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3 August 2015

The 10 Book Challenge

Today I am very excited to introduce you all to something fabulous which I have been keeping secret for weeks now. It's been so tricky not to spill and tell you, but finally I can reveal: today I am launching The 10 Book Challenge!

If you're one of those people who can't help but have a quick peek in Waterstones every time you walk past, who got overly excited when the Man Booker longlist was announced last Wednesday, and who watches film adaptations whilst loudly muttering, "Well it's no where near as good as the book..." - then this is going to be right up your street!


How does it work? It's simple; you are asked to name 10 books you have read in your life which have stayed with you the most. They can be any genre, any length, any author. They might have stayed with you the most because they were poignant, because they were laugh-out-loud funny, or because they were just beautifully written. I say it's simple, but actually if you are a true book lover, it really is quite a tough challenge.

I was first asked to do this last year by a friend, and it was a great way of finding out what books were out there which I hadn't yet read, and getting some good recommendations as to what to go for next. I then thought, why not extend this to the world of blogging?

So here it is; I am kick-starting the 10 Book Challenge. I will name the 10 books which have stayed with me the most, and I will also nominate three other bloggers to do the same. They in turn will nominate another three bloggers, and bookworms from all over will be thrilled to see so many of their favourite blogs filled with wonderful book suggestions. I hope you enjoy! If you don't have a blog, have no fear; why not post your 10 books in a status on your Facebook profile, or simply discuss with your friends over coffee and cake? We're using the hashtag #10BookChallenge on Twitter and Instagram, so please let us know if you're getting involved by featuring it in your book-related statuses!


So, me first - My 10 Book Challenge...

1. The Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton. This was my favourite book from my childhood. I read my copy so many times that the front cover fell off and all the pages were curled. It was my mum's favourite too when she was a little girl, so I think she passed on that love to me!

2. Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller. Although this one is a play as opposed to a novel, since I studied it for my English Literature GCSE aged 16, so many of the quotes have stayed with me. For example, "Sometimes... it's better for a man just to walk away. But if you can't walk away? I guess that's when it's tough." Also, "He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine."

3. This is All, by Aidan Chambers. Admittedly this book is aimed at young adults, but I just remember reading it in my early teens and being incredibly moved. It tells the story of the life of Cordelia Kenn, and is written from her perspective. It talks about love, growing up, families, relationships and generally what life as a young woman is all about. 

4. Regeneration, by Pat Barker. A classic which I only got round to reading for the first time last year - I happened to be reading it at the time of the World War I centenary which made it all the more poignant. I thought it was absolutely amazing, and Pat Barker is a brilliant writer. The novel was harrowing, upsetting, eye-opening, but also beautiful in many places.

5. The Peppermint Pig, by Nina Bawden. Another childhood favourite, which I read over and over again - and every time, I would cry my eyes out for hours at the end. Even if you're an adult, I would recommend reading this one as the writing style is wonderful. It tells the tale of a family who buy Johnnie, a piglet who was the runt of his litter. If I need to convince you of how great this book is, here is the opening paragraph: 

"Old Granny Greengrass had her finger chopped off in the butcher's when she was buying half a leg of lamb. She had pointed to the place where she wanted her joint to be cut but then she decided she needed a bigger piece and pointed again. Unfortunately, Mr Grummett, the butcher, was already bringing his sharp chopper down. He chopped straight through her finger and it flew like a snapped twig into a pile of sawdust in the corner of the shop. It was hard to tell who was more surprised, Granny Greengrass or the butcher. But she didn't blame him. She said, 'I could never make up my mind and stick to it Mr Grummett, that's always been my trouble.'"

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, I love love love this book. I read it a few years ago when I was part of my university book club. I found it quite difficult to get into, but by the end I thought it was excellent, and very cleverly written. I really enjoy books that are set in small-town America - I'm currently reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves which I think has a similar feel to it.

7. The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult. I am a huge Picoult fan, but I know some people aren't so keen. However, I would say that this is very different to her other books, and is one of the most spectacular novels I have ever read. Why? Because it is a heart-breaking, moving and incredible story of the Holocaust, based on true stories from Holocaust survivors. I must warn you that it is not an easy read, but this book really will stay with you.

8. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling. Do I really need to say why? These are the books that, in a way, define so many people's childhoods: Hogwarts, quidditch, chocolate frogs, Dumbledore, Polyjuice Potion, Hagrid, Diagon Alley, Platform 9 and 3/4's. If these words don't make you grin like a fool, then you really have missed out on something *magical*.

9. One Night in Winter, by Simon Sebag Montefiore. I was sent this novel to review by Waterstones in 2013, and at first I was sceptical. Being set in Stalin's Russia in the 1940s, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it or if it would be too difficult to get into. What actually happened was I couldn't put the book down; it was tremendous. Historically accurate, a fascinating story, with amazing characters and writing, this is one which I have lent to many friends and family since.

10. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. During my first year at university, a group of us decided to read this novel together and discuss it in our own mini book club. I spent the Christmas holidays furiously reading pages and pages so I would have finished it by the time we met again in January - but I needn't have worried. I would have finished it by then anyway, as I became addicted to Stockett's writing. I honestly believe that this should be on everyone's reading bucket list. As an aside, I thought the film was excellent too.

So there you have it: my 10 Book Challenge! But you see, the challenge does not end there. I now nominate three wonderful bloggers to do the same and name the 10 books which have stayed with them: Leanne from The Dress Diaries, Sarah from Sarah in Wonderland and Anna from Bonjour Anna

I would love to know what you think of my 10 books. Have you read any of them? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with my musings? What books would be on your list? Leave your comments below, or tweet me with #10BookChallenge.  

I'll leave you with a wonderful quote about books from W. Somerset Maugham, which I think sums up this whole challenge:

"The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you."

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