I decided to have a blog, because I really badly needed a hobby. All I do all day all the time is study, other then the time I get to hang out with friends to study, and soon I will no longer have that time with friends. It is actually really disheartening, but you know life is what life is and I cannot complain. The point is that even though I desperately am looking for a hobby, I do have one already. I love to read. I read anytime that I can: by now, I feel it is safe to say that I have read a lot of books.
I read any kind of book, but science fiction has got to be my all time least favorite kind. I really enjoy a good historical fiction though, one jam packed with really events and historical figures. If not that, I love any that are cultural: mythologies, anthropological books, even a biography is great fun for me. I know most people do not share in my taste in written material, which actually kind of sucks cause I have no body to talk to about them, and my sister and friends have learned to steer clear from any of my recommendations since they either to boring or really have sad endings.
Now as willing as I may be to ruin a good anime’s plot, I refuse to give any spoilers of these books, instead I will list my top ten in book recommendations and tell you what makes them so amazing with out giving away their fabulous endings.
With no further ado I will now list my top ten favorite books:
(They are kind of in an order of preference but not really)
This book was a doozie. I really adored the book, I loved all characters (even though I feel the book would have been one million times better if Kafka himself was not part of the story). The book alternates between two stories that slowly move towards each other till finally connecting on a metaphysical plane. Kafka, a fifteen year old boy whose real name is never revealed, runs away from home. He finds shelter in a private library until a murder occurs and police come looking for him. The other part of the story tells of Nakata, an old man who suffered a strange occurrence as a little boy that has left him with the ability to speak to cats. After strange events take place, he goes on a road trip that leads him to his purpose in life. The book is crazy, and a considerable amount of what happens can arguably be occurring metaphorically. I loved the story. It makes you feel a certain type of way by the end.
9. Once Upon a Time by A.A. Milne
Once Upon a Time is one of Milne’s lesser known books, and actually it is kind of hard to find. I came across an electronic version on accident one day. The story is a basic fairy tale made mental. It opens up on a kingdom with a king, princess Hyacinth, and Countess Belvane (a woman who the princess never liked). On day the neighboring king, with his magic boots, flies over the patio of the king and princess during their breakfast. A load of shenanigans ensue and the two kingdoms go to war; while the king is away, Countess Belvane tries to take the throne from the princess. This book is a lot of crazy, and every one just accepts it as normal. Everyone seems absolutely mad, with the exception of the Hyacinth and Coronel (the prince’s companion). The story is a typical fairy tale, but the characters are anything but stereotypical. The villain has motives that are not that bad, and he princess needs no saving from a prince. The valiant prince that does appear is vain, the horrible magic spell is not at all that scary, and everyone’ s idea of normalcy is completely odd. The book is great!
8. Violin by Anne Rice
I read this book a few years ago, so the story is not very fresh in my mind. I can fully admit that few people actually like this book, but it one of my all time favorites. I am still fiercely hunting for this book so as to add it officially to my personal library (since I read it by borrowing it from my high school library). The book is about a woman named Triana whose husband has just died of AIDS. At the same time a ghost named Stefan appears playing a long violin. The story is really hectically written and can get disturbing at times with how focused on death it is, but this all adds to the mood of the story. The ghost and the girl go through a great deal, and Anne Rice unveils their pasts by having the characters go through time. The story is mystical and surreal, and once again the ending was just so beautiful. It was weird and other worldly, but that made it so amazing to read.
7. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
I have read many war novels, and this one picked up only because I really like the 1920s and 1930s. I did not know what it was about, and I had yet to read a book by Hemingway. The book is written as if all the characters have been speaking Spanish the entire time, and everything that was said was plugged directly into Google translate. What comes out is not necessarily colloquial English, it is still understandable but heavily accented in a way. This adds to the book, making the story more vivid, evoking within the reader genuine sentiment. This tells the story of a young American named Robert Jordan who is part of the International Brigades aiding the antifascist guerrilla units in the mountains of Spain. The story has action, war, love, and sacrifice that bring the reader on an emotional roller coaster, all the while focusing about 500 pages on how a guerrilla unit is preparing to blow up one single bridge. The ending itself is a really shocker. Hemingway gives hints to the ending the entire time, but really it still gets you.
6. Child of Vengence by David Kirk
The story of Bennosuke begins in the later half of 16th century Japan. It is a coming of age story focused on a young boy whose mother died when he was younger and whose father has been gone his whole life serving Lord Shinmei. Raised by his uncle, a monk, Bennosuke worships his father and dreams of being a samurai too. One day though, his father returns and after much happens he trains Bennosuke, as well as revealing the story of his mother’s death. His feelings of admiration toward his father are shattered, and he goes on a journey as a samurai, finding that it does not go as well as he had dreamed. All of this climaxes at a crucial battle, that changes everything for the history of Japan. It keeps you entranced, and you will not want to put the book down once you begin.
5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a famous book. It is told from the point of view of Chief Bromden, a Native American patient within a psychiatric ward. Throughout most of the book, it is believed that Chief is both mute and deaf. He focuses on the antics of a newly admitted patient, a boisterous rebel named McMurphey. McMurphey is an antihero who promotes gambling, drinking, rule breaking, and freedom between the other patients who are all oppressed within the ward. He challenges the head honcho, Nurse Rached who governs with an iron fist. The book shows the darker sides of the psychiatric ward, demonstrating how the institution dehumanized patients. It also brings the reader’s attention to a paradox of civilization, attempting to be human in system that works like a machine. The story quickly takes a dark turn by the end, and leaves a heavy impression on the reader afterwards.
4. Freedom or Death by Nikos Kazantzakis
Freedom or Death features the story of Greek Christans’s rebellion against the Muslim Turks on the island of Crete in 1889. The audience follows the escapades of two major characters in the village of Megalo Kastoro: Captain Mihalis a hot headed Greek focused on the ideal of freedom, and Nuri Bey a Turk and blood brother of Mihalis. On more than one occasion, I have seen this book described as an epic, and it truly does have that feeling to it. The book has an unceasing motif of grandeur and heroism. Captain Mihalis is an epic hero who embodies the value of his culture, patriotism, yet is extremely flawed. The ending is one of the best parts, and will leave you speechless. The reader becomes enthralled within the story, becoming a Cretan and feeling the oppression, thanks to Kazantzakis’s visual writing style. The book is very Greek (obviously) and brings the culture to life before the audience. As a Greek myself, this book really hit home and has had a lasting affect on me.
3. The Egyptian by Mika Waltari
The Egyptian is based somewhere in 1300 BC during the reign of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III and his religious change he attempted to enforce in Egypt. The story focuses on the life of an Egyptian man named Sinhue. He is educated and has a pretty good life, but bad decisions make it so that he has to travel throughout the known world. Bad things just seems to follow everywhere he goes. Through many disastrous events he goes through great adventures. Full of colorful characters, the unfortunate life of Sinhue is wonderfully written. This book is really sad, but the story is gorgeous and full of historical references.
2. Metamorphoses by Ovid
Metamorphoses is a narrative poem describing history from the creation till the existence of Julius Caesar through mythologies. The major theme of these myths is change. People becoming creatures, changing into different genders, and transforming into flowers or objects. There are many myths recounted in this one book, so I cannot explain the ‘plot’ per say. It is just chock full of mythology, glorious mythological stories. For that reason alone, this is one of my all time favorite books that I would recommend to anyone. Section 3, Book VI to Book XI is the part that I adored the most. This part is called The Pathos of Love and tells the stories of Narcissus and Echo as well as Eros and Psyche (TWO OF MY FAVORITE GREEK MYTHS!!). Anyways, this particular book just pacifies a nerdy interest of mine.
1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I first heard of this book in high school around the ninth grade. My literature teacher at the time, a wretched woman that made many students cry in the front of her class (including myself) for having a centimeter off on the margins of the major essays, mentioned it one day in passing. She had said that the book was horrible and then continued on with what ever it was she was talking about. That night I asked my mother if she knew the book, and she said that she loved it. I had to read it then. One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of a mythical town called Macondo. The novel fixates on a single family, telling the story of humanity through their generations. Anything that can be thought of as human, happens to the singular family. Life, death, industrialization, war, lust, poverty, wealth, sadness, joy, search of truth, corruption, capitalism, purity, family, and most of loneliness. The way Marquez writes is enchanting, is words flow as beautifully as musical notes does from a piano. The story never lags, the reader never loses interest. By the end, you become so invested with the family that it feels as if you have lived an entire other life (which you kind of have). The style makes the entire book. Marquez is writing genius inclined towards magical realism. In this ‘genre’, the most bizarre scenarios are told as if they are completely normal. The book is full of magic, and that is just made as a natural part of a mundane and realistic setting. I don’t believe I can explain the book any better then as it is described in the goodread’s description, that “in the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.” By now most everyone knows that Gabriel Garcia Marquez has passed on. He died April 17, 2014. It is extremely saddening to see such a wondrous write go. He was a great man who wrote books of Latin American culture like no other man or woman has done before. He is truly my very favorite author, and I am grateful that I have read One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Wow picking only ten was actually hella hard. Some honorable mentions include: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, The Counte of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, and Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho.
As of right now I am currently reading Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff.
Story of my life