of those books that I read for the first time as a young teenager, and have re-read about ten times since then. I’m honestly not kidding. No matter how many times you read this book it will give you a romping good fiction journey. It’s honestly a brilliant read. If you’re a serious reader it will give you something a little lighter, and for the rest of us, it’s just a damn good story.
Outlander on Amazon Books
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is one of those books that everyone says they’ve read. Even if they haven’t, people pretend that they have (the same way I pretend I’ve read ‘The Great Gatsby’). Luckily, this book formed a key component of my English Lit GCSE (exams taken at 15/16 for non-UK people), so I read it once then, and have read it at least twice more in the intervening decade.
When I first read this novel I didn’t entirely get it. I understood the key themes, and the basic premise of what was going on; but I didn’t understand all the nuances. I doubt I do even having re-read it several times. This is a novel of childhood innocence, of right and wrong, of morality, of community and friendship, and of family, all set against the back drop of the racism of the American South. It’s interesting because whilst the novel is set in the past, there are many messages and themes in it that are extremely relevant today, perhaps now more than ever since the novel was published.
This novel is beautiful, and it will make you think. If you’re one of those people who’s pretending they’ve read it (no worries if that’s you!), I urge you to do so. You won’t regret it.
And no, I haven’t read Go Set A Watchman.
To Kill A Mockingbird on Amazon Books
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
I discussed this book/anthology in my ‘Poet of the Month’ section in July. It was actually one of the first “modern” poetry collections that I had bought as an adult, and it opened up my eyes to the idea of poetry written in a modern setting, with the trials and tribulations of today’s life reflected in its pages.
Even though she is a megastar and a fantastic poet, Rupi Kaur was the one who made me realise that it is possible for poetry to be successful in today’s saturated market. There is a space for poetry, and people do still want to read it. Regardless of what happens with my poetry and writing, Rupi Kaur will always remain an inspirational figure to me. She has written about feminism, intersectionality, racism, sexism, and LGBTQ+ issues. She is important in taking a message of feminine power to her millions of readers.
Most of her poems are very short and can be read in about ten seconds. They may take a lot longer to unpick and digest, however. If you’re looking for a modern poet to check out; I urge you to read her first collection.
Milk and Honey on Amazon Books
Have you read any of these? Based on these picks are there any books that you think I should check out? Let me know in the comments!