My Life in Books is an occasional feature on Random Things Through My Letterbox.
I've invited authors to share with us their list of books which are special to them, and have made a lasting impression on their life.
I'm delighted to welcome Rowan Coleman as my second guest author in the My Life in Books feature.
Rowan is the author of some of my favourite books, including Dearest Rose (The Runaway Wife), The Memory Book and We Are All Made of Stars, all of which are reviewed here on Random Things.
"It's really really hard to think of just a few books that have been important to me on some level, because there have been so many, but I've given it my best shot.
Of course, as soon as I've finished this and it's posted I'll think of a hundred or more that could have featured, but as I sit here at my desk these are the five that have defined particular moments of my life."
Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery I absolutely loved these books as a child, and Anne is the first example of a character that I strongly identified with. I wasn't a red head, much to my annoyance, but an odd-ball little girl, who was often at odds with the world and got herself into scrapes, even though with the best intentions, that was me. These books also remind me of a really happy reading time in my life, when every Friday after school I would find another Anne book waiting for me on my pillow, delivered by my Mum. They remind me of feeling safe, secure and happy.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte This is my favourite book for a number of reasons, but I think because every time I read it I see something new, and it continues to surprise me. I first read it as a child, and I was enthralled and horrified by young Jane's story, though a bit bored by the romance. Then later on I fell in love with Mr Rochester, and even later after that, I read it again and saw Jane's struggle against the world she was born into, her struggle to be an independent human in charge of her own destiny. And when I think that this novel is getting on for two hundred years old, it makes me realise what a truly revolutionary piece of writing it was.
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby This is a perfect contemporary novel. It balances everything you want, truth, humour, recognition, pathos, understanding, structure and great writing, to make a really brilliant story. I first read this, under the desk, when I was working as a bookseller in London, and I laughed and cried. I felt for and hated the main character, and lived through every page with him. When I finished it, I thought, if I ever write a book, I would want it to make my readers feel the way this book made me feel.
Sushi For Beginners by Marian Keyes This was the first of Marian's books that I read, and it began a life-long love for her writing. This book is a masterclass in what matters to me in fiction. Characters that I absolutely believe in, with real, complicated stories, battling to stay true to themselves, with a sprinkling of romance and real heart and emotion. There is no one better than Marian at achieving this balance, and I adore reading her work. It's this novel that first inspired me to try and write myself.
Howard's End by E M Forster This is an important book to me, because it is the first book I read where I understood that a novel is about more than the story it tells, it can have a bigger message and important themes. I can clearly remember the light moment of revelation in class, at school aged about fifteen, and it's a moment that has stayed with me forever. To feel that you have discovered something more, something deeper within a novel, an almost coded message that is just for you, left for you by the writer is a thrilling feeling, and it's what I try to do with my books now.
Rowan Coleman lives with her husband and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family which includes a very lively set of toddler twins whose main hobby is going in the opposite directions. When she gets the chance Rowan enjoys sleeping, sitting and loves watching films; she is also attempting to learn how to bake.
Rowan has written twelve novels, including The Accidental Mother, The Baby Group and Runaway Wife which won the Festival of Romance Best Romantic Read 2012, the RoNA Epic Romance Novel of 2013 and was shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year 2013 and is the book that inspired Rowan to release Woman Walks Into A Bar as an ebook (published 10 September 2013) with 100% of her royalties going to Refuge.
Her Sunday Times bestselling novel The Memory Book was a Richard and Judy Bookclub selection 2014, and LoveReading Novel of the Year, as voted for by readers.
Her latest novel We Are All Made of Stars is out now.
For lots more information about Rowan and her books, visit her website www.rowancoleman.co.uk
Check out her Author page on Facebook Follow her on Twitter @rowancoleman