by Michelle Helliwell
Favourite books for me is a tough question, because it depends on the mood I’m in. The list of books I’ve read is long (though not as long as some) and while I enjoy many, a lot are forgettable pleasures. There is nothing wrong with that of course! In my list are five books that have had an influence or have stuck with me since I first read them.
Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve not read the entire Little House series…indeed, I don’t think I got past book two, but this volume I read from time to time now, even as an adult. They transport me to another time and reality, and I never fail to be struck by how ingenious people had to be to survive. Without fail I read the Christmas chapter in December, and if I'm feeling particularly crappy I can just dive into any part of the book and immediately feel better.
The Book of Three, Lloyd Alexander. I received this book from my mother, and it (along with the rest of the series) was my introduction to Fantasy, my primary source of reading for many years. I cried when the series was done – perhaps the first time I ever mourned the end of a book – and influenced my future reading like no other book had before - or maybe since.
Fifth Business, Robertson Davies. I’ve read six or seven books by the great Canadian master, but this is by far my favourite. It follows the life of Dunstan Ramsay, his search for miracles and meaning, and has some of the greatest quotes ever to come out of a single Canadian novel.
The Viscount Who Loved Me, Julia Quinn. This was the first book I read by her, and it still might be my favourite. It was not my first historical romance novel, but her voice and command of characterization have given me something to shoot for. Whenever I read it (and I re-read it from time to time) I start with that one and read through to From Sir Phillip with Love because I just can’t stop. And that’s the experience I want other readers to have when they read my books.
On Writing, Stephen King. Part memoir, part instruction, I re-read this when I need a proverbial kick in my writing ass. It’s a study in addiction, in recovery, in resilience, the last trait writers must have if they even want to think about success.
Honourable mentions include Harry Potter, which taught me to love reading again after my Master’s degree nearly drained me of it, Jane Austen for introducing me to Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series for writing a heroine I absolutely fell in love with.
(See, it's hard to choose just five!)