My personal canon (the books that shaped my life)

This post is inspired by a fellow bookblogger, Stephanie at “Adventures of a Bibliophile”.  I really liked her post and thought it would be fun (though time-consuming) to reflect back on those books that shaped me into the reader I am today.

Bear with me, as I’m starting with early childhood and I’m now in my early sixties.

Eletelephony (as a child I loved reading rhyming prose – still do if I’m honest)

Tom’s midnight garden (my favorite book as a child – this novel is responsible for my book addiction)

The secret garden (started my affection for manor houses, Yorkshire, and of course, gardens)

Nancy Drew (yup, all of them – I read them like a starving person gobbles down food)

The prophet by Kahil Gibran  (I was given this book by a customer when I worked at a grocery store after school as a teenager – loved it, this was my ‘deep’ phase LOL)

Dorothy Eden, Victoria Holt, Susan Howatch, and Mary Stewart (introduced my affection for gothic, historical, romantic suspense – I went through a phase in my twenties when I couldn’t get enough)


The mirror by Marlys Millhiser (I plan to re-read this title this year – just to see how much my taste has/hasn’t changed over the decades)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (which remains my favorite classic fiction novel – I’ve read it at least five times and I’ve seen every film version – my favorite being the BBC version starring Ruth Wilson)

James Herriot (my love of animal stories, and Yorkshire, remains unabated)

The auctioneer by Joan Samson (I’ll never forget this one – my first introduction to thrillers/ with a horror element)The Hebrides books of Lillian Beckwith (I read some of these aloud to my mother when she was ill with cancer)








Prologue to love by Taylor Caldwell (another one I’d love to re-read…)

Tree of hands by Ruth Rendell (I’ve loved almost all of Ruth Rendell’s many novels (especially the Wexford series, but this stand-alone is probably my very favorite)

P.D. James and her Inspector Dalgliesh novels 

The shell seekers by Rosamund Pilcher (my Anglophile tendencies show here)

Elizabeth George, Peter Robinson, Elly Griffiths, Susan Hill, Deborah Crombie, et al…(my love of British police procedural mysteries remains unabated)

Kate Morton (when I read her “The forgotten garden” I just knew she would remain one of my favorite authors)

Gabrielle Zevin (will never forget her “The storied life of A.J. Fikry)

Sharon Bolton, Denise Mina, Ann Cleeves, Louise Penny (just can’t get enough of these outstanding mystery/thriller authors)

Peter May (his Hebridean setting coupled with outstanding character studies won me over)

Fredrik Backman (honestly this man could make a grocery list interesting to read! – I’ve adored all of his novels so far and will make sure to read everything else he writes)


So folks, there you have it! You might have noticed that my personal canon is heavy on mystery/thrillers and literary fiction.

I guess my tastes haven’t changed that much after all…

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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54 Responses to My personal canon (the books that shaped my life)

  1. eLPy says:

    Thanks for sharing with us and good memory! The only one of your books we have in common is The Secret Garden. You’ve got me thinking about re-reading it because it was quite special to me all those years ago. 😀


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  4. Sammie says:

    This was such a cute idea! I loved seeing how your reading grew and changed. I agree about Fredrik Backman being able to make a shopping list interesting. xD Man’s got a way with words!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Secret Garden, James Herriot and the Forgotten Garden are all favourites of mine as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Do you still have all those old Nancy Drews? I didn’t read *all* of them but I had a collection that went back to my mother and aunt (born in the 1940s and 50s). I finally gave them away when I moved across the country to a mother-daughter pair who seemed like they would appreciate them. Unfortunately my daughter never got into them. I hoped she would after reading that Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan loved them as children.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. I love this. I have a strong belief that I would not be who I am today without the books I’ve read. I would say my personal canon books would include Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, The Little Princess (I’m just starting to realize how many titles have “Little” in it lol) and I’m sure some more modern and contemporary ones. I haven’t been able to truly assess their impact on me yet.


    • Thanks SO much for your kind comment. “Anne of Green Gables” was a strong influence on me as well. I should have included it. (especially where I live so close to where the book is set). I can’t overthink it though – if I did the post would have been too long for most people to want to read. LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This was lovely to read! I also love The Secret Garden, Jane Eyre, Mary Stewart, and Kate Morton. I really need to read Rosamund Pilcher and Victoria Holt ASAP too. I agree with you that the BBC miniseries of Jane Eyre is the best adaptation. Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson are both amazing and have perfect on screen chemistry. I’ll have to re-watch it soon!


  10. carhicks says:

    I don’t think I would be able to do this. I have been sitting here thinking for awhile and keep changing my mind. Nancy Drew and The Secret Garden were also favourites of mine but so were …… so many to choose from.


  11. What a lovely journey through your reading likes/life. Some of those older covers are heavenly. One of my favorite things about shopping at used bookstores is the older covers, so nostalgic.

    Would you believe I’ve never read any of the Nancy Drew series? My older daughter read a half dozen or so of them in adolescence (and I still have them), but I’ve never picked one up. My first mystery addiction was The Three Investigators series, which I’ve been collecting and plan to reread at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. sahmoun2778 says:

    I love your list! I was surprised to see some of my favorites too. I also devoured Nancy Drew, so much so that one summer my dad told me I couldn’t read them anymore until I read something “constructive”. P.D. James was my first foray into British detective stories, and I went through a whole phase with Rosamunde Pilcher.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. FictionFan says:

    Oh, I loved The Mistress of Mellyn in my teens and haven’t thought about it in decades – thanks for the reminder! I wonder if it would stand up to a re-read…


  14. Fab post! How did you go about compiling your list? Is it just your favourites or something else?


    • Thanks Nicki. It was a difficult post to write. I have lots of book memories and tried to choose only those that marked a milestone in my reading life. The stages of my reading I guess you would say. These stood out for me in my memory.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Sandra says:

    What fun! A couple there from your early days are on my list to read now – books I missed when I was younger 🙂 I’m slowly getting into the crime genre…

    I wonder what my own personal canon would look like? (S wanders off, musing happily…)


    • Thanks Sandra. I’d love to read your personal canon when you get it together. I must warn you though that it is not an easy thing to compile. As it is I’ve no doubt omitted some books that made an impact on me at the time but have faded in my memory…

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a fascinating look back through the years of reading. Unsurprisingly we share many titles given current book likes!


    • Thanks Cleo. I would love to read your personal canon. I must warn you though – it is time consuming. You are a lot younger than me, so your early books will differ quite a bit even if your current tastes mirror my own quite often.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. First of all, I love your mug! Secondly I love this post!! Secret Garden and Jane Eyre both had huge impacts on me. And I loved a Man Called Ove 😀


  18. Karen says:

    Great selection. James Herriot, The Shell Seekers and everything by PD James all featured in my teenage years.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ah, a lot of food for thought.
    Off the top of my head, here are a few books that would be on my list:
    Sabbath’s Theater — Philip Roth
    On The Road — Jack Kerouac
    The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test — Tom Wolfe
    The Sea Around Us — Rachel Carson
    Justine — Lawrence Durrell
    A Fan’s Notes — Frederick Exley
    The Country Of The Pointed Firs — Sarah Orne Jewett
    A Lady’s Life In The Rocky Mountains — Isabella Bird

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I love this! Nancy Drew and the Secret Garden were personal favorites of mine growing up!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. @lynnsbooks says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this – looking at your personal journey through books was great. I’ve read and enjoyed a few of these.
    Lynn 😀


  22. writerankita says:

    Great collection!😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Whenever I see a huge mystery/detective series by an author I haven’t read, I am immediately thrilled. PD James just made my TBR list. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Martie says:

    All good reads.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. skyecaitlin says:

    Lynne, gasp, we must be dopplegangers~!! This is almost frightening.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Great list. Thrillers are by far one of our favorite genre.
    we even built our writing tool after taking a class with James Patterson and being inspired by his writing style.

    Liked by 1 person

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