Great Reads: Classics

Standard

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

395040

Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic. – from Goodreads.com

Not only one of my favourite classics, but also one of my favourite books of all time. I really, really recommend this book to anyone looking for a master class in writing, and also the representation of mental health in literature.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

4677

A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed and the promise of new beginnings. – from Goodreads.com

I never studied The Great Gatsby but I wish I did. Scott Fitzgerald’s well known novel is ripe with metaphor, imagery and symbolism which makes the whole reading process that much more enjoyable.

And The Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by William S Burroughs and Jack Kerouac

6694908

This is a hardboiled crime novel, and a true story. In 1944, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, then still unknown writers, were both arrested following a murder: one of their friends had stabbed another and then come to them for advice – neither had told the police. Later they wrote this fictionalised account of that summer – of a group of friends in wartime New York, moving through each other’s apartments, drinking, necking, talking and taking drugs and haphazardly drifting towards a bloody crime. – from Goodreads.com

This was the book that inspired one of my all-time favourite films Kill Your Darlings, which fictionalised the murder of David Kammerer. This book, and the film, provides so much more context to the Beat Generation and the writers who created some of their most prolific work in this era.

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

68783

In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she’d never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele — Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles — as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary. – from Goodreads.com

Kaysen’s memoir is similar to that of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, which is probably the reason why I love it so much. Kaysen spent two years in a psychiatric hospital and goes into a lot of detail about her life there which makes the piece incredibly fascinating.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

11661292

The shocking thing about the five Lisbon sisters was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives. Twenty years on, their enigmatic personalities are embalmed in the memories of the boys who worshipped them and who now recall their shared adolescence: the brassiere draped over a crucifix belonging to the promiscuous Lux; the sisters’ breathtaking appearance on the night of the dance; and the sultry, sleepy street across which they watched a family disintegrate and fragile lives disappear. – from Goodreads.com

The tale of the Lisbon sisters is a tragic one, but fascinating to read none the less. I love how the story is told through the romanticised eyes of the boys that lusted after them. It’s such a unique device that really makes the book stand out.

So these are my recommendations for classic books, if you’re looking to expand your library more. Have you got any favourites you would like to recommend to me? Or have I missed out a few on your list? Let me know in the comments!

Advertisements

Top 10 Books of 2016 (7&8)

Standard

Cracking on with books 7 and 8, both of these are actually modern classics that I got around to reading for the first time, both of which were made into critically acclaimed movies in 1999!

8

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

11661292

The shocking thing about the five Lisbon sisters was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives. Twenty years on, their enigmatic personalities are embalmed in the memories of the boys who worshipped them and who now recall their shared adolescence: the brassiere draped over a crucifix belonging to the promiscuous Lux; the sisters’ breathtaking appearance on the night of the dance; and the sultry, sleepy street across which they watched a family disintegrate and fragile lives disappear. – from Goodreads.com

Morbid yes, but what I loved about this classic was the overall tone and the atmosphere of the novel. I also enjoyed the narration too… oh who am I kidding? I loved all of it!

7

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

68783

In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she’d never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele — Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles — as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary. – from Goodreads.com

Girl Interrupted is reminiscent of Plath’s The Bell Jar, and similar to both Plath and Eugenides, Kaysen employs wonderful narration, tone and atmosphere into her memior, which makes it an irresistible read.

Tomorrow we’ll be looking at books number six and five – the two that landed just outside of my top five of this year. Have you read either of these books before? Or seen the movies? Let me know in the comments!

Great Reads: Non-Fiction

Standard

I wouldn’t say I’m very well versed in non-fiction, but it’s something that has been creeping up on my TBR during this last year, so now I have a great plethora of recommendations for all your non-fiction reads. Here are the top five that I’ve chosen for you today.

These books are in no particular order.

1.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

10600242

Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven’t been burned as witches since 1727, life isn’t exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them? Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. – from Goodreads.com

Caitlin’s memoir was one of the first books I read this year. It’s compiled of hilarious personal essays on different subjects related to being a woman. It had me laughing out loud!

2.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

23301818

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay – adapted from her much-viewed Tedx talk of the same name – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. – from Goodreads.com

This little gem is only 64 pages, so there’s no excuse not to read it really. Adichie’s fantastic conversational style makes this easy to gobble up in one sitting and really highlights a conversation we should all be having.

3.

The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales

 18167732

It’s 19 September 2010, and 21-year-old Rachel Lee has emerged from Los Angeles Superior Court, having just been sentenced to four years behind bars. A few months earlier, she had been running the Bling Ring: a gang of rich, beautiful, wild-living Valley teens who idolised celebrity, designer labels and luxury brands. Who, in 2009, became the most audacious thieves in recent Hollywood history. – from Goodreads.com

Investigative journalist, Nancy Jo Sales, researched in depth the burglaries made by the infamous Bling Ring. She interviewed the teens themselves, the families and the celebrities targeted, and made a very, VERY interesting interesting case for why people are so obsessed with celebrity.

4.

Unnaturally Green by Felicia Ricci

18898464.jpg

In January of 2010, a wide-eyed English grad went from peddling software in NYC to understudying the lead role in WICKED the musical — her first professional theater gig (ever). UNNATURALLY GREEN is the humorous account of the entire journey, from her pit-stain-filled audition to the bittersweet closing night. – from Goodreads.com

WICKED: The Musical is one of my absolutely favourites and so when I saw this in the memoir section, I absolutely had to read it! I love the OZ books too, and Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die series which is an elaboration on L. Frank Baum world. Felicia Ricci not only gives us a backstage glimpse of the musical Wicked, but also what it’s like to be a musical theatre performer.

5.

How to Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis

20521177

How To Be A Heroine is Samantha’s funny, touching, inspiring exploration of the role of heroines, and our favourite books, in all our lives – and how they change over time, for better or worse, just as we do. – from Goodreads.com

I absolutely gobbled up this book, and I have also identified with many literary heroines throughout my reading life. It made me want to go back and re-read all my favourite literary heroines to see what I thought of them now. Something that I feel should not be encouraged as I have a TBR pile as tall as my ceiling!

So that concludes my top five non-fiction great reads! Have I manged to sway you? Or are there some you feel I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!