10 Books

So I was nominated to do this. Yet I thought rather than post it on Facebook, I would put it here. Maybe I’m a snob, maybe I’m proud…but hey, it got me thinking!

I have been enjoying reading significantly more in the last few years, after the burn out of studying a history degree wore off, so this post is perhaps timely.

Here are ten books which have had a lasting impact on me (whatever that quite means). Basically, ten books I’ve loved.

1. Harry Potter (them all) by J. K. Rowling – I am definitely a child of Potter, having grown up with these wonderful books. I still come back to them time and again.

2. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – I recently re-read my own annotated copy from GCSE days. A real shame if this wonderful novella is removed from the curriculum. I suffered through and came out loving it.

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – Rarely have I been so moved by a book. Simply wonderful. Catch the film too.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – This classic is slow-paced but so very atmospheric.

5. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins – Truly gripping. Thank goodness I read them after they were all available!

6. Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill – More niche this one. A wonderful account of various Christians’ struggles with same-sex attraction. I found it profoundly touching and timely for the church today.

7. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – Another classic worth looking up. Immersive and thought-provoking.

8. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – The most clever and devious murder mystery you’ll ever read. There isn’t even a detective in it.

9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl – A world of pure imagination indeed. Who could fail to love a book with a chocolate river in it?

10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – Simultaneously affecting and frustrating. A really interesting read.

The (Late) Breakfast Club

Were you a horrid teenager? You know the drill – grunting, drinking, mono-syllabic moaning, messing up your room, generally being a stereotype. Well, I think I missed most of these things in my teenage years (maybe my parents disagree?) but I have had a growing appreciation of the delights of being a teenager recently. Maybe this is further evidence of my refusal to actually grow up and I’m sure it’s rather rose-tinted as well, yet I have been enjoying nostalgically dipping my toes into being a ‘teenager’ again.

I hope you have had the joy of watching classic ‘teen movies.’ Not sparkly-vampire infested ones, but classic, quotable, bad-hair featuring ones. Movies like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Juno and Clueless. There’s something about the boundless opportunity and optimism of the characters, even when they are forced to spend a whole Saturday in detention, that seems to me to be the thing I miss about teenager-hood. The feeling that the world really is your oyster and that any kind of creative, random, unexpected thing could happen. Too often, this feeling is drowned out in me by jaded, perfunctory, grown-up-ness.

My renewed youth has also been fed by teen-fiction. Yes, that’s right. Sounds terrible doesn’t it. But when I think that I was eagerly awaiting the last Harry Potter book or two well into my twenties it’s not all that surprising. I was totally gripped by The Hunger Games trilogy, loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower and, damn it, was holding back tears reading The Fault in our Stars. There’s something about the intensity of feeling, the ‘universe is centred around me and how I feel right now’ perspective of these characters, as well as the ‘this friendship will never be the same again’ sadness, that makes these books so appealing in many ways. Or maybe just easier to read.

As I think about the future and the possibilities before me, are they really less vast than those I imagined (or not) when I was an actual teenager? Is it not a positive thing to seek to enjoy every moment, eager to await each surprise, rather than dreading the next hiccup? If nothing else, this teenage flashback has reminded me that God has been faithful to me up to now, so much more than I could have expected. Whatever is to come, I look forward to enjoying his goodness and the gifts, whether as big as a new job or a child, or as small as a sunny day and an ice lolly, that he generously gives. And when it’s hard, it will be OK, because time goes on and he is faithful.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller

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Welcome to Moomin Valley

I was lucky enough to see the brilliantly wacky Moominland Midwinter with my family at the theatre this Christmas. Having not thought twice about the Moomins since childhood, I was struck once again by their utter randomness, complete nonsensicalness, and gentle cheerfulness (lots of nesses…).

In what other world could Moomintroll and the Snork Maiden go on a walk through the snow to see Too-Ticky and the invisible shrews? Or Little My and Snufkin run into Mrs Fillyjonk or a Hemulen?

I have to say, the names make me giggle, but in a very affectionate way. There’s little better than a silly name to bring a smile to my face. Simple things, eh.

Having sought out some of the wonderful Tove Jansson comic strips, I have enjoyed reading the gentle adventures of the residents of Moomin Valley. Perfect bedtime reading. The tone is like a Scandinavian Winnie the Pooh; colder, but no less warm somehow. Imagine the Hundred Acre Wood transplanted to Finland, with a bit of extra whimsy.

Anyhow, I’d recommend you take a look and ponder with me that age old question, ‘What is a Moonmintroll really?’

Albino hippopotamus? Giant-headed dwarf polar bear? Your guess is as good as mine….!

But it doesn’t really matter. And that’s the point I guess. Which makes me smile. Again. 🙂

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