“WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK?”
My reply: I think I’m still waiting to read it. I’m a huge lover of books, a (hopeful) future novelist, and a typical hater of any kindle type digitalised version. Yes, yes, I can see the appeal, it makes sense, but I adore the physical pages too much to ever buy into it. KEEP THE INDUSTRY ALIVE, I scream!
SO. I love Young Adult novels, all that trash with teenage love and vampires and witches etc etc; but I also read the classics, and any other fiction novel I find that piques my interest. In this list, which is me trying to narrow it down to just the few favourites that I can think of without getting too carried away, I am going to leave out the obvious ‘HARRY POTTER.’ I think this is my favourite ‘world,’ and I will always cherish it so so much. So it’s not on the list because it’s a bloody given. If you haven’t read it yet- WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
1. SAVAGES: Don Winslow, 2010.
Part-time environmentalist and philanthropist Ben and his ex-mercenary buddy Chon, run a Laguna Beach-based marijuana operation and Ophelia is their girl. The best friends share a lover and a lifestyle, and their life seems almost perfect, before they come up against the Mexican Baja Cartel.
Savages was made into a film in 2012 starring Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively and Taylor Kitsch. Yes, I also love the film. My only problem with the adaption is O’s voiceover, which mostly seems unnecessary and like a good percentage of voice overs in films, I found it a bit cringey. Still, I would recommend the book along with the adaption. Savages’ story is gritty, unapologetic and ‘cool.’
I loved Winslow’s style of writing, and within the book, the layout of the words/paragraphs is clearly purposefully unique. There are breaks in sentences and a whole page dedicated to the words ‘Fuck you.’ I ate that shit up.
The relationship between O, Chon and Ben is sexy, real and captivating and something that I really loved about the book. Chon and Ben ‘share’ O, with little jealousy, and they are effectively a ménage à trois. They all share a house on Laguna Beach and their marijuana business, which O helps out with. The boys are fierce friends, and as one character states, they must love each other even more than they love O, to be able to share her.
The film has a different ending to the book, which I personally preferred in some ways, but it really depends on which kinds of endings you are into. I won’t give anything away- so you’ll have to go read/watch it yourself!
“‘I don’t recognize myself. I don’t know who I am anymore.’
And it’s all fun and games until someone loses an I.”
2. GOOD OMENS: Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett, 1990.
A comedy about the birth of the son of Satan, the coming of the End Times, and the attempts of the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley to avert them, having become accustomed to their comfortable situations in the human world. A subplot features the growing up of the Antichrist, Adam, and his gang, and the gathering of the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse.
This story, this collaboration, these characters and this humour are JUST. GREAT. If you’re a lover of either of these famous fantasy writers, then I will assume you know of this book. If not, you should hurry up and read the damn thing!
I adored the style of writing and the humour really got me. Both of these authors are fantastic in their own right, and I am so grateful that they collaborated. I really enjoyed the entire book, from start to finish, even the times where I had to take a moment and think ‘what in the hell is going on?’
The character of Crowley is pretty brilliant, the typical corrupted Demon, swinging things his way and deceiving everybody. The entire book I just couldn’t help but picture Mark Sheppard, who plays the King of Hell aka Crowley on Supernatural. And when the book crossed to Satan’s son, a pretty innocent kid growing up in a boring part of suburban America, and then soon the four horseman come to join the party… it’s just such a fabulous combination of fantasy/religion fantasy and humour, which has a great balance of dark and light. Just like the friendship of these sworn enemies, Aziraphale and Crowley..awww.
Good Omens was made into a BBC Radio 4 show, starring Neil Gaiman himself among others, this year. I haven’t figured out how the hell to listen to this yet, because I am stupid. 🙂 But I will, and you should too.
“God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.“
3. THE BOOK THEIF: Markus Zusak, 2005.
Liesel Meminger is a nine-year-old girl living in Germany during World War II. Liesel’s experiences are narrated by Death, who details both the beauty and destruction that life in this era brought. During her time in the home of her new foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, she is exposed to the horror of the Nazi regime. As the political situation in Germany deteriorates, her foster parents hide a Jewish man named Max, throwing the family into a state of danger.
I am unable to pick a favourite quote from this book, because the whole darn book is my favourite quote. Zusak’s writing is POETRY. The fact that the story is narrated by Death, is so brilliant, and gives such a heart tugging aspect to the story.
There are many war stories concerning Nazi Germany, and this is truly best fictional account I have come across. The friendship between Max and Liesel is so gorgeous, and the childlike innocence that she portrays throughout such a horrific time, is truly beautiful.
The imagery is poignant, the balance between beauty and the cruelty of humanity just grabs and claws at my heart, and the complexity of all of the main characters makes them real and easy to love.
You’ve probably heard of it because the film adaption came out in 2013. I did really like the film, but the book is a thousand times better, because the way it was written can only be appreciated through reading the words. And the narration of Death is lost in the film.
I would recommend this book to anybody, if you haven’t already read it. Or just read it again.
“It kills me sometimes, how people die.”
4. NIGHT CIRCUS: Erin Morgenstern, 2011.
A phantasmagorical fairy tale set near an ahistorical Victorian London in a wandering magical circus that is open only from sunset to sunrise. The circus serves a darker purpose beyond entertainment and profit as the magicians Prospero the Enchanter and the enigmatic Mr. A.H— groom their young proteges, Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair, to proxy their rivalry with the exhibits as a stage. The two beguile the circus goers and each other with nightly wonders, soon falling in love despite being magically bound to a deadly competition with rules neither understands.
This book is a brilliant fantasy, that reels you in, twirls you around, confuses you and then when your head is all dizzy, embraces you warmly as it holds onto your heart.
The story flicks through time, places and characters every chapter, which may mean it takes you a while to catch up to it; but also keeps it really enticing and shows people and places from different aspects of the story.
It follows, mostly, Celia and Marco- the young prodigies of the forever battling magicians Prospero and Mr. A.H.- two very different minds with different grasps on real magic.
The circus is so fucking cool, I cannot express. As a deep lover of all things ‘magic’ and ‘illusion,’ this book made me wish very hard that this circus was real. Each tent is unique, and the layout is twisting and winding, so that the circus go-ers may always be lost and never truly know where they are headed. The circus arrives unannounced, and operates only when it is dark. The world of this story is flawless and the magic is so bright it’s almost blinding.
There are many intriguing characters- a clock maker, a mysterious contortionist, the red headed twins who were born in the circus, and the two confused prodigies who are following and disobeying their instructors as they learn what this game really means.
If you like magic or fantasy, definitely read this book. You’ll eat up it’s bittersweet pages in seconds.
“I have been surrounded by love letters you two have built each other for years, encased in tents.”
5. FANGIRL: Rainbow Rowell, 2013.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan. The whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s twin sister Wren always joined her in this, but now that they’re going to college, Cath is on her own, and where Wren has grown out of it, Cath just doesn’t want to. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
Rainbow Rowell is one of my favourite authors of Young Adult literature, and really, I would recommend all of her books. Eleanor & Park is probably a tied favourite with this one, so if you think you’d enjoy this book, definitely go and read that one as well. Brilliant young characters, brilliant dialogue- LOVE it.
Fangirl’s central character, Cath, is clearly very relatable, as she is obsessed with the series ‘Simon Snow.’ This is Rainbow’s own version of Harry Potter, (the most obvious comparison) starring wizards Simon Snow, his nemesis Baz and a girl they both pine for. My favourite part of ‘Fangirl’ is little snippets of the fictional series throughout the book, as well as snippets of Cath’s fan fiction ‘Carry On Simon’ that she is internet famous for; (anonymously of course,) which ships Baz and Simon as lovers instead of enemies.
‘Simon Snow is “an 11-year-old orphan from Lancashire who is recruited to attend the Watford School of Magicks to become a magician. As he grows older, Simon joins a group of magicians–the Mages–who are fighting the Insidious Humdrum, an evil being trying to rid the world of magic.”‘ One of the most exciting things, is that Rowell announced that she is releasing a spin off novel titled ‘Carry On’ later this year, which will be an adaption of the fan fiction that her character in ‘Fangirl’ writes… about the fictional series that Rowell made up. Brilliant. I am very very excited! 🙂
The love story in this novel is sweet and real and gave me those girly fluttery feelings because ‘I am one of those.’ Unapologetically, I am a sucker for happy endings and loves stories, especially when they contain characters like these!
“You’ve read the books?”
“I’ve seen the movies.”
Cath rolled her eyes so hard, it hurt. (Actually.) (Maybe because she was still on the edge of tears. On the edge, period.) “So you haven’t read the books.”
“I’m not really a book person.”
“That might be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said to me”
6. NAME OF THE WIND/WISE MAN’S FEAR: Patrick Rothfuss, 2007, 2011.
The book is divided into two timelines: the first in the present, described in third person; the second in protagonist Kvothe’s past, narrated by Kvothe himself to a renowned ‘Chronicler’. The story begins introducing the innkeeper Kote and his assistant Bast, and revealing that Kote is the hero Kvothe: an unequaled swordfighter, magician, and musician, rumored to have killed a king and somehow caused the present war. His assistant and student Bast is a prince of the Fae. Kvothe saves Chronicler, a traveling scribe, whereupon Chronicler asks to record his story. Upon consenting, Kvothe tells Chronicler that this will take three days (corresponding to the planned trilogy of novels).
I was not going to include any series in this list, but I just had to stick this one in there. The first two books of the ‘Kingkiller Chronicles’ were recommended to me by my boyfriend (I take credit for making him read again though 😉 ) who found them on a search for the best fantasy novels. They are absolutely brilliant and I cannot handle not knowing when the third is going to be released.
This world is a very thick fantasy, alike Tolkien’s novels and the Song of Ice and Fire series, wherein there is a map of the world, and so many minute details of this ‘old worlde’ magical land. Kvothe (pronounced Kwothe) is the kind of protagonist that you can trust will always win. However, there lies the storyline in the present, where he is seemingly a different man to this fantastic youth he is describing to the scribe.
There is so much to the story, but the bulk of the two novels lies at ‘The University’ where Kvothe travels to, and upon being a genius student who achieves things younger than many before him, learns the types of ‘magic’ that is available in this world.
Rothfuss’ writing is so bloody brilliant. He has the perfect balance, managing to describe his complicated world without totally losing the reader and all the while being incredibly beautiful and poetic. There are so so so many layers to this story, which I cannot begin to relate. So if you love fantasy and you haven’t yet heard of this brilliant author- GO GO GO.
“Clean, quick, and easy as lying. We know how it ends practically before it starts. That’s why stories appeal to us. They give us the clarity and simplicity our real lives lack.”