Sometimes I wish I’d started Booking in Heels earlier just so I’d have a record of all the wonderful books I read before May 2011. I know I read some great books, but until I eventually go back and read them, I have no idea what I initially thought of them. I never really kept a book journal until last year or so.
Because of this, I thought it would be fun to give a nod to the books I loved before I was a blogger.
1) The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis
I adored this book. I read it right at the point when I was starting to experiment with new genres, when I was about 16. I can’t remember what led me to it or where it came from, but I know I loved it beyond sense.
It’s historical fiction, told through the eyes of Princess Sancha of Aragon as she marries into the infamous Borgia family.
There’s betratal and stabbings and forbidden romance and… argh! So good. I should reread this soon actually, although I expect that that sentence will feature a lot in this post.
I have no idea why I like this vampire series so much, as honestly, it’s not written all that well at all. There’s just something about it.
It’s completely unique for a start. Yes, there are vampires, but it’s a whole new twist and it works really, really well. There’s an atmosphere of glamour and sophistication that shines through, so it’s really easy to overlook the faults.
3) Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
This was my favourite book for a long time. I read it when I was about 16 after purchasing it from Waterstones on a whim. Werewolves weren’t really A Thing back then and there definitely wasn’t an ‘urban fantasy’ genre, but I just knew I loved it, and the rest of the series. I read it every year for three years on the trot.
I admit to getting a little bored of the later books – they focused pretty much solely on Savannah and she always irritated me. I’m also completely unimpressed with the upcoming TV show – I do not want this book ruined in my head by bad casting and drama. It’s a very adult book, not YA at all, but I know that’s exactly how they’re going to film it.
I love this book more than life.
It’s basically just a collection of letters between Helene Hanff and her bookseller, but it’s adorable and tiny and gives me that tight, happy feeling in my stomach that you get when you’ve read something truly great.
There’s a quote in there about fruit knives that makes me snort every time. I’ll post it when I reread this, which is likely to be very soon indeed.
To continue with the apparent theme, I read Pride and Prejudice when I was about 16 and completely fell in love with it. This was before I was really ‘into’ classics but it blew me away, especially when Elizabeth runs into Mr. Darcy on her tour near his home.
It’s just such a perfect book, and in a way I’m lucky I discovered it as early as I did. Although I would have a lot more room on my bookshelves…
6) The Magic Kingdom of Landover series by Terry Brooks
This series reminds me of the time I spent living alone, just working 30 hours a week at GAME. It wasn’t the best period of my life, far from it, but it’s when I really got back into reading and when I founded Booking in Heels. It was a very up-and-down time, but I look back on it fondly.
Anyway, I discovered these books while I was devouring
texts books (habit, sorry Laura!) and adored them instantly. They’re ‘proper’ fantasy – normal man accidentally buys a magic kingdom. Chaos ensues. They’re a bit cheesey, but on purpose and it works so well.
7) Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
A quick nod to Ellie and this post for reminding me of this book’s existence. And yes, since you asked, I did read it when I was about sixteen!
I’ve actually considered picking it up again reasonably recently, but I vaguely remember feeling agonising pity for one of the characters, to the point where I’m not really sure I can bear to read it again!
I think there was a TV programme at one point as well, but I never caught it.
I think most people are familiar with Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books by now – I have dedicated, signed copies for three of his books and I’m giving out The Eyre Affair for World Book Night.
I could have used them on this list, but instead I thought I’d go for this one. It’s aimed at a younger audience, but I love it anyway. It’s quirky and fun, and the cover is all bumpy like dragonskin (I’m easy to please). I think I must have read this literally the week before beginning my blog, but it’s wonderful for a light, entertaining read.
It was a toss-up whether to include this one or The Handmaid’s Tale, but this one is slightly more cheerful and I’m in an upbeat kind of mood (despite the howling gale outside).
I’ve always loved Greek mythology, but Margaret Atwood shows us what Penelope was up to while Odysseus was faffing about on his ship for ten years. It’s accessible and fascinating, and honestly, I wish she’d written more or them!
10) His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
I love the Temeraire series – the Napoleonic Wars… with dragons. Even the basic summary makes me smile.
It’s actually done really well though. They’re actually quite heavy in places (the books, not the dragons, although now you mention it…) as there’s a lot of detail gone into the details of the conflicts, but the dragon-y parts are amazing. I spent literally a month after I read this book telling anybody who would listen that I wanted a dragon, especially one like Temeraire. He’s just perfect, so protective of Captain Lawrence, and…. argh, so good.
Well, that’s ten books I’m instantly dying to reread. Just what I needed. Seriously though, I want to pluck every single one of these of the shelf and give them the rereading they deserve.
If nothing else, we learnt that I read a lot of books when I was sixteen.