My Top Ten for 2021

That’s right- it’s time for the best post of the year because these are the very best books I read!! And as usual, it’s a very different mix! This was the year of historical fiction and big surprises! Okay- let’s not waste any time and get to the good stuff!

Pumpkinhead– some books are just like getting a big, warm hug! This is the kind of story I know I’m going to return to again and again… and now that I have a copy of my own you can be sure that’s what I’m going to do every autumn 😉

Hunchback of Notre Dame– as good as I thought it would be! Far, far from the Disney version, this is a harsh and yet still stunning story. Set in 15th Century France, it is a moving tragedy of good, evil and those who fall in between.

Girl With Seven Names– I don’t know how I haven’t managed to talk about this on the blog before now. This was a phenomenal memoir about a North Korean defector. I was simply bowled over by her story- she’s such an inspirational, incredible woman!

Bring Up the Bodies– I finally read the Wolf Hall trilogy and it was genius! My favourite instalment was easily Bring Up the Bodies– where the threads of the story knit together… and where we can also see them beginning to fray apart.

Kindred– this was so much more than a sci fi about time-travelling- it’s about a woman’s journey through history and personal self-discovery. It’s a masterpiece. I can’t wait to read more by the author!

Salt Path– I listened to this on audiobook and that made the experience all the more evocative. Raynor’s voice brought her descriptions to life and made me feel like I was going on the walk with her. Such a surprising story of human endurance, this begins with an ugly situation, but winds up revealing the beauty that is all around us.

House of Hollow– I normally don’t like creepy stories, so this YA horror was a huge surprise. I have to admit, I was initially drawn in by THAT COVER- I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. And once I started reading, it was even worse. I fell under its atmospheric spell with every turn of the page; I was captivated by each and every character. I was taken far out of my comfort zone and blown away by what I found. This is not the kind of book that lets you forget about it either- it leaves you hungering for more and stuck ruminating on everything that happened. By far the best of its kind I’ve ever read. 

Nightingale– this shattered my heart… and now I want everyone to have the same experience! Such a powerful WW2 story- I love how it captured the beauty of the human spirit and managed to stay true to the realities of the time period. 

Code Name Verity– another WW2 book… and yet this is a book unlike any other. Soaring to unbelievable heights and shocking lows, I honestly didn’t expect to fall for it as much as I did.

Where the Crawdads Sing– this was nothing short of beautiful. This book has *everything* I could ever want in a story- a moving story, twists, mystery, love, coming-of-age. All of which flow seamlessly into each other, sweeping you up in the current of a melodically written narrative. Truly, I cannot applaud it enough. 

So, have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? And what was your favourite book(s) of 2021? Let me know in the comments!

Monkey at the Movies – My Favourite Films in 2021!

Hello all! Seeing as I talk about all my other favourites, it’s only fair to share the best things I watched this year (not including rewatches of course!) I’m going to whizz through them, so get your popcorn out and let’s dive in…

Raya and the Last Dragon– somehow I forgot to say how great Raya and the Last Dragon was!! And it was probably my favourite movie of the year! It’s been a while since I’ve appreciated an animated movie this much 😊 It’s very much its own story, with rich characterisation and fun visuals.

Cruella– this was a lot more fun than I was expecting! Yes, it’s somewhat bonkers… but that’s kind of the point! It had a rocking aesthetic and a killer storyline 😉 I don’t know how, but it actually made me root for one of the most baddies of all time.

A Simple Favour– this was the biggest surprise of the year- it was #MuchBetterThanIExpected. Commenting on social media as much as providing a fun thrill ride, this slick story kept me feeling engaged. And I also loved the French soundtrack!

Karate Kid– I’m counting this as a new movie to me, because I literally didn’t remember anything about it. It’s a good old-fashioned stick-up-for-yourself kind of story! I love the messages in this movie and was on the edge of my seat by the end.

Taken– yes, I’m very late to the party. But wow- this was intense! I don’t think I took a breath the entire movie! This is how an action flick should be!

And that’s all folks! Have you seen any of these? Did you have a favourite film this year? Let me know in the comments!

My 2021 Favourites!

2021 has been and nearly gone- so I thought I’d revive a post I did last year and share some appreciation for some of the great things I’ve discovered this year! I’m going to keep this nice and short- because as usual most of my faves are BOOKS. So, without further ado, here are some non-bookish faves (*ahem*, okay, there will be some bookish things 😉)

#notspon (obviously 😉)

Ariel Bissett– yes, yes, I know where the hell have I been?? But the thing is, I’ve been *obsessed* with her videos this year… and not just for the books. Ever since her “I bought a house video” I’ve been living vicariously through her- because I LOVE watching people do up their houses! I like when people rescue a wreck and give the old birds the TLC they deserve! I’m enjoying seeing everything she’s doing with her home 😊

Lululemon Yoga Mat– this is one of the best purchases I made all year. I was using a really old, thin thing and this has been a gamechanger in terms of comfort (and I’d say performance, but I’m still not great and a mat isn’t going to make that much difference haha!) Anyway, if you’re in the market for a mat, I recommend this one. It’s got two sides for different styles of yoga, it’s easy to clean and I love the style! The only downside is that it has an odd smell to start with, but that fades.

Meditation– this is more of a vague one, because I haven’t settled on an app or style of meditation that I like just yet. I’ve tried Headspace and quite like it, but am usually equally happy with a Youtube selection for whatever I’m feeling. Regardless, I think this has powerfully helped me shift my perspective and get into a better head space 😉 People have been suggesting this to me for years… and what can I say other than they’re right! I’m still a novice and hope to continue practicing (I’m gonna need it 😉)

Diary 2021– this is some fine Waterstones stationery. Honestly, I can’t believe it’s taken me such a long time to get one of these. It really changed my life- to think I used to write Things To Do lists and just scatter them across my desk 😂

Borrowbox/Audible– this was the year of the audiobook for me! Not only have I gone a little wild with Borrowbox, but I also decided to treat myself to an Audible subscription. I kept thinking it was just a temporary thing- however I ended up addicted… and I’m not sorry?! Audiobooks are a gamechanger! They’re fun, they’re entertaining and they mean I can read while I’m on the move/doing other things! 

And finally my sister has a tiger who came for tea…

Annnnd that’s all I have for now! (because most of my faves this year consist of *books*!) What have you enjoyed this year? Let me know in the comments!

My Favourite Soundtracks… All of Which are Bookish

This is going to be a quick list! I just thought it might be fun to share some of my favourite inspirational and bookish soundtracks! All pics link to clips! Enjoy!

Hook– I love this soundtrack, not just because it captures the mood of Peter Pan, but because it makes me feel like I’m flying!

Game of Thrones– no matter what I feel about how the show ended, it always did have great production values, especially the music.

Lord of the Rings– it’s even good in the Hobbit films- and that’s saying something! (seriously though, this is perfection!)

Outlander– this is another one where I didn’t love the story- but I adored the way this soundtrack had such a Scottish and mystical feel to it!

Last Kingdom– speaking of historical-sounding music, I like how this has such an ancient feel to it. I don’t know much about the music from the time period, yet I can say that the music creates an incredible atmosphere.

Wolf Hall– I haven’t actually read the book for this one, even if it’s one of my favourite soundtracks. I really admire how this captures the essence of Tudor music. 

Atonement– I don’t even love the book, but I think it’s a fantastic adaptation. And the soundtrack always gets me in the mood for writing!

So, do you enjoy any of these soundtracks? What soundtracks are your favourites? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Favourites for 2020!

2020 has been… odd. While some good things have happened in my personal life, I haven’t done much or discovered a whole lot of exciting things or been one of those people that’s learnt new skills in lockdown… But let’s not dwell on that. Today is about celebrating the things I have enjoyed in 2020! While I don’t normally do *favourites* posts, I decided to make an exception this year, because we could all do with more good stuff in our lives! So, I’m going to be recommending some non-bookish things I’ve liked this year (don’t worry, the book wrap ups will come soon enough!) It won’t be a tremendously long list, cos about 95% of the things I enjoy are book related 😉 Let’s hop to it!

Love Wedding Repeat– yes, I’m mentioning this again 😉 This was the movie I had most fun watching this year. And (I can say from experience) it’s also the kind of film that I can happily rewatch!

The Queen’s Gambit– I was surprised by how much I loved this. I hardly thought that a TV show about being a chess champion could be so gripping and emotional! And when I look back on all the TV I watched this year (and I watched a fair amount 😉) it’s the one that stands out to me most. It’s a real winner.

Folklore– Taylor Swift’s surprise album drop just about made my week/month/year. As I predicted when I ranked the songs, my favourites have mostly changed (other than Invisible String, which is still my number one, cos it just continues to make me so happy). My new order is: Invisible String, Mad Woman, Illicit Affairs, Exile, Cardigan, Hoax… then it’s pretty much the same. Love this album- still my favourite from Swift! (And I’m writing this just as I find out she has another album out this year- SQUEEEEEE!!!)

Wizard of Oz Bookmark from Bookworm Heaven– yes, I’ve showed this off before. And yes, I said I wouldn’t show off any bookish stuff in this post. However, this is the exception to that rule, because isn’t it pretty?! You can check out the Etsy here for more designs (notspon).

Philips IPL device– this was my sister’s idea to include, cos as you may have noticed, I’m not really one that knows a lot about beauty products (though if you want *much* better tips in that department, check out her blog!). In fact, it was also her idea to take advantage of all the months in lockdown to do something practical for the future and try out these hair removal devices. I’m not as far along in the programme as she is (having only started in our second lockdown) but I can say the results are looking really good so far! If you’re interested, the Philips device I’m using is not only super easy to use, quick and painless! It’s pretty revolutionary!

Yoga with Adrienne– I don’t know if this counts as something from last year, but we gotta take the wins where we can get them! And one thing that has just been more and more vital to me this year is yoga. While there are a lot of online yoga classes and apps to try, the one I consistently come back to is Yoga with Adrienne, because she just has the loveliest, most encouraging, fun personality. I can’t recommend her channel enough if you’re already into yoga, do a little bit of it, or just want somewhere to start! 

Merphy Napier– I have no idea if I’ve mentioned Merphy Napier before, though I certainly should have! She’s my favourite booktuber (and youtuber overall). Her content has been consistently awesome all year long! (Love this video in particular cos it shows you how creative her lists are and gives you a good idea of her taste at the same time)

Foil Arms and Hog– I actually discovered this last year… but who cares? This comedy channel consistently gets me chuckling. They’ve a huge back catalogue to get through- which I’ve made a reasonable attempt at 😉 Plus, even in the pandemic, they’ve been putting out sketches weekly!

Holderness Family– finally something *great* that I found in 2020! Thanks to By Hook or Book, I discovered their spoofy songs (a lot of them on Covid). And my favourite of the bunch is easily they’re hilarious takes on Hallmark Christmas movies!!

And finally… THE PLAGUE!!

With his best bud Tiptoe the Rat… Yeahhh I was scraping the bottom of the barrel for faves in 2020, but to be fair, I was really delighted that my friend sent me this (rather cute version of the) Bubonic Plague (also known as Hugo the Bubo 😉 ).

Annnnd that’s all I have for now! (because most of my faves this year consist of *books*!) What have you enjoyed this year? Let me know in the comments!

My Favourite Discworld Characters

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Just a quick post today, cos I like to mark this time of year with some *book love* and I always feel like a Pratchett post is in order. Now, this was a tricky one to do, because I’ve found my opinions have shifted over the years the more I’ve read, and I plan to reread all the books before I finish the series- so I’m guessing this is by no means definitive! Which I suppose makes this kind of an odd post… but who can blame me for wanting to share some Discworld joy? 😉

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The Librarian– well, obviously 😉

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Death– I fell in love with Discworld the moment Death ate a curry.

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Granny Weatherwax– Granny’s one whose grown on me- she gets better with every book!

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Vimes– what’s not to love about Vimes?! Also, he really reminds me of the friend who introduced me to the series 😊 (my friend also could do with some new boots 😉)

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Vetinari– best benevolent dictator ever!

Honorary Mentions: I also have a soft spot for Greebo and Death of Rats 😊

And that’s all for now! Do any of you have favourite Discworld characters? Let me know in the comments!

My Favourite Fantasy #2

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I’m so excited for this post, cos it’s been *ages* since I talked about my top ten favourite fantasy, and I’ve been wanting to do a follow up for years! Now I’m finally doing it and *bonus* I’ve added in some sci fi this time round (yes, I could have done a separate post, but I don’t have such a long list for it). I feel like this will be a bit like my favourite classics and romance lists- I’ll just keep adding to it more and more 😊 Without further ado, let’s talk about some of my *new and shiny and glorious* faves:

bear and the nightingale

Bear and the Nightingale– I mean, you all knew I was going to include this, didn’t you? This sumptuous Russian fairy tale retelling stole my heart from the second I stepped into Arden’s world. Atmospheric and so-darn-beautiful, I will never cease to be amazed by how magnificent this book is.

strange the dreamer

Strange the Dreamer– well, duh, Laini Taylor had to be on this list! Her writing is exquisite, her worlds sensationally unique and her romances to die for!

circe

Circe– this is by far and away one of the most exquisite books I’ve ever read. And on top of that, it’s a perfect retelling of the Odyssey. I. am. in. awe.

hazel wood

Hazel Wood– another book I have endless admiration for. For me, what makes this so special is how it balances the gothic and fairy tale elements just so. As a lover of both genres, this book bowled me over, transporting me far away into the Hinterland.

Neverwhere

Neverwhere– bringing me closer to home, Neverwhere tells the story of a hidden London, steeping the streets in mythological imaginings. A truly magnificent work.

charmed life

Charmed Life– I know there are probably a lot of other Diana Wynne Jones’ books with more renown, however, this one for me brings me such joy. Perhaps I’m being a little sentimental, it’s just this one hits all the right emotional notes.

poison chris wooding

Poison– I had to triple and quadruple check that this wasn’t on my last list- because I ADORE THIS WONDERFULLY WEIRD BOOK. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it may make you feel like you’ve hopped down the rabbithole in terms of plot, yet it’s undeniably a unique read.

warrior heir

Heir Series– I read this fairly recently and it still manages to make me oddly nostalgic- because the characters and relationships and stories have a way of clinging to your soul. Yes, Chima Williams is another author making a repeat appearance on this list- that’s just because she’s another author who never fails to knock it out of the park.

red sister

The Book of the Ancestor Series– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is the kind of series that reminds me why I got into fantasy in the first place. There’s so much to love about this- from the world to the sense of sisterhood to the romance. I just adore this series and can’t wait to read more from the author!

Red Rising Pierce Browns

Red Rising– well, when I mentioned sci fi faves, I bet you all guessed this would be on here. Many of you will already know my love for this *prime* series, so I’ll be quick in saying for the millionth time: this is gorydamn good! I mean, it’s Romans in space- need I say more?!

shades children

Shade’s Children– I’m never quite sure what genre this is- but it doesn’t matter, cos I will always love this twisty standalone.

the martian

The Martian– who’d have thought that a book about a guy stranded on Mars would be so much fun? That’s because Mark Watney rocks. Funniest protagonist I’ve ever read- and he makes this race-against-time sci fi so spectacular.

And that’s all for now! I have a few more I’d like to add, but I like to give it some space after I read books before declaring them *favourites*. Are any of these your favourites? Do you have any favourite fantasy books you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

All-Time Favourite Classics #4

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Wahey we made it to part 4!! As I said in the first week, I’m going to pause this series after this post, though I’d like to continue it someday. For now though, I’m working with a more “realistic” (*ahem* mostly) theme to round off these favourite classics:

canterbury talesCanterbury Tales– I was endlessly surprised to find how realistic the characters in this were- not least because this was written OVER 600 YEARS AGO! And yet the fundamentals of human nature haven’t changed. What is also incredible is how complex and layered each of the stories are, how they tales interplay with their role in the prologue and how this all builds up the character study even more.

 

great expectationsGreat Expectations– ahh the king of realism- Dickens. And this happens to be my favourite I’ve read so far. A part of this comes down to how much I adore the story- and yet I find that somewhat imperfect- not intentionally so (I just prefer Dicken’s original ending where *spoiler alert* he doesn’t end up with Estella, it made more sense from a narrative standpoint). But mostly, because I cannot get over that image of Miss Havisham, sitting in her wedding dress. It’s both tragic and horrifying.

 

catcher in the ryeCatcher in the Rye– this one will surprise people straight off the bat, because it is such a Love-it or Hate-it book. I for one won’t pretend that I liked Holden Caulfield- in fact I spent a good deal of time disliking him- and yet… there was something so compelling about him. I could not deny the realistic tenor to his character. Nor could I say that I didn’t grow sympathetic to him over the course of the book. That change struck me and took me by surprise- it felt like getting to know an actual person. Yes he may be whiny and difficult on the surface- however strip away the layers and there is so much more to him. So feel free to love him or hate him, but you can’t deny that this book captures something very real.

 

to kill a mockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird– I genuinely do not have any words for this book. The realistic characters, the finest fictional father figure of all time, the story, the beautiful writing, the message- ah it makes me speechless. If you do not know why it is on this list, then quite simply you haven’t read it.

 

 

king learKing Lear– okay, yes I’m following with a shall-we-say less good fictional father? (yes, I will admit I didn’t know what book to put next). But on the positive side this play made me cry… wait a second… JK- what I mean is this is a deeply moving play (not that I’m a masochist who seeks out stories that will make me cry… okay I totally do that- whatever 😉 )

 

brothers karamazovBrother’s Karamazov– speaking of dysfunctional families (gosh I ought to make a “favourite dysfunctional families” list) In all seriousness, this book is magnificent- not least because this has some MAGNIFICENT characterisation. I have to say that I love the intellectual tussles between Ivan and Alyosha (#teamAlyosha… which is weird because I should rightly pick Ivan… whatever I’ll psychoanalyse that comment later 😉 ). Incidentally, anyone that knows me might be surprised to have found no Dostoevsky’s my favourites so far- never fear, this part has three- pahahaha!

 

hamletHamlet– but if what you’re looking for is philosophical questions, why not get to the crux of the existential issue. To be or not to be– damn I get shivers from that speech every time. There’s a reason it’s quoted a million times. And sure, Hamlet might procrastinate for half the play about whether to avenge his father, but all his romps through faux madness and his eventual spurts of violence are so worth it… err… sort of. Stay in school kids.

 

waiting for godotWaiting for Godot– well since we’re on the subject of existential despair, we may as well go in for a penny in for a pound. And okay, this slightly surreal play is kind of the opposite of the realism theme I’ve been leaning towards here. Despite the strangeness of the play, however, it’s very clear that the themes it plays with- the passage between life and death- are very tangible issues. Some could say the most real of all. And of course, I could give any number of reasons for this being on the list- but what I will say is that what makes this play special is how it makes you feel alive with laughter one minute, and then, all of a sudden the warmth fades away, and you are left with nothing but a chill.

 

notes from undergroundNotes from the Underground– I actually studied this for a “Novel and the Collapse of Humanism” course (I know, cheery stuff). Here Dostoevsky explores the paradoxical nature of man- both alien and atypical of his society. It is a work of pure genius- exhibiting the internal chaos of humankind- as we struggle to find our place in the world (and if you’re in any doubt as to how seriously cool this book is, this 19th century book smashes through the fourth wall, like a Deadpool comic)

 

idiotThe Idiot– and yet it is The Idiot which probably takes the spot as my favourite Dostoevsky. I’ve mentioned time and again how I love the hero, Prince Myshkin (#relationshipgoals), because he is one of the most saintly characters ever written… and that’s his greatest failing. Which leads me onto my rather bizarre favourite thing about this book- it kind of fizzles out at the end- yes, it’s unintentional, but that’s what I like about it- it’s a failed book about failure.

 

judeJude the Obscure– okay, let’s be honest, if we’re going to talk “doomed from the start”, Jude really takes the biscuit. I’m not saying that this is a dark book, I’m saying THIS IS THE MOST DEPRESSING THING I HAVE EVER READ IN MY LIFE. I really don’t blame people for not liking this one to be fair- nonetheless, for me, this is one of the most memorable books I have ever read. I can never shake the images it has planted in my brain. So I guess all that’s left to say is: hey Jude, don’t be afraid… watch out for women who try to trap you in marriage, just sayin’

 

richard iiiRichard III– okay to leave off on a more positive note- let’s talk about someone who actually deserved to get their comeuppance. Cos let’s face it, from the opening speech, we can be certain Richard’s the baddie. And I know, I know, some historians and novelists have tried to rewrite the character in a more sympathetic light BUT there’s no following Shakespeare. He is “determined to prove a villain”- and what a villain he is! Too bad he couldn’t get hold of a horse.

Previous Posts:

All-Time Favourite Classics #1

All-Time Favourite Classics #2

All-Time Favourite Classics #3

I will admit that over the course of these posts I did add to this list, but I’ve decided to give it a rest for now. Anyway, have you read any of these? Do you plan to? 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)

All-Time Favourite Classics #2

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Well hello again- and welcome back to my second week of ALL-TIME FAVOURITE CLASSICS. I went into a bit more detail last week about how I’m doing this, so in case you missed it, you can read that here. Anyhoo, in the interest of saving time I’m not going to go into all that again- just know this is the second in a two part series, and each week will have a loose theme. Speaking of which, this week’s theme is gothicy, supernaturaly, childhoody stuff… yes they don’t all go together, they just go together more than the others did (I’m not wedded to this theme idea guys)

confessionsConfessions of a Justified Sinner– this takes me back so much. As you may (or may not know) I went to uni in Scotland, so was lucky enough to study a lot of Scottish literature. This happens to be one of the most striking, underrated gothic stories I have ever read. I really don’t want to spoil anything- only give you a taste- there’s murder, there’s madness, there’s mystery and there’s potentially even devils… (it also makes me laugh, which I often forget and catches me by surprise every time)

 

Arkham cover D finalPicture of Dorian Gray– I have loved this book ever since I first read it. Then I read it again and again and again. It never gets old. This book has a little taste of everything- romance, tragedy, wit, moral questions, an intense plot… and all of that packed into a short space. This is actually something I’d recommend to virtually everyone, because I see something in it for every sort of person.

 

jekyll and hydeDr Jekyll and Mr Hyde– this is just a great story. Sure, I know there’s a lot of depth to it, yet what gets me every time I read this one is how dramatic the story is– which is great if you have to read it loads for uni 😉 No matter how many times I read it, I was never bored.

 

 

turn of the screw 2Turn of the Screw– I’m really not into creepy books, yet I’m glad I had to read this at uni. I love books that pit madness against the supernatural- so you’re never quite sure how reliable the narrator is and there’s a surprise at every turn. Admittedly, I’m easily scared and had to turn on *ALL THE LIGHTS* half way through, just so I could get to the end.

 

frankensteinFrankenstein– I know a lot of people aren’t keen on the writing style for this but OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE IT. It’s no surprise since it is rumoured to have been edited by Percy Bysshe Shelley himself and naturally I am a huge fan of the Romantic poets (especially the later set). The language is succulent and exquisite- it’s exactly the kind of lyrical prose I enjoy most. On top of that, the story is engaging, I was invested in the romance (I know, me and no one else) and I frankly love the moral questions it deals with. Incidentally, that leads me onto…

 

The_Golem_(Isaac_Bashevis_Singer_novel_-_cover_art)The Golem– the myth of the Golem is the said inspiration for Frankenstein’s monster- yet they are very different stories. Where the drive for creation in Shelley’s story is hubris, the myth focuses on love and fear. Bashevis Singer perfectly adopts those elements in one of the most beautiful and heartfelt books I have ever read. It’s short and poetic, tying history to legend. I adored this book and it led me straight into the arms of one of my mother’s favourite writers.

 

dr faustusDr Faustus– not only do I love the language in this play, I love the ideas at the heart of it. The puzzle of Faustus’ pride and the question of ambition have been something that’s fascinated me for half my life. I love the tussle here with literal devils, as Marlowe plays out the inevitable rise and fall of hubris.

 

 

macbeth2Macbeth– since we’re talking of hubris, what better play than Macbeth? I read recently someone saying they didn’t like it cos Macbeth’s an unpleasant human… well duh. The point is that it captures the fallible human nature in us all- the part which strives and the part which falls short. I love this play, partly because it captures that struggle in us all and partly because it’s got plenty of sheer entertainment.

 

lorna dooneLorna Doone– speaking of entertainment, I love this book. I know it’s not a technically perfect book and I doubt it’ll blow people’s minds given how obvious some of the plot points are- but back when I encountered this the first time, I’d never read anything like it and thoroughly enjoyed the story (incidentally, the BBC adaptation is no masterpiece either, but it sure is fun!)

 

armadaleArmadale– this is also a lot of fun. Like most of Collin’s work, it does have a slightly mysterious, dark feel, though it’s not supposed to be his best. It is, however, one of those books which has stayed with me for one reason or another- it could be the adventurous, exciting spirit, it could be the complex plot, or it could very well be that it has a villain beyond compare!

 

peter pan and wendyPeter Pan– if you want to talk about staying power, this book is pretty unforgettable. At this point, the character and story have slipped into common parlance, so I really have no need to explain the appeal of a boy who never grows up and who can fly! I will say that I happily admit to suffering from just a teensy bit of Peter Pan syndrome- and I make no apologies for that 😉

 

Alice's_Adventures_in_WonderlandAlice in Wonderland– ahh one of the wackiest books in history- I adore it! As nonsensical and eccentric as can be, it’s also highly imaginative and oddly relatable. I think I’d have to be “mad, mad, mad as march hares” not to love it!

 

 

Previous Posts:

All-Time Favourite Classics #1

That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments! I’ll have another of these next week!