Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lit on a Saturday Afternoon

Most Saturdays I'm out running errands or shopping with my mother. However, today the house is peaceful. My mom is out of town which means no one calling my name every ten minutes because my dad pretty much keeps to himself. I don't really have much to do, so I decided to designate today another lazy day which pretty much consists of snooping around Youtube and watching whatever period drama I happen to have the taste for. It is on days like this when I feel the overwhelming urge to WRITE something. While I was updating my Youtube page, I was trying to list my top 10 favorite books of all time. I'm surprised I haven't done it before! How could a professed lit lover NOT have a list? Anyway, this idea gave me the perfect excuse to write a blog post. Below is the list of my ten favorite books, put in perfect order with the first being the closest to my heart.

#1 JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte:
"Duh!!!" If you haven't figured it out by the clues provided by my previous posts, I'll make it perfectly clear to you now. Jane Eyre is now and will forever be my favorite novel. It's just impossible to replace! The strong heroine, the passionate and unquenchable romance, the mystery, the hidden themes...*sigh.* Every reader comes across one book that just takes their breath away and never gets old no matter how many times they read it. Jane Eyre is mine.

#2 North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell:
I ran across this book last year. I don't remember HOW I came across it...actually, I'm going to take that back in mid-sentence, because now that I'm typing (and thinking), I do remember. It's funny how one action can lead to another. I was introduced to North and South by chance. My teenage tendencies sometimes get the best of me, so I was browsing through Youtube for a fanvideo of period dramas and thus I saw this clip of a sexy englishman kissing his lady in a train station. I immediately wanted to see the movie (which is actually a mini-series), but as a passionate reader I set rules for myself. At the top of those rules is the idea that I don't allow myself to watch an adaptation of a novel without reading the source material first. So I went out and purchased North and South for the sole purpose of being able to watch the movie just so I could see that beautiful kiss. It's a shame, I know, but I'm not afraid to admit it. The book ended up mesmorizing me because it was a realistic love story. People do stupid things and make complete fools of themselves. They're jealous and proud and annoying, but they still end up together...

#3 The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje:
I'm telling you...if you have not read this book, READ IT!!! It's not a classic period piece because it takes place towards the end of World War II but goodness gracious, it's amazing! After I finished it I felt this overwhelming sense of emptiness because I didn't want it to be over. It's another one of those books with the whole package. It's skinnier than Jane Eyre and pretty straightforward on the language, but challenging and deeply riveting at the same time. It's the type of book where you really HAVE to read between the lines and catch the undertones or else you'll miss the whole essence of the story. As a whole, this book would be number one on my "Recommended Books" list (if I had one) even in front of Jane Eyre, but this list is based on my PERSONAL favorites so, as usual, Jane Eyre triumphs. :)

#4: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton:
Why do I love this novel? I never could put a finger on it because most of the time novels dealing with affairs are not my cup of tea (for example Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina). However, there was something different about this one. I can't really explain what it is but I think that I just love the symbolism! I read this just last summer and it was a very solid read too. It's not a popular book that most people are acquainted with and it's not the most challenging material on the block, but it is deeply enjoyable. The ending was also very beautiful.

#5: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:
Who doesn't love this book? I read it when I was in 6th grade, then reread it again in 8th grade, then reread it AGAIN (required reading for my English class) just last month. If you can read something in school with an English teacher as boring and stuffy as mine and STILL enjoy it then that's saying something good. Not only that, but it's accompanied by a lovely award-winning black and white movie starring Gregory Peck. What more could you ask for, right?

#6: Persuasion by Jane Austen:
Yes, I ranked Persuasion above Pride and Prejudice. Persuasion is just so timeless! In the shadow of Pride and Prejudice it's often terribly underrated but I think it had a little edge that Pride and Prejudice didn't have for me. This book is filled with subtle emotions and I love the theme of "constancy" depicted. These people were separated for eight years and it didn't change their feelings for one another in the least!

#7: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:
...It's Pride and Prejudice. How could it NOT be on my list? Elizabeth Bennet is one of my favorite heroines! Why is it so low on the list you ask? I guess it was doomed before I even opened the cover because I read it right after Jane Eyre. That probably wasn't such a good idea because making the transition from a depressing, melodramatic, oppressive story to a cheerful and witty one just doesn't sit well.
I thought that Pride and Prejudice lacked substance. Of course, it was enjoyable and after I read it again I appreciated it much more. I MUST love it or else I wouldn't have put it on the list. I just have to be in a certain mood to read it. There's no real struggle to me. Yes, Lizzy is prejudiced and Darcy is proud (and vice versa) and there are social barriers and bla bla bla but where's the CONFLICT? I also never got a real good sense of why Darcy fell in love with Elizabeth. She's independent and she stands up to him, but thats the equivalent of saying "I like you because you have a great personality." It's all kind of vague. Still, I loved it. :)

#8: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte:
Lower on the list for the exact OPPOSITE reason of Pride and Prejudice. It was seriously heavy. I had to read this book in chunks and take breaks in between because sometimes it just made me feel depressed. I deffinitely would not recomend reading it on a cloudy day. Still, this book is a work of art in it's own way. The Bronte sisters as a whole were geniuses. By the end of the book, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some people say you can't love Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre at the same time. This probably explains why I didn't really warm up to this book as much as its sister story. Still, it's beautifully written. The language was lovely, which landed it on my list.

#9: Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy:
I hated this book so much that I loved it. I know that doesn't make the slightest bit of sense, but that's really how I feel about it. I hate this book sooo much! The oppression of the main character makes me so angry! I hated Tess because I felt like she was so weak minded and I hated Angel because he was an asshole that left his wife at the time when she needed him most. This book made me hate the entire male sex. It was great! Great writing, great symbolism, great conflict. It's almost like a Picasso painting. Sometimes you just can't stand it, but you still recognize it as the great work of art that it is.

#10: A Room with a View by E.M Forster:
This found its way to the tail end of my list because it was just a quirky little romance that I found appealing. That's really the only way that I can describe this book: quirky. It's the type of novel that some people will probably hate. There's nothing really special about it. It's got the same basic plot and the same social issues that most classic romances have, but it still manages to hold its own. Also, to be damn honest, I love it because for some strange reason it seemed sooo sexually charged without even being graphic. The vivid descriptions of settings and tones made me realize that the main character was just harboring pent up passion all the time. I guess she reminded my of myself, not in the sexual aspect, but because she was young and vibrant and it felt like she wanted to do so much with her life but she just didn't understand what or how to do it.


  1. Great list, I haven't read most of these but I love the recommendations...

  2. "This book made me hate the entire male sex. It was great!" This made me chuckle =P

    Sorry, I am now sifting through your posts - feel like such a stalker. I'm going after this, promise.

    I agree with so much on here. How come I have such a lot in common with a stranger from cyberspace? Ah, well. Love that you ranked Persuasion over P&P, it's my favorite Austen novel. I love the fact that they were so steadfast in their feelings over such a long period of time >.< That fact really impresses itself on me, especially in this day and age where dating is sort of like changing shoes, if it doesn't fit, or you don't like it, au revoir!
    Also, DETESTED Tess of the D'Urbervilles. It was so frustrating, and she let people just walk over her all the time, I wanted to scream and pull my hair out in frustration. But I did write a short paper on it once, and it made me realize that was exactly what Hardy was going for.