The Books That Shaped Us

September 6, 2022
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The Joy of Books

There’s not much better than a good book. The opportunity to get lost in the pages of your favourite genre, leaving the real world behind to be completely absorbed in what you’re reading. Books can make us laugh, cry, gasp, change our perspectives and help us through tough times. From recipes, to elves, biographies to Mr Darcy, and everything in between, there’s a book out there for everyone!

As it’s National Read a Book Day in the US, and coming up to International Literacy Day on 8th September, we wanted to give some thought to the books that have shaped our lives, inspired us and made us think. Why not use the next couple of days as an excuse to dig out some of your favourites and use them to spark a conversation with the people around you? In the meantime, here’s Eve, Stephanie and Charles’ selection!


The book character I love the most is ….

Elizabeth from Richard Osman’s fantastic Thursday Murder Club series. Throughout the books you see her character in so many different lights it’s impossible not to love her. She’s determined, strong willed and fierce but with a kindness and unwavering loyalty to the people who matter the most. And she’s pretty good at solving crimes too, lol! If I manage to crack all the answers to a crossword I’m a happy bunny … let alone unmask a murderer!

My all-time favourite book is ….

Yes Man, by Danny Wallace. While we’re not all going to live our lives saying yes to everything (for a multitude of reasons!!) it’s a light-hearted reminder of what can happen if you do push yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s great for an easy read with some real laugh out loud moments.

My favourite book as a child was …

The Magic Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton. I can’t even count how many times I’ve read them over the years. When I was little I’d curl up in my bed on a night and truly lose myself in the wonder of the lands at the top of the tree. When I’d inevitably have to turn out the lights to go to sleep the stories would swirl around my head until I eventually nodded off!

The book I buy for others the most is …

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy. I truly love this book. Every page has a beautiful message accompanied by an equally beautiful hand drawn picture. No matter the mood you come to it in, it always lifts you and makes you smile. One of the only books which never leaves my coffee table!

The best book to movie adaptation is …

It’s more a TV adaptation, but Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version) … many people shy away from the classics either finding the prose off putting or them too dense to tackle. When they find new life on the big (or small) screen they find a whole new audience to appreciate them.

Jane Austen’s ideas were revolutionary for her time; representing women as being strong and having choices were concepts that were rarely explored. She’s inspired so many who’ve come after her to build on what she started and understanding where it all begun is crucial. It’s a stark reminder too that over 200 years after it was written, many women are still having to fight for the “right” to choose.

The book I think everybody should read is ….

I have two which are impossible to choose between!

Firstly, A Handmaids Tale. Set in a dystopian future it makes for a pretty uncomfortable read but it’s hard to put down. We know the character only as “Offred” and the book follows her journey through her experiences in the oppressive Republic of Gilead. It’s been turned into a TV series but read the books first, they’re extremely thought provoking, especially in today’s world.

Secondly, Factfulness by Hans Rosling. It can be very easy to become lost in the mass of negativity that’s been fired at us from every direction over the last few years. This book is a poignant reminder that despite what we see in the media (traditional and social) that there are a lot of positives to focus on and gives hope for the future.    

My favourite quote from a book is ....

“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think"

It’s an oldie but a goodie. For those who aren’t Winnie the Pooh fans Christopher Robin tells Pooh to always remember this if he ever feels alone. It’s stayed with me since discovering the joy of A.A Milne and wisdom I hope I’ve passed on to my own children.

My favourite place to read is ….

On a cushioned sun lounger with the sun shining and a gentle breeze! Preferably with a cold glass of Diet Coke and the kids happily occupied in the swimming pool!


The book character I love the most is ….

Hermione Grange from the Harry Potter series. She was one of the first strong female characters that I really identified with as a child. I was basically the same age as the characters when the books were released, and I was definitely a bookworm and bit of a know it all!

My all-time favourite book is ….

Little Women by Louise May Alcott. It's a warm hug of a book for anyone with a sister. The love between sisters is special and complex and so well embodied in this book.

My favourite book as a child was ….

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I was really into the classics when I was young and loved the slight mystery that runs through this story, it wasn't just another Jane Austen type love story. I find the prose really transports you to that era.

The book I buy for others the most is ….

The Little Prince (I mostly buy books for kids!). It's a really sweet book and the illustrations are wonderful, it’s extra special that they’re also drawn by the author. I've bought it in French mostly for my nieces.

The best book to movie adaptation is ....

Lord of the Rings! I watched the films before I read the books so I'm probably biased, but the sets and music just felt magical. Rarely a year goes by where I haven’t watched all three!

The book I think everybody should read is ….

All the Harry Potters! As a collection the story and character development is just wonderful. I highly recommend listening to the audio version too - Steven Fry's narrations really make the words come to life. My sister and I used to fight over who got to read the newly released hardbacks first! We’d then stay up all night with a torch to devour them as fast as possible. Any book that keeps you reading right through the night is special!

My favourite quote from a book is ….

"Though she be but little she is fierce." Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Shakespeare had a good head on his shoulders!

My favourite place to read is ….

Lying in the sun - preferably somewhere very warm!!


The book character I love most is ….

Conn Iggulden’s Julius Caesar or Genghis Khan where phenomenal, pulling historical fact and drama together to give full breadth to these figures was really something. But, my favourite character is reserved for Elizabeth from the Thursday Murder Club, I don’t want to give anything away from the two books out so far but Elizabeth leads a group of older folks on some fantastic adventures proving her whit and while as she goes.

Her and Ron have me laughing and looking forward to every year ahead with those I’m blessed to have around me.

My all-time favourite book is ….

The In Her Name Series, but specifically from Chaos Born.

These books felt like an escapist blend of Asimov’s Foundation Series and Conn Iggulden’s Emperor or Lord of the Plains books mixed with a bit of Avatar. Expansive worlds, deep mythology and flawed characters all set to explore the challenges of competing cultures in the hope of achieving greater meaning. Isn’t it fantastic when a book is simultaneously different and similar to reality?

My favourite book as a child was ….

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.

I would love to imagine the train appearing outside the window on Christmas Eve, heading out in the snow in my dressing gown and slippers before embarking on a fantastic adventure. It’s a great story, but what really makes this book for me is that it has always felt like the boy in the story gets to go on an adventure, but in reality, he never leaves home to do it. He’s as safe from beginning to end as if he dreamed the whole wonderful journey tucked up in bed, even at the end when he gets the gift it’s as if the authors leaving it to us to decide.

The book I buy for others the most is ….

Selling to Win by Richard Denny.

Someone said to me when I was younger to “never lend a book, always pass it on”. I love that each book can take it’s lessons on to a new reader and I’ve made a habit of buying people books or recommending my current “good reads” whenever I get the opportunity. My reason for specifically choosing this book for others is that it’s short and full of common sense like “wear wellies to meet a farmer in a field”.

Richard Denny has updated the book over the years but the core message about sales being a profession, not a gift, and an upstanding one really left an impression on me. People make life a joy and helping match a need or want with a solution is at the heart of everything we do.

The best book to movie adaptation is .…

Chicken Little.

This might be a stretch as there’s been a variety of versions of Chicken Little but without doubt this is the greatest movie adaptation of a book. You’ve got a fearless fish, a terrified pig, plucky ducky and the chicken who all have to overcome their reputation. It’s a kids movie, full of laughs for everyone and it rejoices in laughing at itself. The last 5 minutes are probably my favourite of any movie, bar the starting 5 minutes of both Top Gun movies!

The book I think everybody should read is ….

Regenesis by George Monbiot or The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff; I can’t pick one over the other!

Books always educate us, whether it’s sharing something of the author or the author intentionally mirroring the world, every book has a sub text or means to give you more than the words on the page. These are perhaps the most important books I’ve read this century.

George Monbiot focuses on how we must transform the agricultural economy, our relationship with food and critically, the soil which we all so badly take for granted. If we don’t, we will bring about the end of life as we know it. If we engage, we might just create the utopian future, full of flora and fauna, that so many of us badly want. Why have we domesticated the planet, rid ourselves of so much wildlife and reduced and rationalised everything we grow. I’m excited to live in a world rich in variety and Regenesis sets the stage!

Zuboff’s book eloquently describes the rise of surveillance capitalism, where knowledge about behaviour becomes more valuable than oil and leads to a world in which behaviour is predicted, prompted and rewarded. Reading this book led me to consider the transaction I make with all “free” tools and make my default position on any piece of software (social, search, media et al) that if I don’t understand the transaction, I won’t engage in it. Works for the kids too.

My favourite quote from a book is ....

"The first person you lie to is always yourself"

My eldest daughter was reading the Eragon series by Christopher Paolini, she was determined I should give them a go, so I did! They are great books, made all the more impressive when you consider the author was in their early teens when they wrote the first book. This might not be an original quote but it remains the only time I’ve heard or read the phrase.

It’s a fantastic reminder that however you treat yourself is how you will treat others and tripping yourself up with BS is only going to go one way. While we’re on quotes, “be yourself, everyone else is taken” is super.

My favourite place to read is….

Anywhere where there’s just enough going on that it’s almost tranquil. Sat on the sofa when everyone’s doing their own thing, in an airport when everyone’s moving around, at the gym when everyone’s busy about or reading in bed beside the human water bottle I live with! It’s a bit like the feeling I get from Polar Express, total escapism when I’m somewhere full of life, safe to explore.

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