What’s on my bookshelf ? 2
Today I want to mention the books that have made me want to become a writer. They are the books I wish I had written myself, the books I can read over and over again, the books I can’t imagine my bookshelf without.
Because they are all different, I can’t really decide a number one and a number ten, so I will mention them in the order I have read them, from the oldest to the most recently discovered.
1- Remember Me, Christopher Pike
I read this book when I was maybe 12 or 13, and I still recommend it to people. Because when it comes to YA novels, it doesn’t really get better than this: a girl who wakes up and realizes she is a ghost. She embarks on a journey to find out who killed her – before he kills again. It’s gripping, Shari is a great character and all the themes that you want to find in a YA book are there.
“Most people would probably call me a ghost. I am, after all, dead. But it wasn’t so long ago I was alive, you see. I was just 18. I had my whole life in front of me.”
2- Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling
I am one of the lucky readers who grew up with Harry: I was thirteen when the first book came out and I eagerly waited for each book to be published so I could read it in the next two days, then re-read it a few time afterwards. As I got older, I came to really appreciate the amazing literary achievement that this series is.
“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
3- A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
I clearly remember reading this book during my High School Senior Year because it had been recommended by my English teacher. And I can still tell you the story from start to finish. The plot is one of the best written I have read, with every single small part of the book being meaningful and important in the end. When I try to write today, I always ask myself: is this important in the grand scheme of things for my novel? If it’s not, I get rid of it.
“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”
4- Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
Another great plot. It is a 700-page novel about reading, writing and teaching literature, complete with visual aids and a final test. It is incredibly clever, funny and sad. Loving to read can save lives, Marisha Pessl proves it.
“It was as if Hannah had sprung a leak and her character, usually so meticulous and contained, was spilling all over the place.”
5- Wicked, Gregory Maguire
Another book I keep recommending to everyone, although I know it’s not the easiest read. It’s just that I LOVE it. It tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West (yes, the one from The Wizard of Oz). It’s about women empowerment, evil and good, friendship and loss, communication and miscommunication, love and hate, books and magic. It’s a Fantasy novel about us. It’s an amazing book.
“Are people born wicked? Or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?”
6- American Gods, Neil Gaiman
I have read every book by Neil Gaiman, but American Gods remains my favorite. It is a classic American novel written by an Englishman. It tackles serious themes like religion, violence, loss, freedom and love and it mixes them with humor, magic and oddities. It is a Fantasy book, so not everything in it is true, or is it?
“Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.”
7- Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
I never laughed so hard reading a book. This tale of the apocalypse, by the two literary geniuses that Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett are, is impossible to describe. There are a witch, an angel, a demon, the son of Satan who gets unexplainably lost, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and a nun. All these people work towards/against the coming End Of Days, and it’s hilarious.
“Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home.”
8- A Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin
Obviously, this Fantasy series is not yet finished, however its first book, entitled A Game of Thrones, made me rethink my way of writing Fantasy novels. As I read the following books, I grew tired of the main characters dying and of the thickening of the plot. But Daenerys Targaryen remains one of those characters I wish I had thought of myself;
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
9- Wither, Lauren DeStefano
Wither, which came out last year, was, on top of being an amazing read, a real eye-opener for me in terms of Young Adult writing. Yes, you can write for teenagers and still tackle very serious issues, write with a rich vocabulary and describe elaborate settings.
“And here we are: two small dying things, as the world ends around us like falling autumn leaves.”
10- Anna Dressed In Blood, Kendare Blake
Another read from last year, I bought Anna Dressed in Blood because I loved the title. And I wasn’t disappointed, as the writing is as good as the title. This Young Adult ghost story narrated by a foul-mouthed teenage boy is a great novel, on top of being remarkable for its non PG-rated writing.
“Anna, she’s like Bruce Lee, the Hulk and Neo from The Matrix all rolled in to one.”
So, what are your favorite books?
John Irving has been on my to read list for some time now. Your comments on “A Prayer for Owen Meany” intrigued me!