I read a post in which someone posted a list of the 15 books which changed her life.

She has a very religious bent to her life so there were all sorts of godly books in the mix. Not my cup of tea – but it did make me think.

I read a lot. A lot a lot! Like every day; like at least a book a week sometimes more. Not having a teevee will do this to a being.

But there is no way i could possible say that there even are 15 books which had that much of an impact on me. Not really. Changed my life???  Naaaah


So here are the things of that nature that did have an effect on me. Some i knew the effect then, some i worked out after

1. The Magic Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton.  This was one of the few ‘children’s’ books i read. I was a precocious reader and went to adult stuff quite early on in my life. But this book (I think there were three actually) are still my favourite. I loved the idea of the world changing as you climbed higher and higher. And the fact that you are in one place now does not mean you will be forever meant that i always knew that ‘this too shall pass’.

I still like this book.

2. The Handmaidens Tale – Margaret Atwood.  This may have been the first altered reality sci-fi I ever read. It is certainly the first i remember reading. I continue to have a love for these kinds of sci fi stories – the ones that examine how society might be had we turned right rather than left.  This book, in addition to making me realise that they way we live is just one option, also for the first time that i remember, showed me that women can have power. Real power. The kind of power used to rule nations.

I still think this book is a must read for every human being.

3. The New Avengers teevee series. I have mentioned previously what a profound effect Purdey had on the little girl i was when she blasted into our living rooms.  Watching her being an equal member of a team with two men forever changed how i saw my own possibilities in the world.

4. American Beauty. I watched this movie years ago and actually remember very little of what it is about. But i do remember the scene with the piece of paper blowing down the street. A piece of litter moving in the breeze eventually, with clever music editing, turns into a dancing white form in the gutter.  While watching this scene i could feel cogs turn in my head. I came out of the movie experience seeing the world differently. And i continue to do so. This scene changed how i see the easy and the difficult in my life.

5. Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. This book was probably the most fun to read of all the many books i have ever read. I just loved the experience of reading it.  It reminded me that stuff can just be fun sometimes; that dour and gravid are not the only way to go. I strive to be more fun, in my life and my writing, after reading this book.

It’s a great read – go get it!

6. Mississippi Burning. I have not been able to watch this movie despite trying a few times. The scenes of the black people being treated the way they are by the white characters makes my white South African guilt surge! The fact that i can’t watch this film is why i make such a huge effort not to be a racist and to do something with the privilege i inherited by dint of my race. Maybe when i am able to watch the opening scenes and not feel personally responsible i will have achieved a state of colour blindness.

I live in hope.

7. DSTV Cookery Channel. I didn’t know i liked to cook until i got DSTV and started watching others cook. I found my domestic goddess and while she is still not so good at cleaning up, she can cook! See – teevee is not all bad.

8. Spot on Technology Grade 9 Learner’s Book and Teacher’s Guide. I wrote the first chapter in these books and they sold like hot cakes. Like over a hundred thousand copies. With the royalties i earned i bought an Audi, cash, and went to visit my mom in Canada. Having no car payments and a relatively new car has meant a long term financial easing which has made a whole lot of other things possible. So this book certainly changed my life. It also reminded me that i am a capable writer.

9. Shaven haven – an article i wrote years ago. I wrote this article for a forum website i was a member of. It took me all of about a hour to write and was the most viewed article on the site for months. I know the subject mattered helped, but this article was pivotal in me realising i could write readable stuff for fun. I still remain grateful to the editor of that site for publishing my stuff. I do the job i do, and love, because of the confidence he gave me in my writing.

10 Link/Skakel.  In the dark old days of the 80s when homophobia was rife in South Africa and homosexuals lurked, secretly and in fear of gay bashings, my mom leapt out of the closet, guns ablazing. She was a founder member of the Gay Association of South Africa – the first actual public organisation for gay rights in South Africa. Part of GASA was a news letter called Link/Skakel. As a teenager i helped my mom, and others, create the newsletter every month. We pasted articles into columns for printing and edited writings. This experience both taught me about writing to be read as well as exposed me to gay people left right and centre. I credit this emersion with my total lack of homophobia. I learnt very early on that people are people, there are ones you like and ones you don’t. What they do sexually is never an indication of their personality.

And that’s it – that’s all that spring to mind at this juncture. Some interesting influences seed to have conspired to make me who i am today!