A good book has the ability to transport you away. It can take you to places you’ve never been, give insight to cultures you’ve never experienced and discover things you’ve never known.
It is a very personal thing, it can tell a lot about a person. It can also be a thoughtful gift, it shows you are taking the time to find something they’ll like or even sharing a part of yourself. My best friend Joanna and I often look out for books that we think the other will like.
This World Book Day, I want to share a selection of my favourite books. Books that I love, and books that have shaped me into the person I am today.
The Harry Potter Series – J.K Rowling
This series represents my childhood. I vividly remember my mum and dad taking turns to read the Philosopher’s Stone with me before bed. As I got too old for bedtime stories, I would then go to the midnight book release then lock myself away in my room until I was finished. This was well before social media was a concept but I couldn’t have anyone on the playground spoiling the Golden Trio’s escapades for me.
I gave my first edition (see above) copy to a friend to borrow and never got it back (or so I thought). I raged about it for years and sulked about the cover my new copy had. I would write passive aggressive aimed tweets hoping they would finally hand it over after all these years. Imagine my surprise when I found it hidden in my garage when I was looking for the VHS tape of my parents’ wedding… Sorry!
These books taught me how to be a good person, how to be brave, how to be kind and how to fight for what you believe in. J.K Rowling said at the last film premiere, “No story lives unless someone wants to listen. The stories we love best do live in us forever. So whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” I never left.
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
I first read this book in school, a rite of passage for a majority of students it seems. We would read a section then watch that section, in the Gregory Peck classic. I make a point of reading this every year. When I first read it, I identified with Scout – I loved to read, I didn’t know how to hold my tongue and was ready to fight anybody that said girls were lesser than boys. And every time I re-read it, I pick up on something I missed the times previous.
Atticus Finch will forever be my favourite literary character.
Every reason why I love To Kill a Mockingbird is every reason I hate Go Set a Watchman. But we’ll pretend that book doesn’t exist.
Mother Night – Kurt Vonnegut
Mother Night tells the story of Howard W. Campbell Jr., an American double agent that writes propaganda for the Nazis in WW2. This book is filled with dry wit and humour with the overall message being “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favourite authors. All his books can be described as dark, witty and perhaps a little bizarre but underneath them all, they all have a humanitarian message. “There are plenty of good reasons for fighting, but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too.”
Perhaps as ‘nationless’ as Campbell, Vonnegut doesn’t let his nationality or allegiance to a flag stop him commenting on the atrocities that have been committed in America’s name throughout history.
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Many argue that Tender is the Night is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s greatest novel, a notion I just can’t get behind. For me, The Great Gatsby will always be his best work and one of the American Classics. It encapsulates the zeitgeist of the era and protects it within its pages.
No book has quite spoken to the cynic and the romantic in me in equal measures. Hope blossoms within each character, only to be overshadowed by their self-serving nature.
It’s a story of love, hope, betrayal, cynicism and parties. And there ain’t no party like a Gatsby party.
The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer
When I started university, I barely picked up a book for the first two years whilst I found my feet and fresher’s life took over. The Shock of the Fall was the book to get me to fall back in love with reading.
The Shock of the Fall deals with a mentally ill boy Matthew, coming to terms with the death of his brother years early. It’s incredibly heartfelt and achingly sad yet beautiful. It was the first book I read about mental illness and it remains to be one of the most honest and least romanticised depictions I’ve read.
This year, I’m vowing to read more, I joined the local library at the end of last year and I am taking part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge – aiming to read 35 books.
Please share your favourite books in the comments and tell me what books I should add to my list!
Happy World Book Day!