Thursday, 26 February 2015

Books, books and more books!



When you read a novel, your own imagery is the most important. It's what makes reading such a wonderful thing.
Daniel Craig

I'm not sure that many people read books anymore. In fact, when I was searching my favourite stock photograph sites for the image that heads this post, I typed "Book" into the search engine.... and got fifteen pictures of MacBooks and only one picture of books, and it was more cake than books. 

Since I like cake and books, I chose it anyway, but it did make me realise that reading an actual book is in danger of becoming a lost art. With the invention of the Kindle, and the internet, I guess people are too busy to actually sit down and read a book. 

I love books. I don't just mean the stories inside them, I mean the books themselves. I love the feel of the paper between my fingers and the anticipation of turning the page. I love the crackle they make as they move as you move, and that the words seem to dance off the page. I haven't found that kind of love with the Kindle. I have the app on my iPhone and my iPad but I just can't seem to settle into a rhythm with it. 

I love getting lost in a book. To me, reading a book is a lot like watching a film. The words captivate my imagination and steal away my soul. When I find a book I love, I have literally been known to curl up in a corner and not move until every last word has been digested, and only then do I come up for air. 

I have snuck out of bed in the middle of the night to continue reading a book I have unwillingly put down because it's definitely too late for me to be awake, but the lure of the rest of the story means I just cannot sleep until it is finished. 

When I was little, my mum had to get me dressed around a book in the mornings, because I couldn't put them down, and I got told off in school a lot for reading story books under the table when I should have been doing maths or art (both of which do not interest me in the least!). 

I love books that capture my imagination and whisk me away to imagined lands. Books make me giggle like a child and cry uncontrollably. There is something in books that really sings to me. I love that the author can really express what the characters are feeling, as well as saying, perhaps that's why I find them so entrancing, because I feel I can really get in the characters heads and feel what they are feeling. 

I'm also a hopeless romantic. I love the whimsy and the fairytale, even when mingled in with the desperately sad. 

Here is my round up of my favourite books, and why I love them so much! 


The Twilight Saga:

I know that there has been a lot of commentary on Stephanie Meyer's writing and a lot of criticism on her technical ability. I don't care about technical ability, not one bit. I hate bad grammar, but as for sentence structure or rhythm and flow, I'm just not interested. 

Give me a book that takes over my imagination, that doesn't leave room in my head for anything else, the drowns out everything around me, and the Twilight Saga does that for me in spades.

What I love in this book is the depth of emotion. I don't care whether vampires really sparkle in the sunshine, or hate werewolves (shapeshifters... I know). I love that this book gets inside the heads of people who are in love, and whose love is permanent. 

It's not fluffy and all ribbons and rainbows, it smacks of real (the emotions that is). The real emotions of people who love under all circumstances, and who have to figure that out in a world of pain and indifference and imperfection and mismatch, not just the nice parts. 

When I finish reading Twilight, I still cringe, because I know that New Moon is next. I can feel the heartbreak rising in my chest even before I open it's well worn pages. I am compelled to read on, not to skip it for more sunnier moments in Eclipse. It's part in the story is so important, and so tangibly painful, that it demands attention and will not be ignored. 

These books had me sneaking out of bed on several occasions and I have been lost to these books for weeks on end. I now have them on audiobook, because my actual reading time is limited, and I love hearing the words come alive that way. 

Where to buy: Book 1; Book 2; Book 3; Book 4; Box Set;




The Time Travellers Wife:

This book stands alone because I haven't yet found another Audrey Niffenegger book that I actually like. Usually once I've discovered an author, I devour everything they have written and long for more, but in this case I just haven't felt the same connection with any of her other books. 

This book is such a kaleidoscope of places and times and if you aren't reading closely you can easily miss out vital parts of the story, so it's not one to read in a hurry or when you are likely to be interrupted. 

It is, however, full of emotion. The full spectrum of it. From the idealistic world of childhood, to motherhood and loss. This book reaches me in an unexpected way, and I'm not expecting the wave of emotion that arrives at the close of the book. Which is exactly what makes me keep reading it again and again and again. 




Romeo and Juliet: 

I'm sure there are a few raised eyebrows at this choice. But yes, I really do read Romeo and Juliet like a book. I love the stage performances and I love the Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes film, but there is something that draws me back to the original text. 

I had an amazing Drama teacher who really sat down with me and worked through translating Shakespeare, so that it really lept off the page and came to life. I am indebted to her for that. It opened new worlds for me, and helped me to explore emotion in some of the most beautifully written texts. 

While I love a lot of Shakespeare's works, this one is the one for me. I've already said I'm a hopeless romantic, and the idea of love that is worth fighting for, and ultimately dying for, has a special place to nestle in my heart. 

I still feel impatient as Romeo races back to Verona to Juliet, and I still feel the grief when he doesn't make it. The balcony scene makes my heart pound and my feet want to dance with the joy of it. 







Pride and Prejudice: 

Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice is my ultimate favourite of all her novels. I adore the sharp tongue of Elizabeth Bennett, so before her time, and she captures me, body and soul. The sisterly affection between her and Jane, and the muddle she makes of everything, warms her to me. 

A modern love from the 1800's, it is one I can read over and over and over again. The exchanges between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are alive and vibrant and they make me want to reach out and touch them. 





My Sister's Keeper: 

Jodi Picoult really does know how to write a well researched book. The depth of information in this book is staggering and it has taken me a few times over to really understand all of the information in it. 

And through that research shines the reality of a difficult and heavy hearted situation where sometimes the most horrific decision is taken for the right reasons. Having now had children (I hadn't when I first read it) I cannot comprehend what I would do in that situation. It tears at my heartstrings and I cry more than once throughout the book, from different perspectives of the family members. 

No matter how many times I re-read this book, it still holds something new for me, which it what makes it a firm favourite. 




Sparkles: 

This is my favourite light reading book, although it still has a complex story that I love to sink my teeth into. I've read a few of Louise Bagshawe's books, but I still return to this one again and again. 

I love the way that Louise Bagshawe manages to weave such complex stories and still keep the information light and easily digestible. She also knows how to make sure women come out on top, even when dealing with the not so nice men in their lives. A great beach side read! 





Second Glance: 

This list couldn't be without a second Jodi Picoult book. I love this book because it taught me a lot about a subject I knew nothing about. The way she weaves facts with fiction is incredible, and her drawing on a darker and much less talked about part of American history really created a spell binding story that I love to lose myself in. 




Harry Potter: 

Definitely saving the best until last in this list! I know that it is a children's series and I know that it is about wizards and witches and dragons and trolls, but I still love love love this series. 

I love the way that J K Rowling writes. She manages to create a world that is completely and utterly three dimensional and that is so well though out you would have no idea that it is fictional at all (save for the wizards, witches, dragons and trolls). 

I even love the way that she uses greek gods when naming her characters (Minerva), or using latin to hint at a character's secrets (Professor R J Lupin). I love the way that in book 7, she reveals the secrets from books 1-6 in such a way that you realise that the tiny, seemingly insignificant sentences actually held some of the most important information. When it is all woven together in front of your eyes, you wonder how anyone's brain can hold that depth of information about an imaginary world. 

Her writing makes me laugh and it makes me cry, in equal measure. The darkness that penetrates the books is sinister and in some parts much too scary for children. The character's emotions are potent and you can't but love or loathe them (or sometimes both). 

If I were to be forced to choose a favourite amongst the series, it would either by book 1 "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" for it's wild introduction to the magical world, and all the wonder it holds; or book 7 "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" for the mountain of information that brings new clarity and depth to the books that have gone before. 

I feel a great sense of loss and bereavement when I finish the final book in the series, because who know when I will get the time to devour them again. 



So there you have it, my favourite books of all time. What are your favourites, and which ones would you take with you to a desert island? 




Let them be small