My sister’s bookshelf

Have you ever been stuck somewhere away from home, with no access to your normal stash of books? That happened to me sometimes while growing up. I had my own bookshelves, full of Enid Blyton books and a whole load of other, similar books, but on a few occasions I found myself staying at my sister’s house and looking for something to read.

My sister is several years older than me, and her taste in books was far more sophisticated than mine, but still I would read anything at a pinch, and I found myself reading a few of her books that left a lasting impression on me.

The most fun was the novelisation of the series Alias Smith and Jones. My mother’s love of John Wayne has left me with a deep ingrained hatred of westerns, but the fun of the Alias Smith and Jones book was enough to keep me reading, until the book became a firm favourite and I would imagine myself adventuring with them.

The biggest book I’d ever read – and it kept that accolade for years – was Watership Down. Even today, everything I think I know about wild rabbits comes from that book, and I frequently remind myself that chances are the “facts” I remember were made up for the purposes of the book. But still, through it I was introduced to the world of fantasy and talking animals in an adult book for the first time, and Watership Down became a firm favourite, being read over and over again.

The book that terrified me the most was Day of the Triffids. From the opening passage, where the narrator awakens in a hospital with bandages over his eyes, and the world around him is quiet and unresponsive, I was gripped by this tale, and I distinctly remember having nightmares over it. Again, this book has become a favourite, and has been read time and again.

Three books that I might never have chosen to read, had I my usual favourites around, but each in their way had a big impact on me, broadening my horizons and stimulating my imagination.


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