Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers and other bookish bods to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles and new bloggers.
Today’s guest is someone you already know: it’s me, Kim from Reading Matters!
I’ve taken the unusual step of taking part in Triple Choice Tuesday, instead of inviting someone else, because I thought it might be an interesting way to mark my birthday (which is today). Yes, I can now officially add the “something” to the “40”, but shhhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s my Triple Choice Tuesday selections (and yes, they were bloody hard to choose; now I know why all my guests complain about it!):
I have so many favourite books it’s difficult to name one here. Usually I nominate George Johnston’s My Brother Jack, which is my all-time favourite, but I thought I’d go for something a little off the beaten track. I can still remember the day I bought Juniper Tree Burning, from the now-defunct Books Etc in Festival Hall back in 2003. It was a spur-of-the-moment purchase. I knew nothing of the author and can’t even tell you why I thought the story of an angry young woman brought up by hippies in New Mexico would resonate with me so much, but it did. I raced through this book in a matter of days and even now, seven years down the track, I still think of the main character, Jennie, and her incredible upbringing and the emotional road journey she undertakes following the suicide of her younger brother. To find out more about the book please do read my review.
I could have listed dozens of books that fit this category, but I’ve opted for McGahern’s debut novel, which I read and reviewed in 2006, because it introduced me to a writer that truly opened my eyes to the beauty and emotional power of literature. I was so moved by this novel, about a woman who marries a much older man and then discovers she has breast cancer but tries to hide it from the people she loves, that I rushed out and bought the rest of McGahern’s novels. I’m not sure what astonishes me more when I look back on this: that he only wrote six between 1963 and 2003, or that I found them all sitting on the shelves of Waterstone’s Picadilly at the exact moment I wanted them.
Gitta Sereny is an Austrian-born British-based journalist who has spent much of her career writing about moral culpability. She wrote an amazingly detailed but completely fascinating biography about Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer, and a similar one about Franz Stangl, the commandent of the Treblinka extermination camp. But it is this book about Mary Bell, an 11-year-old who was tried and convicted of manslaughter of two young boys in the late 1960s, that sticks in my mind more than any other.
Sereny followed the case from the very beginning, including the trial and subsequent imprisonment of Bell, and was always puzzled as to the girl’s motivations: what drives a young girl to carry out such horrendous acts? In 1995 she managed to convince Bell to be interviewed, and the book is a result of a year’s collaboration in which Sereny manages to unearth some startling revelations.
While Sereny attracted some flak for sharing the proceeds of the book’s publishing fee with Bell, this does not take away from the importance of Cries Unheard. It is a profoundly thought-provoking look at the ways in which we treat child criminals and should be read by anyone who cares for children or works with them — in other words, all of us. I am utterly convinced that even the most hardened right-wing reader will no longer rush to cast judgement about child crime once they’ve read Bell’s incredibly sad story.
So what do you think of my choices? Have you read any of these books? (Please note, normal Triple Choice Tuesday service will return as normal next week.)