BOOKS THAT INFLUENCED MY LIFE
At a recent meeting, we were given the opportunity to think about books that had made an impression on us during the course of our lives. Animated discussion ensued and, as memories began to pour out, we soon realised that there were many influential books that had remained in our minds, for a wide range of reasons. It immediately became evident that it would be virtually impossible to recount them all.
Some of my earliest recollections were stories by A. A. Milne, including those about Christopher Robin and his friends having adventures in the forest. My grandparents’ bush block where I spent my school holidays became my forest and my father encouraged me to look out for Eeyore and Pooh. I learnt some of his verses by heart as well and always enjoyed reciting them at any opportunity.
Tales by Rudyard Kipling also stand out and I remember that I loved to quote “the great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo River” from The Elephant’s Child in the Just So Stories, rolling the words round my tongue with relish. This was surely where I began to realise the fascination, beauty and power of words, the essential tools of a writer.
Myths and legends of different cultures not only taught me to read and extended my vocabulary, but gave me insights into how people viewed the world around them and attempted to explain the grand questions that have puzzled humanity throughout time.
Books were the means to escape from everyday, mundane existence and explore strange, exotic worlds of fantasy and adventure that fired my imagination and opened up endless possibilities for writing my own stories. These included The Faraway Tree, The Land of Green Ginger, The Dragonriders of Pern, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings.
Books introduced me to unique and eccentric characters, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and The Saint by Leslie Charteris.
Georgette Heyer’s romantic novels unfolded a world of grown-up situations, mystery, intrigue, and passion, along with Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Mary Stewart and Baroness Orczy, the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Books guided me through my studies at university and provided relaxation when the academic year ended.
Books have ever been my constant companions, offering entertainment, wonder, solace and learning. They are among my most treasured possessions.
© Judith V Cooke 14th May 2019