I moved house last week. Anybody who has been through that particular brand of hell will be all too aware of the stress and short tempers that the situation provokes. But there is an upside to deconstructing your life, packing it into boxes and transporting it elsewhere. You discover things you had previously forgotten. Things that had once meant a great deal to you, and subsequently vanished from your mind. I found a number of items which I had not thought about for years: academic reports from my first year at grammar school, photographs from a childhood holiday with my dad that I barely remembered, aftershave I've never worn, a Nirvana t-shirt that was once the height of cool, a small mountain of condoms from a very optimistic youth...
And books. Heaps and heaps of paperbacks that I had long thought condemned to charity shops throughout Shropshire. Below are five of my old favourites that have been put on the "To Be Re-Read" list.
Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
I've blogged about Brite a fair few times before, so it's not exactly accurate to say that I'd forgotten about her work. The packing process last week was greatly slowed, however, when I came across her debut novel; I was unable to resist the urge to flick through the pages, read a passage or two. I can only hope that when I come to revisit Missing Mile in North Carolina, Brite's tale of vampires, rock stars and bromance (an awful term unknown at the time of publication, thank goodness) reads as well today as it did when I was fifteen.
A Density Of Souls by Christopher Rice
With this slice of American Gothic, Christopher Rice stepped out of his famous mother's shadow and earned a place in my heart in his own right. A Density Of Souls is a coming-of-age story complete with burgeoning teen sexuality, dark family secrets, natural disasters and even acts of terrorism. I first read it shortly after my father died, when I was feeling particularly alone. The central character Stephen resonated with me for that reason and many others. I've read Souls a handful of times since then, and will probably continue to do so. It perfectly encapsulates the raw, flawed wisdom that comes with being not-quite an adult.
The Daydreamer by Ian McEwan
A youthful and optimistic alternative to McEwan's more adult fare, The Daydreamer is a series of stories about a boy who possesses either an incredible power, or an equally impressive imagination. He switches bodies first with a cat, then with a baby, gaining incredible insights into their worlds. Later, he visits his future self and learns about love. In the hands of any other writer, The Daydreamer could have been awful. Luckily, with McEwan, we know we're in safe hands.
Tales Of The City by Armistead Maupin
I had a few problems with Tales Of The City when I first read it in 2005. Mainly, I felt that there wasn't a whole lot of plot and some of the characters were thinly drawn stereotypes. However, I also felt that Maupin made up for these flaws with his iconic creation, Anna Madrigal. Matriarchal, mischievous, secretive and seductive, everybody should have a landlady like her.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Need I say more?