Craig Hildebrand-Burke tagged me to list my Top 10 most influential books. I’m not that well-read and some of the books came to me late, and it’s more about the authors, but it’s a start.
Here they are in no particular order
1) To Kill a Mockingbird
Who hasn’t read this in High School? It was everyone’s first taste of institutionalised hatred on a scale many had never encountered – including myself as a small brown girl who’s managed to escape racism until high school. The year I read it was the year four police officers were found not guilty of brutally bashing Rodney King and our TV failed in the face of the LA Riots. It is impossible to follow on from a book like that, Harper Lee never published another. At least it was the beginning of my interest in American history and culture.
2) Les Miserables
I feel like a fraud putting this down as I have only started to read it recently. There was an excerpt in a reader that my aunts had for their schooling, one of the few things I got to read in the curfew times in Sri Lanka when I was 10-11. In that excerpt, Collette is found carrying water by Jean Valjean and looking at a china doll. He buys the doll for her later. Everything about the tiny Cinderalla story broke me and created a visceral fury at injustice it created in a very spoiled, self-absorbed little girl.
3) The Lord of the Rings
I wanted high romance, I got it. I wanted adventure, I got it. I didn’t allegory, I didn’t get allegory. I got a whole new world, pretensions to traditionalism, it lead me to the Silmarillion, truly the “creative equivalent of a people.” I grew out of it.
Polanski gore, reading Shakespeare for the first time, relishing it. Thanks, Yr 10 English coordinators.
5) A Suitable Boy
Gloriously Victorian, gloriously anachronistic, filled with these curiously Wodehousian Indian characters (who read Wodehouse), a huge symphonies saga to introduce the age of the popular Indian writer. I love it. It meant everything.
6) No Logo
Nuff said. Although Naomi Klein totally mistook my question and activistplained.
7) Jasper Fforde
I am a nerd. I want his alternative reality to be reality. Nolan once said that he basically “plays along the canon” and it is exquisite.
8) Schrodinger’s Kittens
This was my only way of understanding quantum mechanics and therefore, reality. Did you know that the outcome of the diffraction experiment is determined by the observer? So everything in the universe is subjective. Blew my mind. Changed me. Hinted that space time was a thing, reality was evolving.
9) Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Do i have to explain it? Surely it’s self evident. I’m religious, but it’s the secular bible. Everything makes sense after you read it
10) Labyrinths (Borges)
This is really about Borges. I heard of him when I was a snobby science undergrad and joined the Reader’s Feast discount club. A collection of his work was advertised in their newsletter. I bought it. I did not understand it. I returned it. I thought I would benefit from revisiting it when I had er..done some more reading.
So years..a decade.. passed and I joined twitter and someone said, you should read Borges, it is totally your kind of thing.
So I bought The Aleph because he had called me The Aleph and I bought Labyrinths. And I read it in that way where you discover something so perfect you can hardly bear for it to be over, you’re aware of reading each word, turning it over, the passage of time etc etc I sometimes don’t want to ever sully metes or my mind with anything else ever again. It’s the distillation of all literature and culture
So yeah. Feelings.