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Top Ten Special: Favourite Books

March 1, 2010

by Maya

I really hope you have enjoyed our Top Ten Specials so far. And we will go on until someone tells us otherwise. In this week the focus is on our literary preferences.

I simply love to read. That’s also the reason why I am such an internet addict. I am always scanning the web for new information. You can take away my TV and I’ll be fine but I cannot live without books and the WWW.

But I am also a very picky reader. For me it is either a page turner and I cannot stop, reading an entire weekend, forgetting to eat and to sleep or it is a total bore and I’m not able to finish it. I am just not the relaxed bedtime reader.

I love complex characters and need character interaction and dialogues. I am simply not the one to read endless countryside descriptions. I love beautiful, witty styles of writing, subtle humour and intelligent character development. Language is very important. Sometimes I have to reread certain passages several times because they sound so beautiful. Here is a collection of books that spontaneously come to my mind because they have touched me in different ways.

1. Lucia St. Clair Robson “Ride the Wind”:

this is the one book that will stay in my heart forever. I first read it when I was 15 and have reread it a thousand times during the last 15 years. It is my safe haven. Sometimes I simply need to take it from my bookshelf and just read random passages. Every single time it evokes a myriad of emotions in me: joy and happiness: experiencing the Comanche life and their bond with nature; love and desire: watching the beautiful relationship between Wanderer and Naduah; hate, anger and despair: reading how the British settlers destroy a powerful nation and their fascinating culture. Every time I read the ending, tears start rolling down my face, desperation overwhelms me and I cry bitterly because I know that nothing can be done to save them.

The novel is based on a true story. Lucia Robson combines accurate historical facts and beautifully told fiction. Her descriptions of nature and Indian life are breathtaking. This novel is epic.

2. Arthur Golden “Memoirs of a Geisha”: I got this book as a present from my sister and couldn’t put it down. It provides an impressive insight into Geisha and Japanese culture during the 1930s and 1940s. I love the aesthetics of this novel. Reading this book truly feels like looking at a series of stylized paintings.

3. Aldous Huxley “Brave New World”: This is one of the books that I read in school and really loved. Huxley introduces a world that is fascinating and disturbing. And today this book is even more relevant than ever before.

4. Theodor Fontane “Effi Briest”: This book describes the destiny of a “flawed” woman in a patriarchal society. It stems from the same era as Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Leo Tolstoi’s Anna Karenina. The ending is devastating; you can feel Effi’s desperation.

5. Charlotte Bronte “Jane Eyre”: I have read this book several times in English and German. Jane’s strength of mind and inner grace are simply admirable.

6. Janet Fitch “White Oleander”:  a teenage girl’s journey towards adult life and independence. Janet Fitch’s prose is touching and achingly beautiful.

7. Diana Gabaldon “Outlander” & “Dragonfly in Amber”: these are the first two books in the Outlander series. Gabaldon combines fantasy and historical fiction in the most entertaining way. You simply have to love her characters. The first two are definitely the best. I started the third but couldn’t finish it. Sometimes authors shouldn’t try to outdo themselves.

8. Anne Rice “Interview with the Vampire”: I’ve had a thing for vampire stories since I was a kid. I read this book when I was 13 because I was too young to go and see the movie. Louis is my dream vampire par excellence. I really have to reread the novel in English, so I can “feel” Rice’s writing.

9. Patrick Süskind “Perfume”: This book was a revelation to me. I had never read something like this before: disturbingly sick and fascinating at the same time. Süskind introduces a totally new world of olfactory pleasure.

10. Oxford “Advanced Learner’s Dictionary”: This is the most battered book in my collection. I owe a great deal of my knowledge of the English language to this book. It stayed with me through school and university. Thank you, Oxford’s! 😉

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