Books have always been special to me, right from when I first learnt to read. I grew up with Enid Blyton and A.A. Milne, Little House On the Prairie and lots of other classics, that my mum would read to me. As I got older I’d read anything I liked the look of, no matter the suggested age or genre. Nowadays, my favourites are fantasies and the classics – a weird combination, I agree. There are some books I will just always read again and again. So I decided to share them with you! This is actually going to be a ‘top nine’ list, as I’ve left my number ten spot open as no doubt in the future I’ll find something I want in my favourites.
NUMBER ONE: Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
I hold this book really close to me, as it’s helped me through several hard periods of my life. Wuthering is, loosely, a gothic romantic novel. It’s emotionally heavy and quite dense reading, but I love it. The fact is follows the characters through their entire lives is wonderful writing and development, and the technical stuff like pathetic fallacy and all the descriptions are beautiful. I actually love this book so much I started collecting copies a few years ago, and have several now, including the beautiful leather-bound version below!
NUMBER TWO: Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
Sarah Waters is probably my favourite author, and TtV my favourite of her works. I was first introduced to this book three years ago by my girlfriend and I’ve never read a book so fast, or become so attached to the characters. It’s basically a romance novel set in Victorian London between several women, with the book divided into three parts. I’ve read this so many times, it feels like a part of me now, and the passages describing the protagonist’s feelings (specifically love and consequent heartbreak) are just spot-on for real emotions. I can identify with this book so much. The BBC also made a three-part TV adaptation of the book, though a few things are changed and I prefer the book, but it’s still worth watching.
NUMBER THREE: Affinity – Sarah Waters
Yep, another Sarah Waters. I read Affinity a few summers ago on holiday and it touched me, the writing as usual is excellent, and the characters are all so real. Affinity follows a girl, again in Victorian London, who is recovering from depression and goes to visit a women’s prison, developing a relationship with one of the inmates. The story in this is more emotional (overall) than TtV, purely because of a giant plot twist at the end – which in fact made me swear never to read Sarah Waters again, though of course this didn’t last. So do not read this if you’re looking for a happy ending, because it will destroy you.
NUMBER FOUR: The Hunger Games trilogy – Suzanne Collins
Probably the most recent on my list, I read this trilogy last year, but never have I found a book so gripping. I’ve seen the films, which are all good too, but the books are a level above. They are fast-paced and well written, and do not give you a chance to breathe. I read all three within a week or two, and just couldn’t put them down. The character of Katniss, particularly, is very well created as she is almost dislikeable. As though, if she weren’t the protagonist, and so this hero, you wouldn’t like her. Her development and growth is very well written and you really come to understand her. I cannot recommend these books enough, whatever your age, because they are just unbelievably thrilling and impossible to put down.
NUMBER FIVE: The Icemark Chronicles – Stuart Hill
This trilogy is more aimed at teenagers, due to the young protagonist, but since reading them at around twelve, I still love them and they are so well written, anyone can appreciate them. The three books follow Thirrin, a fiery redhead who is made Queen after her father dies in battle, when she is very young. They document great wars and her growing up, understand leadership and fighting etc. Set in the fantasy world of the Icemark, the book depicts various fantasy creatures such as vampires but with eerie, beautiful twists so they are not clichéd or dull, but intriguing. The second book focusses more on Thirrin’s youngest son, and the final book on Thirrin’s daughter. But all three are equally stunning to read, the imagery is remarkable and the characters are all well-rounded and loveable (or hateable!).
NUMBER SIX: Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Back to the classics now. My love for this book developed as I’ve grown up and identified with each character – though Jo will always be my favourite, of course. This book just gives me that warm fuzzy feeling when I read it, like good comfort food. I usually read it during the winter months, and although there are sad moments, it is ultimately a feel-good book. The 1994 film adaptation (with Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Christian Bale and Susan Sarandon) is also brilliant and well-worth watching. It will definitely develop your crush on Jo, too.
NUMBER SEVEN: The Flowing Queen trilogy – Kai Meyer
Also known as the ‘Dark Reflections’ trilogy, I loved this growing up. These books are incredible in terms of imagery, with descriptions falling off the pages, but not ‘too much’. They follow a young orphan girl in an apprenticeship during times of rebellion in Venice. The books have slightly creepy mystical qualities to them as well – I’d ultimately describe them as fantasy – with devlish creatures, reanimated mummy armies and scary mermaids and flying lions. However they all manage to be so well written and depicted that they’re beautiful or frightening, rather than being cheesy and boring. This trilogy is quite complex and heavy going, but well worth the time, and you can’t help but love the protagonist, Merle.
NUMBER EIGHT: Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
The last classic on my list had to be a Jane Austen, and it just had to be this one. Although I’ve loved each of Austen’s works, Pride and Prejudice just speaks to me, and I can’t help but identify with and adore Lizzie. The charming humour Austen puts into her books is brilliant, and I love reading about this era. The characters are fun and the storyline may be simple, but it’s just another happy reading for me. Like an old-fashioned soap-opera, in a way. If you haven’t read P&P, then just what are you doing?
NUMBER NINE: The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker
I actually re-read this recently, and it’s just such an emotional book, but it sort of creeps up on you at the end. This is ultimately an apocalypse story, however it is so unique in the sense that is portrays a realistic apocalypse (not aliens or zombies) over a long time period. The young protagonist makes it into a charming coming-of-age story, whilst the drama surrounding her life makes it impossible to put down. This is the only book of its kind I’ve ever encountered, and cannot recommend it enough.
I hope you know some of these, and if not will read some of them, as you won’t regret it. Happy reading.