This is a little tricky, because I regrettably don’t read nearly as much as I used to. I didn’t have a lot of time for recreational reading in college 😦 But there are several books that I love to bits, so I thought I’d do a post on them today.
I think I’m going to separate this post into three lists. One for my all-time favorites that I can read over and over again. One for books that, while not my absolute favorites, I think are nice to have read in your life. And lastly, books that everyone else love but I hate (I know, not a favorites list, but I wanted to include it just because).
- The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)– Oscar Wilde is my favorite author, so of course his only novel will be on my list. I love this book on every level. Read shallowly, it’s a still got a nice story about a pretty boy who plays around in Victorian England. On another level it’s a story about human corruption. I’m not one to deeply analyze literature; I hated it in high school. But I’d actually enjoy it if it was this book (which it never was, sadly).
- Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde (Oscar Wilde)– Haha, yeah, his short stories as well. I counted this because I have a compilation from Signet Classics. Most people know the Happy Prince, at least, and it’s one of my favorites. Another one of my favorites is the Fisherman and his Soul. It’s a little similar to Dorian Gray as far as the whole corrupted soul theme goes. (Also, there’s a mermaid.) All of Wilde’s short stories are great, though. Most of them come with some sort of moral lesson or whatnot.
- Beethoven: The Music and the Life (Lewis Lockwood)– There are a lot of biographies of Beethoven out there, and for good reason. I’ve read several, because I used to play piano quite seriously and Beethoven is my favorite composer, but this one is my favorite. I actually took a class on Beethoven in college, just for fun, and portions of this book was used as readings. I think it’s just a very well-written biography, period. The format with which Lockwood tells Beethoven’s story is easy to follow as well. There is considerable focus on his music, because it was tied so closely with his life, but I think even people with no musical knowledge at all could understand it.
- Howl’s Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones)– Many people may know this better from Miyazaki’s wonderful animated movie adaptation. The original book is great as well; it’s about a girl who get cursed into an old lady and then freeloads with a wizard and his apprentice (to put it as simply as possible, haha). It contains a lot more detail than can be fit into one movie, so you have some more quirks like Sophie accidentally enlarging Howl’s clothes to giant size. There are also a few differences: the destinations of the magic door, Sophie’s own abilities, and most importantly, the specifics of Sophie’s curse and how it involves Howl. But both the movie and the book are great in their own ways. I very slightly prefer the book, because it includes a poem by John Donne I really like (called Go and Catch a Falling Star). The falling star thing is referenced in the movie, as well.
- Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)- I’m a big fan of dystopian stories. But strangely, I’m also not a fan of a lot of dystopian stories. I never really got into the Hunger Games, or like, Divergent, or whatever other series is trending nowadays. Not because I’m trying to be hipster or anything, because I did make a genuine effort at the Hunger Games before the movies came out. It just never drew me in. Brave New World, however, did. It’s even more surprising because this was a book I had to read for high school, and usually I don’t like those. But I just really really liked this one. The genetic engineering was interesting, especially considering how old this book is, and I was also very fascinated with the societal structure.
- No. 6 (Atsuko Asano)- And here’s the other dystopian story I love. This is a nine-volume series of novels originally written in Japanese. It’s about a couple of guys and their friends who try to overthrow the government (in the simplest terms at least). Also they’re super gay for each other and the ship is canon. Also there are bees. There are both manga and anime adaptations of it, and all three a slightly different. The novels definitely go into the most detail (especially with Shion waxing poetic about Nezumi’s beautiful gray eyes lmao). The manga follows the novels pretty closely. And the anime, because of how short it was, had a different ending, which I normally would hate, but the music and the voice acting was so good I don’t even mind.
Other books I want to recommend
- Dracula (Bram Stoker)- A classic for sure. I usually can’t decide between this and Frankenstein for my favorite horror (somewhat horror, at least). However, one of my favorite anime is Hellsing Ultimate (the OVA series based on the manga Hellsing), and that’s loosely based on Dracula, so. Also, vampires. I mean, Dracula is basically where all of modern Western vampire fiction stems from pretty much.
- Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)- Another classic. This was one I had to read in high school as well, but I surprisingly enjoyed it. I mean, yeah it’s unnecessarily long, but still. I like psychological thriller type stuff.
- The Art of War (Sun Tzu)- This is one that can be read in as small chunks as you want. Like, it’s in bullet point format pretty much. Very easy. Has a huge influence in basically everything. Very quotable.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket)- Okay, but these are still the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. They’re so great. So weird and so great. They’re technically categorized as children’s novels. They are anything but. I mean, you can enjoy them at any age.
- The Possessor and the Possessed: Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, and the Idea of Musical Genius (Peter Kivy)- So you already know I’m a fan of Beethoven. This book is mostly philosophical, an exploration into what makes musical genius. I’m not all that into philosophy, but it was still was great read. Pretty easy for those with no background in philosophy to get into, though some parts in the beginning might get a little confusing. I do feel like it’s a very “pretentious intellectual” book, so it might be worth it to watch how you talk about it at parties, lol.
- House of Many Ways (Diana Wynne Jones)- Okay, so all of Diana Wynne Jones is great for fantasy lovers. House of Many Ways is kind of a companion/sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle. It has the same kind of magic and magical storytelling, and it takes place in the same world. Sophie and Howl do show up, briefly. It’s great, okay. The other kind of sort of sequel/companion novel is called Castle in the Air, not to be confused with the equally amazing Miyazaki movie Castle in the Sky, which is actually a completely different story.
Books that everyone else loves but I don’t
- Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger)- Ugh, I just cannot with the teen angst. Mainly, I detest the narrator and the narrator’s tone and the narrator’s opinions and the narrator’s everything. I do know it’s kind of a love or hate it book for a lot of people. I used to think it might have been a cultural thing, because all my American classmates liked it. But it might also be a gender thing as well (I identified as a girl during my teenage years). So yeah, can’t stand it. The same way I can’t stand The Breakfast Club.
- Actually that’s it. I mean, I could mention 50 Shades or Twilight here, but everyone already knows how problematic those books are, so it’s not really necessary. (If you don’t, they both romanticize unhealthy relationships).
Right, so that’s my list. I haven’t read a lot of modern fiction, because I was always busy with books I had to read for classes and stuff. Though now that I look back, only 2 books (3 if you count Salinger) were ones I had to read for class for the first time (Beethoven doesn’t count because I read it years before too and we only read excerpts for that class anyways). So 10 out of 12 were ones I read on my own. I think (hope) that there’s a good variety of genres on there. Though the lack of the currently trending books is a little sad (I don’t have time to read Game of Thrones TT_TT). So yeah, maybe you came away with a couple of more books for your reading list? If you have a favorite book you want to recommend, please leave it in the comments!!