To help celebrate Historical Tapestry's 3rd blogiversary, some of us are sharing our 'Books of a Lifetime', which is actually a lot harder than it sounds. When I started thinking about which books I would include on my list I would think that I had it settled, but then would think of another book which simply had to be included. So this is my list, but be warned, if you asked me again in a couple of months time, the list could be a little different.
From a very early age, books were my escape, my sanctuary from everything in life! I would read at any opportunity and my family often used to say that I would read the back of a cereal box if there was nothing else available.
Fast forward a few more years, and my books of choice were the Trixie Belden mysteries. For anything else I may have found to complain about my mother did buy me the whole series that was out at the time. I loved reading about Trixie and her brothers Martin and Brian, along with their friends who made up the rest of the Bob-Whites, especially Jim who was my first red headed literary crush, but not my last.
It was in my early teens that I discovered Jean Plaidy, and I think that my love of historical fiction was cemented. I read through basically every novel that my school library had by Plaidy, and I particularly loved reading the books that she wrote about the queens of England. I couldn't tell you about individual books that I read, but my goodness, I devoured them as quickly as I could get my hands on them.
In my late teens, my aunts introduced me to the books of Noel Barber. He wrote romantic, angst filled sagas set against the background of World War II. Once again his books were chunksters, but I didn't let that stop me from reading them as quickly as I possible could. I particularly remember really enjoying The Other Side of Paradise and A Farewell to France.
There was a period of about 10 years where I really didn't read anything. It happened to coincide with a period of time where I was in an unhappy relationship and I really lost myself in a lot of ways. Not only in terms of reading but other ways too.
Whilst it wasn't the first book that I read once things started getting back to normal, I really credit Cross Stitch (Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon for really reigniting my love of reading. I was given the first book in the Outlander series for my birthday. The book sat on my shelf for a few months until one day I picked it up and started reading, and pretty much did not put it down until I was finished. I went out and bought the next book and read it basically straight through from beginning to end, never mind that I was a zombie at work. In the end I had to restrict myself from buying the next book in the series until Friday night because I knew that if I bought the book during the week I would never get enough sleep to be able to survive. Definitely didn't hurt that this book featured another red headed literary crush!
Reading the Outlander books and feeling the need to read more and more led me to some of my other favourite authors, particularly Paullina Simons, Sara Donati and Sharon Kay Penman, and in turn to Elizabeth Chadwick and many other authors I really enjoy reading now.
The next book that I wanted to mention is the book that started me on my blogging journey. I had been reading a few book blogs for a while, but then I listened to The Red Tent on audiobook, and I just had to talk to someone, anyone, about it! Now I look back at how terrible that first review I ever wrote was and cringe, but I am still blogging nearly 5 years so from that inauspicious start good things have grown, particularly as blogging has given me friends all round the world, including the ladies that I blog with here at Historical Tapestry.
Some times you pick up a book and read the first few pages, and you know that you are either going to love the book or that you really are not. Luckily for me, The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley was the former. I knew within a page that I was going to love that book, and I did! Since then I have read a couple of the author's other books and really enjoyed them too, particularly The Shadowy Horses, but that first special read will stay with me for a long time.
So, there you have my Books of a Lifetime, for now at least!