Formative Fiction?

tintin.gif

At the suggestion of sundry commenters, Troppo is pleased to present a poll on books that you read as a kid that had a great impact on you. It’s quite a nice exercise in nostalgia and reflection, and seems appropriate to me because today’s my birthday! Please nominate ten. If you want to be specific about books that you read before the age of 13 and between 13 and 17, that’s fine, but I’m happy to give people free rein to post what they like. I’ll leave the thread open for a week and then collate the results.

I loved Asterix and Tintin when I was in Primary School, the first “literary great” I read was Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and I devoured science fiction and fantasy books through High School, including some by authors whom I still love such as Michael Moorcock, Mervyn Peake, Ursula LeGuin and Philip K. Dick. My first published work was a letter to the editor of the venerable science fiction mag Analog in 1981… I lost my copy, but it was really excellent to find it by chance in a second hand book shop late last year!

One of the neat things about Asterix and Tintin was that they were both available in French, which I started learning in Grade 7 – Asterix also in Latin! I also loved Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince, and later in High School, Camus and Baudelaire. Reading the New Testament in French was also profoundly fascinating for a kid.

NOTE: Image source – Montreal Extreme.

ELSEWHERE: Georg has some interesting reflections on kids’ books (including the politics of children’s literature) over at her book blog, Stack.

UPDATE: I might leave the post open for a few more days, because I’m too tired tonight to compile the results, and because I think it’s been an extremely interesting thread and I’d like to give any latecomers the chance to add their thoughts.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

Mark, you can do this however you like, of course, especially since it’s your birhday. But I think Nabakov and Rob had a particular reason for limiting it to when we were children. If you go up to 17, it will become a discussion of books in general. And there will be no obvious cut-off. I read Anna Karenina when I was 17 and The Brothers Karamazov when I was 20. Was the former childhood reading and the other not? 12 is a good cut-off if we want to focus on pre-adolescent influences.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Point taken, James, but I think asking people to nominate books up to the age of 12 and afterwards preserves the intent, as the categories are clearly delineated. I think it’s also interesting to note how books we read as kids (eg Anna Karenina) can often be experienced and understood quite differently when reread later in life (and indeed this is one of the joys of rereading great books) and I’d like to give people space to comment on that as well if they want.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

James, I’ve changed the post to make two categories – up til age 12, then 13-17.

Tony.T
2022 years ago

By a mile: Willard Price’s “Adventure” stories.

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

I really liked the Donald Duck comics by Carl Barks when I was small. Science fiction was very big, too.

By the way, I finally found a Swedish blog that I like:
http://www.spectator.se/stambord/

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

Herge IS a literary great. So you were reading literary greats in Primary School.

Tintin is a old passion of mine- I will have to post about it this afternoon.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Up till 12: Richie Rich.
12-17: The Target bra & knickers catalogue.

Georg
2022 years ago

Tintin is indeed a great, I can still read them now and be totally lost in them.

Others that come to mind all these years after having read them: Simon French’s Hey Phantom Singlet and Cannily Cannily, Ian Serrailer’s Silver Sword and the Encyclopaedia Brown series, the author’s name escapes me right now. Are we counting picture books? I remember finding John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat very depressing as a child. I didn’t really like it but I can still remember the feeling of loneliness it gave me.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Great, Scott – really looking forward to reading your post. That’s after I’ve gone to the Merthyr Bowls Club for a few beers and out to dinner tonight to celebrate my birthday!

Down and Out in Sai Gon
2022 years ago

Mark, I read Asterix for the puns in the characters’ names: Unhygienix, Fulliautomatic and Dogmatix come to mind. Better than the French originals, I think.

I also liked Graham Oakley’s stories about Church Mice (and one Church Cat too!).

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Happy birthday Mark. For under 12, I throw in the Phantom and the Dr Syn series. Subversive stuff!

Gummo Trotsky
2022 years ago

Under 12: Little Black Sambo. Took years to get over the effects of that charming little number.

13 – 17: <skite>Beat you to Anna Karenina by two years and the Brothers K by 5 Mr Farrell</skite>.

Polly
Polly
2022 years ago

Before 12yrs – Reach for the Sky by Paul Brickhill about Douglas Bader

Teenage Years – George Orwell, LOTR

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

An interesting discovery. The first time I tried to post this I got this error message: ‘Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content: Lol*ta.’ Another reason for Nabakov to call his blog Lalita.

I’ll list authors, with favourites in brackets.

Before 13: Dr Seuss (If I Ran the Zoo*); Ruth Manning Sanders (Red Indian Folk and Fairy Tails); Herge (Destination Moon); Conan Doyle (The Lost World); PG Wodehouse (Psmith Series)

13-17: PG Wodehouse (Blandings Series); Huxley (BNW); Camus (The Plague); Nabokov (L);
Tolstoy (AK).

*GT take note: I read this at four.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Here’s my ten (up to age 12), in no particular order.

1. Richmal Crompton’s ‘Wiliam’ series. My brother and I defended William against sceptical parents by arguing it was social commentary. Mybe, maybe not. But a great window into English social mores from the 20’s with its flappers to the 60s with its pop stars.

2. Padraic Colum’s ‘The King of Ireland’s Son’. A wonderful compilation and re-telling of Irish folk stories, marvellously illustrated by Willy Podgany. Taught at the Rudolf Steiner School I went to in England until the age of 9 but great anyway.

3. The ‘Biggles’ books. Can’t claim to have read them all by age 12, but a fair few of them, including ‘Biggles Flies East’ – a well-coonstructed story of WWI intrigue – and ‘Biggles Hits the Trail’ – quite imaginative stab at science fiction, featuring a sinister Asian (of course!) plan to conquer the world using death rays and invisibility. Most of the post-WWII stories are markedly inferior in style and content. The real nature of Biggles’ relationship with Ginger remains the subject of heated debate in some circles.

4. As Tony T says – the Willard Price ‘Adventure’ series. Stories of two teenagers doing Indiana Jones type things without the metaphysics. There was one set ihn the Amazon that I thought was particularly good.

5. ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ by Alan Garner. Along roughly the same kind of lines as The Lord of the Rings but for my money much better told in a fraction the space.

6. Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.

7. A retelling of the Mahabarata by Donald Mackenzie. Also the Ramayana. Can’t pretend I understood either but loved the stories.

8. The ‘Carey’ series of historical novels by Ronald Welch, espeically ‘Knight Crusader’ and ‘For the King’.

9. Twelfth Night and Hamlet – my parents were Shakespeare nuts.

10. Barbara Leonie Picard’s retelling of European folk stories, especially ”Scandinavian Legends and Folk tales’, which later led to a life-lonf love of the music of Sibelius.

Yes, I was a book-wormy little snit.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Up to 12 it was the typical boys diet of Biggles, Secret Seven and Boys Own Annual, etc. We weren’t allowed to buy comics, so you stored em and read em at the mates who could. Among the plethora of war comics at the time, ‘Battler Briton’, the Spitfire ace was a favourite. The Phantom was mandatory and Archie and Jughead comics appealed to your age group, for what you could aspire to as a teenager. (I was fascinated at what the funny sounding and looking ‘pizza’ was at the time.)

Got an interest in the classics from the family ‘Newnes Pictorial Encyclopaedia’. The exquisite lithographs, paintings and drawings accompanying the great historical tales of ancient Greece, Rome, etc as well as the great fables and myths, couldn’t help but fire the imagination and life interest. They would impress another generation in my son and daughter(King Midas’Touch one of her favourite bedtime stories)

vee
vee
2022 years ago

WARNING: contains sherlock holmes spoilers.

sherlock holmes of course

vampire stories
ghost stories
ripley’s believe it or not
UFO stuff
sci-fi/fantasy generally (more in my summative years than formative)

I like the fact that sci-fi/fantasy is philosophy guised as fiction but most don’t get it I find.

I couldn’t remember all that for a while

oddly enough a few months back I read the Holmes story where he “died”. I read it on the web.

When read in older age it is quite clear his “death” is an opium induced psychosis and there was no Moriarty and no mystery or anything, just a goose chase.

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
2022 years ago

Primary school – Mister Men books (Mister Topsy Turvy was really cool), Asterix & Obelix (well past my bed-time), Choose your own Adventure books (It always bloody took me several attempts to finish the story as I’d pick the wrong option and my character would be killed or captured. Mind you you could cheat and look for good ending and think backwards looking for the connecting page linkage. But all those failed choices that would emulate my life. Those books are so like the Kierkegaard dictum that life could be understood if only it was lived backwards.)

Also had my obsessions of buying every book on dinosaurs (Y1-3), explorers (Y3), bushrangers (Y4), astronomy (y5), rocks (y6). I was a real non-fiction person until about Year 10 when we got to the real stuff

High School – (Y8) The one exception, Greek mythology, greek mythology and more greek mythology. I still have many of these books too. I didn’t realise at the time that many of these were the classic Greek stories, they were just so entertaining. I mean if the God I was taught about at high school had turned out more like Zeus than the spiteful creature from the wowser brigade I might have taken to him briefly. Mind you my scripture teacher I had makes the one in Joyce’s “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man” seem timid. I’ve often wondered were they found this nutter, whatever the case it certainly prejudiced my view of religious people for many years. He came across as shifty as one of those time-share salesmen using every rhetorical and fear-inducing tactic possible. He went from scary pronouncements of lake-of-fire to becoming a figure of ridicule in a matter of months. Looking back, he must have ruined a lot of vinyl records playing them backwards, and he didn’t even realise record-scratching was so the 80s, Morris Major’s “Stutter Rap” was meant to be ironic wasn’t it. Needless to say, my reading of the Bible was limited to the passages to gain the reward of Mars Bars and Cherry Ripes from the nicer Scripture teacher.

What else, I remember “I am David” was quite a good piece of childrens literature providing many young people with their first knowledge about the Holocaust and “Harp in the South” about old Sydney I can recall reading. I read a couple of James Bond novels though I can only remember “Goldfinger” as I was to play Oddjob in the re-enactment. I read quite a few Dungeons and Dragons spin-off novels as I was playing that game fanatically – mind you after a while the novels wore a bit thin, still enjoyed the roleplaying on the weekend however.

Umm, my parents made me read Jeffrey Archer, which I don’t think I ever finished. Fortunately, I don’t take much notice of my parent’s tastes anymore, and from that experience you can see why.

“Frankenstein” was probably my first major literary book (about Y9 I think). Then of course in advanced years you start to hit the good stuff, and once you hit Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, William Blake, Arthur Miller and so on there is no turning back.

Must admit now being a big Melville fan that at 17 I was too young to appreciate “Moby Dick”, the same goes for Patrick White. Mind you novels like “The Vivisector” and “Riders in the Chariots” probably appeal to a more mature reader, Vivisector in particular is an extraordinary novel.

James Russell
2022 years ago

Asterix. Tintin. Lots of Doctor Who novelisations. Untold numbers of comics. Comics by Disney when I was really little (liked Donald Duck best, always have done too), after which I latched onto British comics like 2000AD. Never took to American comics in the same way. I liked sci-fi, which I mostly absorbed through comics and TV and films. Didn’t read many actual SF books, though I did read Asimov’s Foundation series when I was 12. To be honest, I wonder now just how many books of any sort I did read back when I were a little ‘un. Have I just forgot all the ones I did read, or did I just not read that many? Certainly I know I never read any of your standard “children’s lit” like the Narnia books. Those corrupting 32-page things from the UK with stories of 5-6 pages per issue seem to have been my real reading material back then more than those rectangular objects of paper, cardboard, ink and glue.

Not until I latched onto H.P. Lovecraft when I was 14 did I have a real defining, life-changing experience with literature, though.

Incidentally, when I first tried to post this, I got the following message:

“Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content”

…the questionable content being the first three letters of the word “comics” after the word “Disney”.

James Russell
2022 years ago

Oh — and LOTS of Choose Your Own Adventure books, and books like them, e.g. the Steve Jackson stuff. I did forget about those until I saw Stephen’s comment.

Jason Soon
2022 years ago

Until 9: The Amazing Spiderman, Uncanny X-men and Fantastic Four.
What I learned:
1) Science is cool
2) With great power comes great responsibility
3) Difference can be cool (i.e. mutants)
4) A little bit of radioactivity can’t kill you. If you’re lucky it might even give you superpowers.
And they say comics aren’t educational!

9 onwards – The Hardy Boys, Ivanhoe, The Black Arrow, Robin Hood, Treasure Island, Sherlock Holmes

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

Aesop’s Fables, The Hobbit, Charlie Brown’s Cyclopedias.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Strewth, did I read a lot.

Blyton, Magic Pudding, Mary Grant Bruce, Arthur Ransome, some Biggles, Little Black Sambo, the Brothers Grimm, Kipling, Conan Doyle, Haggard, a huge range of fifties and sixties SF, Just William, Peter Dawlish, Alistair Maclean, CS Forester, horrifying boarding skool books, Molesworth, Swift, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Mee’s Encyclopaedia, Dan Dare, the cornflakes packet..

And later: Orwell, Alfred Duggan, Wilkie Collins, Naomi Mitchinson, Tolkien, Joseph Heller, John Wyndham, Isaac Asimov, J.G. Ballard, Flashman, Shakespeare, Dryden, Tennyson, Grimmelshausen, GB Shaw, Conrad, Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Mervyn Peake, Fred Hoyle.

I had an imperial education.

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
2022 years ago

How could I forget “Hobbit”, “Lord of the Rings”

Also, for some reason the comments refuse any discussion of the “Lone Star State”. You will have to call it Txoos like a Kiwi or somefing.

Stewart Kelly
2022 years ago

Before the gae of twelve it was pretty hard to get me away from anything Enid Blyton. Though Brer Rabbit got a look in from time to time.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Vee, I love the way you’re able to distinguish between formative and summative. At some point, they made it compulsory on unit outlines (now by administrative decree called “Week One Documents” following a lawsuit by full fee-paying international students) at QUT to state whether any given piece of assessment (for instance a research essay) was “formative” or “summative”. None of us academics understood the difference, so we could work out that end of semester exams were probably summative but in the absence of being able to make a meaningful distinction, informally decided to call every other piece of assessment “formative and summative”. Whatever!

Stephen, I should have remembered the Doctor Who novelisations. Everyone I know is so excited at the moment that Leila is on the ABC again. I know C.L. knows what I’m talking about…

But did the writers ever quite capture the televisual Dalek?

And James R, Asimov’s “Foundation” series actually inspired my younger sister and me to replay the death of the Roman empire in an endless series of fascinating games in the sandpit – possibly helped along by the fact that “I, Claudius” screened on the teev just after we got colour tv. Which led me to Robert Graves, and my first reading of Seutonius when I was ten and Brian took us on holiday to Canberra and the Snowies. I also had a brilliant illustrated book of Roman history – the pictorials of the Rape of the Sabine Women (from some neo-classical artist – it didn’t look at all violent – but amazingly enticing marble coloured women with big breasts do stuff for ten year old boys) and then to reading Graves himself, and a continuing obsession with Empires which probably informs my political take and my academic work to this day. I was also given a 19th century illustrated version (in folio size) of Dante’s Inferno (pics by Dore) which I still have and which badly needs rebinding – which got me thinking about heaven and hell in very stark terms. It’s so fabulous to reminisce about all this, and I suspect that we are all – those of us at least who love reading which I assume is true of all blogosphere denizens – are marked by what we read as kids in far more ways than we know.

Oh, and fellow Tolstoy fans – I read (or tried to read) Anna Karenina when I was 9 after I saw the BBC series on the teev (see above remark about the wonders of colour tv) and fell absolutely in love with the actress playing the eponymous heroine.

I’m also fondly reminiscing about discovering Tolkien – who is always tied up for me with the ‘Tres Riche Heures de Duc de Berry’ because when we (my sister and I) used to go to Brian’s flat at Clayfield when I was 9 I used to salivate over his partner (now wife and mother of my brother) Margot’s illustrated copy of the said book as well as her edition of LOTR (the cool one volume 70s paperback).

Can I reiterate my total agreement with Georgina’s motto – on her excellent blog Stack – “There’s more to life than books you know, but not much more”. I wish Georg would write more about politics on Terminological Inexactitude, but I fully understand the way she’s directing her blog love…

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Did I mention Sherlock Holmes – I was so excited when I bought a volume of the stories at the bookshop in the Kenmore shopping centre for $1.95 in 1979? I can still remember how new and glossy it looked (OUP volume from memory – I still have Asimov, Delany, some Moorcock, Anna Karenina and sundry sf paperbacks in my library from primary school days) and how I couldn’t wait to read it after paying my 5c for the bus fair home along Kenmore Road…

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Spelling bee:

Suetonius

Les Tres Riche Heures du Duc de Berry.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Spelling bee part II:

bus fare.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

ps – Re – spam filters blocking comments. The Lone Star State attracts massive spam due to a certain card game allegedly originally played there. Nothing to do with its famous sons such as George W. Bush (or LBJ for that matter)… as to James Russell’s problem, I can only assume that RWDBs have induced Movable Type to block any mention of commies anywhere on blogs.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

And David, how did you pick Grimmelshausen? I bought myself a copy of Golo Mann’s biography of Wallenstein for my birthday and have been fascinated for a long time by the thirty years war. I think I first heard of “Simplissimus” through a book by John Le Carre where a childhood friend quotes Grimmelshausen to the effect of “I might not always be your friend, but I will never be your enemy”. If anyone can remind me of the name of the book (when you’re in your mid 30s as I now am, your memory seems to decline precipitously) I’d be so grateful. Perhaps because the thirty years war is related to my thesis, I’ve thus far only read historical treatments of it, despite Grimmelshausen and Gunter Grass’ “The Meeting at Telgte” both being on my bookshelf and marked “to read urgently”.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

My list for 13-17 would be:

* Anything I could find by Charles Dickens
* The comedies of Thorne Swift (e.g. ‘Skin and Bones’ – great prohibition era writing)
* Arthur Conan Doyle’s non-SH stuff (‘The Lost World’, the historical romances)
* Two really good books by a probably forgotten (by everyone else) author, Su Walton, called ‘Here Before Kilroy and ‘Horace Sippog and the Siren’s Song’ – has anyone else read these? I’ve never come across anyone that has….but they’re great. She wrote a third book called ‘The Grasshopper’ which was nowhere near as good
* Angela Carter’s ‘The Infernal Desires of Dr Hoffman’ – first encounter with one of the 20th century’s most imaginative writers
* Any book with old maps in it
* ‘Tell Them in Sparta’ by Roderick Milton, about the Spartans at Thermopylae and subsequent battles between the Greeks and Persians
* Paul Gallico, especially ‘The Man Who Was Magic’, ‘The Snow Goose’ and ‘The Hand of Mary Constable’
* The early Alistair Maclean books (the later ones are dire)
* Leonard Cottrell’s popular archaeology books (e.g. ‘Lost Cities’).

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

There are a number of books, mostly boys’ adventure stories I would have read around ten, but whose authors and titles I can’t remember after 30 years. Particular images and strong remain emotions persist but the key data swim tantalisingly out of reach under the surface, like the details of powerful dream you try to recall after waking up. Someone complained, on the thread that inspired this one, about his parents’ secretly disposing of loved books. It’s a crime. Does anyone remember:

A book about lost gold bars with a vilain who tossed sultanas in the air and caught them in his mouth?

A book about a Viking adventure, where the main characters are mostly killed off one by one, and the charasmatic young hero reveals himself in a battle at the end to be a ‘berserk’?

A book about a young boy growing up in a village on the Congo?

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

James, can’t help with 1 and 3 but the second sounds as if it could have been by either Rosemary Sutcliff or Robert E. Howard.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Ouch – should have been ‘The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr Hoffman’. Sorry, Angela (sadly now deceased).

Jason Soon
2022 years ago

i see this formative fiction poll goes up until the age of 17
well, ages 12-14 was occupied with arthur c clarke (have read almost everything he’s written), stephen king, isaac asimov (the foundation series of course, and the robot stories), agatha christie (particularly hercule poirot). dipped into ayn rand but at that stage found her revolting, though i liked her atheistic writings. dipped into hayek too but at that stage, still wasn’t receptive, found him boring. my one excursion into ‘literary’ fiction at that age was erica jong – fear of flying. that book certainly marks a formative influence on my adolescence. also remember reading irving stone’s fictionalised biography of the great defence lawyer and secular humanist clarence darrow and that had a strong effect on me too.

15-17 – that was when i discovered nietzsche in a public library in australia and things changed – read his genealogy of morals, followed by beyond good and evil, then read a collection of existentialist writings by walter kaufman (who was the translator of the nietzsche books i read). after discovering the delights of philosophy in nietzsche i went back in time substantially and read all of plato’s dialogues that i could find. also read and was briefly an affictionado of john kenneth galbraith, then i discovered skidelsky’s magnificent biography of keynes, the one called ‘The economist as saviour’) and that was also a great formative influence.
i didn’t really discover literary classics and classical liberal literature until my late teens.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

And Thorne SMITH – aaaagh, not my day.

Jason Soon
2022 years ago

Mark
you might know there’s a new Annotated complete Sherlock Holmes out, edited by Leslie Klinger with an introduction with John Le Carre. Magnificently annotated and illustrated in deluxe package and paper. i just picked up one the other day though i already have a complete sherlock holmes – must have for holmes fanatics.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Thanks, Jason. Sherlock Holmes was one book from my childhood which disappeared somewhere along the line!

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

Jason, I agree that Skidelsky Vol.II is a surpassing masterpiece, but if you really read it before you turned 18, then you are the greatest little smarty-pants I have ever heard of, and I hate your guts. I suppose this sort of showing off by prodigies like Jason is exactly what I dreaded when I urged Mark to keep it to under 13.

Jason Soon
2022 years ago

hmm i just realised again this is supposed to be about formative fiction so technically my comments about skidelsky, etc are disqualified tho i suppose a postmodernist could argue all narratives are fiction unless experienced first hand.

yes, i do remember picking up skidelsky’s bio all nice and shiny from blacktown public library and it influenced my final high school year and uni choices. if it’s any consolation, james, i also checked the General Theory out from the school library but couldn’t make much sense of it except for the first few chapters so i couldn’t list it as a formative influence.

Gaby
Gaby
2022 years ago

Before 13:
Catch 22
Papillon and Banco
Tove Janssons’s “Moomintroll” series.
The Narnia books
The Hobbit
Sword in the Stone
Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time”
Coral Island
Lotus Caves
The Lost Prince

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

In that case I’ll have an extra five pre-13:

The Coral Island, The Swiss Family Robinson, The Wooden Horse, The White Company, The Woman in White*.

*This may have been the abridged version but I I’ve no doubt Jason Soon read the complete one (at seven).

Gaby
Gaby
2022 years ago

Sorry, I didn’t realize it was 10 distributed over the two age brackets. Mine were in more or less descending order of “formativeness”.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Gaby, no, you can have ten of each.

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

excellent poll, Mark! Here’s mine:
1.Tintin books
2.Asterix books
3.Leon Garfield novels–esp Black Jack, Smith, Devil in the Fog;
4. Katherine, by Anya Seton(a gorgeous, romantic, intelligent historical novel)
5. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
6.The Hill of the Red Fox, by Alistair Campbell McLean(started me off, at the age of 12, on a life-long love affair with all things Celtic)
7. Alan Garner–The Owl Service
8. Tove Jannsson–Finn Family Moomintroll
9. Capitaine Fracasse, Theophile Gauthier–a fantastic, swashbuckling 19th century French novel
10. The Blue Book of Fairy Tales–not the Andrew Lang version but a Little Golden Book comprising Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Toads and Diamonds, which was the first book I ever read in English, at the age of 5 or so.

susoz
2022 years ago

I’m surprised only one person (that I noticed) mentions the Narnia books. Reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was about 10 was a revelation to me (of the non-religious type). I read the rest of the series within the next week. I felt euphoric. So they were certainly formative for me.
I also had a big passion for Biggles books when I was 12, collected an entire shelf-full. And I read Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series and many many Rosemary Sutcliff books.
I read a lot of Australian books – my mother usually gave me the Children’s Book of the Year for Christmas and I still own them today, but I can’t recall all the titles – there was ‘February Dragon’ by Colin Thiele (a bushfire tragedy) and some books by Eleanor Spence.
I would recommend a book by Francis Spufford called “The Child that Books Built’, a personal history of childhood reading – it’s brilliant.

boynton
2022 years ago

I read Narnia too – starting with The Magician’s Nephew one beach holiday. My mother read ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ to 3 of us – that’s the best, isn’t it?
Alice in Wonderland.
Milly-Molly-Mandy. Books that belonged to my mother. They seemed like Ancient texts.
Blyton by the dozen. The Faraway stories were the most enchanting.
Seven Little Australians.
Coles Funny Picture Books
Magic Pudding. “This book belomgs to boynton. Age seven and a half”
A Beautiful Encyclopeadia that was my absoloute fave for about a year.
An obsession with Charlie Brown.
Second hand Girl’s Crystal books – for the picture stories.
All the Anne and Emily books by L.M Montgomery took me out of childhood.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

I was just about to mention Francis Spufford”s “The Child that Books Built’. It’s a great and original read, as is his “Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin” (with Dan Dare panels for each chapter heading).

As to my childhood reading list, I’ll have to wait until I get home and consult my bookshelves.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“Backroom Boys”

At last! A title I recognise! Though come to think of it, I think I picked up the movie version in Fyshwick when I was much older………..