It's been a while since I did this, but it's Wednesday, and I have some spare moments, so the moment has come round once again. Wednesday's Inspiring Books is meant to be a list / celebration / record not just of my favourite reads, but of the books I read when I was younger that inspired me to become a writer myself - those books I still remember reading with a mixture of excitement and jealousy that some people, somehow, got to do this for a living.
Today's book is NORTHERN LIGHTS (or, THE GOLDEN COMPASS) by Philip Pullman.
My younger bibliophile sister owned and read this book before me, and perhaps it was the cover, or the satisfyingly heavy feeling, but even without knowing too much about it I was intrigued. This is one of those books where I can remember to the exact spot and position I was in when I first read it. From the very first line - which, by the way, deserves to become one of those oft-quoted and well-known opening lines (a la REBECCA) - this book draws, drags, and whispers you in to another world and another way of thinking. I can't decide if it's a sad distraction or a worthwhile talking point that this trilogy got bogged down in theological argument on and off page, but for kids, those things don't matter anyway. The images, the characters, the amazing world building and terrifying odds - that's what mattered, what still matters, and what makes this book a keeper for me.
I ended up doing my bachelor's dissertation on Milton's Paradise Lost, and I wonder if that's due in no small part to Pullman's association of the poem with this book. Possibly. Probably. Either way, NORTHERN LIGHTS manages to balance genuinely insightful and clever concepts with story telling and action enough to keep anyone hooked. Pullman's definitely one of those writers to use if you ever want to challenge the view that lids books should be easy, or simple, or patronize the reader.
As for that opening line ...
Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening Hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.
And that's what I have to say about that.