Out of my Top 5 posts, this has been the most difficult and stressful to think about. I LOVE books. Simply love them. How can you possibly choose one above the other? It’s like having a favourite child. Obviously books don’t have feelings and don’t care about the order I place them in, but I still feel awfully guilty about my decision.
5. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
This is the story of the five Lisbon sisters, following them through a few weeks in their short lives through the eyes of the boys across the street.
This is one of the saddest books I’ve ever read. It deals with serious issues and gets you right in the feels at the end. There is also a film based on the book, which is a pretty good adaption but I’d recommend reading it first. It took me a few chapters to get used to Eugenides writing style but once I had adjusted, I was instantly absorbed in their lonely world. I won’t go into any details because this is a short review, but its a wonderful and gut wrenching book.
4. 1984 by George Orwell
If you haven’t read this, then step right on it. 1984 is a fantastic prophetic tale of rebellion against Big Brother and a dystopian society so broken and state-controlled, to have individual thought is a crime punishable by death. To put it bluntly: this is dark as fuck.
Orwell’s writing is bizarre at first, but that is the exact point. The story is absolutely petrifying because some elements of it are already happening. The UK is known as the most surveilled country in the world. Look at North Korea and Kim Jung Il! The book is a warning against all of this. The first time I finished 1984 I was out of breath with anger. The ending cut me bad. HOW DARE YOU George Orwell, how very dare you!
3. Anne Frank: The Diary of Young Girl
Everyone knows the story of Anne Frank. She and her family hid from the advancing German armies in the upstairs rooms of her father’s spice company. I’ve had the same copy of the diary since I was 9 years old. It’s tattered, the covers have fallen off and its stained along the edges but I could not bear to replace it. I was recently lucky enough to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and I cannot fathom how so many people lived in those tiny rooms for two years.
The diary is what it says it is, the stories and ramblings of a teenage girl. It’s beautifully written, compelling and funny in parts. The last page is particularly heartbreaking because you know how it ends. I personally believe that this should be required reading for school children and if you haven’t read it, you should.
2. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Okay so this isn’t technically one book, but I couldn’t decide. Harry Potter has been with me growing up. I picked up The Philosophers Stone at 11 and put down The Deathly Hallows at 18 with a huge sigh. Nothing can compare to the excitement of a new Harry Potter book. Nothing. It’s been a depressingly long time since I finished the series.
I’m not even going to summarize this series because, shame on you if you haven’t read at least one.
J.K. Rowling wraps you up in the wizarding world like a warm blanket. Everything is so effortless and magical, it has so many great characters and a flawless plot. I’m still upset that I’ll never get my acceptance letter.
1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
As a general rule, I hate period books and dramas. They never appeal to me and I spend my whole time thinking about how they don’t have deodorant and no one bathed in those days so they probably stank, amongst a myriad of other issues. I read this for my GCSE English coursework and unlike most other books they forced us to read, I adored this one. I’ve read it several times since then, seen all the films and TV adaptions and read some of Brontë’s other works, but none compare.
Jane is an orphan, raised to a young age by her horrible aunt who ships her off to boarding school. She leaves at a matronly 18 to become the school mistress for a young girl, the ward of the elusive Mr Rochester. Part gothic novel-part love story, this book is a literary masterpiece.
It has just the right amount of scare, a fair few twists, a brooding male protagonist and the perfect ending. Jane is a feminist before her time, forging her own path rather than relying on a man to make one for her. As a teenager, I identified with her feelings of oppression but it wasn’t until my twenties that I understood Jane as a woman. She made me realise that I don’t have to conform and I don’t have to put up with other people’s shit.
Read it, go on. Do it.