A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Sunday, 14 July 2013

My Life in Books

As a self-confessed book addict - I'll admit to not feeling even half human if I don't have at least five on the go at any one time.

And choosing just five of my favourites to discuss for the blog was a challenge.

1. Five Go To Billycock Hill by Enid Blyton

As a child I loved the Famous Five series. I was a real tomboy and identified strongly with the character of Georgina (George). She had a reputation for having a fierce temper, was extremely stubborn and didn't get along with her mother at all well. She also had a dog (Timmy) and I wanted a dog so very badly; sadly it never happened (despite writing multiple begging letters to my parents). Having read the entire series during my childhood I selected this one as the plot was slightly more sinister and complex than others in the series and naturally that appealed!

Strangely I never took to the Secret Seven series and sadly my daughters have never read the Famous Five - meaning that I haven't had the chance to re-explore their adventures. Recently my mother found the entire collection still stashed in the loft - I am so tempted to reread them.

2. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

Originally on my suggested reading list for O-Level English Literature - this book inspired a passion for reading that so many of the classics had previously failed to capture.

 It's a remarkable tale about hardship and survival during World War II and is beautifully put together. It tells the story of Jean Paget, an English woman taken prisoner with a group of women and children in Malaya.

I have gone on to read many of Shute's books over the years and have to say that this is my all-time favourite, however 'The Far Country' and 'Requiem For A Wren' come a very close second and third. Not usually a fan of rereading books, my original copy of 'A Town Like Alice' had to be binned after it fell apart. When my daughters were studying GCSE English Literature I bought a new copy and they also loved it.

3. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I love the simplistic way in which the book is narrated by 8-year old Scout, daughter of lawyer Atticus Finch. For me - Atticus was a man ahead of his time, his willingness to fight for human rights at a time when prejudice and racism was rife made him one of the most memorable characters I've ever had the pleasure to discover in a book.

Sadly there were no more books from Harper Lee - she said, 'I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again.' This inspired me however to discover a whole new genre - African-American literature and I have since read 'Roots: The Saga of an American Family' by Alex Haley, 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett and 'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker.

Camberwell Beauty by Jenny Éclair

My husband bought me a copy when I was ill a few years ago and it was the best therapy ever. It's a black comedy with a laugh out loud moment on almost every page. It's also extremely rude and consequently not a book I'd ever lend to my mother!

The main characters Anna and Jo are extremely well written and easy to identify with. I have reread 'Camberwell Beauty' several times and still it has the capacity to shock. It always makes me realise that life isn't so bad after all - whatever's going on at the time!

Having recommended the book to several friends I've received mixed reactions - people either seem to love it or hate it. It's most certainly not for the faint-hearted and if you're a fan of happy endings then maybe this isn't a great choice.

Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson

If you've forgotten just how genuinely eccentric and quirky the British are - then this is an absolute gem. As a self-confessed Anglophile, Bryson's observations of our mannerisms is all too accurate and shockingly funny. There were moments when I was overcome with fits of giggles as I realised that's exactly how we behave and for that very reason it's probably best read alone, than in company.

I have since gone on to read everything he's written - 'The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid,' 'Neither Here Nor There,' 'A Walk In The Woods,' 'The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America' and 'Notes From A Big Country' all come highly recommended.

I was lucky enough to meet Bill at a literary festival a few years ago - he was quiet, unassuming and genuinely hilarious - he'd be excellent company for a quiet pint in an English pub.

So there you have it - my top five favourite reads ever, with a few crafty add-ons as well. How is it possible to choose just five?

Please feel free to share your own favourite reads and recommendations...

Copyright © 2013 Izzie Anderton


  1. How did you even start to pick them?! Like you, I love my books, so to choose 5 from all time, very tricky! And if you've rediscovered your Famous Five stash, I say read them again ;-)#PoCoLo

    1. I only chose books that I'd reread and that narrowed my options down a lot! It's not often I love a book that much to want to pick it up again. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I am a book addict too! and cannot stop buying them :-) I have never heard of Camberwell Beauty - will give it a go! x #PoCoLo

    1. I really hope you enjoy it - it's a book that always makes me laugh out loud.

  3. I loved Famous Five as well but never got into the secret seven. My favourite book of all time has to be Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. I read that many times when I was growing up.

    1. Ballet Shoes is a fabulous book. Read this as a child and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    2. I love To Kill A Mockingbird too! The last two I shall certainly put on my 'to read' list - they sound fab. Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

    3. Happy to hear you love 'To Kill A Mockingbird' too. Thanks for hosting #PoCoLo


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