These are a Few of My Favorite Things

I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I love books. The written word is incredibly precious to me and I hope to you as well. So today I just wanted to share a little about my 5 favorite novels! Oh, and I also included a favorite quote from each book!  

Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëJane Eyre

While my listing of these books aren’t in an exact order, this one is by far my favorite. I adore Jane; she’s my fictional kindred spirit, my literary doppelgänger. I connect with her on so many levels, and that’s an incredibly justifying experience. But aside from our similarities, she inspires me. She’s an incredibly strong, honest, eloquent person, and she’s my imaginary role model as well. And of course, there’s Edward Rochester, our wonderful byronic hero. Their story is beautiful and heartbreaking, made all the more exquisite with Brontë’s rich language. Every sentence is dripping with meaning, and it’s nearly impossible to pick a quote because they’re all so gorgeous. In short, I absolutely adore Jane Eyre. Oh, and if you’ve read the book, make sure you check out the BBC Masterpiece 2006 movie version because it’s wonderful!

 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit is probably the book (other than really short books) that I have digested the most. I’ve listened hobbitto it at least twice, and I’m pretty sure I read it once by myself. Anyway, I probably would have just said the Lord of the Rings trilogy, except that I’m reading The Return of the King for the first time right now, and I read the other two when I was too young to appreciate them. There is a magic to Tolkien’s language, and the world he created is so lavish and full of intricacies. And Bilbo is an adorably honest and hardy character, and Martin Freeman does justice to the character in the movies (probably the best part of the movies, actually, what with all the borrowing and adapting that goes on). Add that to adventures of escaping from trolls, riddles with Gollum, and a jail-break out of Mirkwood, and it should be easy to see why this is such a beloved classic.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

I actually already wrote a post about this book, a series of memoirs from the VietThings they carriednam War, so this will be brief. Basically, what really makes this book so valuable is the real, raw glimpse into what war is like. It’s the horror we see in movies like 12 Years a Slave and Amistad, where we want to look away, but doing so feels too cowardly. But it’s not just out there to make us feel horrified; O’Brien asserts many times that there is a grotesque beauty to war. Like many things in life, war isn’t a black and white issue, and this poignant piece of literature portrays that elegantly. 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Yup, I know this choice is overused and not original, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t legitimate. What really sells this book is the protagonist, Holden Caulfield. Yes,  he’s obnoxious. But he’s also deeply complex, and that’s what makes this book so meaningful. At the beginning, I was merely amused by all of the unusual thoughts that go on in his brain. I said, “It’s interesting to see a guy’s perspective like this.” But he’s actually really unusual because he’s iCatcherncredibly vulnerable with the readers even if he isn’t with other characters. He’s lonely, and he just wants someone to listen to him. And that is what makes this book so  universal and so loved. While our states of loneliness may not be as deep as Holden’s, we still know the feeling, and it’s comforting to know that we’re not alone. Check out John Green’s crash course videos (make sure you watch them both) on this stuff, because they are genius! 

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

It’s difficult to articulate what I love about this novel. Out of all the novels I’ve listed, this is the most endearing (The Hobbit comes pretty close, but it’s still primarily a novel about adventure). Like Tolkien, Lewis creates his own world, except instead of being strictly fantasy, this one is grounded in our own reality–in space (Mars to be precise). And the descriptions of this world are wild but beautiful. The beauty of this novel lies also in the characters, particularly the made up creatures. In a Silent Planetplace where fear doesn’t exist, the people are gallant and compassionate and wise in the purest sense of the traits. Lewis does the fantastic feat of not only creating a place that is intellectually interesting to read about and adventure in, but a place where I would truly love to live. That doesn’t do this book nearly enough justice, but it’s all I’ve got for right now. 

 

Do you have any book suggestions? I’m trying to read as much as I can this summer while I have the time, so I’d love to hear what your favorites are! 

Epylle Spydre

Some Words About Words

Actually, this is more than about just a few words, I want to talk about a book today. This particular book is called The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. It’s about the Vietnam War, but it’s surprisingly good. Actually, it’s not just good, it’s amazing. One of the best pieces of fiction I’ve come across in a while, which is weird ‘cause I’ve been reading a lot of good fiction recently. Maybe the fact that I thought I wouldn’t like it is the reason that I love it so much. Now, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy. If you know me, you know I’m crazy already, but that’s not really the point. The point is that it’s weird for me, probably the most anti-conflict person you’ll ever meet, to not only like, but love, a book about war. But this book really is very good.

The Things They Carried is comprised of many short stories, all relating to the author’s experiences in the Vietnam War. If after reading this you feel like reading it, but can’t get all of it, at least read the parts “The Things They Carried” (yes, it shares a name with the novel itself) or “How to Tell a True War Story”. Those two fill you with this deep, profound pain. Literally, after reading them, my heart is searing with that pain, but it’s so real. They break my heart, but there’s a certain beauty about them that convinces my heart that it likes being broken. I have some friends who want to join the military, and maybe it’s that fact that makes O’Brien’s stories so real for me. It really is so real, and you can feel the realness of the story just emanating from the words, touching your heart, and making you feel like those things happened to you.

There are some books that, after reading them, all you can do is sit and say, “Wow. That was so good.”  They’re so good that you don’t have the words to explain how good they are. Fellow book lovers will understand me, and I hope that the rest of you have experiences like this that convert you into being book lovers. But for me, I have had so few of those experiences recently. Those experiences are more grounded in my childhood with the books, Little Women, The Tale of Despereaux, and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light. But recently, I haven’t had those experiences. Until The Things They Carried. Like with all superb books, I can’t explain how good it is. There are some books that talk to your  head, but there are others that talk to your heart and make your heart feel. I know that sounds super cheesy, but that’s the best way I can describe it. I feel the emotions, and it’s just so beautiful, and unfortunately, I can’t explain that to you. I would recommend this book to anyone willing to glimpse the horrors of war. Every writer ascribes to get to that point where it’s not the writer speaking, but the words themselves that speak. Tim O’Brien has achieved that, and I love it. Thank you, Mr. O’Brien.

Epylle Spydre

p.s. sorry that I couldn’t be eloquent and figure out how to explain this well. I used to have good words for what I’m trying to convey, but every time I remembered one, I would forget it right after.

p.p.s. sorry for not posting yesterday, I was just very busy and didn’t have time to write.