"In your status line, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard - they don't have to be "right" or "great" works, just the ones that have touched you"
was doing the rounds recently on Facebook and I thought I would give it a go, but on my blog instead.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
As for many, many others, it affirmed my atheism and made me more confident about challenging religious ideas and privilege around me. Dawkins gets a lot of stick these days but this was/is a really important book.
The Meaning of Things by A.C. Grayling
I love the whole Meaning/Form/Heart/Mystery/Reason of Things series, which are collections of Grayling's short, thoughtful essays on a whole range of topics. The Meaning of Things was the first one I read which is probably why it sticks to mind. Each essay takes just minutes to read but the ideas take hours to think through and digest.
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
I remember this book more for it's 'mood' than anything else, an enclosed greyness maybe; It's hard to describe it. Few books have left the same kind of impression on me.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Grim, poetic reading. This is the first and last book that actually brought me to tears as I read it. The movie was pretty terrible, despite having Omar from The Wire in it.
Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
It was reading Goldacre's Bad Science column in the Guardian (which are collected together in Bad Science) that inspired me to do a PhD, and specifically to do a PhD looking at the effect of omega-4 fatty acids and other 'fish oils' on brain function - fewer books have been more directly influential, or stayed with me in the same way I guess.
The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross
One of the first series books I remember falling in love with as a kid. I used to read them over and over and find them just as exciting each time. I had quite a nice headmaster at school but I remember thinking it was all just a cover for his nefarious plots. As I recall, the TV show wasn't half bad either. In fact, I might just go order the whole series right now and read them all over again.
Room by Amanda Donoghue
Sticks to mind because it's the last book that genuinely had my heart beating in my chest. I remember having to put it down and go make a cup of tea so that I could calm down. My gushing review is one of the most popular I have written on Goodreads.
The Young Atheist’s Handbook by Alom Shaha
In recounting the loss of his faith and his journey towards a career in science and a secular humanist outlook, Alom captured many of the things I had been through myself (although my faith was never foisted upon me by my parents and community in quite the same way). If The God Delusion made me more strident in my un-belief, The Young Atheist's Handbook made me more understanding of my self and of others and how it's a battle not just of minds, but hearts too. There's a campaign to get the book into as many school libraries as possibe, which I think is an absolutely excellent idea.
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder.
My first real introduction to philosophy. When I first read it, it was just a great adventure story but repeated readings have kick-started the search for other deeper philosophical texts. The bit about Sophie contemplating that, to a small child, a dad flying around the room and a dad using an electric shaver would be equally normal/baffling/amazing changed the way I think about babies and people in general. The philosophical implications, and more concretely the psychology of it, blew my mind. I often sit there watching our cats with this thought whirling around my head.
It's also the book that convinced my then girlfriend (now wife; who happens to be Norwegian, just like the author) that I was more than just a pretty face (!) after she saw it on over-stuffed dorm-room bookshelf.
Doppler by Erlend Loe
The first full book I read in Norwegian, and I've read it four more times since. It's memorable because of the no small amount of pride attached to being able to read it, but more so because of the mix of whimsy, dark humour, and strong dose of empathy I have for Doppler and his wish to get away from it all.