There was a post that was doing the rounds on Facebook a while back about books that you will never forget. It fascinated me to stop and see what types of books people ended up posting about. The goal was to be quick, to just let your first thoughts propel you into making a choice about the books and really in the end it showed how the artistry of certain books had shaped the lives of my friends.
Interestingly, my favourite books and my favourite films (those which have shaped my life) tend to be ones which are full of mixtures of different recipes of emotion, ideologies, theology and overall beauty. There is something grand and epic within them and a deeper yearning and hope stands in the background of the story - that hope that whispers that there is something more to life than mediocrity. So here - without further ado as the Bard once wrote - are ten books which have shaped my life with a brief reason.
10. The Hunger Games: Not the best book ever written, but the book I needed to read at the time I did to be reminded of what it was I love about fiction.
9. The Wheel of Time: At the time I began the entire series (though I count them as one here for spanning an entire single story) I needed something new to read in terms of fantasy. I found it with this!
8. 1984: A book that taught me about the power of philosophy mixed with dystopian storytelling. Powerful, poetic, raw and inspiring reading.
7.The Complete Edgar Allan Poe: I read this at a period when I needed to get something more literary back into my reading habit. Fortunately Poe is both elegant literature and beautiful
6. Mistborn - The Final Empire: I had lost faith in the originality of fantasy until thanks to The Wheel of Time I stumbled on this book of Brandon Sanderson's and have since enjoyed everything he puts out. I love the mix of subverting tropes, discussion of religious ideas and the fantasy itself.
5. Dracula: One of those books that caused me to fall in love with the spooky atmosphere of the Gothic horror and the true vampire novel that portrays him as the devilish villain that he should be!
4. Frankenstein: Fortunately I got to study this during Year 12 or else my literature studies would have been incredibly boring to me. I very much fell in love with the marvels, philosophy and ideas within the story and it has stuck with me for the past 5 years.
3. The Hobbit: One of the books that got me into reading and fantasy. I loved the story of Bilbo and the idea of there being this fearsome dragon was amazing. However, The Lord of the Rings has since usurped its place as for how books have shaped my world!
2. The Lord of the Rings: It might feel like I'm cheating, putting in two different Tolkien books, however I must say that while The Hobbit shaped my childhood reading experience more, The Lord of the Rings is the book that remains my favourite book and has been re-read more times than any other on my shelves. I love its scope, its drama and the fact that it is almost every kind of genre at once...
1. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe: While I really should include the Bible in this list I am straying from including nonfiction works. Also, note that this is not my favourite book of all, but it is the book which shaped my reading more than any other. A book through which I built a connection to a love of reading and magic. A book which connected me to my Mother and her Mother in another unique way. A book which I still love when I read it again...
And here are ten films that have shaped my life similarly. They are not necessarily my 'favourite' movies. I don't have favourites really (save for a clear top two or three), just films and books that should be on my shelves at some point:
10. Iron Man: It's the film that kickstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe and seeing it at last happen brought about a whole culmination of comic reading hopes... And I will always love Marvel superheroes anyway so yeah!
9. Pirates of the Carribean - The Curse of the Black Pearl: As a movie I still really love it despite the fact that the sequels aren't so good. But it brings back memories of when I first watched it on a summer's evening in Venus Bay while going through a bunch of more mature films as a kid.
8. Gladiator: It combines my love of history with my love of film and philosophy/faith. I still love the quotes, the themes and the heart of the story. It's a powerful film I rewatch from time to time. Inspirational as well as a favourite.
7. The Muppets Treasure Island: My taste is very pop-culture inspired (it's all the stuff I grew up with okay!) but it's also very varied and eclectic in its own right. I do love the Muppets and this is my favourite of the films (although The Muppets is pretty great too) due to childhood memories of watching the film, possibly singing along (sorry family if I was very off key) and so on.
6. Ben Hur: A regularly watched film around Easter in my family and for that reason it's a film that brings back so many memories as well as being powerful and important.
5. Galaxy Quest: This is the film I have seen more than any other and a film that I love for how it parodies sci-fi with fun and humour. Despite having seen it so often it's still re-watchable even now.
4. The Princess Bride: Oh so quotable, and with an epic storyline and beautiful way of subverting the entire fantasy genre. I will always love this movie (and quote/reference it off cuff).
3. Star Wars: I will never forget sitting down, nice and comfy as a kid (about the same time I learnt to read) to watch A New Hope for the first time with my parents. Films for me back then, as now, are about the memories of times with friends and family and the deeper philosophical ideas as much as the story you can re-watch over and over.
2. Toy Story: The Incredibles may be my favourite of the Pixar films, but there's no denying that I first fell in love with Pixar through Toy Story. It's a film that is so universally loved and it's not hard to see why - it's near perfect.
1. The Return of the King: To see a book that I love be adapted into so powerful a film? Well that is something special and impacted me as a 12 year old deeply. Andy Serkis as Gollum is amazing - as is Viggo Mortenson as the king returning in Aragorn. I'm still confused as to why 19 critics (according to Rotten Tomatoes) hated it and called it shallow...