When I go someone’s house for the first time, I make a beeline for their bookshelf. You can tell a lot about a person by what they read and I firmly believe that books are at least partly responsible for shaping our worldview, particularly those we read as kids. While most of us have a story about a book that profoundly changed us, I think even the pulpiest airport novel we pick up to pass the time leaves an impression, however subtle. And we fall in love with stories for different reasons: they challenge us, comfort us and remind us of what was happening in our lives while we were reading them. They offer escape and teach compassion. They shape and build our understanding of language, inform and reflect our personal aesthetic and taste, and a million other things besides.
I turned thirty last month, and I’ve been using the milestone to have a bit of a think about what I value, how I got where I am and where I want to go next. Books play a big part in that, so today I thought I share the thirty books that have most influenced me in my first thirty years. Some have indeed shaped the course of my life in very real ways, while others have had a more subtle effect: teaching me about language and how stories work, influencing the kinds of stories I like to tell, introducing me to genres I love, keeping me company as a kid when I was scared and couldn’t sleep, or been the reason I couldn’t sleep. They contain some of my favourite characters and take me to the places I most want to go. They’re the books that I’ve read again and again and keep coming back to, the stories that most feel like friends.
Looking at them all laid out, I’m keenly aware that it’s a fairly conservative list. In fact, it kinda screams: ‘Snobby lit. grad with a weakness for crime’. I’m a preppy anglophile at heart, and that’s probably not going to change, but I am keen to diversify. If you have recommendations, hit me up.
I’ve listed titles roughly in the order I remember first reading them. I haven’t included blurbs, but if you’re keen to know more about any of the titles, I’ve provided links to their Goodreads pages. For those who are new to Lectito or don’t know me very well, consider it an introduction of sorts. Firm friends, humour my self-indulgence, and if you have recommendations for what I should read over the next thirty years, please do leave a comment. As a quid pro quo, I’d also love to know what titles you’d include on your list and what role(s) you see books playing in your life.
Like what you see? Keep in touch:
And get the latest from Lectito delivered to your inbox.