I have memories of reading particular books at particular times.
Obviously, I can’t write a post like this without mentioning the Harry Potter books. These were landmarks in my childhood. I was introduced to The Philosopher’s Stone as a nine-year-old; The Deathly Hallows was released just after my seventeenth birthday. You can’t escape that kind of presence. I remember being gifted the second and third books together, trying to read the fourth over my sister’s shoulder in the back of the car, begging a classmate for details of the fifth (she was not forthcoming), and speedreading the seventh in the week before exams. They helped form me as a reader and as a person. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way!
Otherwise, my strongest recollections include:
Peter Pan by JM Barrie – This book constitutes one of my earliest reading memories. When I was about 7 I was in love with a large illustrated (and, I think, unabridged) version in hardcover that I would haul home and get my mother to read to me. One day I presented at the library to borrow it (yet again), and was informed that a teacher had spilled their coffee on it, ruining it. I was DEVASTATED.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I remember buying this book. One of my sisters passed it to me and said something to the effect of: “It’s about a girl who loves reading, and also Death. You’ll like it.” And I did. I’ve also cried over this book more times than I can count.
Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness Quartet 4) by Tamora Pierce – This book taught me that major characters could die. I was ten. It was traumatic. I was furious with my best friend, who’d started me on the series, because she hadn’t told me! Poor Faithful (and poor Liam).
Sabriel by Garth Nix and The Amulet of Samarkhand by Jonathan Stroud – I remember reading these over the Christmas holiday when I was thirteen. ‘Sabriel’ was instantly my favourite book, and has remained among my favourites ever since. ‘The Amulet of Samarkhand’ was the first book to make me laugh in public (if you love snark, child anti-heroes and alternative London fantasies, do look it up).
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – This book I encountered much later, only within the last few years. I read it because I’d read Meg Wolitzer’s Belzhar, which moved and fascinated me, and because my Book Club had picked it for a feature. So I was introduced to Esther Greenwood, and I knew her. I saw a lot of myself in her – a younger self – and I wish that I had found my way to the book earlier, in highschool or in early uni. The moment of recognition was slightly dizzying, and I don’t think I’ll forget it.
Are there any books you have particular memories of?