Happy Friday! Today I’m bringing you my favourite books – what else could I do in bookish blog. Just kidding. I really like mixing things up every now and then but today I’m sticking to books.
As it happened last week with my favourite films, this list have been rather static for a long time and as such it might be a bit outdated. Other books might have taken the prized positions in the top five throughout the years. Books such as Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell, which I read last year and I loved it; or The Hobbit, which I liked on my second reading attempt; or the Harry Potter saga, which I read rather late, already on my thirties.
But, things as they are, these books have been my favourites for a long time. I have reread them several times (except for #1) and I would read them all again. So, without further ado, here come five books I love.
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell.
I only read this one two years ago but it totally blew my mind. I loved the raw and hopeless way it portrays humanity and its vices, and yet, how it is full of hope, for humanity lives on and on in spite of the odds. Cloud Atlas consists of six intertwined stories that follow several people of different times through life-changing journeys. Starting with slavery on the 19th century, it ends up in a post-apocalyptic future where mankind has gone back to basics and relies on the benevolence of some extraterrestrial beings for the survival of our race as we know it.
I must admit that it took me quite some time to warm to the story (partly because I found the language challenging) but once I made it to the third story I was hooked. I then went and borrowed the film based on the book from my library but it didn’t live up to the book’s quality.
Mararía, by Rafael Arozarena.
I have to read this one for school, back in 2001 – oh my, it’s been that long? – and it was definitely my favourite out of everything we had to read for our Literature class throughout the years.
Mararía is the story of a beautiful woman of the same name who lives in Lanzarote and navigates life and men the best way she can until it all gets too much and she gives herself to the fire. It is not an easy read, partly because it is not told in chronological order, partly because of the language, which is highly poetic and can be cumbersome at times. Also, it is a rather allegorical tale, so there might be a lot going on even when the most simple things are happening. But it is a beautiful book nonetheless.
This Charming Man, by Marian Keyes.
Ah, Marian Keyes. She has written some wonderful, hilarious books, in spite of often dealing with sensitive subjects such as alcoholism or depression. This Charming Man is often considered her darkest book. It presents us four very different women and Paddy De Courcy, a successful politician and the charming man alluded to in the title. The novel interweaves the story of these four scarred women to show us who Paddy really is.
The main theme in This Charming Man is domestic violence and some parts are brutal. I wept quite a lot while reading it the first time. But I also laughed. It is still chick lit after all.
Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt.
Another Irish title in the list! I think Angela’s Ashes was my first favourite book outside the classics of my childhood and teens. I was still a teen when I first read it and I was really touched by the misfortunes of young Frankie.
Angela’s Ashes is the autobiography of frank McCourt where he recalls his infancy from his first days in New York (in fact, he backtracks a little and tells us of how his parents met) and his youth in devout, wet Limerick, Ireland. It is a sad story of sorts, with several siblings who died early in infancy, poverty and an absent and alcoholic father who eventually left. But young Frankie made it through. So eventually, there’s hope.
I have never read the continuation of his story, so perhaps I should some day read his other two books: ‘Tis a Memoir and Teacher Man.
Foundation, by Isaac Asimov.
I know many people these days consider Asimov’s Foundation trilogy (and many of his stories, for that matter) to be flawed. His characters are flat and there are not many women around. BUT looking at these stories within their historical context, they just fitted the norm. And the norm was that action was what moved pulpy sci-fi stories and women were not the ones going out to space or merely having adventures outside their home. Not usually; there was Valentina Tereshkova, of course.
But if we focus on the story, it is simply great. A scientific, Hari Seldon, predicts a fall of the galactic empire and carefully plans how to reduce the barbaric times to a thousand years. From then on, many different people will act either guided by Seldon of blindly in order to save the decaying empire. It is an interesting reflection on how science and religion can be used to manipulate people at one’s will. Plus, Asimov came up with the wicked idea of psychohistory, a field of study that would use statistics to predict history. He was definitely a big data pioneer.
What are your favourite books? Any one you would read over and over again?
Have a lovely weekend!