Being an avid reader, I often wonder which books that I’ve read have actually changed my life, or had some sort of profound effect on me. The list is fairly short, but here are (at least) three that have come to mind as I write this blog:
1) Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie.
The first ever Agatha Christie book I read. The first of many. I think I was about nine or ten years old, and boy did I feel grown up. It all came about because of my friend at the time, James Brydon (I wonder what he’s up to these days…) was already big into it and persuaded me to part with some hard earned pocket money. In fact, I can even remember where I was when I read the very first page of my very first Agatha Christie novel. It was in the outpatients at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital as I was waiting for my annual check up for my Thyroid problem. To be honest, it could so easily have been different. I also bought Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, a book I seem to recall had neither Poirot or Marple in it (yet a recent ITV production managed to squeeze Miss Marple into it somehow).
2) High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
My introduction to the works of Nick Hornby. Fever Pitch had already been out and turned into a film with Colin Firth, but that passed me by. I’d decided it was time to read something other than Adrian Mole, True Crime books (mostly the Kray Twins and associated villains) and Agatha Christie, and plucked this from the shelf in WH Smith. A great book in my opinion by one of my favourite authors (as a grown up). For me, not having a string of ex-girlfriends, or being as passionate about music (at the time) as the lead character, it was like a window into the real (but written) world! I even managed to not be too let down by the Americanised film version with John Cusack and Jack Black.
3) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The first “classic” novel that I’ve read and truly enjoyed. Even if I did spend the best part of 5 months reading the bloody thing! I put that down to flicking back from time to time to try and work out where certain characters had come from, and if I’d already been introduced to them. I only decided to read it after watching The Shawshank Redemption, with the bit in the library when the guy mispronounces the author’s name as ‘Dumbass’, and then Tim Robbins explains that it includes a prison break. Days later I found myself in the classic section at Waterstones looking at a 3 for 2 offer. I also took Robinson Crusoe (which I read first and was overjoyed to finally finish – there are no chapters or anything, it’s just one long story, hence it took me a while to read as well) and War and Peace which I’m currently too daunted to read. I started CoMC just before Anthony’s Christening in Austria, and got through a fair chunk during my 5 hour wait in Dusseldorf airport, before completing the book in short bursts of a few chapters each night over the next 4 months. But I did it and I was incredibly proud of myself.