This is a very difficult question to answer. A few obvious answers immediately flew to mind, like the Boden catalogue as this is a book that impacts my bank balance on an all too frequent occurrence. A little more thought brought my favourite childhood book to the fore which was ‘The One Hundred and One Dalmatians’ by Doddie Smith although the only real impact I think that book has had is my compulsion for things that are spotty (see earlier reference to Boden addiction).
There was a chicklit book that I once read that when I had persevered to the end it gave me the encouragement that if they had been published then I at least stood I fighting chance – book and author will of course remain nameless.
When you sit down and really think about it, it’s amazing how many books you have read and loved and remember fondly. I love a bit of poetry so Wendy Cope would always make it into my top five books but to choose just one is a hard task.
So after a few cups of tea and two caramel wafers too many I hit upon the one book that had made a real impact – drum roll please for ‘The Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel. I’ll give a brief recap on the story, just in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last twelve years (warning: spoilers.)
Pi’s family are transporting animals from their zoo in India to North America. A few days out of port the ship encounters a storm and sinks. Pi manages to escape in a small lifeboat, only to learn that the boat also holds a spotted hyena, an injured zebra, and an orangutan. To Pi’s distress, the hyena soon kills the zebra and then the orangutan. At this point Pi learns that a 450-pound Bengal tiger has been hiding under the boat’s tarpaulin: Richard Parker. The tiger kills and eats the hyena. They are adrift for 227 days and have to learn to survive together.
I loved this book, it was totally different to anything I had read before and probably since. Yann writes the relationship of the teenager and the wild animal beautifully and despite the connection you know Pi has for Richard Parker, when the boat comes ashore in Mexico the tiger disembarks and disappears into the jungle without a backward glance. I found something heart-breaking in the reality of this. The story was at times brutal but Yann’s wit is visible throughout and I feel that this is how I see life. You need to find the humour especially in the darkest hours. I have tried to bring this premise to my own writing and I always include an animal as one of my supporting characters and hope that their persona comes across as realistically as Richard Parker’s does.
Bella has just written her first book and has her own column on Novel Kicks, Bella’s Scribblings.
Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.
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