Tuesday, 26 May 2009

All-Time Favourites

As this blog has recently turned more book-focused, I thought it would be only sensible to make a post on my top ten favourite books. There're some great 'Favourite Books' videos on YouTube and I briefly considered doing one myself but quickly felt silly the moment I turned the camera on. This way will do for now. :-)

Top 10 All-Time Favourite Books (for now)

10. Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.
I first read this delight for my Gothic Literautre module in university. It's one of the first vampire tales written and supposedly the inspiration for 'Dracula'. Anyone who's recently got into the vampire genre and is looking for more to read should definitely give this a try. It's only a hundred pages or so, so if you don't like the story, you won't feel as though you've wasted a lot of time on it.

9. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.
Another short story I read in university. This is the tale of Gregor Sampson, a young man who wakes up one morning to discover that he's turned into a bug. It isn't the most conventional story but I love stories that aren't what they seem. 'The Metamorphosis' is full of metaphors and symbolism to describe mankind, the state of one's life, and the human condition. Anyone who prefers their stories to be a little more straightforward should just avoid this altogether.

8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
Obviously. How could I not include this? It was the first book to ever make me cry and surprised me with how spooky it was in parts (a feeling I did *not* get from 'Wuthering Heights'), romantic, mysterious, and absolutely joyful. It is a tale of an orphan but not one that's going to extremes to depress you. It's a wonderful story of femininity and courage and love.

7. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.
Anyone who's seen the film should read the book. This book is amazing. It's about a young man who works on Wall Street. He's very successful, has a fancy apartment, lovely girlfriend, big circle of friends, flashy cars, flashy wardrobe, and ... likes to murder people. But, when it comes down to it, this story isn't as black and white as it may seem. It's more focused on the effect of materialism in a society and how we begin to see each other differently when we forget how to connect. (FYI, for those who have seen the film, the book is actually about five times more graphic and violent).

6. Howl by Allen Ginsberg. I can't really describe how this poem made me feel. When you've grown up feeling a little different from your peers and not really wanting to get into the 'conventionl' routine of life, the beatniks can feel like a Godsend. My fascination with the beats has started with this book of poems, a book I connected to so vividly, and made me feel - how should I describe it? - less 'alone', I guess.

5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
Sylvia's probably my all-time favourite writer. The first time I read this I was 16-17 and enjoyed it. Having been through quite a bit in the last four years, this book takes on a whole other perspective. Sylvia writes from the heart about her experiences with depression and gives you a character to feel connected with. It assures you that you're not the only one that's had to go through this at one stage in your life.

4. Matilda by Roald Dahl.
My favourite book from childhood and the first book-to-film adaptation I saw (when I was 10) and spotted what was missing from the book. How could anyone not love this book? Roald Dahl has a wonderful way of speaking to children - never patronising them, and always casting grown-ups as the big, scary villains. Matilda, the story of a gifted girl who isn't appreciated by her family and fights for the right to prove that grown-ups aren't always right, is a wonderful story. I love it!

3. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
This should be at number 2 but there's a reason it got beat down to number 3 (which I'll explain with the next book). This is one of the best written modern books I've ever read. This should become a classic in years to come. It's a wonderful story about a couple who struggle with their relationship - Henry has a time travelling gene, and finds himself flitting up and down timelines without a moment's warning. I fell in love with every character of this book and didn't want it to ever end. It's a must read for anybody. Not just a soppy love story.

2. The Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962.
The reason this book beat The Time Traveler's Wife to number 2 is because this was the book that inspired me to keep a journal. Not only did I get a glimpse into Sylvia's life but I got a big chunk of inspiration from it. These journals are wonderfully written: packed with average journal entries about life, pieces of poetry and prose, and quick streams of consciousness words. Any fan of hers *needs* to read this.

1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.
Controversial but a wonderful way of asking whether it is better to be good out of free will or force? Most people will have seen the film but the book is a masterpiece. Written entirely in 'Newspeak' (a language not hard to understand after the first paragraph or so at all), it is the tale of one young brute's journey when he is no longer free to make his own deicisons. Read it, it's wonderful. How many classic books are narrated by a vigilante who loves to rape, rob, and murder during his free time?  


Amanda said...

The Bell Jar, Metamorphosis, and Jane Eyre are some of my favorites, too, but I have to admit, I'm probably the only person on the planet that really didn't like The Time Traveler's Wife...