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'Timely' books


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After a discussion with my hubby about how certain songs can remind you of a certain period of time in your life, or can sum you up - I wondered if anyone had a cetain book that will always either remind them of a crucial point in their life, or feel that it sums them up?

 

For me, one that comes to mind is Catcher in the Rye - I was supposed to read this over the summer holidays, for English class, before going into 3rd year at high school in August, and I couldn't be bothered. Couldn't get into it - so spent the hols blissfully ignoring it, rebelling from school thoughts much like Holden, -then come August, first day back at school, dropped English. Biggest regret of my life, and now here I am at 31, doing an English degree to make up for that, and I have read it over the years about 20 times!! If only I had read it then...but that book reminds me of that time and pretty much sums me up now.

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Mmm, interesting thought.

 

The problem with songs reminding you of people / times / places is that, over the years, it's possible that you may hear those songs so many times that the nostalgia effects starts to wear off. With books, though, it's fairly unlikely that you'll read a book as many times as you will have heard a record, so there's a good chance that re-reading a book will "take you back."

 

For what it's worth, here are a few books that immediately remind me of events in my life:-

 

Julian May's Intervention books remind me of the time that my Dad died;

 

Can't remember who wrote it, but a book called Don't Stop The Carnival reminds me of a holiday in France;

 

Tolkien's LOTR (which I have never finished) reminds me of the Summer of '77 (my first unsuccessful attempt!).

 

I'm sure there are many others.

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I wondered if anyone had a cetain book that will always either remind them of a crucial point in their life .

 

That was the criterian that I used to choose my titles for the '10 favourite books poll'

 

Have just 'bumped' that thread back up to page 1, if anyone wants to continue it.

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I read Martin Amis's "The Rachel Papers" when I should have been studying for my A levels. I got the grades I needed, so no crammer for me, but it kind of chimed with me at the time.

 

When I go away I do try to take books set in that city/country with me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

An excellent idea for a thread. I can usually remember where I was and when I read just about every book I've ever pored over in my adult life. To the extent of recalling sitting in the coffee shop, train or sofa. And so glancing over the spines on my bookcase is usually a nostalgic experience. Some particularly 'timely' books of recent years:

 

- Divorcing Jack by Colin Bateman - a beach on the Med, just outside Haifa, Israel, 1998

- Madame Bovary by Flaubert - sitting on my bed in my parents' house, 1999

- Any Human Heart by William Boyd - up and down the Great Western Road on the no. 66 bus, Glasgow, 2003

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How about books which make you think of music and vice versa? I read a biography of Tennessee Williams at the same time as I was playing the Bowie album 'Hunky Dory' almost constantly. And it was summer. Lovely.

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The Lord of the Rings often reminds me of finishing university. After weeks of revising a welter of quality literature for finals I had promised myself a re-read of this as a treat (amongst other things!). Lazy days back home drifting through Middle Earth were delightful, though also part of the general haze of purposelessness I then felt after the end of a lifetime spent being educated!

 

In similar fashion, Victorian novels tend to take me back to the summer before I started the course, when I was ploughing through them ready for the first term, so visions either of my bedroom or the garden, dependent upon the weather.

 

I can't say I ever associate books with music, unless they very obviously invoke it themselves. I like it quiet when I read so I never have music on in the background.

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I read The Magus by John Fowles while Inter-railing around Europe, so bizarrely it reminds me of the Alps, Lake Como and Venice.

 

Years later, Lulu read it on the Greek island of Spetses, where the novel is set and where Fowles once spent time as a teacher.

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I get very strong memories from the books I've loved, I think that's why its so hard to part with any of them and why I'll never be a good bookcrosser.

 

Romeo and Juliet - The summer I was 17 I read that and Lorna Doone sat in my garden barely moving.

 

Room with a View by E. M. Forster was when I'd just started college and I retreated into this book rather than face what I should have been doing.

 

Complete works of Jane Austen during university... even though I'd read most of them before I found a complete set of all six novels in a discount book shop for £5 and by the time I'd finished uni the pages were falling out of it. I've still got it despite having many more copies now but I'll always associate Austen with that time.

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1989-91: Spycatcher, Their Trade is Treachery and the Len Deighton Game Set and Match books read while working as an au pair in Brussels, courtesy of my employer's bookshelf.

 

I also remember when I first moved in with my boyfriend (now my husband) I had a couple of weeks off before I found work and ploughed through almost his entire collection of fantasy books - went through about thirty books in two weeks (and lost about half a stone through forgetting to eat - a rarity for me...)

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I read Captain Corellis Mandolin on holiday in Crete, and granted Crete ISN'T Kephalonia, it really felt like I was there! The bar staff talking in Greek, and the clear blue skies, and mediterranean landscape all fit! As the descriptions in the book are so evocative I am sure that if I reread it would put me right back by that pool!

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