The Books That Made Me Me {Fee}

When we posted the very first books post, we were utterly delighted with how well it went down with you beautiful people, but not really that surprised. After all, the three of us all adore books, whether they are escapes from the real world or insights into worlds that we would never otherwise experience, so it makes sense that a lot of you feel the same way. 
As we’ve continued the books series we’ve all found books that we’d never heard of but needed to read, or that we’d been meaning to read and finally got around to because everyone else raved about them, but today’s piece is a little bit different. It comes from Fee, and as usual is written in her inimitable conversational style that we all love. But she’s not telling us about books that we should read, rather looking for a little bit of advice…and we know that’s what you lot do best, so don’t let us down will you…. 

It began at the age of 3.
I started learning to read with the usual ‘Jip the cat jumped over Ben the dog’ – hardly scintillating I’m sure you’ll agree but I had insider information courtesy of my big sister, who had informed me with the airy condescension of a 5 year old that once you had worked your way through the 6 billion (well, it seemed that way) learner reading books, you were allowed to pick your own from the shelf AND go and sit on the mat to read if you finished all your work before home time.
I should add here that as well as being an avid reader, I was also born with a competitive spirit to rival Sir Alex Ferguson and a love of being left alone with my ‘things’ (care bear/a la carte kitchen/my little pony). So you can understand that to my 3 year old self , the great ‘learning to read’ challenge of ’85 could not be ignored.
To the delight of my mum (and the suspicion of my dad who is no fool and quite rightly smelt a rat), I set about working through those reading books with the determination of a human dozer (you know, those little men from the Fraggles). Many an afternoon my poor mum was begging to be released from my reading practice but I would only allow respite when Neighbours came on – the ongoing saga of Scott and Charlene had me gripped. Even though I had no idea what was going on, I knew it was the most important thing IN THE WORLD.
Anyway, I digress – eventually, just before I turned 5, I reached my goal. I could choose my own books. Despite having had over a year to prepare for this moment, I stood before that towering book case (real height: 3 feet) and felt overwhelmed with choice. Did I choose the brightest cover? The shortest book? The longest book? Or just go for something I could reach? I’m not going to lie to you, I panicked. And grabbed the one that was in my immediate eye line. A book written by someone called Roald Dahl, called ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’. And so it began.

I toiled over the Grandma trouncing medicine with George, wandered down to the library with Matilda and rode in a giant’s ear with Sophie. As I grew up, I journeyed to Narnia with Lucy, had adventures with Bilbo Baggins and hid in a den with Stig of the Dump. The bookshelves in our home chronicle, to me, the path my life has taken – some find that music evokes the strongest memories but for me, whatever I was reading at the time holds the key to unlocking my various (mis)adventures.

I only have to see the cover of ‘Little Women’ to remember the seemingly unconquerable trauma of my first heartbreak, anything by Jane Austen brings on the irrational fear I would feel on the tube in the early days of travelling to my first real job and the opening lines of ‘Shadow of the Wind’ transport me back to the weeks that I spent travelling alone in Asia and therefore always make me feel a little bit brave and proud of myself when I am feeling defeated.

I was reading ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ when my lovely boy proposed – romantic and dreamy it’s not but those pages full of violence and mystery will always bring on a general feeling of happiness touched with anticipation (note to self: do not share this information with any mental health professionals).

So the burning question is….. what shall I read in the days surrounding our wedding? Answers on a postcard please or I will no doubt end up engrossed in ‘When Women Kill’ or similar. Which I fear would disappoint my 3 year old self immeasurably – almost as much as the news that Scott and Charlene did not get married in real life. I’m still not over it.
Categories: Books, Books That Made Me Me
14 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Jeanie
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I love when you guys do this :) Fee – you write so BEAUTIFULLY! My tip for a book to read around wedding time would be 'The Princess Bride'. Tis my all-time fave and I have read it over and over again, however the strongest memory it evokes is of a week stranded on a beach in Thailand with my best pal reading it aloud to each other :) It is HILARIOUS and romantic and adventurous and ace.
    Oh – and my man interrupted my re-reading (for the 8th time – OK so I have a re-reading problem) of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone to ask me marry him. Right at the magical bit where the kids are boarding the Hogwarts Express for the first time.

  2. Mahj
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Ack! Fee, I think we are book twins or something! Your reading list is my reading list and coincidentally, my very lovely Martin bought me the complete boxset of Roald Dahl's books last year when I told him once upon a time that I regretted giving the books away when I was younger. I am currently emmersed in the BFG and Sophie is sitting in the BFG's ear as we speak!!

    Hmm, my recommendations would be The Time Travellers Wife, The Great Gatsby and (because I am a mahossive Elizabeth Taylor fan!) Furious Love – The Love Affair of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. This one is completely ridiculous in the way they loved and lived their loves but is such a love letter to Old Hollywood steeze and such an over-the-top but brilliant example of how famous people fall in love. Plus its completely addictive and has pictures too!

    Happy reading!


    PS. Jeanie – I always get goosebumps in that HP when Hagrid tells Harry that he's a wizard!

  3. Posted September 14, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Mahj I really want to read that Liz Taylor book now!!

    Fee, a gorgeous post. In terms of books to read around the wedding, (sorry I'm a newbie – when is it??) I say go for the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. There is no other word for it but LOVELY. And I mean lovely in the truest sense of the word – you'll feel comforted, excited, saddened,nervous – but ultimately end it thinking that it was just such a LOVELY story. And you'll probably want to go on a little adventure to Guernsey too. (AOT to Guernsey..?!)

    Alternatively you can wait a year a read my book, but i'm not sure you have that long!

  4. Posted September 14, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    *quietly removes Girl With The Dragon Tattoo from her BTMM*

    I love Fee, I do. You are such a sweet lady woth such a lovely way with words


  5. Posted September 14, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Lovely post and I'm with you on books evoking memories…
    Aaah The Princess Bride yes.
    And another book, which perhaps deserves its own post is Greenery Street by Denis Mackail. It's by the beautiful Persephone publishers so feels precious to read and this one is about a newly married couple and their first year. I read it on honeymoon and it was perfect.
    If you do read it then you'll need to pop back here and post about it.

  6. Posted September 14, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Fee! I love your posts! And I have waited 4 HOURS to post this because I didn't want to look like a fangirl.

    Fie to Blogger, I am shaking my fist, I just had a list of books I think would be brilliant to read around your wedding and it DELETED them. Blogger obviously disagrees with my amazing literary taste.

    Here are the highlights (and why):

    - Of Love And Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – so just before you get hitched you can read the most powerful love story of all time, and it's SHORT. So you can get on with making table plans.

    - La Symphonie Pastorale by Andre Gide – will remind you how love is so much more than what you see on the surface.

    - The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allende – the most evocative portrait of a contemporary family you're ever likely to read.

    - The master and margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – because it's nothing to do with love or weddings and will set your imagination on fire…and sometimes, in the run-up to a wedding, that is what you need.

  7. Soph
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Fee you are so cute! In a funny, awesome, too cool way! I love the thought of a cranky, gum-chewing, shouty 3 year old Fee/Sir Alex…hilarious!

    I'm going to peruse my bookshelves when I get home but my standout recommendation is 'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood'-the film isn't up to much but the book is epic and healing wonderful and has been a favourite of mine since I was a cranky, gum-chewing, shouty teenager!

    Loving your work, ladies.

    Soph xo

  8. Posted September 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Fee-AWESOMESAUCE writing. Fact. And I adore the Fergy-analogy too, it's still making me giggle!

    @Soph-Anna lent me DSotYYS recently (shee was utterly shocked/borderline appalled it wasn't already in my life…) and I'm just coming up to the last few chapters. It's one of the few books I haven't devoured in one sitting, I genuinely like stepping away from it every couple of chapters to think about what's happening/going to happen and the causes and effects of seemingly tiny actions… I'm LOVING it.

    So yep, Fee-make that 2 recs for Divine Secrets!


  9. Posted September 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I passed up DSoTYYS last time I was in a charity shop because I remembered the film being weak. Damn and blast. The Elizabeth Taylor book sounds INCREDIBOBBLES too.

    Competitive reading Fee has resulted in a lady of marvellous words, more please!

    You will have read it, but I recommend a timely re-reading of The Little Prince – excellent lessons in love.


  10. Fee
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Hello hello!

    I am SO happy that so many of you have commented – seriously, you have all made my day. Again!

    Thank you SO much for all of the recommendations, I may have to make an emergency dash to Waterstones after work to start stocking up (does the fact that I still buy actual books make me a giant loser in this day and age?).

    I wish I could comment on every recommendation but I am having a stupidly busy day (isn't work an inconvenience, hee hee!) so I shall just give a special shout out to Mahj – 'Furious Love – The Love Affair of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton'?

    That is THE best book title ever. I must READ it immediately (and then maybe marry the boy twice so I too can have a Furious Love!).

    BIG love xx

  11. Posted September 14, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I second guernsey literary and potato peel pie society.
    Also, I also buy real books. (I will admit to owning an shook device and using it gratefully in vacation because it is so much lighter than the 15 books I would otherwise bring. I make a point to still patronize the small bookstores in the vacation place though.

  12. Gemma
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    I'm with Mahj, as my list of books is strangely similar…I adore the time travellers wife completely and unashamedly.
    I have however like Mahj just found my childhood copy of the BFG so when my 4month old Daughter gives mins 5 minutes I am desperate to dive back into it!

  13. Posted September 15, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    You remember what you were reading when you got engaged? Wow, don't have a clue.
    I was, still am, a total book worm. Read our local library out of books and had to be taken to another as I was too young to start on the teenage section.
    Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton filled my childhood.
    No recommendations I'm afraid but my list of books to read is growing.

  14. katiegtobe
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Im a little late on this one, but I lost my post :(

    Loved reading all your recommendeds Ladies, and will have a little browse for my upcoming hols.

    It's rather a weighty tomb, but my all time all round number one book to recommend for a special time is Crosstich – Diana Gabaldon. (or it may now be published by its US title – scandalous – Highlander.)

    It's got love, friendship, fury, family, history, humor, longeivity and magic.

    Be warned, you will DISAPPEAR into this story. But hapily, there is more for honeymoon, and beyond.

    Enjoy !

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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