The 8 books I will always keep.

I’m a hoarder. I have realised this for the millionth time today, after clearing out all the boxes under my bed for the first time in years (I managed to condense six down to one!? Yay me!), and finding all sorts of trinkets and mementos that really, looking at them now, I needn’t have kept but simply couldn’t let go…

However, I will always be particularly ruthless when it comes to my book collection. I clear out my bookcase regularly, plucking novels and non fics out of my rainbow that I am sure I won’t re-read, or have never got round to reading and don’t feel I ever will. I then offer friends their picks from my piles of old proofs, and have recently started donating bags of books to my secondary school library (giving the teachers first dibs, obvs).

There are books I will always keep, though. If they’re signed by their authors, exclusive special editions or perhaps even ones I had something to do with (more on those later)… and if I’ve come across them at important times in my life. Here are a few of the books I can never part with… 

(Oh, my Harry Potter shelf is a given. No need to include those ones, I know you’ll all understand.) 

My Secret (a PostSecret Book) by Frank Warren.

Compiled by Frank Warren, founder, the handmade cards bear compelling and personal messages that have remained secret – until now. Raw and revealing, My Secret expresses the hopes, fears, and wildest confession of young people everywhere. 

I have been a huge fan of PostSecret since I was a teenager, and came across this brilliant art project in a magazine I was cutting up for a collage in Art class. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s something huge in America that began as a humble art project by this guy, Frank. He asked people all over the country – and the world – to send him handmade postcards to his home address; they could be any design, any size, as long as they had a precious secret written/drawn/typed on them, and that secret was supposed to be something the sender had never told anyone else before. Pretty cool, right? 

Well, 14 year-old me certainly thought so. I cut out each secret I saw in an article and stowed them in my satchel (that I’d covered in pin badges and iron-on patches during my very hesitant emo phase, obvs), then pored over them for days afterwards, before sticking them on my bedroom wall. I would check the site every Sunday morning from then on, throughout school, college and uni – and then while I was at uni, I found a fellow fan in the excellent Dez and we somehow got tickets to one of the project’s brilliant live shows in London! I can now say I have met Frank Warren, and given him my secret when he signed my book. I cannot remember what exactly I wrote on my home made postcard now, but I think that’s rather perfect.  

Juno (screenplay and introduction) by Diablo Cody. 

While most girls at Dancing Elk are updating their MySpace page or shopping at the mall, Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) is a whip-smart Minnesota teen going on an emotional nine-month adventure into adulthood. Quick-witted and distinctively unique, Juno walks her high school halls to her own tune—preferably anything by The Stooges—but underneath her tough, no-nonsense exterior is just a teenage girl trying to figure it all out.

The quirky af film ‘Juno’ has a place in my heart. I won’t go too deeply into why, because it’s not entirely my story to tell, but it’s mostly because it was one of the first films I watched and loved not just for the visual stuff and the wonderful soundtrack, but also the writing. I mean, the quotes though!?

Here are some of my favourites:
'That ain’t no Etch-a-Sketch. This is one doodle that can’t be undid, home skillet!'
'Go, Carol!'
'God, Spermy. Must you always feed? It’s like, never ending…'
'Whoa, dream big!’ ‘Oh, go fly a kite!'
'I think I’m in love with you.’ ‘You mean as friends?'
'I don’t think he was ever ours. I think he was always hers.'
'He is the cheese to my macaroni. 

I bought this book on impulse when I saw it in my local Waterstones, with my then boyfriend, not long after buying the DVD. I wasn’t sure why I felt the need to own a copy of the script, but now, after studying script writing modules at uni, I’m so happy I did. 

One Day, by David Nicholls. 

Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley meet on the night of their graduation, in 1988. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. 

Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day – July 15thof each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself. 

Yeah, you definitely knew this was coming. I don’t need to go into it, do I? It’s one of my favourite books, and not entirely because of the plot (although it is a brilliant story that I’ve related to in so many ways over the years – read this post to get my differing perspectives on it) but because it was the first book I’d read in a long time, in the summer after my first year of uni, during which I’d read endless theatre criticism texts and very old literature as well as How To Write stuff, that I’d truly enjoyed. And more than that – it was the book that reignited my yearning to write books someday.  

How to be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran. 

Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven't been burned as witches since 1727, life isn't exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them? Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women's lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother.

Another one I don’t really need to explain too much, because if you’ve been reading this blog since its early days (congrats on that, btw) you’ll know I worship Ms Moran and that this book had me in tears, cackling happily while I read it on holiday some time ago (the same summer I read ‘One Day’ I THINK!?? whoa) and it gave me my first proper look into feminism. The copy in this photo is actually retired, as it’s falling apart and the queen herself has now signed it, but I have about 3 other copies to take its place/lend to friends as and when they blaspheme and tell me they’ve never picked it up before.  

The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. 

A funny, often poignant tale of boy meets girl with a twist: what if one of them couldn't stop slipping in and out of time? Highly original and imaginative, this debut novel raises questions about life, love, and the effects of time on relationships.

This is another favourite novel that I read some time ago (and another favourite book that was properly mugged off getting a truly sh*tty film adaptation, much like the aforementioned ‘One Day’!) and despite the size of the book and annoyingly tiny font on every page, I will re-read it many times in my life. Also, this is a book I’ll always buy when I see it in a sale, or in charity shops, to give to friends who haven’t got it on their shelves. I currently have about 5 copies tucked behind this one on my bookcase.  

Trouble, by Non Pratt.

In this dazzling debut novel, a pregnant teen learns the meaning of friendship—from the boy who pretends to be her baby’s father.

Told in alternating perspectives between Hannah and Aaron, ‘Trouble’ is the story of two teenagers helping each other to move forward in the wake of tragedy and devastating choices. As you read about their year of loss, regret, and hope, you’ll remember your first, real best friend—and how they were like a first love. 

No, this isn’t just because I’m a hardcore Non fangirl. It’s also because this is (as I recall) one of the very first YA novels I read, and enjoyed, aged 19. The only other one I remember reading around then is Before I Die, by Jenny Downham. 

Perfume (the Story of a Murderer) by Patrick Suskind. 

One day, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the "ultimate perfume" - the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity. 

This is definitely the wild card in this pile, I know, but I really enjoyed reading this book for A Level English Lit and am so desperately in love with its cover, I just cannot bear to part with it. Yes, I do judge some books by their covers, and I hang onto them when they’re extra pretty. Whatever, we all do. Real talk.  

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, by Lauren James. 

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew member on a spaceship travelling to a new planet, its mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. She is all alone in space, until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. 

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone.

I bought this gorgeous hardback American edition online via Lauren herself, even though I’d already been lucky enough to have the English paperback sent to me by the babes at Walker. I just needed it, y’know? It’s in pride of place on my shelf, in amongst my collection with ‘The Next Together’ and ‘The Last Beginning’, some of my favourite UKYA novels, ever.  

Okay, there we have it! Just a few of the books I will never let go. I’ve noticed while writing this that a lot of these are books I read for school or college, and then over the summer holidays at uni. I guess it’s like favourite songs or bands or films; you come across a lot of them in the formative years of your life.

What are the books you’d never want to part with? Any of the above? 

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  1. Aww some lush books here.
    I'm a terrible hoarder haha, but especially of books. I honestly need to be more ruthless and just let go of the ones I won't read again.
    Cora |

    1. Thanks! Oh, it's so therapeutic letting go of old things, but I 100% understand it's that much harder when it comes to your book collection...!

  2. Omg.. I'm afraid to say this, but those are all books I've never read! (HP exception of course)
    I will add some of them to my TBR, Thanks!

    I do know about The Perfume, so curious about that one.

    1. OMG, you need to read them all! Let me know as and when you get round to it - I know TBR piles can be tough to get through! x

  3. I love this post! I'll have to make a similar one some day.
    I save almost all my books (my mother in law was going mad and I had to hide them when I bought new ones), but try to do a "clean" once in a while.
    One Day is one of my favourite books as well and I would never throw it away!

    1. Thanks so much! It's definitely fun to write a post like this.
      And YAY, another 'One Day' lover! xo

  4. I really need to become less of a hoarder when it comes to books...

  5. I am a ridiculous hoarder, so I find it really difficult to part with my books! I managed to do a clearout before Uni this year though and will probably do another after I graduate in the summer. I have quite a lot of signed and personalised copies from 4 years of YALC, so I'll be keeping all those as well as books by my favourite authors (there is some overlap there). Honestly there aren't many of my books I can really imagine getting rid of!

    1. Books are sooo hard to get rid of. Especially when you have lots of signed copies! xo


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