If Darth Vader had been a true bookworm, I don’t think he would’ve gone on an all-out rampage to conquer the Star Wars universe. So many good books promote the value of love and camaraderie that there’s no possible way he would’ve made such a dickhead move after reading those. But then, if Darth Vader happened to be a Harry Potter fan, he just may have associated himself with Voldy because they both wear black. You never know.
One thing’s for certain though! If Darth Vader were a true Harry Potter fan, he mostly definitely would’ve made his subjects read the series ten times over. I mean, if I was Emperor of the universe, I would even mandate my subjects to celebrate July 31 as a national holiday!
Because isn’t it shameful that neither of my best friends have read Harry Potter? Ever? God have mercy. For all it’s worth, I’m glad I at least have this black hole of a blog to send my rants into.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you.”
Too often in literature, psychologically disturbing books dominate the scene, none of which are bound to make anyone’s day happier. So shall we start off with a happy one? The era is pre-1900′, and as such women of the era, titular protagonist Jane Eyre lives an oppressed life growing up under her aunt and cousin. But when she finds a job as governess at Thornfield Hall owned by a mysterious Mr. Rochester–well, you know how it goes. A prickly man and a patient woman equals slow budding romance. Ooooh la la.
It’s not Twilight though. Aside from the slight cliches of love-hate relationships and the obvious competing love interests, there are thoroughly creepy events that entail the mystery and scandal to keep you interested. No vampires, but more of a ghostly woman who haunts Thornfield Hall and tries to set everybody on fire. Very entertaining. And though I’m not much a fan of the feminist genre, this book actually has an actual resolution and satisfactorily happy ending that made me very satisfied at the end. Gasp! Imagine that–a happy ending, in literature.
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
“They were black and iridescent green and without number; and in front of Simon, the Lord of the Flies hung on his stick and grinned.”
Lord of the Flies revolves around a group of school boys who are marooned on a beautiful island via plane crash. There are no surviving adults, so they elect Ralph as leader of the group. But when a bossy choir boy named Jack starts to fight against that order, this form of structure and order begins to crumble, and chaos spreads through the group like wildfire. Typically not a great thing I’d surmise.
Now, you’ve heard of this book, and there’s a legitimate reason why it’s so popular. The prose is fluid, active, and the book is an easy read. Not to mention, the plot itself is fantastically dark and psychological, often referring to various Biblical and satanic themes (hence why “Lord of the Flies” = “Beelzebub” = Satan). And through these themes, the book explores the loss of innocence, the nature of man, temptation, fear, and so on. A literary wet dream for sure. The level of darkness and potential violence lurking within such young, unguided children….it’s mind-boggling that it could be any one of us. There are so many juicy little bits that you can dig up as you read, so I HIGHLY recommend this book for a satisfying read.
The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
“A small but noteworthy note. I’ve seen so many young men [in war] over the years who think they’re running at other young men. They are not. They are running at me.” — Death
Here’s a beautifully constructed masterpiece. What, you think that you’ve heard enough of these typical WWII stories to last your a lifetime? Well then, let’s look at it from another angle.
The Book Thief is about a young German girl named Liesel living during the WWII era. The story is narrated by Death, as well as Liesel and her foster family who are secretly harboring a Jewish fugitive from the Nazis. In the midst of war, life goes on for Liesel as she gains passion for books, befriends Max (the Jewish fugitive), goes to school, and bickers with best friend and love interest Rudy. And as the war progresses, Liesel slowly but surely gains understanding of what war truly means.
The themes of this book are so very subtle, and the emotions of its narrators are often seemingly detached–yet the summation of all these subtle emotions just EXPLODE in a heart-wrenching conclusion. Seriously, I think I was reduced to a blubbering baby by the end of the book; that is, before I put myself through all that torture to read it all over again. Call me masochistic, but it’s that great of a read. Recommended highly.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
“Maybe, she thought as she fastened her cloak, there was some middle ground to be had, a resting place between passion and practicality. She had no idea how they would find it: in all likelihood they’d have to carve it for themselves from thin air. But perhaps she could allow herself to hope.”
I actually finished this book only yesterday! And man, am I happy about it. As the title would suggest, this book is spun around the lives of a female golem and a male jinni, whose paths somehow come to intersect in the heart of New York City. Both feel like aliens in a culture and environment that’s completely new to them, and the story takes you through their individual ways of coping with these issues.
Speaking of issues, I should mention the very big problem of a creepy evil little old man following the golem and jinni around, wreaking havoc in the most terrifying fashion. YIKES, was this old guy creepy beyond all imagining.
I also found it very intriguing to keep noticing the polarizing constructs that the author established. The Golem’s youth versus the Jinni’s ancient age, her modesty vs. his promiscuity, her caution vs. his carelessness, her naivety vs. his cynicism, the list could go on forever. Impressive of the author to be able to constantly establish these drastically different personalities in a decisive yet subtle way, and it’s very well done in my opinion. So I totally recommend this book! I idly picked it up a few days ago at Barnes and Noble (because I’m obsessed with djinn from the Bartimaeus Trilogy lol), but once you start reading it, you honestly can’t put it down. The magical sense of timelessness that you perceive through these characters’ eyes is just wonderful, and I love the various storylines that the author introduces. And by the end, every single event and character that the author introduced will just click. That ending–very smartly and cleanly done.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
“I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me. Why should it keep what I must lose? Every moment that passes takes something from me and gives something to it. Oh, if it were only the other way! If the picture could change, and I could be always what I am now! Why did you paint it? It will mock me some day–mock me horribly!”
This is one exhilarating read. It nearly borders on the horror genre in my opinion, but the rationality and prose keeps it from becoming your typical “I’m gonna scare you to pieces” sort of book. I’d say it’s similar to the scariness of Lord of the Flies, but it’s very exciting–and this is coming from someone who really doesn’t like scary stuff.
This story starts off with an English painter, Basil, who discovers a beautiful young man named Dorian Gray and begs him to stand for a portrait. Under the moral guidance of Basil, Dorian starts out as an innocent and tender character, but after meeting with Basil’s more-than-a-bit-amoral acquaintance Lord Henry, the naive Dorian is driven to fear of losing his beauty and youth, a fear which prompts Dorian to express the wish that Basil’s painting (of Dorian) would instead come to inherit his own age and vices, and Dorian himself would retain the beauty of the painting. And over the years, Dorian comes to embrace much of Lord Henry’s twisted philosophies and morals, and grows to become the worst type of human being, but he realizes that his wish had been fulfilled–Dorian’s beauty and youth remains intact, but the portrait of Dorian that Basil had painted for him had progressively become disfigured and aged.
What an Anakin Skywalker deja vu, yikes. The themes brought up in this book really focuses on loss of innocence, and it’s not too hard to understand the moral of it all. But the book will so successfully keep your interest throughout the entire story since it’s quite fast-paced and compelling. I recommend it if you aren’t averse to the horror genre.
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
“When he was young, he made a choice, like a tree does when it decides to grow one way or the other. He grew large and green until he shadowed over the whole forest, but most of his branches are twisted.”
The plot is set in a future Mexico/USA where the drug lord, El Patron, has established a powerful kingdom built on the profit of opium. The protagonist and El Patron’s clone, Matt, lives out his young life among the powerful Alacrans in a constantly tense and politically warring atmosphere. He is hated for being a clone, but he works hard to prove his worth to everybody, and for that, he finds love in El Patron, Celia, Tam Lin, and Maria. But Matt gradually becomes aware of the bigger scheme of things: the immorality of cloning, the influence of opium upon the world, the link between illegal immigration and the zombie-like “eejits” that work in El Patron’s opium fields, and the dual meaning of love.
I LOVE this book to pieces. Maybe it’s because I read it when I was a child and the years have turned like into love. Maybe it’s because I hated it so much at first that the drastic increase in its appeal made it seem all the more lovable. Whatever the reason, I love everything about this book. It’s so unique and different from all the other dystopian novels I’d read. And the biggest twist of the book teaches you an inspiring lesson–that a person is capable of both great good OR great evil, and that we are wholly capable of choosing how we grow up. In Tam Lin’s wise words: “When he was young, he made a choice, like a tree does when it decides to grow one way or the other. He grew large and green until he shadowed over the whole forest, but most of his branches are twisted.” This book is so refreshing and challenging to read, you’d hardly believe it’s for kids. The theme of what differentiates humanity from animals is being constantly brought up, and though simple enough, the emotions of this book are complex, deep, and true. So very inspiring, and I highly HIGHLY recommend this book.