Stayed With You // 10 Books

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Disclaimer: This is something that I found on tumblr that I felt more appropriate to complete on here. 

Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you.

I have not given this much thought, so there is no order that I will write these in - simply the order in which they are brought to mind!

1) The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
I read this book in February 2011 and if I could say a book changed my life, this would be that book. It focuses on a depressed teenage boy starting high school, and his journey of making and breaking friendships. I read it when I was going through a difficult time myself, and so it brought me a lot of comfort to know that I was not alone in the way that I was feeling - that I wasn't weird or crazy for feeling that way; that it was a normal part of life that some people go through. Since then, the book has been released into a film, and I have never watched a film that has so accurately represented a book - definitely one of my favourite films as well as my all time favourite book.

2) My Best Friend's Girl (Dorothy Koomson)
I was probably 14 or 15 when I read this book, and it was one of the first books I'd read that had quite an adult storyline. I don't mean anything crude by that - it was just a book about adults going through adult problems, rather than one about kids/teenagers. The story centres around a woman who was engaged to a man, but the man cheated on her with her best friend and the two had a child together, but never breathed a word of this to the main character. She saw the little girl grow up to about 3 before the truth finally came out that her fiancé was the girl's father, and so she left. But a few years later she found out that the girl's mother was dying, and was asked to take care of her little girl… it's quite a heartbreaking story for many reasons, but the love that the woman has for the little girl despite her existence being a betrayal is so beautiful.

3) The Declaration (Gemma Malley)
This book is one of few that I've read that has a futuristic/non-realistic storyline. I tend to read books with stories that could actually be real, and I do the same with TV shows and movies - but this book is set in the future where the world is massively overpopulated due to a development of a pill that can, essentially, make you immortal. Because this then causes the world to be overpopulated, for a couple to have a child, one parent must stop taking this 'immortal' pill, in order for the population of the world to continue at a constant. But there are those that break the rules, and the children of these rule-breakers and called 'surpluses' and are treated as second-class humans. The story focuses around a particular surplus, Anna, who has been taught to hate her parents for what they did, but as the story develops, she learns more and more about the reasons for their actions. For someone who likes to read realistically, I was shocked to find myself in love with this book!

4) Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
This book was assigned to us in year eleven for our English Literature GCSE, and it moved me quite a bit more than it did anyone else. The 'slower' character, Lennie, broke my heart with his ignorance and naivety. I can certainly see why it is a book that is studied within education, as it discusses so many important topics and makes so many clever comparisons. After we'd finished reading the book in class, we watched the film, and watching somebody portray Lennie was something so beautiful. I'm so grateful to have studied a book and enjoyed studying it! Not long after finishing school, the play was on at the Nottingham Playhouse, and so my parents and I went to see it, and the actors definitely did Steinbeck justice.

5) Looking for Alaska (John Green)
As an avid viewer of the VlogBrothers on YouTube, naturally I wanted to explore some of John Green's books. I'd heard a lot about them and never a bad word was said, so I delved head first into Looking for Alaska. Unfortunately, I sometimes have a short attention span when it comes to new books, and so it took me more than one attempt to complete the book. Each chapter of the book is given a number and then the word 'before', with the number decreasing until it gets to a certain event, at which point the chapters changed and start becoming an increasing number followed by the number 'after'. In my previous attempts to read the book I'd never got to the 'after' part, and when I finally managed to read the book from start to finish, the 'after' part took me by much surprise. I won't ruin the book for anyone who hasn't read it, but as soon as I realised what the 'after' part would be, I instantly wished I hand't got there like the previous times, because of how much heartbreak it would bring. The thing about John Green books (having read a few more since) is that he doesn't focus on a big complicated storyline - he focuses on making his writing the most beautiful that it can be, and from this, I have gathered so many beautiful quotes. "If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane".

6) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (JK Rowling)
Unfortunately, I did not read all of the Harry Potter books before I watched the films. However, I did read the last two before watching the last three films (simply because the 5th film made me so confused that I didn't see another alternative). So therefore I did not read the Prisoner of Azkaban before watching the film, as it's the 3rd book, but I'll always class it as my favourite book and film from the Harry Potter series. There is one simple reason for that: Sirius Black. The way in which Sirius is introduced to the audience is such a way that we immediately hate the character, and our hatred continues as the story progresses - until a plot twist emerges, and it's revealed that Sirius is not the bad guy at all, that he's very much the good guy. What makes the character so brilliant is that he has the characteristics of a crazy person, so much so that he could easily be an evil person, but he's simply not. Additionally, the time travelling in this book is so brilliantly done, as bits of the story were incorporated into the book before the time travel was revealed, and so as Harry and Hermione go back in time we remember specific things from within the book that makes all the pieces fit together. Definitely my favourite story of the series; it's just a shame that Sirius is only part of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th books as he really is my favourite character.

7) The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Gatsby is another book that I've come to love through studying it, but this time at English Literature AS Level. Truth be told, I had very mixed opinions of it when studying it. When I'd read it outside of class, I loved Fitzgerald's writing and thought it was so beautifully poetic, but when we got into class discussions about the storyline I started to really despise the book. I've come to the conclusion that what I love about the book is his writing, and I only vaguely care for the characters and/or the storyline. Saying that, the modern film interpretation brought out last year, casting Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, was one of my favourite films of the year. Again, I don't think it was so much about the storyline, but the way that they captured the essence of Fitzgerald's writing, and the emotions that the characters felt.

8) Dustin Baby (Jacqueline Wilson)
Growing up, I loved every book that Jacqueline Wilson brought out, and I'm fairly certain that I owned almost every single book that she released up until I was about 13 or 14. Saying that, I haven't read any of them in many years because they are simply children's stories - all but one: Dustin Baby. I can't really pinpoint a particular reason why this book was so different to the others; maybe because it made me felt the most; maybe because it seemed the most mature… I'm not really sure. All I know is that I still own my copy of it, whereas the rest of her books have gone to charity now, and I don't think I could ever get rid of it in case I ever wanted to give it another read.

9) The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
This was the second John Green book I read, as I enjoyed Looking for Alaska so much. I found this book slightly harder to get into, simply because I couldn't relate to the main character (who has cancer). Nevertheless, once I was into the book I could not put it down, and I even read it on my way to and from work - big mistake! Word of advice: never read a book about cancer on public transport, especially when you're near to the end, as you will cry in front of people that do not know you and try your best to hide your humiliation whilst still not being able to put the book down in fear of how it might end. Truly heartwarming/breaking story, and I very much look forward to the film later this year!

10) ?
There are a few books that I could put down for #10 - I could use any book from the Hunger Games trilogy, which are so perfectly written. I could even use a book from the Twilight saga, despite heavily disliking them now, due to how much of an influence they had on my life when I actually enjoyed them. But no… I've decided to leave this space blank. There are so many books that I want to read, need to read, but I never seem to get round to reading them. When I get into a book, I literally cannot put it down. I'm actually quite a slow reader, so if I'm into a book it might still take me a good few weeks to finish it. I'm not all that great at getting into a book in the first place, despite how much I want to read it. I took a pile of books with me to uni - some of the books mentioned in this list, and some that I am determined to read. Off the top of my head, the pile include To Kill a Mockingbird, Paper Towns, The Help, Anne Frank's Diary, Memoirs of a Geisha, and I'm sure there are two or three more. I've actually read anywhere up to the first page to the first chapter of each of these books… I'm just not very good at following through once I've started. Therefore, I'm dedicating the 10th book that has stayed with me to be a book that I'm yet to read… and I'm sure it'll be every bit as great as each book mentioned on this list.

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