The first ‘big girl novel’ I read was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Following that, I read every single novel for children written by Roald Dahl and I made a vow to myself to never read any book by another author; that would be treason. Evidently, I didn’t stay true to my word. This is a list of my five favourite books of all time…
1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour. If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?
Jane Eyre is a novel that grows with you. It’s a story of preservation, entrapment, isolation and love, ideas that transgress the boundaries of their time and settle in the reader’s heart. I read it for the first time when I was thirteen, and then another four times over the years, and I don’t plan on stopping. Each time I read it, I see it in a new light, understanding it more and more in parallel with my passage into life. Jane is ‘tossed on a buoyant but unquiet sea’, facing misfortune and isolation, yet by the wonder of her strong will and self preservation she maintains her independence. Undoubtedly the most beautifully written work I’ve ever read, I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
2. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.
All the characters in Anna Karenina face an internal struggle, trying to attain Aristotelian perfection and battling the oldest question known to man – What is the meaning of life? The work shows the chaos of hedonism, desire, obligation and disillusionment through the intertwining lives of the people in Russian high-society. I loved this book not only because of the captivating story and philosophical challenges, but because Tolstoy paints a fitting image of humanity: inherently flawed. Individual characters can’t be painted as pure evil or pure goodness, only human. This book made me think like no other book has. I wouldn’t think twice about recommending this to any avid reader, especially those with a love for philosophy and tragic romance.
3. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn.
I read Emily’s only novel during high school, and it is one of the only books I studied to death and still loved. The imagery is exceptional; immerses you into an atmosphere of vast moors, grey fog and howling winds on frosty nights. In the isolated setting of Wuthering Heights, love, longing and hatred – the extremes of human emotion – dictate the violent relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine. My interpretation of the novel, no doubt there are many, is that it is an exploration into passion so great it alters the life of everyone involved and transcends death. The novel isn’t very long and it definitely pulls the reader into a trance, perfect for anyone who loves Gothic/Romantic works.
4. Paula – Isabel Allende
Silence before being born, silence after death: life is nothing but noise between two unfathomable silences.
Paula had a huge impact on me; it made me cry, re-evaluate the importance of my family and the preciousness of memory. Allende dedicated the memoir to her daughter, who was in a porphyria-induced coma, and recounted the family history in a vivid and beautifully intimate manner. Allende’s family history is extremely similar to mine, because we share the same Chilean heritage, and for that reason, particularly the details of Pinochet’s dictatorship, Paula became an intensely personal book for me. I can’t promise that anyone will feel such a strong cultural and emotional connection to the book, but I can promise it is an amazing novel to read in either Spanish or English and it leaves a lasting impact.
The Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
- All that is gold does not glitter,
- Not all those who wander are lost;
- The old that is strong does not wither,
- Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
- From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
- A light from the shadows shall spring;
- Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
- The crownless again shall be king.
Need I explain why the Lord of the Rings is awesome? I think not…