A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was planning a series of posts looking at some of the books I recorded in my old reading diary. The diary spanned my teenage years to my early twenties, so most of the books mentioned below will have been read during the 1990s and although I’ve included my original ratings, these do not necessarily reflect what I would feel about the books if I read them again today!
I gave the books ratings out of 5. The symbol * means I loved the book. X means I didn’t finish it.
Books beginning with ‘A’
Here are a selection of the books that appeared on the ‘A’ page of my notebook. Some of these are classics that many of you have probably read. Others are very obscure, so if you’ve read them I’d love to know what you thought of them!
Animal Farm by George Orwell (5/5*)
I obviously loved this when I first read it. I’ve reread it a couple of times since then and I still think it’s a great book.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (5/5)
One of those children’s classics that can also be enjoyed by adults. I haven’t read it for a long time; I wonder if I would feel any differently about it after reading Alice I Have Been earlier this year?
My best friend and I bought this book and the next two in the Jessie series (Please Save Jessie and Come Home Jessie) from the school book fair when we were about 10 or 11 years old. The series follows the adventures of a boy called Matt and the black Labrador puppy that he rescues from being drowned. This was my favourite Jessie book and I loved it so much I re-read it many times, even after I was ‘too old’ for it (can you ever really be too old for a book?) and it made me cry every time.
All the Rivers Run by Nancy Cato (3/5)
This was recommended to me by my mother because I had enjoyed The Thorn Birds and she said this was a similar book also set in Australia. I can’t remember much about this one, though.
Acorna: The Unicorn Girl by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball (3/5)
I’ve never been a big reader of fantasy novels, but I must have enjoyed this enough to give it a 3/5 rating.
A Kind of Thief by Vivien Alcock (3/5)
I can’t remember reading this at all, and even the Goodreads description doesn’t bring back any memories for me: “When her father is suddenly arrested and put into prison, thirteen-year-old Elinor finds that she has to face many unpleasant truths about him and their way of life.”
I really need to be in a Christmassy mood to appreciate this book. I’ve read it several times over the years and would probably have given it a different rating every time! I re-read it on Christmas Eve last year and really enjoyed it. The edition shown in the picture is the one that was given to me as a Christmas present when I was a child and is a beautiful hardback with colour illustrations.
A Proper Little Nooryeff by Jean Ure (2/5)
I forgot about this one when I did my post on children’s ballet books a few months ago. It was about a teenage boy who becomes a ballet dancer. Nooryeff, if you were wondering, is a mispronunciation of the name (Rudolf) Nureyev.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (2/5)
I remember my English teacher at school telling us about this book but saying it was suitable for a ‘more mature reader’ so I didn’t actually read it until after I had left school. The chapters describing the fires of hell must have left a big impression on me because that’s all I can actually remember about the book. I’ve never wanted to read anything else by Joyce though, so I don’t think he’s an author for me.
We read this at school in English Literature. It would have been very relevant in the 1990s, as it was set in Northern Ireland and told the story of Kevin, a Catholic boy, who falls in love with Sadie, a Protestant girl. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this was actually the second in a series of books about Kevin and Sadie. I think maybe the fact that I was made to read it at school affected my enjoyment of it.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (2/5)
Like many children/young teenagers I used to read a lot of Judy Blume books. This was one of her most popular books, so I’m sure some of you will remember reading it too. I don’t seem to have enjoyed this one very much though.
I can’t remember reading this but I only rated it 1/5. According to the product description on Amazon, ‘Pressured by his father to leave school for a career he doesn’t want, a nineteenth-century Manchester boy runs away and gains a new perspective on his future.’ This actually sounds like something I would probably enjoy more if I was reading it now!
An Air That Kills by Andrew Taylor (x); Act of Violence by Margaret Yorke (1/5); A Thin Dark Line byTami Hoag (3/5)
These three are crime novels which is why I’ve grouped them together, but I can remember absolutely nothing about them and even looking up the descriptions on Amazon doesn’t help bring them back to my mind. I must have thought the Tami Hoag one was okay. I did go through a phase of reading a lot of crime novels, but now I almost never read them (I think I’ve only read one in 2010).
A Touch of Practical Magic by Robert Gould (x)
I recognise the title and can even picture what the cover looked like, but I have no idea what it was about. It seems to be out of print and I can’t even find a synopsis online. I obviously didn’t like it enough to finish it anyway, so I won’t spend too much time worrying about it, but if anyone remembers this book please let me know!
Coming soon… Remember These? Books Beginning with ‘B’.