I’ve written about my favourite music quite extensively now, but I’ve never really mentioned any of my favourite books, only books i’ve read and reviewed as part of my book challenges.
I was recently inspired by a post on Goodreads which showed some popular authors’ top 10 favourite books, which really got me thinking about my own favourites- what would I even include? So I figured it was about time that I write about some of them, because I really do love books.
So in no particular order, here are some of my favourites:
“One word from you shall silence me forever.”
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Ah, the wildly popular Jane Austen book. It’s a total cliché, but Pride and Prejudice genuinely is one of my all time favourite books. Essentially it follows the main character Elizabeth, who lives in a world where a woman is expected to sew and play the piano and dance well in order to attract a wealthy husband. Elizabeth isn’t really interested in that life, she says what she’s feeling even when it gets her into trouble, and she’s refreshingly independent for the time period in which Pride and Prejudice is written. It has scandal, romance and you’re never quite sure what course the characters’ lives will take. I love it. It’s not at all what I expected, it’s far from the stuffy classic you’d expect it to be. I read it first in school which usually ends up in me hating the book, but I truly loved this from the get go.
“If Mrs. Guinea had given me a ticket to Europe, or a round-the-world cruise, it wouldn’t have made one scrap of difference to me, because wherever I sat- on the deck of a ship or a street cafe in Paris or Bangkok- I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
This is a relatively new favourite, I only read it for the first time last April, but I loved it so much that it became an instant favourite. Again, it’s completely unlike what I was expecting. It’s semi-autobiographical, which is heartbreaking but it’s such an interesting read, and it really helps to expose mental illness, and how someone suffering from it might feel. Written by someone who actually suffered from the same illness her entire life, it’s especially potent. It was written in the 60s, but it still feels incredibly recent, as if it could have been written this year. You can read more about what I had to say about it here.
“We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.”
1984 by George Orwell
Another popular classic, which I first read in school many, many years ago. I actually initially had no love whatsoever for this book, but that’s what happens when you spend a week analysing one chapter I guess. What I love about 1984 is that it’s such an interesting concept, as it seems completely unbelieveable that a society could be so totalitarian that a person’s ever move is scrutinised by the government. But looking at some countries where so much of their lives are already controlled, it’s maybe not so unbelievable after all. 1984 follows Winston who is disillusioned by his circumstances and longs to break free from Big Brother’s control. It’s very dystopian, but it also has romantic undertones and shows just how far a person is willing to go to secure freedom for themself and the person that they love.
“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”
Catcher In The Rye by J.D Salinger
I’m coming up all cliché so far. I feel like a lot of people either love this book, or cannot stand it. I loved it, Holden was so unpredictable and I felt like I couldn’t trust anything he said. He’s incredibly forward, he says everything exactly how he believes it to be. It’s pretty disjointed, but it reads like an insight into a troubled mind, and that’s why I liked it so much. And after all, it’s a classic for a reason. Also i’m always interested in controversial books which have been banned for one reason or another. Also the last line in the book always gets me.
“She says, “Yes, there are lives sadder than the saddest of books.” I say, “Yes. No book, no matter how sad, can be as sad as a life.””
The Notebook, The Proof and The Third Lie by Agota Kristoff
I’m technically cheating, because these are three books, but they’re quite short and I read them all together so i’m counting them as one. I read this years and years ago on a whim, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. Normally I only really think about books if I’m trying to think of my favourites, or if someone asks me my opinion on it. But this book had me thinking about it at random points in my day, when I would just be tidying, or waiting for my tea to cook. It’s by far one of the most psychologically confusing books I’ve ever read, but that adds to the allure of it. The more you read, the more you start to question what you’ve read before, and what is the actual true version of events. To be honest, I still don’t know. The narration is very unreliable, especially as you move into the later books. But if you love books that really make you think, definitely give this a go. I know I really haven’t said anything about the plot, but I really think it’s better if you go into this one not knowing anything.
“We sometimes need to create unreal monsters and bogies to stand in for all the things we fear in our real lives.”
The Shining by Stephen King
Who would I be if I didn’t include a Stephen King book on this list? I doubt I really need to go into the plot of this one, because if you haven’t already read it, you’ll probably have seen the Stanley Kubrick film, which by the way, is a classic in its own right. Jack Torrance takes a job over winter at the Overlook Hotel and brings his wife Wendy and son Danny along with him. He slowly begins to go crazy, and sees things, such as the phantom bar staff. Meanwhile Danny has supernatural powers of his own, which turn out to save the day when Jack turns murderous. If you have seen the film, don’t write the book off as something you don’t need to read. I would highly recommend anyone who was a fan of the film to actually read The Shining, because it’s fantastic. And yes, I saw the film before I read the book- SHOCK HORROR!
“But for all of that, a dog turd covered with frosting is not a wedding cake; it is simply a frosted dog turd.”
Firestarter by Stephen King
Yes, another Stephen King book, because he is my favourite author. Firestarter has supernatural elements, as well as a mystery secret government experiment element. The plot revolves around Andy and his daughter Charlie, who are trying to escape ‘The Shop’ after Andy and his wife met during an experiment designed to produce psychic powers, and subsequently had a child with strong powers, who is struggling to control them the older she gets. So clearly, The Shop want their most successful experiment back, and will stop at nothing to ensure she’s back in their control. At just over 400 pages, it’s not quite as long as some of his other books (ahem- It) but it packs so much into those pages you’ll never get bored reading it. It’s a fascinating plot, and it actually delves into the backstory of how Charlie came to be, which I was so grateful for. Stephen King has a lot of really well known novels, but I would seriously recommend this one.
“‘Yes,’ he continued, ‘that is one of the great secrets of life. Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.'”
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Again, this is a classic, but for a good reason. It’s essentially a study into morality, and how immoral actions affect us. The story follows Dorian, who is described as young and beautiful. His beauty is eternally captured in a painting, which he hangs on his wall. After a few ‘immoral’ actions, such as drinking (it was a different time I guess), he notices that the painting is beginning to become uglier, although he looks perfect as ever. Disgusted, he locks the painting away, and continues drinking and sleeping with numerous women. The more sinful acts he commits, the uglier the painting gets- a reflection of his soul. It’s an interesting insight into how our actions shape us as a person- and how immoral actions change us on the inside.
Let me know some of your favourite books!