I wish I could say I fell behind on my posts due to an incredibly busy week, but I would sort of be lying. While the last few days have been a bit busier since summer began, I did still have time where I could have put up some posts. But I got preoccupied with some new books and watching The O.C. Anyway – I am back on track and have tons of ideas for posts coming up!
When university rolled around, it felt like I was reading a lot less than usual. And I was. I’m an avid reader and it was quite easy to get through my own books during high school because I often read in class (when I finished my work, of course …) and had ample amount of time before bed. When people ask me what my favourite book is, I go on a rambling spree. I can’t choose just one and that’s why I figured a top ten list would be perfect. Rather than just a quick synopsis of the books, I’ll probably have an anecdote following them. I do plan on doing full reviews for most of the books that I’ll be listing so stay tuned for that.
Note: These are not in any particular order due to my indecisive nature. I will also not be listing the Harry Potter series nor the Hunger Games – both series’ are part of my favourites, and I figured everyone and their dogs know about those books already. Onwards!
1. Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos
I picked up this book by chance and it turned out to be one of my favourite books ever. The bookmobile made its rounds near my neighbourhood one day when I was 13 and I needed some new reading material and decided to check it out. There wasn’t anything really that looked interesting and I found this book near the checkout and grabbed it and went. This book made me cry from beginning to end. After returning it, I couldn’t remember the authors’ name for the life of me and Google was no help (seriously, try typing “skin” into the search engine). When I was browsing one day at Chapters and stumbled across this book again, I was so excited and purchased it for myself. It’s an amazing book and I do plan on doing a more in depth review of this book soon!
2. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
This book was recommended to me by the brilliant Amazon after I was reading reviews on Skin. It deals with similar topics (eating disorders, depression) as Skin but the point of view alternates betweens two best friends who get tangled into one another’s issues. Just like the previous book, this isn’t exactly light reading as it does deal with heavier topics, but I absolutely loved this book and the Anderson’s style is a bit different than what you will normally come across.
3. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
This book is notorious for trying to be banned from schools due to concerned parents who deemed the book inappropriate because of the scandalous themes revolving around teenage rebellion and confusion, existentialism, angst and alienation. The liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality probably didn’t help the case either. My eleventh grade English class read this and I feel like 95 per cent of the people who read this book hated it. They found Holden (the main character) to be whiny and annoying. Personally, I enjoyed the book and Holden’s first person perspective as an anti-hero (I discovered that I really enjoy reading about a protagonist who is an anti-hero).
4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
I wrote a review on this book for my grade 12 writer’s craft class after just reading the book. It had been on my list for a good year before I finally purchased it (it was a little more expensive than your typical $12 paperback book). It’s a mystery novel that deals with Christopher’s detective work but also traces his thought patterns as a child living with autism. To read my full review click here.
5. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Another book that spent a long time on my “to be read” list. I even remember seeing it in Scholastic Book Orders that my brother would bring home after I graduated from that stage. This book follows a similar theme and topic that’s probably becoming evident in the books that I read – the protagonist and narrator, Craig, is a 15-year-old who attends a prestigious school in NYC and his stress turns into cases of depression, an eating disorder, marijuana use, sleep loss and suicidal thoughts. He eventually checks himself into a hospital after he stops taking his prescribed medicine and wants to ward off suicidal thoughts. The book follows him as he meets the various people with different issues in the hospital and eventually discovers a passion for art that makes things easier to handle.
6. L’Etranger (“The Stranger/Outsider”) by Albert Camus
Camus’ novel is translated from French into the titles The Stranger (more commonly used) and The Outsider (the version I was introduced to). This was one of the novels we read in my grade 12 English class. At first, the novel started off slowly and I was not interested in listening along to the tape my teacher had provided the class. But after reading the book on my own and analyzing the themes more deeply, I ended up enjoying it. The main theme is existentialism and it also goes into other philosophical schools of thought such as absurdism, naturalism, determinism and stoicism. The same thing occurred with this book as it did with the Catcher in the Rye – no one besides myself liked this book. Then again, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who actually completed the book in my English class.
7. 1984 by George Orwell
A classic that was also studied in my English class. Yet again, I did not enjoy this the first time around because it was the same grade 12 English teacher and he also played a tape for us to listen along to. After finishing the book, I realized I do like the concept of the book and I gave it another shot – which I’m glad I did. 1984 is a dystopian novel dealing with a world in which everyone’s actions are monitored and controlled by Big Brother. This novel is also often challenged because it deals with communism and sexuality, according to deletecensorship.org. Nationalism, futurism and surveillance are major themes of this novel.
8. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
This was the first Sarah Dessen novel I picked up in tenth grade and I fell in love with it instantly. I finished in about five hours during my flight to Europe. Even after reading and purchasing all of Dessen’s novels, this one remains my favourite. I found the plot also slightly different compared to other books by Dessen because it takes place during the school year, the protagonist doesn’t have an estranged mother and it’s the only book that deals with eating disorders and complete social annihilation. I’ve reread chapter 11 so many times that you can easily find it by opening my copy.
9. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
Most of Nicholas Sparks’ books revolve around 20-some year olds and up, but this is so far the only book I’ve read by him that hits my age range and made it feel more relatable. The Last Song was the second book of his that I read and when the movie adaptation came out, I was slightly disappointed by the ending, but it hit most the spots correctly. After many years of ignoring her father, Ronnie (one of the narrators and the main character) spends the summer with her father to finally reconnect with him since her parents’ divorce. As it is a Nicholas Sparks novel, you can kind of figure out that there is a romantic plot line and something tragic does happen.
10. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
This was the first book I purchased with my employee discount when I worked at the bookstore. This was yet another novel I was able to cross off my “need to read” list and the musical itself is on my “to be viewed” list. I loved the Wizard of Oz as a child and for years now I have been waiting to see the musical. The book is a parallel novel so it’s all from the perspective of Elphaba (the “Wicked Witch of the West”) and it includes the same land and characters as the original Oz story. However, unlike the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum, Wicked is not directed toward children because of language, violent and sexual images. I heard the announcement that the Broadway musical is coming to the theatre in my city and I’m SO excited to finally have the opportunity to watch it!
There you have my list of some of my favourite books! As mentioned, I will do reviews on some, if not all, of the books mentioned. I wouldn’t recommend my list to everyone – it depends on what type of material you’re interested in reading. If you do come across any of these books, give them a chance and see whether or not you enjoy them! I have plenty more books that I could have added on this list, but I’d probably be up for days trying to remember each book that I loved and the story behind it.
What are some of your favourite books? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?