On the first day of our Capstone Senior Thesis course (the culminating miserable class of my miserable English major existence) we were asked to list our two favorite books. People around the room named Proust, Dostoevsky, Plath. I declared Bronte’s Jane Eyre (so cliche and elementary) and Harry Potter (blank stares and censure). I don’t care if my unsophisticated tastes categorize me (heaven forbid) as one among the simple masses. I like what I like. In this list I could pull the pretentious card and talk about themes, deeper meaning, and literary style, but I’m going to confess that most of the time I don’t give a crap. I read for enjoyment and if I don’t enjoy it I don’t read it. The end.
So. Favorite Books and Books That Changed My Life.
*crack and wiggle fingers over keyboard eagerly*
1. Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
If you’ve kept up with this blog at all, you’re aware I just made an entire post about Pride & Prejudice and my undying love for Mr. Darcy. I really can’t explain further. He loves her. It’s wonderful. Just read it.
2. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Ah, what to say, where to begin. I found this book in the school library in 8th grade and read it cover to cover in two days. Simply put, Mr. Rochester is kind of the anti-Darcy. To be more clear, he’s kind of an old school jerk. This may or may not have been the beginning of my unhealthy attraction to modern day jerks. Merely speculation. But I digress. My coworker and I had a lengthy discussion today about 19th century British Lit and its heroes (yes, I’m aware of how nerdtastic that sounds) and she selected a passage right off that summed up why this book is so good. But if I included it, it would spoil it. So you’ll just have to read it. Just get through the first ten chapters and you’re golden.
3. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
This is the first book that made me think and not just read. I would never in a million years have picked up this book of my own accord. It’s a survival tale (gag.) so automatically it’s outside my comfort zone. However, it was assigned my freshman year of college (back when I actually did the assigned reading) and I was blown away. Just do what I did and skim over the rough parts with one eye open and you’ll manage just fine. Now that I think about it, this is the book that caused me to write the paper that caused my professor to convince me to become an English major. So really, this book is the beginning of the end of my life. Book, I hate you.
4. Harry Potter, J.K Rowling
Love the entire series with a burning, happy, wonderful glee. Every time I read one of these books I am transported into their wonderful world and then have to look around at our humdrum Muggle lives and wish it could be the other way around. My professors would hang their heads in shame and wonder where they went wrong with me, but there you have it. I LOVE HARRY POTTER.
5. Despair, Vladimir Nabokov
This was another assigned reading I never would have picked up on my own. Once again I was in my Capstone course and identity, existentialism, and truth versus fiction were the general overriding themes of each novel we read (or didn’t read, as the case may be). I actually read this one. Full of thought provoking themes, colorful prose, and good old existentialism, it has all those attributes a good English major should love. However, I was surprised to discover I enjoyed it, too. It was dark, quirky, and engaging. Basically, a character writes about his own murder. Not a beach read, but good just the same for some of my more morbid friends. Katie Kennedy, I’m talking to you.
Sitting here trying to think of the books I’ve read, I can’t think of many more…which is ridiculous– I all but devoured books until college and after that they were positively force fed to me. So, if my mind chooses to recover from the overload it received in school (of which over a year later it seems I have not recovered) I will revisit this topic one day. Until then, I believe I am ready to start reading again and can’t wait to take advantage of some of the recommendations I’ve gotten (or that you might feel compelled to give).