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This is a question This book changed my life

The Goat writes, "Some books have made a huge impact on my life." It's true. It wasn't until the b3ta mods read the Flashman novels that we changed from mild-mannered computer operators into heavily-whiskered copulators, poltroons and all round bastards in a well-known cavalry regiment.

What books have changed the way you think, the way you live, or just gave you a rollicking good time?

Friendly hint: A bit of background rather than just a bunch of book titles would make your stories more readable

(, Thu 15 May 2008, 15:11)
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O whistle an' I'll poo myself me lad....
Common to many life forming experiences this happens back when I was but a little Chutney of 7 or 8.

Now I have always been a visual minded sort. People say never judge a book by its cover Pah! Cobblers, I have always picked books to read solely based on the cover artwork. Often with disastrous results but at other times to my utter delight. Well this one-day as but a young Chutney, I saw a book in the young adults section of my village library. It must have been misfiled. I remember the cover vividly, A lurid acid green purple sky, split by lightening, was the backdrop to a terryfying face, a mask of terror, skin rotting blood running from the eyes. This was an 80s video nasty in badly airbrushed book cover form. Above this visual feast, was the title picked out in silver foil gothic lettering; The Ghost stories of M.R. James.

I simply had to read this.

I approached the nice lady with at the desk with my Northumberland Libraries junior ticket clutched in my hand. I handed her my selection, but imagine my horror when she stopped halfway through sorting and frowning said “Oh pretty hen I don’t think this is a book for you” Holding up the at the same time this aforementioned gore feast.

Shattered I returned to pick a replacement, why was life so unfair? Reflecting upon the duplicity of adults to package text in such a wonderful cover and deny it to such an appreciative reader. I realised that I had wandered into the little visited “Speaking books and tapes section” at the back of the building. Chance upon chance Looking up I spied an anonymous double cassette box, the cover showing some dull sepia photograph of a wood panelled drawing room and a stone fireplace. Above this diorama of dullness in very conservative Times New Roman type the title "The Ghost Stories of M R James” The very same book! My mind raced. Could it be, would she notice, Dare I even try?

Dare I did, and returning to the desk she smiled and took the ticket out and handed that brittle plastic cassette box right back to me without a second look at the title, I was victorious!

Running home I dug out my faithful battered sony mono tape player & headed out to the back garden. This being a summer of days past I had erected my older brothers single man army surplus khaki tent on the lawn. Clambering inside the baking interior, I sat there in among the smell of cut grass and mouldy canvas and pressed play………

90 minutes later, you would have pulled back the flap of that little tent to find the very air inside brown with fear. I hadn’t moved, I suspect I had barley even drawn breath. Every fibre of my body was locked in terror. Some English worthy of the stage voiced this series of stories. A deep sonorous, Vincent Price of a voice, and as it had narrated that final tale on the tape “O whistle an' I'll come to ye, my lad
” I swear it is the closest, that I have ever come in my life to having a heat attack. The final minutes turned my bowels to water, When that tape ran out and the play button clicked I swear you would have believed me possessed as I dived from the sweltering interior of that tent and dashed pell mell out of the garden if only to convince myself that I wasn’t going to die at the hands of some fell beast.

Twenty years later I am old enough to own a copy of this marvellous book, and I still dip into it on winter’s nights. Every time I do I am reminded that M R James was the greatest English writer of ghost stories, and the extreme of fear you can suffer in a garden pitched tent on a beautiful summers afternoon.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 12:13, 2 replies)
My English teacher recommended this to me, with the warning that his wife would only read it outdoors on a bright summer's day with plenty of people around.

I read it alone in my bedroom at night and nearly shat myself.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 12:35, closed)
As the shadows lengthen in the library...
...and the whispering begins in corners of the chapel...heh heh heh.

Incidentally, Christopher Lee was taught by MR James at Eton.
(, Sun 18 May 2008, 21:07, closed)

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