What Books do I Actually Like?
Now, I don’t want this to feel like some strange rendition of a bad YouTube room tour, where the creator drones on about all of their stuff, which isn’t all that interesting. And I apologies is this isn’t interesting, but for whatever reason, the only thing I want to write about today is what books I like, in the hopes that you might read them too.
As odd as it may sound now to anyone who knows me, when I was younger I wasn’t particularly interested in books. I would pretend to read them with care, while secretly revealing in the pictures or illustrations that accompanied the words. The stories did really seems real, I felt like i was immune to them. However, this slowly changed. My passion for written and spoken word didn’t just snap into place as some clichés would purport. Instead, it was slow, I’d read an array of books or poems and only few would stick with me.
But they didn’t stick and, if you’re interested, here’s what they are:
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe: C.S Lewis
I had a beautiful illustrated edition of this text, though I never really read it but the pictures were incredible.
Skellig: David Almond
You might remember this, as it was on almost every secondary school curriculum. What stuck with me is that even in the midst of despair, the protagonist still hankered for chinese food- something I completely relate too. That, and it was adapted into a Sky One series with Tim Roth in the titular role, who I also really adore.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin: Louis de Bernières
Again, i have my secondary school’s English course to thank for this. The story of Corelli and Pelagia, however, confusing at times was sincere and beautiful and just, ultimately, funny. It was one of the first books I’d read where history felt like it was being brought to life on the page and is something I cherish in books ever since. Though I hear the film adaptation is pretty poor, even if it does star Nicolas Cage and Penélope Cruz.
Looking for Alaska: John Green
Whatever your opinions are of John Green, whether you love him or aren’t really a fan, is first novel made me cry. Not in a particularly bad or good way, I just remember sobbing. It was the first and one of the only times I’ve finished a novel within a few days.
Jude the Obscure: Thomas Hardy
Not to be confused with actor Tom Hardy, this Hardy is best known for Tess of D’Urbervilles, which is a perceptive, harrowing insight into the life of a young woman. However, it’sJude the Obscure that really stuck with me. It was the first novel I really studied by myself, it was so long and parts of it seemed tedious but then, all of a sudden, the narrative turns and I have never been so flawed a plot twist. This was Hardy’s last, and in my opinion best novel, though for some context Priests did burn this book when it was published, being utterly appalled by its contents. It might be to quick to say that this is my favourite novel, because there are many that I haven’t read yet and Virginia Woolf is my favourite author, but I read Jude the Obscure, which centres on unfulfilled desires and dreams, when applying to university and not really knowing where I’d end up. I took some solace in the fact that what I was experiencing in relation to academia was felt by Jude and that while he may not have ended up where he wanted to go, his life was ultimately to ‘illustrate a moral story’ something I strangely comforting.
Sonnets from the Portuguese: Emily Barrett-Browning
Barrett-Browning was one of the first strong, female voices that I encountered. Not only were her poems completely enchanting but I loved that she wasn’t overshadowed by her husband in history, as so many women are- she was an incredible, accomplished poet herself.
Mrs Dalloway: Virginia Woolf
This was the book. The book that started my minor obsession with Woolf’s works and resulted in a dissertation I ~ still ~ need to finish on her. I studied this book twice in class before I actually read it. You know the drill, running behind on your reading list, you SparkNotes the summary and hope you can make a vaguely interesting point about Modernism or whatever period you’re studying. But when I actually read it, I was so confused. That’s not to say I don’t love it, I do. It was the first novel that taught me its okay to be completely perplexed by something three or four times after reading, and that the beauty of this work, as with a lot of Modernist work is reflecting on it later.
How to Fall in Love: Cecelia Ahern
I have my mum to thank for this. Ahern is one of her favourite novelists and rightfully so. The author’s work is simple but elegant and I hate that people refer to work like this as ‘chic-lit’ as though it doesn’t deserve more recognition. It does. The story centres around a chance encounter on the Ha’Penny Bridge and deals with issues of mental health, suicide and self-confidence and does so with heart-warming grace.
There are probably a lot of books I’ve missed out, ones that I adore but can’t think of right now because I always remember them unexpectedly. I hope that if you haven’t read these works you find one that you like.