Quote Challenges – Favourite First Lines: Day 8

Hello all! Yup I’m still going with this quote challenge! As always, there have to be rules (to break):


  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Post a quote for 3 consecutive days (1 quote for each day)
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

Thank you so much to the gorgeous Jenna @Bookmark Your Thoughts– she’s such a friendly, outgoing blogger and she’s always sharing the love for other bloggers! She also does fantastic, in-depth reviews and has a great take on tags and memes. You *need* to check her out!

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This is the kind of first line that I love because it made me do a double take. On first reading, I was like “what’s the big deal… oh wait… wow.” It breaks all the rules- taking you in one direction and then turning everything on its head. Undoubtedly, Orwell’s 1984 is one of the best books ever written- and that opening should tell you why.

I tag:

J W Martin, No Reads Too Great, Lit Lemon Books

Have you read this masterpiece? Let me know in the comments!

Once was enough… Books I Loved But Probably Won’t Reread


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I don’t normally do weekly memes, but I do really enjoy reading them. As a lot of you probably know, Top Ten Tuesday had a fantastic topic this week on “Books I loved, but will never reread” and it really got me thinking does this apply to me? I mean, I’m not a huge rereader anymore (so many books, so little time!) however, I do hoard books that I love in the hope that I will get a chance to reread them someday. Nonetheless, the more I thought about it, the more I realised there are some books which I gave all the bananas to and can’t see myself picking up again. Evidently, it’s not Tuesday, but I thought I’d share my list, because why not?

memoirs of a geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha– I adored this book. Still, this is one of those books that I feel I read at the *exact* right moment and I don’t know that I want to ruin that. Especially since I now know how inaccurate it is- I think I might be better served staying in that world and exploring it from a more authentic angle in the future.

facing the light

Facing the Light– do you ever have a book that you look back on with rose tinted glasses even if you know objectively it’s probably not as good as you remember? That’s what this book is for me. I was captivated by this when I read this as a teen and ended up fixating on the authors work (even though none of her other books ever held the same magic for me again). So yeah, it doesn’t make sense to reread it and risk ruining my memory of it.

poison chris wooding

Poison– my nostalgia is strong for this one. I can remember falling in love with this and being blown away by the story in so much detail. However, that’s in some ways to the book’s detriment, because I can’t bear the idea of not loving it as much the second time round. It’s such an unusual book that I’m even reluctant to mention it sometimes in case other people don’t love this hidden gem as much as I did- so how could I cope if I reread it and didn’t fall under its spell the second time round? Nope, as wonderful as I remember this book being, the experience of reading it is best left safely in the past.

book thief

The Book Thief– I do actually want to reread this- I’ve picked it up many times thinking I might. Yet the thing that always stops me is how much it emotionally *wrecked* me the first time round- I’m not sure I could knowingly do that again. (Who knows though, I might end up feeling like a good cathartic cry someday…)

1984 book

1984– I have actually reread this one, so it’s kind of cheating putting it on here, but the first time I read it I was sufficiently creeped out to say “I’m never reading this again!” Of course, I didn’t keep to that, so who knows? I could totally end up going back on my word again for this one.


Jude the Obscure– speaking of emotional books, I don’t know many other books that are as traumatising as this. I think it’s a masterpiece- and yet I can’t see myself ever being able to reread it.

rape of nanking

Rape of Nanking– okay this is not something I will say I loved per se, but it really fits with the “once was enough” theme. Quite simply, there are few books more harrowing than this and I can’t foresee any situation where I’d want to even think about it too much. This is one of those books that it’s worth reading once in a lifetime- and no more.

and then there were none

And Then There Were None– it doesn’t really seem worth rereading a murder mystery, does it? Well at least not for me, knowing exactly what happens kinda ruins the pleasure of wondering who dunnit. Besides, there’s loads of other Christie books to choose from- I may as well pick one of those.

we were liars

We Were Liars– this has turned up on a few lists and I totally get why. It was beautifully written and incredibly moving- however, knowing all the twists will kinda take a lot of the fun out of rereading it I think. The first time I read it was so impactful- I don’t know that I could ever replicate that feeling.

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Life of Pi– this book is so hit or miss for people, so I was nervous about going into it. Luckily for me, it was a massive hit. As much as I don’t like to be swayed by the court of public opinion, I do see its faults and I’m worried I won’t get as much out of it the second time round- particularly because I now know exactly how it ends.

And that’s all from me for today! What do you think of any of these books? Which books do you love but won’t reread? Let me know in the comments!

All-Time Favourite Classics #3

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Yay I’m on a roll with these posts! (or I might have just done them all in a batch and scheduled them… but whatever) For those of you who are new here (hi!) or missed my last few posts (where were you?! JK 😉 ) I’m currently sharing my lovey-dovey feelings about my favourite classics. I went into how I was doing this in (probably too much) detail in the first week, so I’m not going to bore you with it- suffice to say this is part three of four and each week has a vaguish theme. This week it’s EPIC! (I mean the theme, not the post- though if you think my posts are epic, have a prize banana, I salute you 😉 )  Well sort of epics, some of these are just bunched into this group because they address BIG IDEAS.

count of monte cristoThe Count of Monte Cristo– boy this book has scope! From the ship docking in the opening chapter to the ever expansive horizons the protagonist treads, the reader is taken on quite the journey. On the surface, it is a wonderful adventure story- however simmering under the surface is a classic tale of revenge- one which holds many lessons.


theogony and works and daysTheogony– if we are talking scope, no story has more than the Theogony. We are talking the literal origins of the universe, from a Greek perspective of course (it’s upto you whether you take that literally 😉 ) And my goodness, Hesiod might have been one of the world’s most adept misogynists, but dude sure can spin a story. No matter how often I read this, I’m always entertained by these myths. Oh and Works and Days is great too 🙂


aeneidAeneid– I own the most atrocious translation of this- and yet this still struck me as one of the most powerful stories ever told- which says everything. If the majesty of such a story could shine through a translation (so bad it made me laugh out loud) then you can imagine just how good it is. One thing I love about it is how it manages to splice the basic narrative structure of both the Iliad and the Odyssey together, combining the two into one incredible tale. It may be technically unfinished- nonetheless it is one of the most tightly woven stories I have ever read.


war and peaceWar and Peace– I honestly never expected to love this as much as I did. For years, I saw it as little more than a challenge- but when I finally read it WOW– it blew me away. I was instantly wrapped up in the characters, the philosophical discussions, and the beauty of the imagery that crossed the boundary a translation often erects. Of course, it took a lot of commitment, yet ever since I read it, I’ve been itching to give it a reread (it did completely kill the adaptation for me though, cos nothing could live upto that level of epicness).


grapes of wrathGrapes of Wrath– speaking of language, this book has some of finest writing I have ever seen. I don’t care what you think of Steinbeck’s philosophy, no one can argue that the writing here is anything less than profoundly stunning. There are few books that have blown me away as much on sheer imagery alone and this is one of them.


TheGreatGatsby_1925jacket.jpegThe Great Gatsby– and yet another beautifully written book. Here, my taste for lyrical, flowery prose shines through unashamedly again. As I’ve mentioned before, I love the Romantics and Fitzgerald drew heavily on their seductive style. Ergo, I adore this book. And if that wasn’t enough, I find the study of human nature in this book so compelling- especially because the characters are so ridiculously unlikeable. (Yes, I love to hate characters sometimes)


eastofedenEast of Eden– I actually love this for very different reasons to Grapes of Wrath. Yes, it has a lot of the same skill in terms of writing and yes, it likewise has a magnificent scope. However, what I love about this is the family drama and mirroring of the Kane and Abel story at the heart of the book. It is such a fascinating exploration of humanity, I cannot help but find this one of the most compelling family epics in existence.


the chosenThe Chosen– moving from a story about brotherly and fatherly love, to one about friendship. This story is a gorgeous modern day allegory about two friends who grow from being enemies on the baseball court to best friends. What I loved most about this was how it tackled Jewish philosophy and struck at the heart of the universal question of baseless hatred.


daniel derondaDaniel Deronda– I know that normally people are especially fond of Middlemarch by Eliot- and that’s cool, whatever floats your boat. Yet while I’ve read it twice and have been struck by the characters both times, the provincial life setting prevented me from fully forming an emotional connection. This book on the other hand… I do not expect everyone to be as in love with this as I am, yet I was fundamentally blown away not only about how it had mature philosophical debates and drew realistic Jewish characters (in a non-Holocaust book! without being anti-Semitic!), but also how it managed to show that people are not simply their group identity, they are textured and complex (I know *shocker*)


heart of darknessHeart of Darkness– this book is a puzzle- and yet I enjoy cracking it. Layer upon layer of meaning is coated onto this slightly bizarre, tightly woven book. I do not know that I will ever get to the bottom of it- all I know is that there is something which compels me to read and reread it.


fahrenheit-451Fahrenheit 451– well I had a burning desire to put this on the list 😉 (gosh- apologies for that appalling joke, I am thoroughly ashamed of myself 😉 ) Seriously though, this is one of the most illuminating, powerful books I’ve ever read. The imagery from beginning to end is burned into my brain. With a grand vision, this book illustrates the true horrors of collectivism.


1984 book1984– while I often envisage Fahrenheit 451 as depicting Nazism, 1984 strikes me as the cold knife of communism. Twice in my life I have read this book and twice I have put it down with no intention of picking it up again. Not because I dislike it, but because this book shakes me to my core. The imagery is terrifyingly realistic, the messages echo across time and the book paves the way for every dystopia that follows. There is nothing quite like it.

Previous Posts:

All-Time Favourite Classics #1

All-Time Favourite Classics #2

So have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments! This feature will be back again next week… for the last time! (well for now)

Books With A Predictive Function

Hello all! Just a quick post today as I thought I’d share what I think are the most prophetic books ever written. Cos sometimes all I want to do is plug some of my favourite books and hail authors as geniuses. And no, these are not my spooky predictions for the future, because the events of these books have already come to pass. So I promise that none of this will happen again… (I hope).

1984 book

1984 – Yes, yes, I basically created this list because I finally wrote my review for this book the other day and the thought of this coming true is still fresh in my mind. Of course, Orwell’s novel in part relates to the tragedy of communist experiment unfolding at the time of writing, which somewhat takes away its “predictive function”, yet the fear that this could re-emerge in the future is evident in how many times lately we’ve heard the phrase “it’s like 1984”. *Shudders all round*.

war of the worlds

War of the Worlds – Whenever I think of “author turned prophet” I think of H G Wells, because man I’m not kidding, you can find *a ton* of his predictions online that came true (including the atom bomb). The reason why I’m including this one is mainly cos it’s the only one I’ve read and I enjoyed it so much that I thought now would be a good time to recommend it- but Wells did manage to predict Lasers in this book (published in 1898) which is pretty darn cool if you ask me.

notes from underground

Notes from the Underground – Did he define the 19th century man or undermine it? Is Dostoevsky foretelling the collapse of humanism or simply bearing witness? Hard to tell- but one can be certain that there is an eye to the future in all of Dostoevsky’s works. Not least in the way he (using Nietsche as a guide) practically predicted the Soviet Union- however there is a better example of that in…


The Trial – It’s *freaky* how similar the surreal world Kafka presents is to Solzhenitsyn’s real life descriptions. I swear that before I began reading Gulag Archipelago I did not see an ounce of realism in this story. Oh how I wish that was still the case. And speaking of reality…

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Fahrenheit 451 – Okay, so I’m cheating with this one, because this book is more reflective of Nazism than reinventing the wheel. However, I cannot help but praise its genius for the way it captures elements of history and transposes them onto the future. The possibility of this happening again is, horrifyingly, all too real.  If you want to hear more of my thoughts on this a-m-a-z-i-n-g book, you can check out my review here.

Phew! That was a pretty gloomy post! Have you read any of these? Do you have any more suggestions for eerily prophetic books? Let me know in the comments!

1984 Has Come And Gone… Or Has It?

1984 book

“Everyone always thinks everything is 1984,” my brother says “except things that actually are.”

How true that is. Not a day goes by when someone, somewhere tells us something is “just like 1984”. Last week for instance, failed candidate for US presidency Hilary Clinton published a book that told us the true meaning of 1984 is how you should put our faith in the people in charge:

“Attempting to define reality is a core feature of authoritarianism … this is what happens in George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, when a torturer holds up four fingers and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner sees five fingers as ordered. The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust towards exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves.

With a nice sleight of hand, Clinton tries to make us see that two plus two is in fact five and that Orwell’s true intent was to make us trust authority- who knew? Of course, sarcasm aside, if you ignore the initial subterfuge of her quote, you’ll see where Clinton’s literary analysis is lacking. For that scene is not about making Winston, an already highly sceptical character, question his surroundings, but quite the opposite- it is to make him an obedient cog in the society’s machine. Regardless of what you may think of current orange overlords, the message of 1984 is not to give over your wits to leaders who’ve been in office for 30 years or the oh-so-saintly media.

1984 is a profoundly anti-authoritarian book. It is, as the quote on my book jacket aptly says “a powerful cry for freedom of thought and expression”. More than anything it is a call for individuality against an authority that would seek to wipe out any shade of difference in thought or feeling. To such an ideology dissent is dangerous, thinking something different is not okay and dialogue is a form of violence (conveniently so that it can put down with actual violence).

And yes, all that I’m saying is obvious- yet somehow I see so many people missing the point of the book. For me, reading this alongside Solzhenitsyn, there could be no doubt of the parallels with communist societies. In case the use of the word  “comrade” wasn’t clear enough, the break-up of families, re-education and kangaroo courts should be a clue. But alas, people are so focused on fascism that they fail to see these vivid parallels.

Beyond this historicity, there were many issues that chillingly reminded me of our own society. Everyone has their personal “take away” from this book- somewhere they’ve seen bureaucracy get out of hand perhaps, or worse, freedom of thought be inhibited. For me, the moment came when I read this quote:

“Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being anymore but some kind of dummy. It was not a man’s brain that was speaking, it was his larynx”

I was cast back to university and the shallow schools of thought (yes, that’s right I went there- but where else can I express myself if not a piece on Orwell?) which act as a substitute for engaging your brain and encourages lazy thinking. Implement a feminist reading, for instance, and the sight of a naked lady in art equals “females lacking power in a patriarchal society”- the book can be labelled as oppressive or sexist and the reader gets to go away feeling clever without ever having to think. Nice and convenient.

But there were more universal messages here too. There were the infamous mentions of “Newspeak”- everyone and their mother has heard someone use this term lately- and that’s because there are an awful lot of people with all kinds of agendas telling everyone what they can and cannot say, adding new (and unnecessary) words to the lexicon to further some political end, and throwing a tantrum when they don’t get their way. Frankly, this should terrify us more than anything, for controlling language is a way to control thoughts (to paraphrase Jordan B Peterson, articulation is how we formulate our ideas).

Naturally this also lends itself to one of the biggest messages of the book: the ability to determine what is true. For if you cannot think, you cannot determine what reality is. In the book, the most significant manifestation of this is two minutes of hate directed at Emmanuel- the enemy constructed to be the all-encompassing target of baseless anger. It could be that he is someone genuinely flawed, or not, it does not matter. As long as there is a single individual on whose shoulders we can place all our blame for society’s woes.

Yet for all this, I did not see this book as a call to implement systems or for angry mobs to overthrow governments. Again this would be a misunderstanding of Orwell- for this book, together with Animal Farm, explicitly demonstrates how *all* power can be corrupted. No it is not a book to inspire a collective- it is a call for individuality. Maybe even to be that one person in the crowd whom people hurl abuse at. It is up to the individual to wake up and pay attention. To see what is going on under our very nose. To speak while we still can speak, to laugh, to refuse to be cowed. Freedom is whittled away all the time and most of the time we don’t even notice- well here’s a book telling us to take notice.

Nor do I think this was a book calling for the creation of a utopia- as this book exemplifies and history teaches, utopian philosophies (including Nazism and Marxism) veer straight into a dystopic reality as soon as they’re implemented. More’s the pity then that so many modern dystopias end in the overthrow of a government and the set-up of something resembling a utopia. Yes, every dystopia is a direct descendent of this great book, and yet so many miss the mark (I can only praise the rare endings such as in The Declaration where a system is set up, but it is implied it would go the same way as the last). There is something infinitely gloomy about dystopias and one cannot pretend they offer all the solutions.

Bleak as it is, ten years ago when I first read this book, I was so struck by the sheer horror of it, I closed it and thought “never again”. Yet after rereading it and getting so much more out of it this time round, I know that it is a novel that must be read and reread. And what with constant frustrations to our freedom in the world around us, I am sure to find myself revisiting it in the future. In which case, to return to my brother’s quote at the beginning… maybe everything really is 1984.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So have you read this masterpiece? Will you read it? Let me know in the comments below!