When I was younger, I was awed by your maths skills. Here I was, barely managing long division on paper while you unravelled complicated calculations in your head. In some ways, I was like you — happiest with my nose buried within the pages of a book — but in a lot of other ways, I wanted to be like you.
I tripped over those very words written by Hemingway and Dickens that you enjoyed. Where a scary situation had me running away, there you were facing it head on. And while I questioned my every step, you were the first one to believe in your abilities.
You made me laugh, too. My favourite moment of yours was when you snuck into the living room, playing into your family’s fear that the house was haunted. And the superglue in the hat? Classic.
A while ago, I did a post about 10 books that influenced past me. I made that list when I was 18 and after four years and a literature degree, a few things have changed. Here are some of the books that have become important to me in the last few years.
1. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer [fiction]
I’m still reading this, but so far I’m quite in awe. This book manages to incorporate elements of mystery and thriller with what seems like a coming-of-age narrative, complete with a bit of an experimental format that involves playing around with form and images. The timeline of events is a bit confusing with the back and forth, but the pacing is tightly controlled. Even though I haven’t finished yet, I’m sure it’ll be a memorable one.
2. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry [Historical fiction]
This book is set during a time of political upheaval in India, and is one of the books that encouraged me to read even more Indian authors. I loved the characterisation and use of language — especially the way Mistry manages to convey the tones and cadences of Indian languages through English. If you want to know about it in more detail, here is a longer review I’ve written.
3. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman [fiction]
As I mentioned in my recent reading recap post, this book’s themes of loneliness and finding one’s footing in social situations hit me hard. The characters are human and I started caring about them without even realising. The narrative is so multifaceted that there should be something to appeal to a wide audience — including stories of friendship, love, and kindness.