Yep. My twenties. A time dominated by going to university, developing my career, going to the theatre and travelling. I really didn’t dedicate much time to reading. Still, by virtue of doing a part literature based degree (and the other half was American Studies which included a lot of American Lit) I did sneak some titles in. But this will still be a much shorter post. Much, much shorter.
The Career Years – 21-30
Jeeping my obsession with horror going into my next decade, The Exorcist as a book was a very chilling read to me, much more so than the film. Perhaps because when reading about what is happening on the page, your mind can be far more active, taking things in the direction of what may be scariest to you personally. Yes the film was creepy, eerie, and the atmosphere created played well into that. But the book – that was on a whole other level. I didn’t get to see the movie until I was in my late teens, hell probably early twenties when it was re-released, but I loved the book when it finally came onto my radar. Still do.
As part of my studies I was introduced to the memoir Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver.
Not always as easy read, it gives an honest portrayal of one of the hardest points in American history and of a man who lived through the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. Uncompromisingly brutal at times, Cleaver’s views, expressed so purely, reflected the feelings of hate and prejudice of the time from both sides of the Black/White divide. This can hardly be said to be a book I enjoyed, that is not why it stayed with me, but it this is one author I will likely not forget.
I was directed to this book by whilst studying at Northern Arizona University. As I was planning to write my dissertation on cultural representations of the Vietnam War this was a timely read and one which gave me so much insight into the horrors of this war.
Giving a first hand account of the war, Caputo’s memoir acted as a timely reminder to the American people of the horrors of this pointless war, shattering all illusions of a public who were fighting between indifference and hatred for all it stood for.
Two of the key things I will always remember from my time in Arizona are the class I took under Dr Dudley Acker, a man who had fought in the war and spoke with such passion on the subject that he truly made it live for me, and this book. If you only read one book on Vietnam, make it this one.
Is it obvious I did a literature degree yet?
This is another of my favourite reads from my degree. Giving the reader a glance into the tribal nature of Nigerian culture and is widely regarded as one of the best examples of African literature around, with good reason.
Telling the story of Okonkwo, a man who has grown to fall out of grace with his tribal community, it gives a powerful insight of the impacts of colonialism from an African perspective. Our protagonist is brutal, a man who has grown to be feared owing to his own fears of being weak like his father. The language and imagery of this text were uncompromising, the subject matter often hard to take, but I would still recommend that you read this book. Enjoyed would be the wrong word to describe my feelings on this book, but I appreciated the honesty of the text.
I can’t be the only person to have waited with baited breath for the next instalment of this serialised wonder by Stephen King. Oh how beautiful the understood John Coffey, his gentle nature ignored due to the sheer magnitude of his size. And Mr Bo-Jangles. I loved that mouse.
I was absolutely gutted when I lost the sixth book before I could read it. I had to know how it ended. Thankfully I did find it before I watched the movie. While I will always love the film, the books are so, so much better.
A Small Place – Jamaica Kincaid
Another university read, I did enjoy this book which is a look at the corruption and violent past which marks the idyllic Caribbean island of Antigua.
I have little more to say on this other than read it. Oh, and this is the book which has made me a) think long and hard about whether I really want to go and visit the Caribbean and b) very fearful about going to swim in the ocean. As Kincaid put it, the sea may look beautiful and blue, but do not look too closely where the islands sewer system lets out. That may not be a fish brushing past your leg… How much truth there is in that… well I’m quite frankly loathe to investigate.
And then I kind of stopped reading. Apart from this:
Yep. I was a CSI fan in my twenties (well I needed something to do while holed up in my flat in Leicester). I’m not saying this was a work of literary genius but they were quite enjoyable and featured all of my favourite TV characters.
I know. Shoot me if you like, I don’t care. We watch TV series which have arisen from book adaptations, why not the other way? And at least it was still crime…
Okay. SO maybe it wasn’t that short. I was still at University for the first two years of my 20’s and while I may not have actually bothered to read many of my set texts (pretty well none to be fair) I did take on board the titles and catch up with them when it seemed a little less like a chore. And I’m glad I did. I’d have missed some damned good books otherwise.
So what books made up your twenties? Did you go into party mode like me? You wouldn’t believe it given my nun-like existence now but I used to be a Guiness and Jack Daniels kind of a girl. (Not together I hasten to add…).
Happy reading all