Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Book That Made Me

Waterstones have recently started a campaign called ‘The Book That Made Me’ to find out what books made the deepest impression. It got me thinking - What book has been a game changer in my life?

Definitely The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I talked about my love of Plath over here.
Even House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski was an eye opener especially on my writing as it made me realise that stories didn't have to be linear.

But there is a book that came before way before those two great books.

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes is the book that has had the most impact on my life. Dahl rewrote six fairy tales by twisting and turning the plots. These were not the fluffy, Disney version. These fairy tales included a wolf eating a granny, guns and gambling jockeys. Quentin Blake created fantastic illustrations to go along with the words.

Revolting Rhymes helped me fall in love with reading and words. 

Before Revolting Rhymes, I was on a strict diet of Biff, Chip and Kipper books. They were boring and dry but they did the job of learning to read. (A few years later the Fuzz Buzz books were introduced, which my sister learnt to read with and they were a bit more fun).

The rhymes galloped along the tongue and made you snort with laugher. I came to realise three things:

Reading can be fun!
Reading was funny!
Reading was addictive!

Books didn’t have to be serious. They could be enjoyable too.

My favourite rhyme was Little Red Riding Hood and The Wolf. The wolf eats Riding Hood’s grandmother and plans on eating the little girl as well. But Riding Hood is not going to let that happens and shots him with her gun – Bang, Bang, Bang. Riding Hood has a new wolf skin coat. Dahl had created a strong female character who had taken on the baddies and won. Little Red Riding Hood also has the best line in Literature:

She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature's head,
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.

It was such a fantastic line and at the time I thought it was very saucy – she actually keeps a gun in her knickers – wow, that’s brilliant!

Roald Dahl was my favourite childhood author – Matilda, The BFG and Charlie’s Chocolate Factory were also my favourites alongside Revolting Rhymes. I read the books I was prescribed by the school but I branched out and read books from the library and books I got for my birthday. I gobbled them all up.
I was glad that I found reading enjoyable and I had branched out from the school’s curriculum.

There was an incident in year 4 (8-9 years) which could have had the potential to knock my reading confidence and put me off reading. My teacher had decided that she would split the class into four groups depending on reading ability. We would be given a book suited to our reading ability and we would take turns in reading out loud to the group. I was put into the second from bottom group. I questioned this and I was told to be quiet. We were given a book about an otter – a snooze inducing book. I was curious to see what books the two higher groups were reading so I peered over to their groups, expecting to see them tackling something huge and demanding. I can’t remember the exact titles but I knew that I read both of them and independently without needing help. I said this to my teacher but she didn’t listen. She said I was a liar. I was very upset and angry and sulked for the rest of the day. I knew that I had read the books. I could have proved it with my library records. In the end my mum went up to the school and had ‘words.’

I became more of a determined reader.

What book has been the biggest influence on you? 


Anonymous said...

I used to love Revolting Rhymes -- but I haven't read it in years! I did read The Stinky Cheeseman again last month though, and it's just as good as I remember it. Did you ever read that one?

Congratulations on the win!

Jessica said...

The stinky cheeseman does sound familiar!