The Books That Made Me Me – Steff

Book nerds, rejoice.  The Books That Made Me Me is back this time featuring Steff…yes she of the triple Any Other Photo that you all loved.     I adore this piece because a little piece of Steff is entwined with every book here…and it gives an insight into how a book can make a life.  

There is also a CONFESSION.  And confession time makes for the juiciest books posts, no?  All links to the Any Other Woman Book Store.  Over to you, Steff: 


I’m a fussy reader; in fact I’m pretty fussy in general. If something doesn’t entertain me within 15 mins like I’m out faster than Duncan Bannatyne. I thought this would be quite a challenging post for me to do given that I was never what you would call a massive reader growing up however that actually turned out to make it a whole truckload easier.  These books aren’t here necessarily for their plot, their quality prose or their timeless appeal; they’re here because even just the titles bring back memories for me.

I also have a confession to make which may make most of you shudder with disgust… I actually prefer reading on my iPad to reading an actual book (ok, now pick yourself up off the floor and park your bum back on the chair).  I’m a total tech nerd, e-books appeal to every fibre of my being. They’re convenient, fast, efficient, environmentally friendly and I can take 40,000 books on holiday with me which means I’ll always be able to find something to fit my mood.

Without further ado I give you the books that made me, me.

The Magic Finger:

I read this book so many times I could recite it in my sleep. It’s the first book I can remember properly reading on my own. Roald Dahl was my absolute ideal author as a child; he paints such a vivid picture with words that it never felt like any effort reading his books. Within seconds you’re whisked away into another world which is quite like your own but very very different. I also love Quentin Blake’s illustrations, whenever I see one of his greeting’s cards I have to buy them. I was devastated when my mum gave my Roald Dahl trilogy to my niece, so much so that I took it back, promptly felt awful and have since returned it. All children should read Roald Dahl, there will be at least one book which they can relate to, I’d put money on it.

Harry Potter:

I was a latecomer to the Harry Potter phenomenon, the first book was thrust upon me by a colleague in 2003 and I didn’t look back. They’re not massively well written (honestly, if I see the word ‘reproachful’ one more time I might have to burn the book) and they’re full of plot holes (which my husband so likes to point out) and the original concept may or may not have been pinched but I still love them. But what I love about them the most isn’t so much JK’s stories; it’s that I have my own little story tied to each book.

Book 1 reminds me of that ginger haired colleague who first introduced me to the series.

Books 2-4 remind me of our girly holiday to Kavos in the summer after leaving school when I slept on a lilo on the floor of my friend’s apartment and fell asleep face down reading them (much to the amusement of the boys in the room next door).

Book 5 reminds me of when my oldest niece started reading the series and we could sit and chat about what was happening in the book that she was reading at the time, she caught me up. We share a lot of books now.

Book 6 reminds me of the midnight trip to the bookstore with my now husband and our flatmate, our flatmate driving and me read the first chapter aloud as we drove because neither of us could wait until we got home and he wouldn’t let me start before him.

Book 7 was bought for me by my awesome husband which is really something given his dislike for the series. It came with a hogwarts bookmark which I refuse to use in any other book.

The Life of Pi:

I have a confession to make; I’ve never read this book. It’s not for the lack of trying but as I mentioned in the intro, I just can’t stick with something if I’m not feeling it and I just didn’t feel it with this book. But it is partly responsible for making me who I am today. It was 2005, I’d just started seeing a guy I worked with (we’d been together about a week) and it was my birthday. Not really knowing what to get me, he got me some kiddy birthday hats and cups to take to the pub (I’m a child at heart, I make no effort to hide it), a lovely card with a quote about expanding your brain (Plato maybe?), top trumps and a copy of the Life of Pi. He liked to ridicule me about the fact that the only books I read were Harry Potter ones and so this was a bit of light hearted ribbing. I tried reading it several times, but just couldn’t get into it at all. I was polite, I never said anything to my new man about this new quandary he had placed me in, I ploughed on. And then I lost it, the book that is, not the plot. For a long time it wasn’t mentioned, I thought I’d got away with it until one day he asked about it again… and I lied.  I said I was really enjoying it but was just taking my time reading it (or was busy with uni work or some other such nonsense). I felt so bad I went out and bought another copy and tried again. Still no success. And then I found the original copy while moving from our rented flat into the one we’d just bought together and it was at that point that I came clean, apologised for losing it, for not reading it and compared it to running through toffee. And now we have a copy each, me and my husband, neither of which will ever be read. But it’s one of the first gifts my husband ever gave me*, it forced me to be honest with him about who I am (IE not a big reader) and it gives us giggle every time we see a copy of it on someone’s bookshelves.

The Alchemist:

A lovely story, very simple and easy to read, won’t take more than a day to get through but it might just change your outlook on life. I like to read it when I’m flying, I take it with me whenever I go away because it’s the perfect read to sit back, relax and take stock. It was given to my by my husband a short time after we got together after it became apparent to him that I’d been through a fair amount in my past relationship, if you’ve read it you’ll know why he chose such a specific time to give it to me. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t change my world but it did change my outlook and help me to deal with a lot of things and find the courage to face others.

To Kill a Mockingbird:

This was recommended to me by the girl in the bookshop and instantly went to the top of my all-time favourite books.  I recommend it to everyone who will listen. It’s not the stuffy, ye-olde read I thought it was going to be and it’s been the same for everyone I’ve recommended it to. Scout rocks, in fact I’d consider calling my daughter Scout just because of this book. It deals with pretty unpleasant issues in a delicate yet honest way.

The Priestess of the White:

Literature nerds look away now because this is my guilty pleasure. I’ll let you into a badly-kept secret; I’m a big old geek. I love Lord of the Rings, I’ve read World of Warcraft novels, I play video games, I have a storm trooper t-shirt and a pacman salt and pepper set.  Fantasy novels are my thing, I devour them.   I love escapism, I love magic, I love animals that don’t exist (small furry creature which can communicate with telepathy, yes please!) and I really enjoy a book which hooks me from the first page – this did exactly that.  I bought this particular one in Heathrow airport en-route to Kenya on my honeymoon. I wanted Game of Thrones but nowhere had the first book and so I plumped for this purely on the basis that I liked the cover. I kid you not, Every. Spare. Minute. I had on honeymoon my face was buried in it. As soon as I got wifi I was straight onto the iBook store on my phone to download the next one and within a week I was on to the third. I guessed the plot pretty early on but I still enjoyed the read.

* the first gift was a superman frisbee from a Burger King kids club meal, I still have it.

Categories: Books, Books That Made Me Me
15 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted June 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Yay, it’s Steff! I love that you use your BTMMM to tell the story of your life and relationship with your husband… So funny, I gave Sam the Life Of Pi to read about a year ago (thinking it was a good one for non-readers) and found it covered in dust under his side of the bed when I was tidying up last weekend! He only likes Harry Potter and Roald Dahl.. are you sure you’re not my husband Steff?? Reckon I might try him on some fantasy, you’ve inspired me.


    • Steff
      Posted June 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Penny.. I’ll take that as a compliment ;) Try him on a cheeky wee Terry Pratchett, Diggers Truckers & Wings is a good series.

      Oh and enjoy your holiday!! xx

  2. Esme
    Posted June 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I think this is my favourite BTMMM yet. Really great recommendations and honesty!

    • Steff
      Posted June 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Aw thanks Esme :) x

  3. Posted June 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Ha ha ha snap on Life of Pi, and I would consider myself a BIG BIG MASSIVE HUGE reader. I have started it hundreds of times. Hundreds. Really. I just can’t get into it – yet my husband and best friend both adored it and have had many conversations about it. And I love HP and Roald Dahl too. I now may or may not be looking for Priestess of White for my kindle. Maybe.

    • Steff
      Posted June 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Fair warning Gemma you will not be able to put it down… and there are 3 of them and they’re not small! You won’t regret it though :) x

  4. Posted June 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I have just finished Life of Pi and really loved it, slow going to begin with but then I couldn’t put it down! But not for everyone obviously :) However, I did start the Alchemist and never finished it so you have inspired me to read it!

    • Steff
      Posted June 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Fair play, I wanted to read it… I just couldn’t! The Alchemist is a chicken soup for the soul kind of book. xx

  5. Carly
    Posted June 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I love this Steff!!

    I used to be HUGE reader and devour every book within days but my taste has always been pretty trashy. Now, the only time I seem to read is on holiday. I think it’s because my tastes have changed, so I don’t really like the Adele Parks/Jane Green/Marion Keyes anymore as I find them all a bit cliched but I don’t know what my tastes have changed too. I think Douglas Kennedy is a great writer, but if I tell you that on holiday last year I read Sweet Valley High: The Reunion, that might give you a clue as to the kind of ‘book rut’ that I’m in! (Cannot believe I’ve *said* that out loud)

    Any ideas from you lovely AOWers would be gratefully received!

    C x

    Ssshhh, whisper it – but at the moment I’m reading the Fifty Shades trilogy…… it’s not very good, but I can’t stop reading it!!!

    • Katy W
      Posted June 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Carly – have you tried any by Jane Fallon? I really liked The Ugly Sister and Getting Rid of Matthew. They are a tiny bit like Adele Parks/Jane Green/Marion Keyes etc (I too feel like I have grown out of them after spending most of my twenties devouring them) but quite a bit spikier, and they don’t automatically have happy endings.

      I’m about to go on holiday – the weather forecast is NOT looking good – so I’m also on the lookout for recommendations from the lovely AOW-ers because I think I am going to get through about 30 books if it rains all week… I’ve already downloaded two of Mahj’s BTMMM onto my kindle in anticipation…

      • Steff
        Posted June 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Game of Thrones will certainly give you something to chew on for a while!! Maybe a bit heavy for a holiday read though… give the Trudi Canavan books a whirl, you won’t be disappointed! x

      • Carly
        Posted June 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. I did read Getting Rid of Matthew years ago and liked it, so maybe I’ll try a few of her other ones!

        If you like a good story I would definitely recommend State of the Union by Douglas Kennedy, it’s fantastic! Early Martina Cole are always worth a read too, Broken is my favourite. Her later books are a little samey and get on my nerves!

        Enjoy your holiday!

  6. Posted June 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Just bought The Alchemist for the kindle, sounds 100% my cup of tea, thanks Steff! Love the stories in this post.

    • Steff
      Posted June 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      It’s brilliant Amy, I’d love to hear what you thought of it! x

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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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