This is my first time participating in Top Ten Tuesday which is ran by BrokeandBookish over on Blogspot. It seems like a really fun way of thinking about your books in different ways so I look forward to making more of these posts in the future!
Okay, so I decided not to include any of the Harry Potter books because I assume that you will already have read them (if you haven’t, why not?) or any of John Green’s novels because The Fault in Our Stars is probably on everybody else’s lists already. I do highly recommend these though.
1. I, Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (first published in 1948)
This is my all-time favourite stand-alone novel. I read it two summers ago in my back garden feeling the warm breeze around me, inhaling the lavender and brushing my toes in the grass. It was the perfect reading experience.
Cassandra Mortmain is a seventeen year old girl living in 1930’s England in a ruined castle with her sister, eccentric stepmother and her father who is suffering from crippling word block. We as the reader, get to read her precious journal and discover what happens when two American men arrive on the scene. It is a coming of age story of first love and growing up.
2. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (the first novel was first published in 1995)
This is a trilogy comprised of The Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in the USA), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.
I was given the books as a gift by my year six teacher who knew how much I loved Harry Potter and so he wanted me to read these too. At eleven, I was a little too young and so I didn’t get past the first few pages but when I picked it up again a couple of years later I was absolutely enthralled.
The first book depicts the journey that Lyra and her dæmon, Pantalaimon take from a parallel Oxford to the North in order to find her friend Rodger. Lots of kids keep going missing and she discovers that scientists are conducting terrible experiments on them. When she meets Will they team up and form an amazing bond determined to end all of the horrible things that are happening around them.
3. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (first published in 1817)
Most people are at least familiar with Austen’s most famous novel Pride and Prejudice but this is my favourite. I read it last year as part of Ariel Bissett’s (find her on youtube) Austen Adventure series and I adore it.
Catherine Morland gets invited by an older family friend to spend a couple of weeks in Bath. There she meets Isabella who may not be as great a friend as Catherine first thinks and John Thorpe who is most definitely not a welcome suit. She does, however, make friends with Eleanor Tilney and her dashing brother Henry.
When Catherine is invited to stay at Northanger Abbey which looks just like a setting from her gothic novels that she is obsessed with her wayward imagination sweeps her off into trouble.
This is a coming of age book about maturing into an adult without losing your special quirks, falling in love and not succumbing to peer pressure.
4. The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (first published in 1890)
This is Oscar Wilde’s only novel which tells the tale of a man that destroys himself and those around him through vanity. It is a commentary on the lavish lifestyle of upperclass Victorians and the superficialness of it.
I went on a Wilde kick last year and read anything of his that I could get my hands on, I’m reading A Women of No Importance at the moment and still can’t get enough. His writing is so beaufitul, melancholy and superbly witty.
5. An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley (first published as a text in 1987 but first performed in 1945)
This is a play set in 1912, just before the sink of the Titanic and takes place over the same day. The Birling family are questioned by Inspector Goole over the suicide of Eva Smith who is also known as Daisy Renton. As the play unfolds it transpires that they all knew this woman and so did they all have a part in her death?
I studied this play as part of my English Literature GCSE and enjoyed it immensely. The 1954 film is excellent as well.
6. The Faraway Tree Stories by Enid Blyton (first published in 1939)
My year three teacher used to take the class outside during the afternoon to read this to us under a big oak tree at the bottom of the playground. When we were done with it I made my Mum buy me a copy so that I could read it again myself. A few years ago I re-read it and enjoyed it just as much.
I still dream of adventures in the tree with Fanny, Jo, Bessie and Moonface.
7. Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo (first published in 1999)
This was read to both year six classes in the shared area by the other teacher. I became fully immersed in Michael’s world as he ended up stranded on a desert island and had to fend for himself. With the at first reluctant help of Kensuke, who has been on the island for years, he keeps himself going and learns lots of new skills whilst waiting for his parents to rescue him.
Again, I made my Mum buy it for me as soon as the teacher had finished and have read it several times since.
8. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger (first published in 1951)
I first read this when I was about fourteen or fifteen and hated it. Absolutely hated it. Every page felt like a chore and I found Holden Coulfield to be a whiny, ungrateful brat.
Then when I was eighteen I re-read it because it was a classic and so many people loved it that I felt the need to uncover what I was missing from it. I’m so glad I gave it that second chance because this time I did understand.
Holden was going through the same things I was and so I could relate this time. We both had good families, we never went without anything and we were smart but something was slipping. We couldn’t cope with the pressure of school or of growing up and the anxiety was draining us.
Holden, as a character, helped me a lot in that time of struggle and I hope that any young adults reading this who are seeing hints of themselves in this will pick it up.
9. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I was assigned this in my English Literature class at college but ended up spending most of my time reading this instead of actually doing my work.
Scout is an engaging narrator who navigates the world around her with curiosity and innocence. When her father, who is a lawyer, takes on the case of a black man accused of raping a white woman she must learn that doing the right thing is not always easy but should be done regardless.
Seeing a young girl’s perspective of living in a small southern American town in 1935 amongst racial hatred was very enlightening and her observations were profound without the author losing the integrity of Scout’s voice in terms of her age.
If you are getting into classics, are a history buff or you enjpy law then I would definitely recommend this.
10. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (first published in 1890)
The protagonist has been sent to a mental institute (although she thinks it’s a quaint hotel) for a while by her husband who is a doctor. He thinks that she is suffering from hysteria but we now recognise it as being post-natal depression.
While she is there she keeps a secret journal in the room that she is locked in, the room with the horrid yellow wallpaper that seems to come alive at night and strangle her.
This is a feminist text that comments on the treatment of women as lesser and how the protagonist was never allowed to make her own decisions. I also studied this in English Literature and read it over and over again during class instead of paying attention.
It’s gripping, thought provoking and just… sad, really.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope that it wasn’t too long!
Also, thank you to FlightyPig for helping me with the pictures 🙂