Saturday, 18 August 2018

My Top 10 Favourite Books

For as long as I can remember, I've loved having my nose in a book. I was always that kid who actually liked reading, I took that love for reading onto studying an English Literature degree, and now I'm a primary teacher, I try and ignite a love of reading into the children in my class. Unfortunately, teaching can be quite all-consuming so my time for reading has reduced quite substantially. But, during the summer holidays, I want to make a conscious effort to read a bit more. Admittedly, I'm two and a half weeks in and still on book number one, but I'm committed to reigniting my own love of reading. And I figured that the best place to start with this, was to think back about some of my favourite books of all time.



1. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
This was a book I first read at school, and it really got me interested in studying literature. Harper Lee's writing is beautiful, with some of my favourite descriptions coming from To Kill A Mockingbird. And having the opportunity to discuss the story, along with the different themes and motifs in the novel really peaked my interest. The storyline itself addresses the social tensions of the time. Set in the Deep South of America in 1936, Lee's novel touches on the serious issues of sexual assault and racial inequality, as well class differences, mental health issues, and gender roles. For a novel that addresses such heavy issues, it is surprisingly easy to read and is one that I've returned to on numerous occasions. Don't let its 1960 publication date put you off - it's still a phenomenal read over 50 years later.


2. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The title of this is probably relatively familiar, as it's been adapted for TV in recent years (and what a good adaptation it was - check that out if you haven't already). I'm a big fan of this adaptation, but my favourite will always be Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel. The novel is set in the not too distant future in what we know as the United States of America, but is now called Gilead. It is now a totalitarian state, based on extreme religious beliefs. Women are placed in an incredibly subordinate position in society, having their rights removed and having no independence or individualism. The narrator, Offred, is a handmaid - a fertile woman who is "owned" by a couple who are unable to have a baby of their own. Although it seems incredibly different to modern society as we know it, unfortunately it is not so far-fetched that it couldn't happen to some extent. I definitely think this could be seen as somewhat of a cautionary tale - it's definitely a novel that deserves a read in my opinion.


3. The White Queen - Philippa Gregory
I love this whole series of novels from Phlippa Gregory, so much so that I chose them as the basis for my English Literature dissertation. I'm a massive history geek, especially around the time of the Wars of the Roses, and that is the time period covered by Gregory's novels. Now we all know that history sources tend to be quite male-focused, so having the opportunity to read these novels which were written from the women's perspective is invaluable. Admittedly, there is little to suggest the historical accuracy of the novels, but if you're interested in English history, this might be right up your street. The White Queen tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, a widow who goes on to marry Edward IV in  1464. You learn about her family's reported belief that they were descendants of the water goddess of Melusina, and how she used this belief to help her achieve her goals. You see how the women, although not the ones thought to be in power in the traditional sense, had more of a say and an effect on the outcome of the Wars of the Roses than is told in the history books. It's just such an interesting book and left me fully celebrating the power of women.


4. The Longest Ride and See Me - Nicholas Sparks
I struggled to pick just one Nicholas Sparks book that was my favourite, which is why I have two. I've been a huge Nicholas Sparks fan for as long as I can remember, and I've read the vast majority of his works. After much deliberation, I settled on The Longest Ride and See Me as my ultimate favourites. I fell in love with The Longest Ride when I saw it in the cinema and then the book just made me love it even more. I loved the dual aspect narrative, flitting between Sophia and Luke in the present and Ira in the past, and how they came into each other's lives. It was really insightful, and Ira's story in particular really tugged on the ol' heartstrings. Plus, who doesn't love a cowboy, right? And then See Me was a novel I read slightly more recently, which tells the story of Maria and Colin. This is more of your traditional chick lit romance, with the goody-two-shoes girl falling for the bad boy, who so he seems. Yes, they're not terribly high brow in terms of literature, but do I enjoy them? Yes. Do I go back to them time and time again? Yes. And that's why I'd recommend them.


5. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
A true classic. I can't remember a time when I wasn't in love with Jane Austen and her writing, so it's no surprise that one of her novels features in my favourites. Admittedly, I have only read three of her novels, so I haven't fully completed my Austen education, but Pride and Prejudice will always have a special place in my heart. It was the first one I ever read, and there's something about Lizzie that I really like. Perhaps unlikely for her time, she's fiercely independent and doesn't fall at the feet of the first man who crosses the threshold. This is a theme throughout Jane Austen's novels, so if you like books with a strong female lead, this might be one for you to try.


6. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
Another classic - I promise I'm not as well-read as it seems. This was a novel that I chose to study as part of my coursework for A Level English Literature, and actually compared it to The Handmaid's Tale. I think it was this opportunity to study Hardy's novel in depth that has lead it to become one of my favourites. Yes, it's a trickier read that takes a little more time to get through, but the story itself is just beautiful. I couldn't help but fall in love with Tess who very much ends up as the victim of her circumstances. Everything that happens to her throughout the course of the novel is normally instigated by someone else, be that her parents, or her husband. Yes, it's not your typical jolly read, but it really is a beautifully written one.


Something a bit lighter now, in the shape of my most favourite release from Paige Toon. Paige Toon is another of those authors who I know I can always turn to if I want a novel that is going to be relatively easy to read and is going to keep me entertained. It was for this reason that I took The Last Piece of My Heart on holiday to Tenerife earlier in the year. And this one just tugged at all the heart strings. For a start, the main character Bridget is a blogger (relatable), and she's a bit of a hopeless romantic (also relatable). Okay, so maybe I guessed where the storyline was headed, but sometimes we all need a bit of chick lit to get us through.


8. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Something a little different now. The Book Thief was recommended by someone in my A Level English Literature class, and the way they described it instantly caught my attention. It's not a book I think I would ever have read on my own - despite being set during World War Two, which is one of my favourite historical periods to read about. This story is actually narrated by Death - weird, I know!  I didn't think I would like this aspect of it, but it was actually really refreshing to read something a bit different. You get to hear about the war, and life in Germany, but from a totally different perspective. Definitely worth a read.


9. Dream A Little Dream - Giovanna Fletcher
Another more lighthearted offering. Again, I love all of Giovanna Fletcher's novels, they're warm and fluffy and cuddly, perfect for when you just want to escape to a perfect world for just a little while. It was tricky to pick one favourite - I loved Billy and Me and Always With Love, but when I was looking through my collection, I realised that not many people talk about Dream A Little Dream. It follows Sarah who is single and living with it, maybe not loving it, but she's not complaining. And then the handsome man who keeps cropping up in her dreams actually turns up in real life. I mean how is that not enticing you already? When I read the synopsis, I had 100 questions running through my head, and reading the book did not disappoint. If you're looking for something that's a bit of fun, you've got to give this a go.


10. Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling
Come on now, surely you didn't think this list could end without me mentioning Harry Potter? I'm from that generation that was all reading or watching Harry Potter, and it shaped us all. The love of Harry Potter is still going strong and I attribute my constant love to the books. They whisked me away into a world of magic that I couldn't even begin to imagine on my own. They grew as I did, and I felt like I was moving with Harry and co as they made their way through their time at Hogwarts. Now that I'm slightly older, I really want to reread the series to see if I read them in a different way or notice different things.



I love looking back at my extensive book collection and remembering why I love some of these books as much as I do. I'm looking forward to finding some new books this summer that I can fall in love with.

What are some of your favourite books?

Love Lexie
xo
SHARE:

No comments

Post a Comment

Blog Design Created by pipdig