Monday Question – What Is The Book Or Story You Cannot Forget?

I have a non-perfume related question for you today. I know my readers love books as much as I do, so please share with me:

Is there a book, novel, short story, etc. that haunts you since you have read it?

What book has made an indelible impression on your mind?

Is there a story that has captured you more than any other?

Why is that?


My Answer:

Today’s question was inspired by Neil’s post about a book by Josephine Hart, Damage. I have first read this book when I was quite young and I have never forgot it.

Its movie adaptation features my favorite actor ever – Jeremy Irons, and it is one of those rare cases where the movie is just as good as the book.

Other stories that have struck a chord and stuck with me for twenty years now are One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy and Die Unendliche Geschichte (The Neverending Story) by Michael Ende.

They all speak to me in ways other stories don’t and I will always re-read them and there is nothing better than to sink back into the beloved world of a story that is and is not your own.


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49 Responses to Monday Question – What Is The Book Or Story You Cannot Forget?

  1. Irina says:

    Tomas Mann’s “Doctor Faustus”- can’t forget it, it gives “mesure” to my life

  2. I second the Damage,and also the movie,took your breath away…But most recently,Prayers For Owen Meany(Irving),would top my list,and most likely to stay ther,for years to come.

  3. haefennasiel says:

    I’ve already been tagged by several people on Facebook to come up with a list of my Top 10 Books. I’m taking your entry as a sign that I should respond to them, Birgit! 😉

    There are certain books I read as a child that resonated with me, like Russell Hoban’s “The Mouse and His Child” and Margery Williams’ “The Velveteen Rabbit”. I really believed that toys somehow have lives that were based on that of their owners, but eventually became their own. It sounds weird, but it made perfect sense to me at that time. 🙂

  4. thenoveilst says:

    Hmm…well, I’ve read many Vedic books and one that truly stood out for me is the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is by A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. A masterpiece, in my opinion.

  5. Sadra says:

    Pavilion of Women by Pearl S Buck. This is a life changer for women who are beyond the child rearing years and ready to start devoting their lives to themselves.
    But a book that really changed the trajectory of my life was Susan Brownmiller’s “Against Our Will, Men, Women and Rape”. I don’t know if it would have the same resonance now; we’ve changed the world since this book was written. But when I read it (in the early 80s), it shot my life into a different direction, I can look back and see that now.

  6. Marjo says:

    This is a difficult one. I have read so many books in my life, and in a way they all had their influence. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is my all time favorite. The books by Doris Lessing, Marylin French really changed my vision of the world. But so did Tolstoy and a few Dutch writers. The book that really haunts me is Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I just can’t get it out of my head.

  7. Sandra says:

    Looking forward to reading people’s answers. Mine are The Quincunx, The Crimson Petal and The White, The Pillars of the Earth and Rge Catcher In the Rye. Loved your list B.

  8. Vanessa says:

    Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard – and I hold you responsible! 😉 😉

  9. Suzanne says:

    These are the ones I re-read year after year: John Irving’s Cider House Rules, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, William Kennedy’s Ironweed. Though I don’t reread it as often, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient gives me shivers with its exquisite prose and both its love stories (the one between Kip and Hana, as well as the main characters). And Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is astounding in every regard.

    OK, I could get carried away here, so I’ll stop. 🙂

  10. lila says:

    The literary love of my life is Wuthering Heights (the sisters Bronte are to prose what Monet is to paint or Hayden to music, imho). I’m a very upbeat, happy person but there’s something I love about a good thunderstorm – provided I’m warm and safe inside my home with no prospect of having to leave! Reading Wuthering Heights is the equivalent to that scenario; I’m cozy, warm and safe looking out the “window” at their miserable and horrific lives! That doesn’t make me sound like a very nice person, does it? 🙂 Oh well, we’re all friends here right?

    A few of other books that have left an indelible mark are; The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I could not get the ending out of my head for months and they change/ruined the ending in the movie, but then the movies never are as good as the actual book.

  11. anitathepianist says:

    There are several books that I have read recently that haunt me. Having been haunted by books most of my life, I’ll give you these five. “Night Train to Lisbon” is a book set in Portugal with an intriguing plot about the fight for freedom from dictatorship. I was introduced to this book via the movie that was made from it. While the movie is quite good, it’s just a pale reflection of the novel.
    After the Boston bombing in 2013, I noticed that the latest book I had ordered was set in Chechnya. Its main characters are doctors who are trying to treat patients in spite of the chaos of war with Russia. That one still haunts my dreams. In non-fiction there are two books that should
    be read in tandem: Judyth Vary Baker’s “Lee & Me” and Edward Haslam’s “Dr. Mary’s Monkey”. Both will rock your world and the history of the last fifty years will not look the same. Simon Winchester’s “The Man Who Loved China” is another addition to his excellent body of work. You won’t think of China or WWII in the same way either.. Let me know if you read any of these; I’m interested in what you think of them.

  12. Connie says:

    The first was probably Pink & Say when I was very young. Since then there have been so many, I’ll have to severely limit the scope of this list. If I had to pick one Steinbeck, it would be The Grapes of Wrath (that ending!), The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy (another of my favorite authors). The book that I’m reading right now (A Prayer for Owen Meany) will probably be up there…
    Wuthering Heights because it’s amazing… I could go on.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Owen Meany will stay with you for sure. Enjoy!

    • Connie says:

      I think I will go on… I can’t help it!
      The Wind in the Willows, one of the most calming books in history. Simply beautiful.
      A Portrait of a Lady and Great Expectations, the first books I read by two of my favorite authors, Henry James and Charles Dickens. I should probably add The Age of Innocence for the same reason.
      Goddesses in Everywoman. I’m not much of a psychology book person, but I love mythology and this discussion of feminine archetypes is a lovely read. Convinced me that feelings don’t have to be explained, multi-facted is okay, and that there is no one correct way to be or to interact.
      The Mists of Avalon and The Hobbit. Recommended by my Mom and Dad, respectively, when I was younger. Both amazing fantasy reads.
      Zuleika Dobson. Magical realism mixed with satire. An easy classic and very funny.
      Siddhartha- another recent read for me. A beautiful story. I hope to read more by Herman Hesse.
      Completely agree with you on the 100 Years of Solitude front.
      Liaisons Dangereuses. Very sexy, very scandalous.
      The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon. Finally a book that plays to my love of lists.
      Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. Good god I want to go to Paris.
      The Leopard, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Crucible, Tom Sawyer, Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, Moby-Dick, Apollo’s Angels, The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, everything by Colette…. make me stop!

  13. ladywinther says:

    I absolutely LOVE Neil Gaiman, and his latest- The Ocean at the End of the Lane just might be my favourite by him, it’s magical. Also love The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and The Time-Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Sounds like magical realism is my thing…

  14. Lady Jane Grey says:

    “We Need to Talk about Kevin” by Lionel Shriver – that book shocked me years ago, and still cannot forget. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D Salinger – one of the first great literary experiences of my life with 16 or so. My latest encounter : the poems of Margaret Atwood.

  15. I love all the books on your list, Birgit. Especially One Hundred Years Of Solitude, The Secret History, and Neverending Story. A few that come to mind for me:

    On The Road by Jack Kerouac- I love the joy of life that the book captures and the musicality of the prose.

    Walden by Henry David Thoreau- The Transcendentalist writers are some of my favourites. Their reverence for nature and thoughtful way of life captures my attention the more I read books such as Walden.

    A Separate Peace by John Knowles- I read this book as a teenager and it has stayed with me. I have always been able to identify with the friendship/rivalry between the two main characters.


  16. Figuier says:

    Like many others here, it’s almost impossible to pin down a single title in answer to your question. Michael Faber’s novella Under the Skin did indeed get under my skin when I read it 10 years ago – seeing the film earlier this year brought it all back. Other than that? Virginia Woolf’s diaries made a huge impression on me; I came to them having run through her novels, and was blown away by their versatility and insight; they’re still a delight. Others high up on the list: Ovid’s wildly inventive /Metamorphoses/, whether digested into stories for children, ‘done into English’ by the Renaissance writer George Sandys, or in any one of the modern translations. The books that have made me laugh the most are probably Flann O’Brien’s At Swim Two Birds, Bill Bryson’s Neither Here nor There, John Lancheser’s A Debt to Pleasure, and Kate Atkinson’s Emotionally Weird.

  17. spe says:

    Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham

  18. shylotus says:

    Oh these suggestions and choices are wonderful to read through!
    Sorry to be late with my response, but here goes –
    Jayne Eyre (one of my very favorite female literary heroine.)
    Tess of the D’urbervilles (Hardy’s rendering of the pastoral and vague pagan references are beautiful..)
    The Poisonwood Bible & Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
    Anna Karenina
    Anything by Ian McEwan
    Poems by Mary Oliver

    Have a lovely weekend, all!

  19. Tiffanie says:

    What a wonderful list of books to enjoy at the start of a weekend. I’m heading to the library soon.

    I have read and reread The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and I don’t think I will tire of the story. It is a delight and a reminder of the human need to experience and appreciate beauty.

  20. ankica says:

    I read so little. I found myself mostly in poetry of 20th century. However, I want to read more. I wrote down many books from your readers.

  21. anatu13 says:

    Mine are:
    – Revenants and Children of Light, two books by Daniel Mills — dark, moody, haunting; I don’t think I know a contemporary author who even comes close to his incredibly gorgeous use of language; Revenants gets compared to The Scarlet Letter and evokes Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows in its use of landscape as a character and an overwhelming presence.
    – A Different Eden, in Other Edens, by S. P. Somtow — In Ephesus, an old woman receives a visit from St. Paul, and a fundamental story is retold, in a very unexpected way. The author is incredible, truly not someone to miss. Also a noted composer, he founded the Bangkok Opera, where is is artistic director, and the Siam Philharmonic Orchestra.
    – Left Hand of Darkness and The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin
    – The Green Leopard Plague, by Walter Jon Williams — a very interesting future, and not what you’d expect
    – Margin of Error, by Nancy Kress — two sisters, motherhood, and ruthlessness
    – Think Like a Dinosaur, by James Patrick Kelly — to reap the benefits of joining an alien society, how fundamentally do you need to change?
    (The last 3 are each a novella, novelette, or short story.)

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