for writers and readers….

What book makes you happy?

The Color PurpleThe Summer Reading Challenge takes place every year during the summer holidays in the UK. Children can sign up at their local library, then read six library books of their choice, collecting stickers and other rewards along the way. And now everyone is back to school there’s a country-wide online poll  to discover which of these 10 popular books make young readers happy….

Here’s the list:

· Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

· The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

· The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

· Mr Gum and the Cherry Tree: Bk. 7 by Andy Stanton and David Tazzyman

· How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

· The Worst Thing About My Sister by Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt

· Horrid Henry’s Dreadful Deeds by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross

· Gangsta Granny by David Walliams

· The Twits by Roald Dahl

As well as voting, young readers can comment on and review these books – and any others that make them happy – via the ‘Chat’ section of the Summer Reading Challenge website.

Last time I checked the wonderful Jacqueline Wilson was topping the poll but if you could vote what book from your childhood or from adult life would you choose? A book that makes you HAPPY – maybe that’s different to your favourite book.

The Color PurpleMine from childhood I think has to be The Gauntlet. I learned to read at a wonderful children’s library in North London called Treausre Island which ran its own version of the Summer Reading Challenge (only it was called The Good Reader’s Badge and it ran all year round – librarians wouldn’t let you take out an easier book than the one you just read and were always encouraging you to try something more exciting. When I returned The Gauntlet I was asked if I enjoyed it. I just nodded my head but the librarian instantly knew how much it meant to me. You wish you were Peter, don’t you, she asked. And I did. I did.)

Here’s the blurb from the Goodreads site:

One misty summer afternoon, Peter Staunton was wandering near the ruined castle of Carreg Cennen in the hill country of the Welsh border. He stumbles across a rusted metal gauntlet and idly slips it on his hand. This is the start of an adventure that takes him back in time to the 14th century, when his Norman ancestors held the castle. Now, as Peter de Blois, he is plunged into a bewildering medieval world of chivalry and honor, of archery and falconry, of grand feasts and castles, but most of all, of heart pounding jousting tournaments. But all these rousing pastimes ominously give way to a rebellion among the Welsh tribes…

And from adult life? This is harder, much harder. There are books that live with me, have become part of my mental landscape, have helped me to form opinions and be the person I am….but it would be pretty weird to say that 1984 made me happy. If it were non fiction I’d go for Orwell’s collected essays or Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee or a biography of James Connelly or Robert’s Kee’s book on the life of Charles Stewart Parnell, but no, I can’t pretend that non fiction ever made me want to dance down the street. For that you need fiction.

Fiction like The Color Purple

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”

The Color Purple

And if you need a working definition of happy….try this

What have you read that made you feel this happy?

photo credit: Robby Ryke via photopin cc
photo credit: Dawn Huczek via photopin cc
photo credit: Kaptah via photopin cc

4 comments on “What book makes you happy?

  1. A Teenage Poet
    September 26, 2014

    My favourite book is Jane Eyre, but the Anne of Green Gables series always made (and still makes) me happy. Sure, I cried a bunch, but I loved losing myself in Anne’s world…I feel like she’s a friend from my childhood that moved away.
    Plus, I can identify with her wanting the E on Anne…my middle name is Ann, it’s three generations old, and I despise it. The E would make everything better. Unfortunately, my mother isn’t that kind.

    • bridget whelan
      September 26, 2014

      I thought of Jane Eyre and Bleak House – both give me a soft glow of contentment – but I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables, only watched a television series years ago. Even so, I think I can understand your attachment but the ‘e’ in Anne? Surely not. Ann is rarer and belongs to the women in your family – I’d treasure it as part of your heritage. Why did Green Gables Anne feel so strongly about it?

      • A Teenage Poet
        September 26, 2014

        You’re right about it being part of my heritage, but I feel that that can be recognised in other ways. Names with imagination and thought are something I feel strongly about, so it bothers me. But most people don’t look at it like that; it’s sort of silly, but I care about strange things.
        Even now, I’d say Anne of Green Gables is worth the read. And Anne prefers “Anne” to “Ann” because it’s more grown up and distinguished, and that’s something she’s always striving for. She loves sophisticated names (she wants to be called Cordelia) but if she has to be stuck with Ann(e) she’s going to make the most of it.

  2. bridget whelan
    September 26, 2014

    You’ve convinced me – I must read Anne of Green Gables. And names are such personal things I think you should embrace the name you want even if your family can’t take to it. There is a wider world to whom you can be Anne. (I did that when I was 16 and zillions of years later I have to check the spelling of the name my family know me by when I write Christmas cards, but to friends and the family I have made I am the name I want to be…)

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This entry was posted on September 26, 2014 by in Muse and tagged , , , , .


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