5 Things Thursday: Books That Shaped Me

This post was inspired by an item in Elle Uk: 7 books that shaped me. I have always been a real bookworm. My grandma, a retired headteacher, taught me to read before I started school and I haven't stopped since! As a child, I was very introverted and I found solace in reading. Books have played a huge part in shaping who I have become.

1. The Harry Potter Series

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?

I suppose I should start with the obvious. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. My best friend and I bonded over our mutual love of Harry Potter and it has become the foundation of our friendship. I'm planning to marry at Wizarding World of Harry Potter next year. I fully admit that they are not the most well-written pieces of children's literature ever. I have no delusions of their credibility. But they were a huge part of my childhood and I have had some amazing experiences that would not have happened if it weren't for these books.

2. High Windows- Philip Larkin

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as quickly as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

I was introduced to this poetry anthology when I did my English Literature A-level. As a 16 year old, I was especially cynical and sneering of the world. I found solace in the 30-year-old poetic musings that had been written by a since-deceased middle-class librarian in his early 50s. The first poem we were introduced to was This be the Verse. It resonated with me in a way nothing had before and it has still stuck with me today, even if my viewpoint has warmed with age.

3. Plays- Philip Ridley

For me, there's something beautiful and peaceful in the inhuman, humanless devastation.

When we were 18, my best friend studied drama at university. She was studying the plays of Philip Ridley and thought I would appreciate his twisted surrealism so lent me her copy. I read the plays once and never really thought of them again. What stuck with me was his poetic introduction. A good 60 pages, it's more a short story than an introduction. Semi- (or perhaps fully-) autobiographical, it is sick, twisted and utterly disturbing. As a rather troubled 18 year old, I found it comforting to know that I was not alone. There were other people whose minds worked in the way mine did. In fact, people whose minds were even more twisted than my own. I still enjoy reading it and revelling in the insanity.

4. Of Mice and Men- John Steinbeck

'Because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you'

Another book that I was introduced to through an academic pathway. I'm sure a few people reading this would also have studied Of Mice and Men for their English Literature GCSE. I was struck by the raw emotion. The intense love that George and Lenny have for each other, the utter devotion that Lenny shows and the ultimate destruction of his innocence. For such a short book, it is so complex and multi-layered. I can't even tell you how many times I have read it but it makes me cry every time without fail. Oh and if anybody else watches Being Human (the UK one), did you notice the glaring parallel with the ultimate fates of George (even the name is the same!) and Mitchell?

5. Peepo!- Allan and Janet Ahlberg

Here's a little bab,
One, two, three.
Standing in his cot.
What does he see?

I have no image of this book as I don't own it myself.

As I have already mentioned, my Grandma taught me to read at the age of 3. This was the book she used and I can still remember the delight in recognising a word on sight. I fully intend to use this book to teach my own children- and maybe even grandchildren- to read.

So there we have the five books that have made me who I am today. What books would you choose for your own list?


  1. Wonderful read! I haven't read most of the books here, I can only agree on Harry Potter ;) well, I'll read them in near future ;)
    Great idea for a post, I may do something like that ;)

  2. i love the '7 books that shaped my life' in ELLE. it's always the first thing i read every month :)

  3. What a lovely feature, and a nice peek into your mind. I like your choices!
    I think some of my 5 books would be: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Haruki Murakami, The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath. I'll have to think about the last three, because I have a feeling they are non-fiction. What an inspiring idea! I'll have to do a post of my own and explain my choices :)


    1. Oh I love Haruki Murakami! I love his surrealism. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is my favourite of his although I enjoyed Kafka on the Shore a lot too.

  4. Harry Potter is definitely at the top of my "shaping me" list. I was 10 when the series came out so I was part of the generation that "grew up with the books." =)

    What a great post topic!


  5. Oh this was such an interesting post! I'm very tempted to copy you and do one myself! Who WAS NOT affected by Harry Potter? If it wasn't for Harry Potter I wouldn't be a reader of books and therefore wouldn't be studying them at university. Harry Potter saved my literature life. Fact. And Of Mice and Men! Awh how I was attached to that book as well! It's only when you're older you can really appreciate the themes and content. Phillip Larkin...he kinda freaks me out to be honest. Always writes about girls and sex. But hey I like Lolita so I can't really say anything!

    Gemma x

    1. You should do it! I'd love to see what your choices are.

      Haha "always writes about girls and sex"- That's hilarious! Thinking about it, he was a bit creepy!

  6. I LOVE Of Mice and Men. I remember my horror as I progressed into the story and how I found so much growth in it. :)

  7. Loved Of Mice and Men - it was such a great story! I just don't know what Steinbeck would have said about Harry Potter, though ;-)
    xo Anja @

  8. other than the Harry potter series I haven't read the rest! I love reading so I need tto read these- especially mice and men. I might have to borrow this post for myself


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