Here is a list of my favourite books, and little extracts of why I love and recommend them (some of which I wrote more than a year ago and some recent.)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Every time I read The Great Gatsby, I discover something new about the text that I’ve never seen before. It’s almost as if the text changes as I grow. Fitzgerald’s language is economical but so precise and distilled that it will leave an unutterable ache in your chest.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
This book is really the first book I came to call my favourite, because it was not just a book about morality and courage, but independence and commitment to love. One of the truest heroines in fiction who held strongly to her beliefs and never wavered even when she was in love or in pain.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
It might seem a contradiction to love a revisionist tale that overturns many of Jane Eyre’s assumptions and conclusions, but I still love it so. It highlights the complexity of racial identity and the politics of enslavement. Rhys’ language is so potent that it fills me to the point of implosion.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The language in this book might be a little difficult, but oh man reading it is like going through a torrent. The characters are wild and untamed, but their love is passion at its rawest. But it’s not just a love story; it’s also a story of regeneration and redemption.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
TKAM is one of the cornerstones of American literature. It teaches you courage and wisdom, in the face of massive oppression and societal illusions masquerading as reality. And it remains important in a world where we still shout social constructions at the top of our lungs as truth.
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
A brilliant love story (that has only been fueled by The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) but I want to stress than Austen is not all chick lit. She’s really wise, and her wisdom is carried in the blindness or foolishness of some of her characters. She reminds us that we each have our own fatal flaws. Plus, she’s actually hilarious too.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
I don’t think I even realised how obsessed I was with the ideas in this book until recently. I love exploring this nonsensical world where everyone is mad, not only because it’s so fantastical but also because it holds a mirror up to reality.
The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
There are quite a few problems with this series (and some with JKR’s non-canonical statements,) but man, never has a book series defined a generation so. I, like so many others, grew up with this series, and it taught me about bravery, friendship and love. I took it for granted then, but it was the existence of characters like Hermione that never made me doubt that I couldn’t do anything I wanted.
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
This book is SO underrated I sometimes marvel at its lack of recognition. It’s written so beautifully that you just choke up with emotion that you had no idea existed in you. It’s about how people are able to survive tragedies in their own ways, and how greatness lies in kinship.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Oh gosh, you will not regret reading this book, except you might want to stab yourself in angst, or stab me, I’m not sure. But the angst is so worth it, because it resonates with any particular loss you have experienced in your life.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Trust me, the book > the movie. The web of fiction Gaiman has spun is so fantastic here. The characters are enchanting, even though the book is short.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
John Green is the first and only author whose autograph I’ve got (so he’s got a real special place in my heart.) He’s quickly becoming not just one of my favourite authors but one of my favourite human beings. TFiOS is tragic and romantic, real and hilarious, and nothing short of amazing. I was so glad for the little infinity I was granted by this book.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Such a long book, but so worth it. It’s literally the kind of book where you inhabit another person’s life and thoughts completely, ranging from the interesting to the mundane. Discovering insights is then surprising and gorgeous. Ultimately, AK gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, even when its characters are flawed and terrible, but the novel shows us they are also big-hearted and full of love and capable of greatness.
Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
Actually, anything by Julian Barnes, please! But Flaubert’s Parrot was how I was introduced to this genius who always reminds me to question history, time and our various truths. Plus, there are some breathtaking quotes in this book.