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      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
Hayley

The Books That Shaped Your Personality

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I saw someone talking about this and thought it would make an interesting thread!

 

What books did you read as a child, or as a teenager, that you think helped to shape you as a person? Or, alternatively, do you not think that books shaped the way you are now at all?

 

I think Matilda was probably an early one for me. It made me want to try to read 'grown up' books, even though I was a child (which definitely improved my reading ability by making me challenge myself more) and I also wanted to be Miss Honey when I was older :lol:.

Books of fairy tales were undoubtedly a big influence too. I read a lot of fairy tale collections and I know that there are a lot of modern arguments about fairy tales being a bad influence for girls, but I really think the point I took away from fairy tales was that if you're kind and good person, things will turn out right for you in the end. If you're horrible to other people, on the other hand, you're probably going to meet an odd and inventive end... like being rolled away in a barrel. 

As a young teenager, the Tiffany Aching Discworld books were definitely a huge influence. Tiffany as a character had a confidence that I really admired. She wasn't loud or cocky, she doesn't start with any particularly special powers (not compared to everyone else in Discworld anyway) and she doesn't always know what to do. But she just faced her problems and got on with it. When there were things she didn't know, she learnt. Not that I think I ended up like that, but I think it taught me that the best way to face a difficult situation is calmly and practically. Also that you don't have to have a big, loud personality to be confident (which is good because I am just a quiet person!) 

 

So.. what are yours? I feel like at least one other person must have Matilda!

 

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What a great idea for a topic!

 

Matilda is one of mine too! It taught me adults don't always know better, to want to read lots of books, to be kind and it made me love magic.

 

A more recent one is Queens of Geek (by Jen Wilde), it made me realise it's possible to have autism and have anxiety too. It got me to look more into my own anxiety and seek help for this.

 

Hmm.. anything else.. I'll have to think deeply. I can't always remember the exact title of books I read in my childhood (because they were library loans).

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Really interesting theme, however I'm not sure if books have influenced me that much, I mainly read for escapism - always have done- and have always been aware that books are, after all, fiction, which is why I've never really bought into the claims that some books are bad influences - fairy tales for example, are exactly that - stories! 

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I've been thinking about this.  I can't think of any that shaped me, particularly, at a very young age. But -- I first read Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories in my early teens, and those DID change me, profoundly, in many ways, and still to this day.  Back in the 90s, I joined Holmesian societies, wrote articles, and went to group meetings.  I've been inspired to write my own Holmesian stories, and I freelance as a writer/editor for a games company that develops Sherlock Holmes adventure games.  It's been a lifelong love of mine, and I don't see that ever fading.  :)

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These are brilliant. 

 

@Athena It's so amazing that Queens of Geek helped you so directly with your anxiety! (Also, I knew there must be another Matilda inspired reader here :))

 

And @Onion Budgie is the company you work with Frogwares? Because I love those games! If it is then your love of Sherlock Holmes even influenced me a little bit :D

 

@Madeleine your comment made me wonder, if you don't think that any book really influenced your personality, do you agree with the theory that reading as children gives people more empathy, or do you think that's unrelated to reading?

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I probably wouldn’t say that books have exactly shaped my character but without a doubt what I have read has affected my outlook on life. Instead of saying how books have shaped my character I would flip it and say that there are definitely books which have changed me as a person throughout my life. Some books have played a part in changing my beliefs but others have simply had an affect on what I chose to read.

 

My earliest reading memory would be reading Beatrix Potter and also an old beaten up copy of The Adventures of Brer Rabbit. I didn’t read a huge amount during my school years but I do remember having to read Macbeth, An Inspector Calls, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I really hated Tess and it made me avoid classics for a very long time but I do remember enjoying the other two. The first book I asked for as a present, and got, was Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab. I really liked it at the time (less so now) and it lead me to read non-fiction exclusively for many years. The next big milestone book for me was Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I had been listening to a podcast (I was an early lover of them) and heard it mentioned so gave it a go and it opened up a whole world of fiction to me that I had previously ignored. Since then I have read at a pretty constant pace of about 40 - 50 books a year. I distinctively remember reading my first ‘classic’, Crime and Punishment, which convinced me that I could enjoy classics. For many years I had assumed that as I disliked Tess I wouldn’t have the intellect to enjoy classics. It turned out that this belief was false, I just hadn’t found a classic that resonated with me.    

 

Like most people I struggled to be comfortable with myself as a young man and one book did benefit me in a big way, Buddhism WIthout Belief by Stephen Batchelor. I was living away from home for the first time and felt really anxious all the time and very unsure of myself. This book presented a very practical way to think of life but most importantly without the dogma usually attached to religion. I first read it about 20 years ago but to this day even though I wouldn’t count myself as a religious person I still think about what I learned reading that book and revisit it often.

 

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1 hour ago, Hayley said:

And @Onion Budgie is the company you work with Frogwares? Because I love those games! If it is then your love of Sherlock Holmes even influenced me a little bit :D

 

Yes!  I've worked with them on the last three Sherlock Holmes games, writing/editing dialogue and text.  I'm so glad that you like them!

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1 hour ago, Onion Budgie said:

 

Yes!  I've worked with them on the last three Sherlock Holmes games, writing/editing dialogue and text.  I'm so glad that you like them!

It's so weird to think that when I was getting extremely excited about the new games coming out, you were working on them and I didn't know! Well, thank you for adding your love of Sherlock Holmes into the games because I have no doubt that's a huge part of why they feel so authentic :)

 

@Brian. It's brilliant that Crime and Punishment got you back into classics after giving up on them completely. I wonder, what made you pick up Crime and Punishment though? I think of that as a notoriously difficult classic. You've also really jogged my memory with Brer Rabbit, I'm sure I used to have a book about Brer Rabbit too!

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@Hayley I’m not sure what made me choose Crime and Punishment but being by a Russian author was definitely part of the decision making process. I think as part of my interest in the Cold War I’ve always been keen to learn more about Russian history and historic culture.

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15 hours ago, Hayley said:

 

 

@Madeleine your comment made me wonder, if you don't think that any book really influenced your personality, do you agree with the theory that reading as children gives people more empathy, or do you think that's unrelated to reading?

I must admit I don't tend to read very serious books, because I read mainly for escapism.  And maybe because I know it's fiction, perhaps that's why I don't think books have influenced my personality that much, except perhaps I live too much in my own head!  I can certainly empathise with characters in books, or love them or hate them, or wonder why they did something which seems really silly, and therefore annoys me (similar to shouting at the TV when someone, usually a female, goes into a dark building all alone and never turns the light on!) but above all I know it's not real, however good a book is.  However, I do read some historical fiction which features real events, so that does make me think about how different things were in the past, and in some cases how much luckier we are now, but apart from that I don't think it influences my personality at all.  it's just an opinion.

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6 hours ago, Brian. said:

@Hayley I’m not sure what made me choose Crime and Punishment but being by a Russian author was definitely part of the decision making process. I think as part of my interest in the Cold War I’ve always been keen to learn more about Russian history and historic culture.

Ah, that makes sense! I agree that Russia has a fascinating history too. I think I'd actually really Crime and Punishment, it's on my list!

 

4 hours ago, Madeleine said:

I must admit I don't tend to read very serious books, because I read mainly for escapism.  And maybe because I know it's fiction, perhaps that's why I don't think books have influenced my personality that much, except perhaps I live too much in my own head!  I can certainly empathise with characters in books, or love them or hate them, or wonder why they did something which seems really silly, and therefore annoys me (similar to shouting at the TV when someone, usually a female, goes into a dark building all alone and never turns the light on!) but above all I know it's not real, however good a book is.  However, I do read some historical fiction which features real events, so that does make me think about how different things were in the past, and in some cases how much luckier we are now, but apart from that I don't think it influences my personality at all.  it's just an opinion.

I actually meant do you think that being able to empathise with characters in books makes readers better at empathising with people in real life (sorry, my original post was really vague). But it was just a thought, anyway, I absolutely get what you're saying about real and fictional events having a different impact. I also really agree with how annoying it is when characters do ridiculous things - usually in horror films. Why do they hardly ever even try to turn the light on!? :rolleyes:

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I don't know about influencing my personality.  So much in my life has influenced that it would be hard to know what books played a part in.  They have helped me to realise my introversion is okay and perfectly normal.  They have influenced my interest in history.  I love reading history books and learning about different places through those.  I also have a dream to write a history of New Zealand prime ministers because of reading the biographies of leaders of other countries.  

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Yes it's funny how school can put you off reading the classics isn't it, or put someone off reading altogether!

 

Not sure about  the empathy bit, again real life is so different to books, and sometimes I find it hard to empathise with someone whose situation is entirely of their own making, although I do obviously empathise, or should that be sympathise, with people who are in difficult situations which aren't their fault or are having a bad time for whatever reason. 

 

I do agree with bookmonkey re history books, I read quite a bit of historical fiction and that definitely can spark an interest in a particular period or person from the era I'm reading about, eg Elizabeth Chadwick and William Marshal, who I'd never heard of before I read her books.

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19 hours ago, Madeleine said:

Yes it's funny how school can put you off reading the classics isn't it, or put someone off reading altogether!

 

Agreed!

 

About empathy, fiction books (not one specific book, but books in general) taught me a lot about social rules and how people might feel in certain situations. With my autism, the social rules don't come naturally to me. I do have empathy! Books taught me a lot about how someone might feel in a certain situation and how to respond to it. I didn't mention it before because it's not one book specifically. Having empathy and knowing social rules & customs are not the same thing. Anyway, I

love this thread :).

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On 3/7/2019 at 8:44 AM, Hayley said:

Ah, that makes sense! I agree that Russia has a fascinating history too. I think I'd actually really Crime and Punishment, it's on my list!

 

I actually meant do you think that being able to empathise with characters in books makes readers better at empathising with people in real life (sorry, my original post was really vague). But it was just a thought, anyway, I absolutely get what you're saying about real and fictional events having a different impact. I also really agree with how annoying it is when characters do ridiculous things - usually in horror films. Why do they hardly ever even try to turn the light on!? :rolleyes:

Very good book, I have read that but I suggest you one of my favorites: The Idiot, Dostoyevsky painted the most beautiful female characters, Aglaia and ... (I can´t remember right now). What prefer the men? The pure and young girl or an experienced woman with hard emotions...  

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On 4/7/2019 at 12:47 AM, bookmonkey said:

I don't know about influencing my personality.  So much in my life has influenced that it would be hard to know what books played a part in.  They have helped me to realise my introversion is okay and perfectly normal.  They have influenced my interest in history.  I love reading history books and learning about different places through those.  I also have a dream to write a history of New Zealand prime ministers because of reading the biographies of leaders of other countries.  

OK, I agree. I had some topics in history, firstly the german leaders of the World War Two from a psichology point of view, after that I was interested in French Revolution and its leaders with Mary Antoinette and Fouche books by Stefan Zweig.

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Did books help develop my character?  I suspect there's a certain element of chicken and egg here.  It's my character that drives me to read books, but I cannot see how anyone can read regularly (whether fiction or non-fiction), and not have those books influence their character to at least some degree, even if only at the subconscious level. Or, to put it another way, you'd have to be an incredibly unresponsive individual to spend so much time reading, and not be influenced as a person by that reading in any way, shape or form.  But whether one can pinpoint particular books?  Trickier!  All I can say is that some books stand out as landmarks in my reading, or as books that have stayed with me for one reason or another.  To that extent, my pattern is not dissimilar to Brian's.

 

As I was apparently reading books to myself by the age of 3, I can't remember any that helped form my early reading.  Children's books that stand out as big influences are (in no particular order!) the Winnie-the-Pooh series (so much so that I was nicknamed after the bear!), Paddington Bear, the Grey Rabbit books, Rev Awdry's Railway books, and, almost inevitably, Enid Blyton (FarAway Tree stands out in memory, as does Secret Seven later, whilst her Nature Lover's Book was almost talismanic).  I was also heavily influenced by, first of all, Tell Me Why, and then Look and Learn.  I also read loads of Ladybird books at various stages.  Non-fiction remains a significant proportion of my reading (around 40%).

 

The Swallows and Amazons series was a powerful developer, opening up a whole different landscape and approach to life which has stayed with me for the rest of my life.  Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill stands for another historical landmark - I loved history novels, and remain fascinated by history.

 

Early 'adult' books (read from about 11 or so) were Sherlock Holmes and the Hornblower series (both favourites of my father, especially the former - he was a guide for the London Appreciation Society, and one of his specialist subjects was SH). I also ripped through my mother's stock of Georgette Heyer Regency novels - which I still love.  Lord of the Rings stands out at around 13.  All definitely had influences, but how much is hard to say - they've certainly stayed with me since then,and stand as developmental landmarks if nothing else.

 

My first introduction to the classics was around 14, when we were required to read either Pickwick Papers or Barchester Towers for English.  I read both, and loved both!   We never did any detailed analysis on either, other than a reading group style discussion in class - our English teacher simply wanted us to read and think about the book, and, dare I say, enjoy it!  I can't remember any other book studied at this stage, but Emma and Middlemarch both featured at A-level, the former introducing me to the joys of Jane Austen and totally changing my reading life.  Whether they changed me otherwise, I'm not sure, but given my reading is so central to me as a person, I suspect they did. I also had phases of reading certain genres - scifi definitely featured for a while (mainly Asimov and Heinlein), as did crime (Christie!).

 

These stand out as landmarks, but I would suggest that much of one's character development through reading is a very gradual process, each book being just one brick, and the reading wall being just one wall in the house (even if signficantly structural in my case!). Thus, just to quote a couple more small bricks: we read Lord of the Flies in class when I was 11 - I hated it with a passion, and there was a niggling scar there until I reread it a few years ago and appreciated it for the great literature it actually is.  On the other hand, we also read, around the same time, Paul Berna's Flood Warning (set in France), the story of which I found profoundly moving at the time.  I only found a copy of it (I had barely remembered even the title, just the impact) a couple of years ago, reread it, and whilst it is still a favourite, like Lord of the Flies I have a rather different perspective on it now.

 

What frightens me somewhat is how influential reading was on me, how many books I read - well over a hundred a year at one point - but how few of the books I read can I recall. I suppose many of the individual bricks are now simply part of that wall.

 

 

 

 

Edited by willoyd

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On 03/07/2019 at 11:59 PM, Raven said:

Jekyll and Hyde

Should we be worried? :giggle2:

 

@willoyd there's definitely an element of chicken and egg in this question. I have no doubt that our characters direct us towards certain books, but that complicates the question considerably! 

Your inclusion of Winnie-the-Pooh jogged an early reading memory for me. I also loved Winnie-the Pooh and can distinctly remember some of the illustrations, even though I can't remember the particular stories I read. Largely thanks to these books, I used to treat my toys as though they were alive, just in case they were when I wasn't looking. I'd gather them all together and read a story to them, so they wouldn't be bored, which probably did end up helping my reading ability! I was a strange child... 

 

I love your analogy of books as bricks in a wall!

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I'd do that with my toys too Hayley.  I'd set up my books as a library and my toys would come and get the books out.  In that way I guess books did influence me, as all my life I wanted to be a librarian.

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When I was a kid I set my books up as a library too, and my sister did the same with hers, and we'd go to each other's libraries and pick out books.

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I had a library too, not many customers though.  The reading seeds were obviously sown early for us!  i even stuck little pockets in some books for the tickets to go in for when people took the book out on loan.

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My grandmother would read to us by the hour and I credit her with my life-long love of reading. I remember finding learning to read easy at school and being very bored with the Janet and John books we were given (Here is Janet. Here is John. Run Janet. Run John.) It was a great pleasure to see how much early readers had improved by the time my children started school.

Earliest books I remember are Winnie-the-Pooh, Noddy books and Rupert Bear annuals (the latter I always found rather strange.)

I loved reading Famous Five books when I was a little older and  became besotted with Johanna Spyri's Heidi, even getting milking goats of my own by the time I was 12.

I think the school curriculum books that had the biggest impact on me were Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath and Black Like Me by John Howard Griffith, both shaping my social conscience. Lord of the Flies was also required reading and I found it distressing to discover the depths of bullying and cruelty children were capable of.

I  had a deep love of poetry from an early age and nature poems like ee cummings I thank you God for most this amazing day and Gerald Manley Hopkins Inversnaid, and Pied Beauty resonated with me.

I think the biggest effect books had on me was to open my eyes to a much wider world and to encourage the realisation that everything was not black or white. Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood's (such wonderful alliterative language!) Rev Eli Jenkins' prayer,  "We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood.” was an eye-opening moment for me as a young teenager.
 

Edited by poppy

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On ‎06‎/‎07‎/‎2019 at 8:04 PM, Hayley said:

Should we be worried? :giggle2:

 

Yes.

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I also used to pretend to have a library! And to take books out of the library... I'd just swap roles when it was time to take them out :giggle2:. @Athena it's so lovely that you and your sister used to do that together!

This thread has made me wonder how young we were when we became book lovers! 

 

On 08/07/2019 at 11:07 AM, poppy said:

I think the biggest effect books had on me was to open my eyes to a much wider world and to encourage the realisation that everything was not black or white. Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood's (such wonderful alliterative language!) Rev Eli Jenkins' prayer,  "We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood.” was an eye-opening moment for me as a young teenager.

 

What a lovely (and linguistically very satisfying) quote! It's amazing that you actually ended up getting goats too, I love goats!

 

On 08/07/2019 at 11:17 PM, Raven said:

 

Yes.

:hide: 

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