So a just over a week ago I got nominated for the Booker Award by Jess Mittens. This idea is to list your top five reads and then note down what you are currently reading, followed by nomination of five others…Pretty simple then.
I’ve ended up giving this a lot of thought – mainly because it has come during the midst of NaNoWriMo and my attempts to writing my own novel. Whether or not I’m influenced by my favourite books is still a question I’m trying to answer – but maybe this will help me.
My Top Five Reads:
- Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
- Life of Pi – Yann Martel
- The Thorn Birds – Colleen McCullough
- The Princess Bride – William Goldman
- The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
I feel I should explain myself and reveal what it is about these particular five books that I really enjoyed and why.
Here I mean the entire story – although I know it got split into two novels (Little Women & Good Wives). I remember feeling very critical of supposedly classic literature. The whole idea of novels set in a different century – like Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights – completely turned me off. I still don’t like any of those books.
But Little Women captured me. I recall times as a young teenager when I tried so desperately to be as good as Beth, admiring of all her virtues and sobbing at her fate. Then there was Jo – if I had lived in such times I could have imagined myself as Jo; which made it all the more romantic and special for me. Those lines between her and Professor Bhaer as Jo puts her hands in his: ‘I have nothing to gif but these empty hands’ – ‘not empty now’. *sigh*
So yes, I was captured entirely by the March Family and their story, and as a result have read it so often it now feels like home to me too.
Life of Pi
It’s been a very long time since I read this, given that I devoured it just as it was first published. The concept intrigued me, the writing fed me and the ending blew me away. So much so that I’m pretty sure I went from the last page back to the first, re-reading it all with this new information that made the second read just as enthralling as the first.
With the movie coming out this year I’m planning to read it again. I literally can not wait to open the cover and dive back in.
The Thorn Birds
I thought I had discovered this rather interesting book myself during a three for two offer in a book store during my University days. Until, that is, I took it home to read over the holidays and my mother pointed out that she had read it when she was about my age also!
It’s almost a mystery why I love this story so dearly, because I don’t really like the characters all that much. I find Meggie a bore and Ralph an egotistical flirt; but then isn’t that the whole point? Despite this I think I read this 650+ page book in less than three days, so enamoured with the possibility that a priest could be so high and mighty and yet so base at the same time.
McCollough raises the stakes so high that I remember seeing what was coming only a sentence or two before it came. The world is a cruel, cruel place – as evidenced by the mythical bird that became it’s title: a bird that seeks out the perfect thorn only to impale itself in order to sing the sweetest song ever heard as it dies.
The Princess Bride
This book goes on the list for the outrageous and genius ‘integrity’ of it’s author. I only read the book because my fiancé adored the film and I bought him a copy as a gift. Upon reading the “abridged version” of The Princess Bride by William Goldman I found his asides to be witty and charming. The story of the story itself fascinated me, and when my fiancé set out on a quest of his own to find the sequel ‘Buttercup’s Baby’ I wholeheartedly supported him.
Oh, the genius of Goldman. Sly, conniving and, I’m betting, oh-so-pleased-with-himself. Well, I would be if I’d managed to fool all those readers. Well done.
I wish I was that clever.
The Time Traveler’s Wife
There is something about this book that broke a lot of the rules and yet still reads so utterly brilliantly. The shifts in time, trying to work out which Henry was which and how old he’d be and what event came before what chapter. Henry is the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy and the excitement of time-travel without the messy concept of the paradox still makes me smile today.
I thought it built up to the climax with delicious anticipation, and yet she still provides that bitter sweet happy ending that you hope for, but never quite get even after everything that’s happened.
It’s possibly the antithesis of the novel that almost made it to this number five spot for me – David Nicholls’, One Day – where I was so relieved that the story concluded with a realistic yet brutal truth. It was a tough call but, c’mon – wouldn’t we all prefer a happy ending?
So, those are my choices. Perhaps next week I’ll have a few more, different favourites. But, at the moment I’m trying (but, thanks to NaNoWriMo, failing) to read the Kyralian Series of Trudi Canavan’s Magician’s Guild – I’m on The Ambassador’s Mission and would be quite enjoying it if it weren’t for the distraction of having to write my own book.
I’ll be nominating a few others for this, quite interesting, Award. It’s been nice to consider my most absorbing reads, and I might have to return to one or two of them before long. After all, a good read is – in my opinion – the greatest of friends.