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I’m a big fan of reading and have enjoyed doing so for as long as I can remember. Characters and books from my childhood still pop into my head every now and then, and they even make it into real life occasionally as just this morning as we were hunting around the market we spotted a puzzle of Mog, the cat from the same titled children’s books by Judith Kerr. I also grew up with The Church Mice, by Graham Oakley and highly recommend both series to anyone with kids at home. It’s fair to say I’m a Sci-Fi and Fantasy fan though I don’t exclusively read those sorts of books. Currently I’m reading the fifth book in A Song of Fire and Ice (better known these days as A Game of Thrones) and enjoying it.
I’m not sure any books have changed my life really. In fact that’s not true, you could argue that one book in particular has changed my life immeasurably, though not because I read it (though I have read it). I’m not going to talk about that book though so you will have to remain as confused as you are already, unless you have also read the book, in which case you will probably know what I’m talking about, especially if you know me!
I do however have an all time favourite book, and a few favourite authors that I shall tell you about.
My favourite book is, without doubt, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I first read it whilst backpacking around Australia and then New Zealand (it’s a big book) and without question it is the greatest story ever told. Dickens instantly became my favourite author and whilst I have yet to read every one of his books, I have not yet read one that I haven’t liked and more so that hasn’t impressed me immensely. Dickens’ true talent comes in his characterisation. He creates the most realistic, believable and layered characters I have ever come across by a long way and even today his characters’ traits are recognisable and easy to relate to. As such his stories are timeless and their scope immense.
One of my favourite Dickens characters is that of Dick Swiveller, from The Old Curiosity Shop. The following section is my favourite moment of Dick’s in the book, and one I think almost any adult who’s had a few too many can relate to:
Mr Swiveller swayed himself to and fro to preserve his balance, and, looking into a kind of haze which seemed to surround him, at last perceived two eyes dimly twinkling through the mist, which he observed after a short time were in the neighbourhood of a nose and mouth. Casting his eyes down towards that quarter in which, with reference to a man’s face, his legs are usually to be found, he observed that the face had a body attached; and when he looked more intently he was satisfied that the person was Mr Quilp, who indeed had been in his company all the time, but whom he had some vague idea of having left a mile or two behind.
‘You have deceived an orphan, Sir,’ said Mr Swiveller solemnly.
‘I! I’m a second father to you,’ replied Quilp.
‘You my father, Sir!’ retorted Dick. ‘Being all right myself, Sir, I request to be left alone—instantly, Sir.’
‘What a funny fellow you are!’ cried Quilp.
‘Go, Sir,’ returned Dick, leaning against a post and waving his hand. ‘Go, deceiver, go, some day, Sir, p’r’aps you’ll waken, from pleasure’s dream to know, the grief of orphans forsaken. Will you go, Sir?’
The dwarf taking no heed of this adjuration, Mr Swiveller advanced with the view of inflicting upon him condign chastisement. But forgetting his purpose or changing his mind before he came close to him, he seized his hand and vowed eternal friendship, declaring with an agreeable frankness that from that time forth they were brothers in everything but personal appearance.
If you’ve never read Dickens, please consider doing so. I personally do not think you will find a better author.
As for other favourite authors, special mention must go to Michael Crichton (probably best known for Jurassic Park) whose level of knowledge and research into the facts, concepts and science behind the stories he weaves has oft left me incredulous. Not only that but his books are some of the most exciting I have read.
Others who have written some of my favourite books include Trudi Canavan for ‘The Age of the Five’ trilogy, Anne Rice for the first four or so books from the Vampire Chronicles (‘Interview With The Vampire’ etc.) and Orson Scott Card for the Ender Saga (most notably the first book ‘Enders Game’ which is utterly spellbinding).
Finally I would like to recommend the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming. With the exception of Casino Royale, no Bond film has even come close to doing its respective book justice and in fact I would hate for the books to be judged based on the films as they are truly terrible in comparison. If you have any interest in James Bond, or the genre at all I wholeheartedly recommend these books.
If you’d have any recommendations based on the books and authors I’ve listed here, I would love to hear them so please leave a comment!