Today I am pleased to welcome Cynthia Clarkr on to the blog with a brilliant post about her favourite books! (This was supposed to go up for her blog tour but I’m hoping she won’t mind that it’s gone up late!)
My Five Favourite Books. Ever.
I grew up surrounded by books. They were everywhere. Three deep on shelves, forming precariously high stacks on the sideboard, scattered across the dining room table, in piles on the ground of the study.
Throwing out a book was considered a sacrilege, so the piles kept getting bigger and bigger, taking over more and more space. And I was encouraged to add to the collection.
Reading became more than a pastime, it was an integral part of my life. Perhaps it’s because this was in the early 80s, before cable television or the Internet. A good book was the only way to spend a lazy summer afternoon, lying in bed with the fan blowing warm air, swatting away the mosquitoes that had sneaked past the insect screen.
And once one’s bitten by the reading bug, it doesn’t go away. I read to fill the time, to be transported to places far away, to learn from others’ experiences. Some books were read once and forgotten, others referred to. And then there are the following five, that have left a lasting mark on me.
Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights – This was the first book that I stayed up all night to read. I couldn’t have been older than twelve, probably too young to really appreciate the story to the fullest. But I was transfixed, couldn’t put it down. When my parents said it was time to go to sleep, I read in the dim light coming from the lamp outside my bedroom window. Somehow the darkness fit the mood of the book. I’ve reread it many times and although the story is dark, it fills me with warmth, reminding me of that night during my childhood.
Cupcake Brown’s A Piece Of Cake: A Memoir – There’s nothing I love more than a story of redemption, someone who was dealt a bad hand and managed to turn it around. And that’s exactly what this book is about – perseverance in the face of adversity. Although this is a page turner, I found myself having to pause to digest the horrors narrated in Brown’s autobiography. She depicts the years of abuse, days living behind a dumpster, prostituting herself to get money for more drugs in a matter-of-fact way that is such a stark contrast to the reality of the story. This book didn’t just show me a life I had never imagined before, but also that it’s possible to climb out of even the deepest pit.
Lily Koppel’s Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal – It’s true that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. When Koppel found the red leather diary amidst the designer clothes in an old steamer trunk in the basement of the Manhattan building where she lived, it took her on a journey to track down its owner, Florence Wolfson. The entries in the journal narrate a story of the past, an existence during a golden time in Manhattan, and a girl who had great ambitions. The writing is splendid and the story fantastic. I couldn’t put it down.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – Yes, I know, it’s on everyone’s favourite books list. But there’s a reason why – it’s good. No, it’s great. And although it’s more than 200 years old, many of the concepts still hold true. Mrs Bennett might sound frivolous but she wants what’s best for her daughters. Elizabeth might seem uncaring but in the end she’s a romantic. And Mr Darcy is the epitome of an unsung hero. I’ve read this book more times than I can remember and still reread it every year or so. And enjoy it every time.
Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic Takes Manhattan – Becky Bloomwood has to be one of my favourite characters and although I like the whole Shopaholic series, this particular book brings back great memories. I read it while flying to New York for the first time and lived precariously through Becky’s reckless shopping sprees. It’s a light read but I love that it delivers a message – that at the end of the day, if one really wants something, they need to work hard and find a way to get it done.
About the Book
A wife, a mother, a killer.
One wrong decision, one terrifying night, leaves student Elizabeth with a stark choice – kill or be killed. And the consequences of that choice will shape her whole life.
Now a wife, a mother, and a lawyer, she must find a way to out run her past, protect her family and live with her secret. But is it really possible to live a happy life with such a huge shadow cast by the past? And as it becomes clear that someone else knows her secret and is hunting her down, time is running out for Elizabeth to keep her family safe.
In the bestselling tradition of Clare Mackintosh and Jenny Blackhurst, Cynthia Clark has written a heart-stopping story about the choices we make and how far we’d go to protect our families. Even if it means deceiving the people we love most…
About the Author
Cynthia Clark was born and brought up in Malta, where she graduated in Communications and went to work for a daily newspaper. She has since lived in the US, where she worked as a writer in online business journals. She and her husband now live in Philadelphia with their twin daughters.