April 9, 2013 § Leave a comment
Inspired by The Broke and the Bookish.
This was a very hard list to compile. It probably wouldn’t be exactly the same on a different day. Today, this is what it looks like.
1. Ma vie a changé, Marie-Aude Murail ~ Yes, you’ve realised by now that I think Marie-Aude Murail is great. Some people learn French to read Victor Hugo, but really they should consider learning the language to read her fiction. This particular book is about a single mum and her son having to deal with a cheeky elf playing little tricks on them. I have read this book more times than I can count. And, actually, I should have mentioned last week, I am completely in love with Timothé (the elf).
2. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman ~ I’ve talked enough about these books on here I think.
3. Antigone, Jean Anouilh ~ This is a twentieth century re-writing of Sophocles’ famous play of the same name. It is about duty, happiness and being brave. And it was written in France during World War II. A real masterpiece. And I use the word sparingly.
4. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen ~ For months after reading this classic I collected facts surrounding both the book and the author (I know. But come on, who didn’t?). His first name is Fitzwilliam, after his mother’s last name, in case you’d like to know.
5. L’Enchanteur, René Barjavel ~ A very poetic re-writing of Arthurian legends and if you don’t know that by now then I’ll just state my undying love of medieval knights again. There.
6. The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa ~ I wrote about that one recently. Beautiful prose, beautiful themes and a wonderful setting.
7. Tales of the Otori, Lian Hearn ~ Medieval Japan and the characters kind of have super powers. Enough said.
8. Tom’s Midnight Garden, Philippa Pearce ~ Another children’s book. I’m starting to think I should dedicate a list to those sometime. A little boy with measles goes to stay with his uncle and aunt in order not to contaminate his brother. He wakes up in the middle of the night when the clock strikes thirteen and makes a wonderful discovery in the old building’s garden. It is a lovely little book about chance encounters, flowers and the beauties of childhood.
9. Paradise Lost, John Milton ~ I didn’t expect to love this one so much when I read it for my degree. A real epic if ever there was one. And Satan is so likeable, you have to admire Milton for his so very modern vision. Not to mention his incredible writing skills.
10. La Prose du Transsibérien (Prose of the Trans-Siberian), Blaise Cendrars ~ Technically, this is a very long poem. I discovered it thanks to a friend’s art project, and what a discovery it was. If I’m completely honest, it’s a tie between this and Beaudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil.
April 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
Inspired by The Broke and the Bookish.
Let’s not kid ourselves. No need to be a fictional character to love these guys.
1. Will – His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman ~ Like last week, at the top of the list! I love Will for his independent soul but also his great sense of duty towards Lyra and towards his task. He is brave, bold and kind. Unassuming, honest and calm. He is the one that is loved amongst all the worlds and galaxies. He is the one to be trusted. ‘Because he’s Will’.
2. Nil Hazard – Dinky Rouge Sang et al., Marie-Aude Murail ~ Probably a tie with No.1 but French, yes. One of his many faults. But still, we love him. A French Sherlock Holmes of modern times I suppose. I fell in love when I was about 13 and it has lasted ever since.
3. Arthur – The Morte D’Arthur, Thomas Malory ~ Well, probably not very original. I say Arthur but it could be any of the others for their tragic beauty, their belief in ideal values, their courage and moral strength, but also their fatal weakness.
4. Tancredi – The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa ~ I’ve just mentioned this book here, incidentally. Tancredi is bold, sensual, Italian and has a true mind of his own.
5. Hugh O’Farran – Les Dames a la Licorne, René Barjavel & Olenka de Veer ~ Another book in French. Imagine this – Griselda, who lives on an Irish island with her family and her four sisters dreams of escaping into the world. This escape is materialised in the person of Hugh, an Irish rebel who teaches her about love and adventure. We love Hugh for what he represents. Add to this the myths and legends of the unicorn, Anglo-Irish ancestry and the beauty of a wild island: of course my 15-year-old self would fall in love with this book.
6. I would add Darcy and Mr. Tilney but that would be boring so we’ll stop with a top 5.
*To add onto last week‘s Top Ten, the play Antigone by Jean Anouilh has definitely been one of the works I have recommended the most. It’s very short and wonderful. Take a look at it.
March 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
New series – inspired by The Broke and the Bookish for their inventive and interesting themes.
Ten is quite a lot, so I can’t promise I’ll make it that far every time – plus, there might be a lot of repetitions… Because when you like something, well, you like it a lot and for several reasons. But I thought I’d give it a try. Lists are what I normally do best after all.
A word of warning though – apart from the first one, I would say they are in no particular order.
1. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman ~ Because it is not a children’s book. Because it is. Because I read Paradise Lost and it helped me see this trilogy’s greatness. Because of Will. Because of the sheer ambition of its message. Because of Oxford. Because of the style. Because of Lyra, who is a determined, independent, modern, but also human heroine – and there are so few of these. And because no other book’s last pages were ever as physically painful and yet wonderful to read.
2. Anything Jane Austen ~ To boys who stay away because they think it’s all about girly sensitivity. And to girls who’ve only read Pride and Prejudice I suppose, because she’s about so much more than that.
3. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morisson ~ For its wonderful wonderful style. The story may be heartbreaking but it is indispensable reading. This is not a novel; this is poetry in book form.
4. The Help, Kathryn Stockett ~ I was swallowed by this book, to an extent I hadn’t imagined I would be. My review was only the first example of trying to convince the world they should read it. It is the one I read most recently on this list. Perhaps To Kill A Mockingbird should be there in its place.
5. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte ~ I will let Virginia Woolf praise this book because she can do it much better than me (more on that soon). Suffice it to say it is a true embodiment of the word Passion and for that alone it should be read. It is also the perfect symbiosis of nature and love – I couldn’t ask for more.
6. La Chamade, Françoise Sagan ~ Because French literature should be on here too – at least the books I love that have been translated, otherwise Marie-Aude Murail would probably be near the top of the list. Pretty much all of Sagan’s books are the same. Which is great when you loved the first one you read.
7. War Horse, Michael Morpurgo ~ I probably lent this book to every single one of my friends when I was in high school I loved it so much. That book was a great discovery.
8. The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith ~ Light reading that is gripping, witty but also reflective and refreshingly different.
9. The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe ~ Because gothic novels like this one should be read.
10. The Girl Who Played Go, Shan Sa ~ I recommended this book a lot after reading it a few years ago. If I’m truly honest, I can barely remember the story now. Interesting, isn’t it?