OK, so I doubt this really fulfils the desired criteria, but MbD encouraged me to have a crack. The best I could manage is the 10 That Shaped Me!
In chronological order, that is when I read them, not when they were written, they are as follows:
Choose Your Own Adventure – Various Authors (I use the term loosely…)
As an impatient child (and I can’t say I’ve improved over the years), this was a great introduction to reading at a higher level. Guess I was about 10yo when I devoured every one of these I could find. Don’t like the result, then go back and try again. Start doing this on multiple levels, and the brain was working overtime to keep track of the 8 threads you were weighing up.
Hardy Boys - Frederick W. Dixon (Turns ourt this was just a bunch of freelancers all writing under 1 name. Maybe I knew this 30 years ago, but was a little surprised to find that out now).
Hello mysteries! I was hooked, seriously. So much so I may have even strayed to Nancy Drew on more than the odd occasion. They may have been formulaic, but just like Scooby Doo, you learned the villain wasn’t always the old guy in the decrepit house. And since there was a bunch of them, that took care of my pre-teen years.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole – Sue Townsend
My grandparents were English – in Australia, that means you grew up with British Comedy. The US invasion was 10 years away, so I was weaned on The 2 Ronnies, Rumpole of the Bailey, Porridge etc.
This ‘diary’ of a young adolescent became my window to the UK from an adolescent’s view. It was often painful, but did teach me roughly about the English schooling system, the class wars, and confirmed the weather is shit.
On ‘researching’ this one, turns out there is another 4 in the series I haven’t read. A little intrigued, but also concerned this might be one of those ‘you are not 13 any more’ disappointments. I’ll give one a crack and see if I survive…
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
This nomination is not based on my actual reading of the book. This was a school enforced read, with little teacher direction. Then I saw the movie. Then I played the Artful Dodger in the school play. THEN the book came to life!
It’s probably the script, rather than the book that I remember. Australia is a simple country with a short ‘white-man’ history. At school, we followed the English through Medieval times, the Victorian era, the World Wars in the 1900’s.
This tale encompasses all that is good and bad about the English class system, and for a middle class Aussie lad, made me dead glad I was born where I was, when I was.
Icarus Agenda – Robert Ludlum
Spies, war, and treachery. Welcome to my early teens. I credit this book for kicking it off. Must have read it 6 times as a teen, and a few more since. Classic 80’s tale of America saving the world in the face of foreign forces.
Just pulled it of my shelf when writing this, and it’s literally fallen apart on me. Damn, I have a hankering to read it again…
Ten Little Indians – Agatha Christie
I much prefer the original title, but MbD has banned me. This IS one of the greatest mystery stories of all time, and I’m willing to punch up with anyone who says otherwise!*
10 people trapped on an island, and they die off one by one. Who is next, and who is the murderer?
If you haven’t read this, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
*I may be 6ft, but not much on my bones. I’m sure a 5ft Italian Grandmother could change my mind if she swung her rolling pin with a little vigour.
The Rise and Rise of Kerry Packer – Paul Barry
For non-Australians (yes, I know, that’s 98% of you), the Packer family are an Australian dynasty. Think the US Rockefellers or the European Rothschilds.
But remember we are a relatively young country (apologies to the Aboriginal ancestors of our land). The Packer story starts with a growing media empire in the 1930’s, and grew to Australia’s largest media company. (Opinion is divided between the Packers and Murdochs during the 1990’s, but much of Murdoch News Corp’s wealth spread to the US.) A fascinating look at the man who was a driving force in commercial TV, and revitalised cricket with his broadcasting.
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
I know, late to the party on this one, and might even buck the ‘I don’t want the classics’ criteria.
Visiting Florida, I picked up a friend’s copy the night before MbD and I got married (it was a spur-of-the-moment thing, with 3 days planning). To be fair, the events are not related, but it was a pretty life changing week. John Yossarian takes a Monty Python approach to life as an aircraft bombardier through WW2, with added insights that make you question what YOU stand for.
MacBeth – Jo Nesbo
Have reviewed this one, mainly as an outlet for the feelings the book left me with, both during the read, and then the dreams that followed. Most know the Shakespeare tale, this modernises the battle of morals one can face.
Replay – Ken Grimwood
Recently reviewed this one too. Read it 9 months ago, and barely a day goes when I don’t think about the questions it raises. Living one’s life over and over, knowing you can take nothing with you. Try reading this and tell me if doesn’t affect your look on life.
I’m sure I am forgetting a few, and the 10 may change to X in future, but these are the books that shaped my reading habits, and my views of the world.