The Pretty Purple Polka Dots Book Club Special Edition: The Formative Years

I’ve done a few posts on books I’ve read in the past (including one in the very recent past), and each time I’ve said I’ve had a love of books since I was a young girl. I’ve never addressed some of the books and authors I grew up adoring, though.

Until now.

A lot of girls my age slept with teddy bears, dolls, you name it. Me, I slept with books. Scattered on the floor around the bed. Lying at the end of the bed, waiting for my return come morning. Under my pillow. (No really. My Dad told me he once pulled a stack of books from under my pillow when I was five. No wonder I have such bad posture now.)

I literally ate, slept and breathed reading. So, I think it only fair to pay homage to those who I read while growing up. The books, series, or authors that shaped me as an adult and made sure I would never travel without a book to keep me company.

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is the first author I can ever remember admiring. When I was younger, I had a trilogy of his books in one volume- The BFG, Matilda and George’s Marvellous Medicine. The two first stories will always be close to my heart. Every night, my Dad used to put me to bed in the top bunk of my beds, open the book and take on the role of the BFG (and the narrator) while yours truly read Sophie’s dialogue. He was my BFG.

As for Matilda, I felt like she and I were kindred spirits. I may have been in a loving family who embraced reading, but I felt like I was the only reader in my class. I remember even being given out to one day in Fifth Class for reading when I’d finished one of my tests first. Oops.

The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot

Who didn’t want to grow up and find out they were a princess? I was hooked on Meg Cabot’s debut series and had each of the books devoured within days. Like me, Mia was an outcast in school, and her hair was merciless. Her cat was a bit of an idiot as well. I identified with Mia instantly, right down to the love of English and not quite aptitude at Maths. I’m still waiting on the crown to appear though.

(Aside: I’m currently reading the new Princess Diaries book and it is just as good as I remembered.)

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

There isn’t a child in our world who doesn’t know his name. Harry Potter took over my childhood reading when I was nine and I discovered The Philosopher’s Stone. For a long time my collection was broken, as I brought the first two books with me on a holiday to Wexford and left one behind when we went back home. I was inconsolable for weeks.

If the houses were real, then I was a Ravenclaw, bright and brainy, but my favourite character was a Gryffindor- Ginny Weasley. She was witty, brave, and well able to stand for herself, especially after the Diary Incident in her first year of school. Also, she was the Queen of Sass. Let’s not mention Movie Ginny though.

Jacqueline Wilson

I adored Jacqueline Wilson’s books, so much I went to a performance of Double Act (one of my favourites of her books) in Cork Opera House. What I loved most about her work was she wasn’t afraid to write about topics that may have been taboo, but that some girls my age had to deal with; The Illustrated Mum had the daughters of a woman with bipolar disorder, Andy in The Suitcase Kid had parents who were divorced, while The Bed and Breakfast Star features a homeless family with an abusive patriarch. Jacqueline was a writer, but she was real, and she opened my eyes to a lot of the hardships in the world.


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