Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers 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, new authors and new bloggers.
Today’s guest is Sue Bursztynski, a children’s and YA writer and teacher/librarian from Melbourne, who blogs at The Great Raven.
Two of her books, Potions To Pulsars: Women Doing Science and YA fantasy novel Wolfborn are CBCA Notable Books, while Your Cat Could Be A Spy and Wolfborn are Premier’s Reading Challenge books.
Sue has written 10 books for young readers, articles for the NSW School Magazine and many short stories. She is an editor with SF magazine Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and runs a lunchtime book and writers’ club at her school.
You can follow her on Twitter @SueBursztynski.
Without further ado, here are Sue’s choices:
I have so many! But since I must… I started reading Lord Of The Rings when I was at university because everyone, fellow students and staff alike, said, “What? You haven’t read Lord Of The Rings?” I bought a three-volume boxed set in the Monash bookshop and started reading, but wasn’t ready and didn’t finish it. Some years later, I went on holiday, drained after a long work year, got out the first volume and began again. The time was right. Exhausted, I simply wanted to lie on the beach and read. I was lucky the tide didn’t come in and sweep me off to sea. I was blown away by the beauty and power of the language, the story and characters. It told me that ordinary people can be heroes. I wanted to party in the Shire, feast in Rivendell, ride in Rohan. I have reread this as comfort reading many times.
One book that certainly made changes in my life was Josephine Tey’s Daughter Of Time. It’s a murder mystery set in a hospital room, in which Tey’s detective, Inspector Grant, is stuck in hospital with a broken leg. Bored, he starts investigating a truly cold case, the murder of the Princes in the Tower. Were they really killed by their uncle, Richard III, or was Richard framed?
With all the recent ado about the “King in the carpark”, this came to mind. While I was studying Shakespeare’s Richard III, in Year 11, my delightful English teacher told us of the doubts about Richard and mentioned Daughter Of Time. I hunted up a copy, read it and ended up joining the Richard III Society. It made me interested in historical research in general. That led to a lifelong fascination with history, which has become an important part of my own writing. It did help, of course, that my history teacher that year introduced us to the concept of “what axe has the historian got to grind?” when reading accounts of historical events. But the book was what started me off.
This is actually a trilogy, but never mind. Aussie author Ruth Manley’s The Plum Rain Scroll, followed by The Dragon Stone and The Peony Lantern are a sort of Japanese version of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles Of Prydain. And those are wonderful books, but they have a wide audience already. I believe this trilogy is out of print and the only people who seem to remember it are those who read it as children or stumbled across a library copy.
The hero, Taro, lives at an inn in a mythical Japan, but ends up going on a quest with a wonderful range of quirky characters based on creatures from Japanese mythology. I recommend it to those of our students who have enjoyed the Lloyd Alexander books, but we don’t have The Peony Lantern and I’m not letting my copy out of the house! They’re middle grade stories which have a kind of charm not often seen in modern children’s books. The closest I can think of in that respect are the delightfully quirky Viking Magic novels of Aussie children’s author Anna Ciddor (which also deserve a wider audience).
Thanks, Sue, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
I must admit that I’ve not read Lord of the Rings, though I tried in my late teens. Perhaps, like you, the timing wasn’t quite right. Thanks for the reminder about Josephine Tey, because a few people have recommended this book to me in the past. And I’ve not heard of Ruth Manley’s trilogy, which sounds rather fabulous.
What do you think of Sue’s choices? Have you read any of these books?