It started with a nostalgic decision to read one book (Matilda), but soon there was another, and another, and I found that I couldn’t stop. Roald Dahl’s writing transcends childhood and history to be as charming, witty and wise as it ever was (and admittedly a still quite prejudiced). From the ludicrously sweet Esio Trot, to the dark and dangerous The Witches, I loved every book I read. The world he creates is so warm and vivid, that the books never fail to surprise and delight.
There’s something deeply rewarding about getting caught up in the works of one author and seeing their ideas and themes more clearly, like getting to know them. Elizabeth Knox is another writer I’ve found as satisfying. (John Green was a marathon I regretted. Oh an earnest boy loves a troubled girl? How interesting.) With Dahl, it was the darkness of many of the stories which struck me when reading them on mass. Who thinks to orphan a little boy, then turn him into a mouse, then leave him that way?
I have three standout favourites, although, of course, you should read them all. One is the Minpins, possibly for sentimental reasons. I remember quite vividly my pride at receiving a copy. It was published not that long after both Dahl and my grandfather had both passed away, and I carried my copy around, reading it with glee and reveling in the new illustration style as much as in the story line.
The next is Matilda, most certainly for more sentimental reasons as well as because it’s a genuinely delightful read. What I love, more than anything, is that it’s not just Matilda’s story and triumph, it’s about the triumph of every underdog, albeit with Matilda’s help. (Also, Tim Minchin’s stage adaptation is amazing.)
And finally, Esio Trot fills me with endless, boundless love and joy. I could read it all day.