Big 50 – Volume 3: My Favourite Book

I think I will start by telling you about my second favourite book, which until a few years ago, was my favourite book.  When I was about 16, one of the books we were set for English in high school was John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids.  I remember having the most awesome teacher at the time, and he was passionate about this book.  I used to frequent a local book exchange, being a voracious reader on a very limited budget, and I found a Penguin paperback copy of the book which I think I got for about a dollar.

I fell in love with it the first time I read it.  It was originally written in 1951 and doesn’t feel dated at all.  It’s a very English book, and so many of the settings and landmarks are familiar to us through literature and pop culture, it feels incredibly realistic.  It’s such an engaging story and with just enough ominous creepiness to keep me on my toes.   The characters were ones I could connect with and were likeable.  I remember our teacher at the time wasn’t the kind of guy who would tell us what we should think about the book, but asked us to think about it critically and let us find our own opinions.  I think that’s why I loved all of the books he chose for us to read in class.

The Day of the Triffids was my favourite book for almost 20 years, and I would read it annually (still do) until I read Cloudstreet by Tim Winton.

I had read Tim Winton before and really enjoyed his writing, Dirt Music in particular was such a wonderful book.  But there is something about Cloudstreet that touched my heart and moved it to my favourite book of all time.  It is a story of luck and how people handle it, be it good or bad.

Whenever I think of Cloudstreet, I think of the two families, the Pickles and the Lambs, and I know that so long as I have them to turn to, I could never feel alone.  One thing that Winton does so well is create flawed, real characters that are unspeakably beautiful.  I fell in love with almost all of the characters, particularly Quick Lamb and Rose Pickle (the scene where they fall in love is a thing of such awkward beauty that I am moved to tears just thinking about it) right from the beginning.  The setting and scenes are so palpable as well, another of Winton’s gifts.

I believe they are making a film of Cloudstreet, and I have been very nervous about this film because it is such a beloved book I am worried they will ruin it.  I have said for many years that the role of Lester Lamb was the role that William McInnes was born to play, but it is not to be.  I have heard that Geoff Morrell has been cast in that role, and I think I’m ok with that.  Geoff is a wonderful actor and has the tall, lanky frame that playing Lester requires.  It will be really interesting to see how the movie adaptation goes.

If you haven’t read Cloudstreet or The Day of the Triffids, I urge you to do so.  They are both such wonderful books.

What is your favourite book?


November 1, 2010. Big 50, books, Cloudstreet, John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids, Tim Winton.

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