Saturday, 23 October 2010

Some of my Most Favourite Books...

I don't have a favourite author, or even a favourite book, but I do have quite a few books that I keep coming back to whenever I don't know what to read or I want something to make me feel passionate about reading again.  In no particular order, here are a selection of them:

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

This book was on my Christmas list back in 2004 and I got the lovely black hardcover copy with the black embossed pages.  Writing in a style that imitates 18th century literature, it tells the tale of the return of magic to England through the stuffy, academic Mr Norrell and his prodigy Jonathan Strange.  I loved the style, the detail and all of the little footnotes - I found the world Clarke had created very consistent and believable.  And the interaction between the two main characters was great.  It seemed a plausible continuation of folk tales and fairy tales.  Not for anyone who likes a quick read or an action packed story.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

At the time of my first reading of this book, I was going through a bit of an African history kick, so this fitted in nicely.  It tells the story of a missionary, his wife and four daughters as they settle in the Congo.  I really enjoyed that each daughter had her own "voice" in the novel, and felt that all of the main characters were distinct and believable.  I couldn't put this one down, and although the action slowed down towards the end, I did want to find out what had happened to all of the main characters afterwards.  I've recommended this book to practically everyone since first reading it.

 Wild Swans by Jung Chang

Covering three generations of a family, Jung Chang tells the story of herself, her mother and her grandmother, from the ancient Chinese custom of footbinding to the communist revolution.  One of the reasons I loved this book is that ever since studying the Russian revolution for my GCSE history, I've been sort of fascinated with Communist history.  I just think it's so interesting.  But this book has a lot going for it apart from that - it's a well written biography with a good blend of personal story and history.   Even though the lives she describes are so different to modern Western ones, you can't help but empathise with all three of the women.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
(and the rest of the trilogy, but not Double Cross).

I worked at Waterstone's for a while and ran the children's/teenage fiction section.  Loads of people were buying this trilogy so I decided to try it myself and I'm so glad I did.  It's about racism, but everything has been flipped so that darker skinned people are "in charge" and whites are second-class citizens.  White girls dream of getting bum implants and have chemical treatments to get afros.  It's a clever story about racism, terrorism and inter-racial relationships.  Because everything has been flipped, it really makes you think about prejudice - alongside enjoying the story of course :)

Have you read any of these books?
If so, what did you think of them?


  1. I've only read WIld Swans from your list - and loved it. I do have Johnathan Strange on my TBR pile but it's such a big book I've been reluctant to pick it up as most of my reading in done on the train! I might start weight-lifting and give a try soon though! :)

  2. @Mel
    Glad you liked Wild Swans :)
    Jonathan Strange is worth it - you can actually buy it split into 3 smaller paperbacks, I think. Easier on the arms!

  3. Thanks for the visit. I have read White Teeth and enjoyed it probably slightly more than On Beauty, I really like Smith's style.

    I've been meaning to read Jonathan Strange for the longest time. Perhaps when I've finished the challenge in some 30-odd years!

  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVED Poisonwood Bible! I have JS&MN sitting on my shelf but am too chicken to read it because of its size! Seeing that it is one of your favorites makes me kind of want to pick it up. I've heard SUCH good things about it!

    Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish

  5. @Jamie
    Poisonwood Bible was so awesome, glad others have enjoyed it too!

    Definitely give JS&MN a go, if you don't mind lesiurely slow paced books. It's not action packed, but it is beautiful.

  6. @carysreads
    Agreed, Smith is such a talented author.

    Good luck with the rest of the challenge!

  7. Wow, this list sort of kicks my confidence - I haven't heard of ANY of these books. Although Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke sounds really interesting! (All of them do, really, but that one stuck out to me!)

  8. I've been meaning to read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell for ages. It really sounds like something I'd like.
    The Poisonwood Bible is one of my favorites, too. I pretty much love everything she's written. Have you read The Lacuna? (here's my review:

  9. "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" is one of my all-time favorite books by a modern author. I think it so damned clever and innovative; and I am quite looking forward to Susanna Clarke's next offering. She has played off of the rich heritage of British literature, and done it so very well. Wonderful posting, Sam. Cheers! Chris