Okay so since many of my friends seem to be making this list of favourite books these days, I thought I’d do it too. And no, I haven’t been ‘tagged’ to do it (its NOT an Ice Bucket Challenge). Some of your lists got me thinking about mine. These are not just books I’ve enjoyed reading, but those that left an indelible mark on me for years to come, in some cases, forever. So, here goes. In no particular order.
Daddy, by Loup Durand. Obscure book I just picked up at a yard sale when I was about fourteen or so. Yes, really. Looked interesting, set in World World II, so I absently added it to my cart. Literal cart, not virtual, in those days. But boy, was I in for a surprise! It turned out to be a taut, adrenaline-fuelled psychological thriller. A cat and mouse game played out between an 11-year-old boy genius and a sadistic but brilliant Nazi. You have to read it to understand how good it really is. (Duh, I guess that goes for all books)
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. It was my first ‘grown-up’ novel. Gifted by my mum when I was twelve. She wanted me to move on from Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew. I really didn’t want to. But from the very first line, Rebecca pulled me into a trance. This is the literary equivalent of a haunting melody. Of ethereal beauty. Of bittersweet memories on a rainy day. Pure magic.
Cujo, Stephen King. Cujo. A shiver runs down my spine if I say it out loud. It left me spellbound – the genius of Stephen King’s craft, the sheer audacity to write half the narrative from the point of view of a rabid dog. The spine-chilling tension that doesn’t ease up for a minute. And the soul-destroying heartbreak at the end (spoiler alert!). Stephen King is just a bloody genius and this, his best work. Period.
To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee. I read this book when I was in Form 4, back in Island School. We had to do a book review. My mother suggested this book. Normally I’d do exactly the opposite of what my mother asked of me. But for some reason, I picked it up from the library and my world changed. No book had ever made me cry before. No book had ever made me question humanity. I hadn’t really been forced to think about gender roles, violence and prejudice until then. To Kill a Mockingbird was an education.
World Class by Jane & Burt Boyar. Not many of you would perhaps have even heard of this book. But it is unique and brilliant. A fictionalised account of life on the pro tennis circuit, the book masterfully weaves together vivid characters, rich history and at its heart, a moving, inspirational story. I love it. I must have read it four or five times and I’d pick it up right now and re-read the whole thing. I will make a movie based on this book some day. I WILL.
The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton. I think this book, more than any other has left its imprint on my life and on my mind. I’m still looking for that enchanted wood and somewhere on the horizon, the Faraway Tree where squirrels talk and fairies play and passing clouds transport you into magical lands never seen before. Ooh, I get goosebumps just thinking about it, even now.
Wilt, by Tom Sharpe. You think PG Wodehouse is funny? Welcome to the world of hilarious, my friend. I’m telling you the person who invented LOL did so after reading Wilt. It is so outrageously laugh-out-loud funny that it should come with a disclaimer saying ‘do not read in public’. Because you will make an absolute spectacle of yourself as you repeatedly put the book aside, to double over and laugh till your sides hurt.
Love Story, Erich Segal. Yes, I’ll admit it. I didn’t just read it. But I read it twice back to back. And I cried and I laughed and I fell completely in love. To me, no other romance novel has ever compared, or has even come close. Ollie (Preppy) and Jenny are always with me. Love Story doesn’t just epitomise romance novels for me, it epitomises romantic love.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Hehe. Yes. Totally. OBSESSED. Like a teenager. It hit me like a punch in the gut. I read it cover to cover one night and then had such severe withdrawal symptoms the morning after that I rushed to the bookstore with an urgency that alarmed the bookstore owner. Until, that is, he realised all I wanted was the sequel, Catching Fire. And of course, Mockingjay
But the best book ever written in the history of mankind is….