10 captivating reads for book enthusiasts

by • February 13, 2012 • Arts & Culture, BooksComments (0)259

I don’t know about you guys, but personally, I’m really weary of clichéd must-read-before-you-die promotional book lists. Usually, the novels suggested on those types of lists would end up following one of those lame, unoriginal plots (and they lived happily ever after), or it would end up being one of those implausible romance stories where the girl protagonist falls in love with a sparkling mythical creature or whatever (yay for undying disco balls?)

Anyway, I thought I’d give this book promotion thing a shot and suggest a few of my personal favourites to y’all book eating loving creatures out there! And oh – don’t forget, Freedom to Read week is coming up – Feb 26 to March 3!

1. Blindness by José Saramago

Reading level: hard. Content: high maturity.

A recent novel adds appreciably to Saramago’s literary stature. It was published in 1995 and has the title “Blindness: a novel”. Its omniscient narrator takes us on a horrific journey through the interface created by individual human perceptions and the spiritual accretions of civilisation. Saramago’s exuberant imagination, capriciousness and clear-sightedness find full expression in this irrationally engaging work. “Do you want me to tell you what I think, Yes, do, I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.”

-from the official site of the Nobel Prize

This book was the one that captured my attention with its blinding white cover – what a coincidence it has with the title of the novel, eh? At first, it was a definite struggle and a great challenge to get settled with the storyline, that’s for sure. It was partly because of the different culture of the translated text, the difficult vocabulary level the novel was written in, and the style of writing. However, as I read on, the reason for José Saramago’s being as literary Noble Prize laureate became ever so clear to me. He has written a fictional book based solely upon humanity, with both its perfection and its grotesque rancidness entwined together in a raw and revealing manner. No masks to cover up our imperfections. Nowhere to hide; nowhere to lie. Just a simple truth. The simple truth. Some scenes in the novel was definitely a significant disturbance – there’s no way to deny it. But others were just so enlightening to experience with the characters. In addition to the twitch-inducing use of vocabulary, I must warn potential readers of high-maturity and some explicit scenes in Blindness. Other than this, I believe that Saramago has created a novel entitled to all of humankind’s praise.

Here’s a trailer of the movie based on this book:

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Reading level: medium. Content: medium-maturity.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel Meminger’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wise’s library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liezel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is bother opened up and closed down.

In a superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

-from the cover of The Book Thief

In The Book Thief , Markus Zusak takes on an interesting view on Nazi Germany during the time period of the second World War. Usually, fictional books on World War II solely consists of a child’s journey through the war, or how a Jewish protagonist managed to survive the monstrous camps. Though its storyline consists of a a young girl’s life with a Jewish man hidden in her basement, this book is comprised of much more. It has been quite a while since I read the novel, but I still remember the innocent perspective of which this novel was written from, giving a particular childish sense of hope and brightness, despite gloomy circumstances. Definitely a must-read for historical fiction fans.

3. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Reading level: medium-high. Content: medium-maturity.

A mind-bending code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe. An astonishing truth concealed for centuries…unveiled at last.

-from the cover of The Da Vinci Code

“Enthralling…Dan Brown masterfully concocts an intelligent and lucid thriller that marries the gusto of an international murder mystery with a collection of fascinating esoteria culled from 2,000 years of Western history. Brown’s hero and heroine embark on a lofty and intriguing exploration of some of culture’s greatest mysteries–from the nature of the Mona Lisa’s smile to the secret of the Holy Grail… rich food for thought.”

-Amazon.com

Even though this is a fictional novel, Dan Brown has brilliantly manipulated real historical facts and events and interwoven it into The Da Vinci Code, producing one of the best thriller/action/historical/fictional texts I have ever read. Throughout the novel, Brown never fails to surprise the reader with his ever-developing, ever-captivating plot. Especially with the illustrated edition of the novel, I would often find myself roaming the Louvre with the protagonist, or right smack in the middle of a foot race, heart beating wildly. The Da Vinci Code also presents controversial ideas and interpretations of history, making it ever more of an engrossing read.

I’d definitely recommend reading the book over watching the movie… but here’s a movie trailer that pretty much sums up the plot for those of you interested in reading the novel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiIKxLCrNjY

from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Other books recommended:

4. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

  • For those who are ready to take on a gorier version of Darren Shan.

5. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

  • Cloning or not to clone? The ultimate debate.

6. Blood Ninja by Nick Lake

  • Vampire ninjas? Sounds hilarious at first, but a great way to avoid vision blindness and frostbite, if you get the reference. (No offence to any fans out there!)

7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

  • For those who aren’t die-hard fans of Harry Potter already. I must say, this fourth novel is my favourite of the series. Epic storyline.
8. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • A simple, easy read illustrating a child’s journey and growth into adulthood.

9. Heist Society by Ally Carter

  • Easy read for a grey rainy day in a cafe. Nice, simple plot for those who are already too weighed down with words.
10. Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
  • I’m still working my way through this book; however, I marvel at the author’s ability to create such a real depiction of life during World War II, particularly through her use of diction.

elena

It's unbelievably amazing how writing autobiographical information can lead to a life-threatening (not to mention eye-twitching) case of writer's block! This leaves me no choice but to do so in the most uncreative way one could proceed: in lists. Although, enumerating facts is arguably the most logical route, as Sherlock Holmes may express. It, however, does not wholly illustrate my passion for visual arts, travel, and - as speculated - my tendency to live in novels of brilliance. My quiet nature could rival that of Holmes when he withdraws into his depths, but my wonderment toward metropolitan cities such as London and Paris parallels Nick Carraway's as he plunges into the world of The Great Gatsby. But enough ranting about oneself! Please enjoy our articles and do not hesitate to leave your thoughts underneath - we love to hear from you!
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