Hello all you fabulous essbeevee readers (we are all pretty fabulous, right?). I’m Jane, I blog at Is That You Darling, and I review books at the collaborative blog Hanging On Every Word. When I saw that Sarah was asking bloggers to talk about books for her, I was pretty excited. Talking about books is one of my favourite things to, and making lists of books I want to read is a pretty great way to spend time, if you ask me. Narrowing down a shortlist was hard; as any bookworm knows, picking a favourite book is hard and completely unnecessary. It’s much better to have your favourite book to read in the autumn, or your favourite book to read when you’re feeling sad, or your favourite book to read when you’re feeling guilty about eating a huge packet of Maltesers. In that vein, here are just a few of my beloved books.
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Although I am loathe to pick a favourite all-time book, this one is about as close as it gets. It is loosely based on the life of Laura Bush (wife of George W.), and tells the story of Alice from her early life growing up in Wisconsin, through her marriage to Charlie, all the way to her role as First Lady. I’m obsessed with American politics, particularly the presidency, and fiction about this subject is one of my favourite things. Curtis Sittenfeld is a superior storyteller (read Prep if you haven’t already), and this is a beautiful book.
Additionally, Alice is a reader, and I love reading about readers. My favourite quote from the book is this: “She was the reason I was a reader, and being a reader is what had made me most myself; it had given me the gifts of curiosity and sympathy, an awareness of the world as an odd and vibrant contradictory place, and it had me unafraid of its oddness and contradictions.”
Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple
I first read about Dorothy Whipple in an issue of The Lady that my mum was reading. I’d never heard of her before, but I was intrigued and immediately added Someone at a Distance to my library list. It’s a lovely, quiet book, and Ellen, the lady of the book, is a lovely, quiet person. Her world is ripped apart when Louise, a young French woman enters her life and essentially steals her husband away from her. If you’ve never checked out Persephone books, who published this, you should. They have a wonderful catalogue of titles by authors you may never have considered reading.
11-22-63 by Stephen King
Before I read this book, I had never read any Stephen King. I know that’s probably considered a bit of a travesty, but I’m not really into horror, and though I know he writes other genres, I’ve never fancied any of it. Then he wrote a book about a man who goes back in time to try and stop the assassination of JFK, and I was all in. Time travel and American politics? Books surely don’t get much better than this. It's something that I think a lot about, how one moment in time can change everything, and I often wonder if I had done something differently in mind own life how I would have altered the course of my future. This is on a much grander scale; the idea of preventing a national tragedy in the hope that the country would be a different and better place as a result.
11-22-63 is an epically long book, but I cannot emphasise enough how much I enjoyed it. It has turned me around on King, and I now have a list dedicated to books of his that I want to read.
A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold by George R. R. Martin
It seems funny to recommend a book that is in the middle of a series. Obviously, I would suggest that you read all the books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but this one is my favourite (so far, at least). The events of this novel have largely already been revealed in the television series, so my fear that I will accidentally shout a spoiler in someone’s face has abated somewhat. The characterisation is wonderful in this series, and the scale is just extraordinary. Everyone has their favourite characters (though I can't get on board with anyone who picks Jon Snow. He's so boring!), but my mine are Tyrion and Arya for sure. If you are watching the series and haven’t read the books, I implore you to do so. Immediately.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
This is a very recent read; I finished it about a week ago. It’s a children’s book, but I’m firmly of the belief that no book should be ignored just because it was written for little people. Some of my favourite books are children’s books, and I will never neglect that section of the library.
Wonder tells the story of August, a young boy who, at ten, has never attended school until now. He suffers from a condition called Mandibulofacial Dystosis, giving him severe facial deformities. The book is written from both his perspective, and other children around him; his teenage sister, her boyfriend and two of his classmates. It is heart-breaking in places, and completely uplifting in others. I would love for everyone I know to read this book!
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
My degree had a huge literature component, and Frankenstein was one of the books that I was made to read. Sometimes reading a book because you are studying it is the death knell for any positive feelings you might have otherwise had for it, because you do it to death and you don’t read it in the same way.
But studying Frankenstein had the opposite effect for me. I would probably have never picked it up had I not been forced to, because, as I mentioned before, I am not a horror fan. At all. But I loved Frankenstein. I don’t suppose I need to tell you the story; by now it’s fairly well ingrained in the national consciousness. But you should know that it’s a story well ahead of its time, and it’s a lot more than just a book about a monster.
Thanks so much to Sarah for having me to here to chat about books. I’m currently in the throes of a yearly challenge to read 75 books, and another one that I like to call my A-Z challenge (mainly because explaining it succinctly in one sentence is difficult). I am always, always looking for new books to read; my Goodreads to-read list is at 265 and ever increasing. Feel free to add me on there or tweet me (@itydarling) or alternatively just throw books at me. I'm sure I'll love them.