World Book Day
Yesterday was World Book Day and I thought that for World Book Day it would be quite a good idea to write about some of my favourite books (but then I got distracted by Friends and it got to 11pm and it was past my bed time. Don’t judge me.) I figured it wouldn’t make a difference if I did it today instead.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
It takes a lot for a book to make me cry, but this one has me sobbing every time I read it. It’s my favourite book ever. The book, set in WW2 Germany, tells the story of Liesel who is adopted by Hans and Rosa Hubermann. When Hans was a soldier in WW1 his life was saved by another soldier. Now this soldier’s Jewish son comes to their home and asks Max to return the favour by hiding him from German soldiers. Rosa and Hans hide Max in their home, keeping his presence a secret even from their neighbours and friends, knowing the danger they know they are putting themselves in. Liesel in this time learns how to read with the help of both Hans and then Max, starting first with a gravediggers handbook she stole from a graveside at her brother’s funeral, moving onto books the Mayor’s wife lets her borrow from her library. The story is told through the narrative of death, although not in a dark or sinister way. Death is portrayed as sympathetic and compassionate at times, a being who sometimes hates what he does. The book shows both gentle beings like Hans and the contrasting devoted Nazis. I feel like calling this book traumatic isn’t an overstatement; it’s unsettling and brilliant at the same time.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Another one of the few books that have made me cry (maybe I cry at more books than I think.) I first read this book because I had to study it in school, but I’ve read it many times since then. The book is narrated by Nick Carraway, who moves to West Egg in Long Island, and next door to Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is a wealthy party thrower who takes part in criminal activity to help secure his wealth. Wealth that he had built up for the main purpose of impressing Daisy; a woman who lives in East Egg, who Gatsby for many years has been in love with, and who happens to be Nick’s cousin. Nick seems to be both grateful that he is brought into Gatsby’s world of wealth, glamour and popularity and slightly appalled at the lengths Gatsby has gone to try and obtain Daisy. The story is really very meaningful in the way that it shows money and happiness do not go hand in hand and that “you can’t repeat the past.”
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
If The Book Thief had never been written the Harry Potter books would be my favourite books of all time. The Half-Blood Prince is my favourite but I love them all. I don’t really need to say too much about them because I’m sure you know what they’re about (if you don’t then how.) I read the Harry Potter books when I was a bit older, around 14 and I was obsessed with them.
The Shining by Stephen King
Stephen King is honestly one of the greatest writers. I have never been physically scared from reading a book before reading his. I started reading his books because my mum has all of them and I’m so glad I did. I feel like with a film it’s easier to scare the audience; there’s a list of things to tick. Suspense, scary music, supernatural, dark lighting, but with a book I just think it’s more difficult to make the reader so absorbed in the story that their own imagination is terrifying them. When my mum first read this book she hid it under the oven before she wet to sleep each night (honestly.) I can understand why Joey in Friends put it in the fridge. The book tells the story of Jack Torrence, a writer, who becomes the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel over the winter months when it closes. He pays little attention to the fact the last caretaker went mad and murdered his family, and moves his wife and son to the hotel. It becomes apparent that Danny, Jack’s son, has ‘The Shining’, a telepathic gift which allows him to see disturbing images of the hotel’s past and future. Progressing more and more into their time there spooky things start happening in the hotel, Jack slips slowly into insanity and begins to follow the path of the last caretaker.
A Clockwork Orange
To be honest this for a while was my favourite book. In a fictional, futuristic city filled with violent youth Alex leads his gang through the streets committing criminal activity. They rob people, rape women and attack men. When a member of the group makes fun of an opera which Alex likes he gets violent, and so the group begin to turn against him. The next time they break into a woman’s house, a member of the group hits Alex and so he is found at the scene. Alex finds himself serving a 14 year prison sentence, but is released earlier after being part of a treatment called Ludovico’s Technique. He is injected to make him ill, and subjected to watching horrifically violent films. Afterwards, Alex is confronted with the unintended side effect of not being able to enjoy classical music anymore; his greatest love. When he leaves after two years, the treatment means he struggles to defend himself from an abundance of people who want to harm him. A man looking to fight against authority wants to use Alex’s story to reflect badly on the state, but when Alex doesn’t want to take part he is locked in a room with classical music playing; an attempt to drive him to suicide. The book uses at times a made up slang language, the translation of which is in the back of the book. Although at first it feels like a trial to read you soon get used to the language and no longer need to look it up.