The Meme, stolen from Man of Taste
If you tend toward books, then it’s a good bet that you’ve got a number of books that really resonated with you, often to the extent of informing your development as a person and your view of the world. These are not always classics of literature. Often they are, viewed objectively, really deeply awful books. That’s not the point. The point is that they were the right (or wrong, nothing says they had to have a positive influence) thing for you to read at the right time, and they stayed with you in a meaningful way.
The number of these varies, but most people if queried can come up with three of them. One or more of them were likely encountered between the ages of 11 and 13, and may have been the first “grown up” book you read. Beyond that, I can’t think of any set pattern, and even those may just be a coincidental cluster of data points. Nonetheless, I’m newly fascinated by this question and I wish to ask it here.
Help me out then, my friends. Name your top three core texts. If you wish to include age when encountered, positive or negative influence, general summary of the text, or type of influence it exerted on you, that would be likewise awesome.
1. The White Goddess by Robert Graves:
I read this when I was about twelve, doing a postal course in Wicca…the course dried up but I read this and it informed pretty much all my thoughts. When I say I have a poetic understanding of reality it’s this book that I’m thinking about. Having met and been involved with several white goddesses over the years it’s always Graves words I have in the back of my mind.
2. Beach Music by Pat Conley:
I guess this conforms to the easy-reading stereotype mentioned above. It’s the sort of book you want to read on a plan I guess. I love it. I love the history in it, the interaction of the protagonists. Mainly I guess through reading this book I began to understand that every single moment is the product of al the years gone by, years and years and years in the making.
3. The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope
I can’t remember the first time I read this book but I love it. I imbibed it and I reread it obsessively. Partly I guess it confirms my love of the fantasy genre, partly my obsession with ‘rip-roaringly good yarns’ but it also explains exactly how I approach life and also my desires for how people should behave with regard to love and honour…and such things…possibly this also really explains my Lace and Steel world…