There are some books that stick with me; it doesn’t matter what else I read, they’re never beaten for the top spots in my memory. I can’t include the 7 that were my favourite from my childhood (because they’re all by JK Rowling) but here are those which helped me through my 20’s and in turn sparked my passion for other books!
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
I know, I know, Oscar Wilde - cliche much? But honestly this is one of my favourite books, probably ever. Just the opening, with the men sitting in the gardens debating their moral standings, made me question what I stood for. It was enough to get me hooked on the story and kept me reading right through.
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Max Brooks
Not just your average zombie story. This book is written as a series of short interviews, conducted 10 years after the world’s first zombie invasion. Think of every type of person you’d ever know from any walk of life, and it goes into detail about how each and every person would be likely to react in the circumstances. It’s BRILLIANT.
The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
I am a big fan of dystopian novels - I plan to read a lot more of them from now on! This book, and Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” are what first sparked me into exploring this genre. Both of these books are chilling and tinged with a strange sadness, and a little fear that these worlds could be ever so close to becoming reality. I am a purist so, I haven’t seen the TV show of The Handmaid’s Tale yet. *cough* Buy books. *cough*
1984 - George Orwell
This is the only book where I got so scared and invested in the character’s fates that I cried and gasped out loud in parts. We are all probably aware of the “Big Brother” concept, and how we feel we are “always being watched”. Another dystopian novel - this is what would happen if the government chose to manipulate our use of language… and it’s scary.
“The best books... are those that tell you what you know already.” - George Orwell, 1984
Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice
I mean, how did I not read this sooner? During my teens I got really heavily into vampire YA fiction (as teen girls are prone to do) and this one passed me by. Once I read it, I realised it was brilliant, and I loved every bit of it. The tragic story of Claudia - a girl who is unable to grow up and is exceedingly frustrated with her vampirism - made my heart ache.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage - Haruki Murakami
Until I went to the Book Club hosted by the Big Comfy Bookshop, I’d never read any Murakami… But it’s safe to say I will be reading a lot more of his work. This book is so beautifully melancholy and which captures anxiety, depression and mental health so perfectly. Perhaps one day I’ll get round to writing that full review...
Thief of Time - Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld is what got me into fantasy. This was one of the later ones, and probably one of my favourites (so good I bought it twice). If you’re starting Terry Pratchett though, start with Guards Guards. Thief of Time includes my favourite quote from any book ever. An outlook I strive to have in all things;
“Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore... the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.” - Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time
This is the part where I try to say something profound about books. But why bother? We all know how important they are, and how much they alter our lives. How each person perceives them differently and places importance in little phrases they find. They can help shape us, lift us up, spark our creativity, or help us to start a business that brings a community together… Like the shop I am sitting in right now. (Spoiler: It’s the one who owns this website. Come over and say hi!)
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