Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
I have been meaning to read Suite Française for a long, long time, and just seem to have never found the time to do so. It is the top of a long list that is constantly replaced by the newest, shiniest book I have just acquired, whatever it may be (usually the new Discworld novel). The aim was that when I finished university I would read it. I did not. Maybe it’s doomed to go unread, forever neglected.
Is this cheating? You may have noticed if you have been following this series that a lot of my pictures come from my Kobo rather than a paper copy. Thinking about a favourite book is difficult as I’m not a big collector of fancy books; I usually abuse all my paperbacks so it’s pointless getting a nice copy, and I’m not a fan of reading hardbacks. However, my Kobo (an eReader) has been one of the best gifts I was given – from thinking I wouldn’t be able to tolerate reading off a screen, I have really grown to like it. It’s also so much easier to transport what I want to read – no longer a need to lug around 5 paperbacks, rather I just need my charger.
Scorpia by Anthony Horowitz
I used to love the adventure and excitement of the Alex Rider series (of which Scorpia was the fifth installment), the thrill of imagining a teenager like myself in such crazy situations, having to be so resourceful and brave. Now I appreciate more how Anthony Horowitz did show the mental trauma that Alex must have experienced – seriously, some of those situations must have messed him up! But when I was younger this was at the back of mind; instead I was enchanted by the thrill of his adventures, if you can call them that. My favourite of the series was Scorpia, despite the other two books featuring the organisation not being my favourites by quite a large margain. The last chapter, when you think Alex is safe and it becomes clear that he obviously is not, was so tense when I was reading it in my final year of primary school. A book, and a series, that I will always remember with fondness (tinged with tension, or course).
Close second: the Artemis Fowl series.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
(Slight spoilers ahead)
Yet another Austen novel. I was originally determined when I was young to never enjoy a Jane Austen novel. I don’t really appreciate romantic books (nor, for that matter, the underdeveloped romantic subplots that come as per-requisites in some genres – I’m looking at you thrillers), and everyone told me that Jane Austen’s novels were so romantic. No-one mentioned they were also funny. Persuasion, however, is that rare beast where I can appreciate the romance and the comedy equally. It’s a beautifully told romance, Anne Elliot is awesome, and while I’m not sure I would appreciate a declaration of love written down in letter form rather than spoken out loud, you could do worse than receiving such a letter from the plain hot Captain Wentworth.
I would also recommend the 2007 ITV adaptation of Persuasion. While there are some deviations from the plot, it is both funny and sweet, Sally Hawkins is great as Anne, and Rupert Penry-Jones is so good looking as Captain Wentworth. Take me to sea, Captain.
Image credit: Books, my ego and entropy
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
I was so worried when I heard Life of Pi was getting a big screen adaptation – there was no way, I thought, that it could work. Even when Ang Lee got involved, a director I love, I still was not convinced. The book is so powerful, but really its just about a religious boy who’s stuck on a boat with a tiger. For starters, I didn’t know how they would film the tiger! I was so shocked when the film came out – it was good. Not just good, really good. Ang Lee and his crew had done what I thought wasn’t impossible: taken a book I adored and thought was unfilmable, and made it into a film I adore. Very few ‘filmable’ book adaptation have achieved that, it really was amazingly done.
Also, that CGI tiger looks real. Very impressive.
Shout out to Sherlock Holmes adaptation. No, I am not talking about the Robert Downey Jr. version, nor the TV series; instead I’m raising awareness of Basil the Great Mouse Detective, Disney’s version of Sherlock that I adored as a child. This was my favourite film when I was young, and so I felt it should be recorded on this list for all to see.
Image credit: IndieReader
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
After not expecting to enjoy Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion and doing just the opposite, after really liking the Ang Lee film adaptation of this book, and from hearing a friend declare this was her favourite Jane Austen novel, I was ready to really enjoy Sense and Sensibility. Instead I found a book I had to struggle to get through, and I didn’t feel all that satisfied with by the end. I usually like the stories of Jane Austen, and though I can get annoyed by the supporting characters (as is to be expected) I usually really like the main character. Eleanor Dashwood, however much I like her practicality, was an exception to this rule: it was her dislike of many people who were kind to her and treated her well that grated for me. I did not dislike her as a whole, just certain elements. But after Anne Elliot and Lizzie Bennet, I suppose I was expecting more. For once the film outshines the book for me.
Runner up: The Shadow of the Wind – if you say someone is going to die don’t cop out by having them die ‘temporarily’. So frustrating.
Quote from the last chapter of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
(Slight spoilers ahead.)
Not my favourite book overall, but my favourite classic so it counts, right? (Right?)
Is it an obvious choice? Maybe. But it moved me; it is so beautiful. It conveys so much hope, despite it being the end of someone’s life, despite it being their dying thoughts. The simple elegance of how the sentence is structured, combined with the acknowledgement of how honourable such actions are just make this quote the best part of the book for me (as I said when I declared AToTC my favourite classic). Charles Dickens can produce some incredible prose. The quote is just beautiful; there is no other word for it.