As my first blog post I figured the best way to introduce myself to you guys is to do a ‘Top 6’ of my all time favourite books. It was meant to be a Top 5, however, once I got thinking I just couldn’t narrow it down.
So let’s kick it off, in no particular order we have:
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I read this for the first time in high school as it was one of the texts being examined for my GCSEs, since then I have studied it at A-Levels and during an American Literature module for my undergrad degree. The first time I read Gatsby I absolutely despised it, I couldn’t get to grips with the novel and the story it was trying to tell. I hated Nick, Daisy and Gatsby – in fact I pretty much hated all the characters – but the more I read it, the more I began to appreciate the story. It’s written in the point of view of Nick Carraway, and he is quite probably one for the most annoying, self absorbed characters you have ever met. But don’t let this put you off – Fitzgerald’s use of language to show the difficulties that every day people faced following their ‘American Dream’ is incredible. It truly reflects the troubles of 20s: the most poignant example of this is Dr T.J Eckleberg eyes, watching, reflecting the loss of spiritual values in America.
2. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick.
My high school English teacher gave me this book to read when I was 14. It’s a dystopian novel about what America would be like had Germany and Japan won WW2 instead of the Allies. I had previously read George Orwell’s 1984 and figured why not, I may as well give this a go! But once I opened that first page I just couldn’t put it down. The way that it is written gives you a real chill as it could almost be factual. The way that the characters and their lives are portrayed suggests a level of control that the world did fear during the war. It’s intriguing to see what Dick’s thoughts are around what could have happened had the Allies not won the war.
3. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
This was recommended to me by a friend not too long ago, once I picked it up I just couldn’t stop reading. It follows the relationship of Finch and Violet, two very contrasting teenagers who fall in love. Not to give away any spoilers but Finch comforts Violet in her time of grief and builds her back up to face her fears of driving in a car again etc. It’s truly heartbreaking and if you haven’t already read it, you should.
4. Looking For Alaska by John Green.
The majority of you will have already heard of or even read this novel. It is also a banned book in the USA due its more mature themes of sex, smoking and explicit language. However, I do commend John Green for writing such a novel that does truly resonate with aspects of the older YAs’ lives. It touches on many aspects of life away from home and grief by following the relationship between Miles (Pudge) and Alaska.
5. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.
I’m a sucker for fantasy literature, of any kind, however Gaiman is an absolute all time favourite. Neverwhere is home to his creation of two different Londons, Above and Below. London Below inhabitants are those with more magical attributes and are completely invisible to the oblivious – and normal – people of London Above. It brings magic to life with the use of familiar places, for example The Angel, Islington – a well known London landmark – is a real Angel to the people of London Below and is someone that Richard and Door are trying to locate. The story follows Richard who was previously a member of London Above until he meets Door, it then follows the adventures of the two of them and Richard’s experiences in London Below.
6. On The Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher.
New to the scene of fiction writing, West End actress and Youtube star, Carrie Hope Fletcher debuted her first fiction novel last year (2016) after already having published a non-fiction ‘big sister’ advice book All I Know Now. I was always excited for this novel, from the first moment I heard about it I just knew that I had to get it. Along with the fantasy genre, magic realism is always something that I love in a novel, and OTOS is full of it. It follows the story of Evie Snow and her unlocking the door to her personal Heaven. I would say that it is a love story like no other, with ups and downs, moments that make you cry with laughter and moments that just completely break your soul. I couldn’t put this book down and it has truly changed me. Every word sits in your heart as you watch Evie and Vincent’s relationship unfold, right from the moment she listened to him playing in the London tube station, to the moment they leave each other’s lives.
And finally, I couldn’t end this post without including my all time favourite novel, one that I re-read almost every summer and never get tired of coming back to:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling.
You all know Harry Potter and I’m sure I don’t have to go into detail about what happens. But this is my fail safe book. When I’m down in the dumps or just want a nice creature comfort I will reach for this book. Each time I read it, I take something new from it, be it a bit of information I once glossed over, or a new meaning behind a relationship, it never gets old. Harry Potter will always have a place on my bedside table.
But that’s it! I’d love to know what your top 6 books are, or even just your all time favourite that will forever have a place on your bedside table.