I scrolled through my 50 Book Challenge list and, despite all the starred ones, three left a lasting impact on me during the year of reading. I’ve limited my list to three new books – plus two favorites I’d reread for 2011. These two books I reread nearly every year, I love them so much.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
By far one of the most chilling and haunting ghost stories I’ve ever read or heard. Today, we find horror films filled to the brim with blood and gore and massacres – so much so that we’ve become immune to the violence. Hill’s story, however, is literally spine-tingling. Set in Victorian England, a young lawyer travels to a manor to deal with the property left by an old woman. Immensely spooky things happen – the classic horrors of strange noises, faint visibility, the sensation of something touching you when you are in an empty room – which left me nervous at night an unable to sleep for a week.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I was skeptical to read the trilogy, at first, mostly due to people comparing it to the Harry Potter series (and, as a fan of that from the beginning, I find that untouchable). The summary description also makes it sound like a sci-fi novel, a genre I’m not particularly drawn to. One summer day, I gave it a chance – and I couldn’t put it down! The writing is meant for a younger audience, very simple and to the point, but the plot moves and the characters are fascinating and there are cliff-hangers everywhere. I’ve recommended this book to everyone I know. It truly is remarkable.
One Day by David Nicholls
I am an Emma. My closest friend is a Dexter. The trials these two go through, their friendship shrinking and growing with time, the different directions in life – it’s unbelievable how strong they are. They each have immense flaws, and that is what makes their bond so beautiful. It was as if I were looking into several of my friends’ friendships rolled into one. The things Dexter and Emma say to each other, to break the other down or to cheer the other up, is exactly what every person wants to say and needs to hear. Witty, charming, and heartbreaking, I highly recommend this book.
And now for the books I reread in 2011: two of my favorite classics!
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
While I love Pride & Prejudice to pieces, I find this short and sweet novel incredibly uplifting, cheerful, and entertaining. Mr. Darcy hardly holds a candle to Mr. Tilney – he talks to Catherine! Catherine’s imagination is wild and fun, spinning everything she observes into a horrifying Gothic mystery. My own fascination with Gothic literature is probably why I relate to Catherine on some level. Austen’s typical use of satire pokes fun at the concept of a Gothic novel and the silliness of Bath society. A quick and enjoyable read.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
My absolute all-time favorite book, and a real Gothic novel. Written like an autobiography, a memoir, and based partly on Brontë’s life, Jane Eyre moves me more than any other book has. I find myself running back to it every year when I need Jane to talk some sensibility into me, to reassure me. Some argue Jane is one of the first feminist characters, what with her self-respect and the independence she asserts to everyone she meets. She is a strong character, regardless of your stance in feminist literature. Beyond her, there’s the dark story behind Mr. Rochester, the hauntingly beautiful setting of Thornfield, and the creepy moans from the walls at night.
Happy New Year! Read many books!