The Ten Books That Changed Me- TGBOL

The prompt for the Great Book of Lists this week was to list books that “transport” us to another time or place, out of our daily lives. I found this difficult, purely because every book that I enjoy transports me into that particular world. If it doesn’t, I stop reading it – life’s too short, and my reading pile too big! Choosing just a handful on this basis was also beyond me…

So below is a list of the ten books (not necessarily novels) that have had the greatest impact on me, that have transported me either through the power of the storytelling, or in the influence they have had on me personally, or both.

In no particular order:

1. Cormac McCarthy – The Road
The book that put me off wanting to be a writer, because I’ll never write anything as good as this.

2. Nick Hornby – High Fidelity
The right book at the right time can have a huge effect. This tracked and amplified my obsession with list-making… and look where that’s got me!

3. Julia Donaldson – The Gruffalo
I could have chosen one of half a dozen of her books – she directly inspired me to write children’s stories in rhyme.

4. Shel Silverstein – Where the Sidewalk Ends
I was recommended this by my American critique group (I hadn’t heard of him at that time), who paid me the great compliment of being Silverstein-esque. I only wish!

5. Max Brooks – World War Z
A great book, bold in scope, unique in vision. This was unfortunately made into a distinctly average film of limited scope and generic, by-the-numbers vision. (Note to film-makers – zombies DO NOT run. They are the reanimated dead, not Olympic sprinters.)

6. Iain Banks – The Wasp Factory
I can still picture every detail in this slightly bizarre, yet surface-normal, world, even though I haven’t read it for at least a decade.

7. Douglas Adams – The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
A huge influence on my sense of humour. I was too young for the radio series, but grew up with the original TV show, and even remember playing a text-only computer game of it. Must read this one again.

8. Roald Dahl – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
A children’s story with both lyricism and darkness.

9. George RR Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire
I’m not normally a fan of fantasy, but these had me gripped. I raced through all the novels one after the other (courtesy of a friend’s generosity in lending me them… There isn’t room on my bookshelves for this weighty series!). After reading one of the books, I read Hunger Games. It was like drinking lemonade after a fine wine.

10. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
Gaiman is the writer I most want to be, and The Graveyard Book is the book I most want to have written.

So, feel free to analyse away about what this list says about me… What books have transported you, in one way or other?




The pigeons know all answers.
They taunt with each peck
I knew that
Could’ve told you
But never do.

They’re all around us, ignored.
Scuffed away when they come too close
Tossed crunchy crumbs on winter ice
if we remember.
Living off scraps.

We feel no empathy
Blind to their existence
Deaf to their know-it-all coos.
not like us.

But those pigeons have seen it all
From the caps of clouds to the soles of shoes
Salty seas to rusting rooftops
All of nature’s expense and expanse
They feel the answers.

We’re not asking.




Picture credit:

The Best Song Ever

This is the first full “song” I have ever written. When my ukelele skills are up to muster, I’ll post a video of me playing this… maybe 🙂


Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one,
It really is the best!
It’s better than the previous one,
It’s better than the rest!

I’ve sung it once or twice before,
So please now sing along.
It really is a cracking tune,
Just such a lovely song.

It follows a familiar path,
The words go up and down.
It’s guaranteed to bring a smile,
Impossible to frown.

And now it’s time to   slow   it   down,
To   draw   out   every   word…
Sounding quite absurd!


Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one,
It clearly is the best,
Much better than the other ones
The bestest best best best!




Picture credit:

Haiku -End

This is my final haiku of the week, which have been unusually morbid for me. This one is dedicated to David Bowie. I wrote the haiku first, and then couldn’t get the image of Bowie in his final incarnation in “Lazarus” out of my head. I hope the restless artist’s soul has now found peace. 


Eye sheds single tear
Drum-taut, paper-thin skin greys
Heart’s silence, ends life


Picture credit:

Written for secret keeper, using the prompts: silence – eyes – heart – drum – life

Limerick – Mental Mist

In the midst of the mind’s mental mist
Are some things that can’t be dismissed
Just clear your mind
And you will find
The one for which you have wished



Picture credit:

Written for

Limerick – Tryst

Apologies for this, but with the prompt “mist” I could not resist!

A boy and a girl kissed and kissed
Beginning an amorous tryst
He was young and naïve
That cold winter eve
And went into the fog and mist!




Picture credit:

Written for:

Unplugged Saturday

I mentioned in my Friday list post that one of my New Year’s Absolutely-Not-A-Resolution (But-Kinda-Is) was to spend one day a week completely offline. Well, I tried it yesterday for the first time…

In a normal day, I spend hours checking and replying to emails, checking Facebook, scrolling through Twitter, refreshing news pages, looking at rugby scores… Even if I’m watching a film or a TV show with my boys, chances are I’m on my smartphone at the same time, giving each half of my attention. Sound familiar to anyone else?

Well, not yesterday.

I went completely cold turkey.


Now, as a smartphone user, this meant pretty much hiding my phone away all day. I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist the little counter at the bottom of the screen telling me there were 15 or whatever new messages to check. I turned off automatic syncing, so the numbers stayed silent, and temptation wouldn’t flash before me.

Then, just to make sure, I turned the ringer volume up and left the phone in a different room.

(I contemplated hiding it under a cushion, but thought that might be going overboard.)

We had no big family things on yesterday – the youngest went a birthday party, the oldest to play with his friends down the road for a couple of hours, the usual weekend parental taxi-ing – but unusually I did get an hour at home to myself. Prime Facebook time…

But I decided to read instead.

Crazy, right?

I’m always complaining that I don’t have time to read, so I thought this was a golden opportunity to put my money where my mouth was.

I’d started Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover the night before… I finished it yesterday afternoon. I can’t remember the last time I got through a book so quickly. The book’s amazing, and a quick read… so there I was, on a Saturday afternoon, in an empty house, crying at the end of a book for the first time in … a very long time.

After tidying myself up, I picked Louis Sachar’s Holes from my reading pile, and started on that… another great choice. I’m halfway through it already, completely hooked.

Better than Facebook anyday.

The flip side of this day offline is (a) not having any phone to distract me while we watched an awful film for Film Night (The Little Vampire)… and (b) having 205 new emails to catch up with on Sunday morning… but an hour on the laptop to focus on those saw to that (and write this post into the bargain).

Batched living. It’s the way forward!

So, it may take me longer to reply to emails and messages, but you know what… it can wait…

Enjoy your Sunday. And whatever your doing, give it your full attention 🙂