My favorite book of all time is Jane Eyre.
I enjoy the story – a fine gothic-style romance with the arguably first feminist heroine. But the real treat is the language. There’s something musical in Charlotte Bronte’s writing style. Consider her first paragraph:
“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.”
At the moment I’m going through a Dystopian phase. My top four recommendations in that genre would be:
Orwell’s classic should be required reading. I think the book he wrote as a terrible warning was taken as a “how to” guide by some… and here we are.
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.”
Brave New World,
Aldous Huxley. See above re: “how to guide”.
“A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
The enormous room on the ground floor faced towards the north. Cold for all the summer beyond the panes, for all the tropical heat of the room itself, a harsh thin light glared through the windows, hungrily seeking some draped lay figure, some pallid shape of academic goose-flesh, but finding only the glass and nickel and bleakly shining porcelain of a laboratory. Wintriness responded to wintriness. The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost. Only from the yellow barrels of the microscopes did it borrow a certain rich and living substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter, streak after luscious streak in long recession down the work tables.
“And this,” said the Director opening the door, “is the Fertilizing Room.”
The Handmaid’s Tale.
Margaret Atwood’s masterpiece. It’s listed as dystopian science fiction, but I actually think it should be found in the “horror” section. Especially if you’re female.
“There is more than one kind of freedom…Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.”
The Long Walk,
Stephen King’s first novel, an underrated tale written under the name Richard Bachman in 1966. But wait! Wasn’t “Carrie” his first? Well yes. It was the first book he published in 1974. The Long Walk is the first novel he wrote. I love the language!
“An old blue Ford pulled into the guarded parking lot that morning, looking like a small, tired dog after a hard run.”
Ninni Holmqvist’s debut novel. I must confess, I didn’t enjoy reading this book. The main character annoyed me to death. I found myself wanting to shout at her. But that is why I recommend the book. I read it over a year ago, and I can already feel my anxiety rising and the walls close in as I’m writing this. The premise seems quite direct, but the effect is surprisingly subtle and long-lasting. You need to be a little bit fearless to read this book.
“It was more comfortable than I could have imagined. A room of my own with a bathroom, or rather a suite of my own, because there were two rooms: a bedroom and a living room with a kitchenette. It was light and spacious, furnished in a modern style and tastefully decorated in muted colors. True, the tiniest nook or cranny was monitored by cameras, and I would soon realize there were hidden microphones there too. But the cameras weren’t hidden. There was one in each corner of the ceiling – small but perfectly visible – and in every corner and every passageway that wasn’t visible from the ceiling; inside the wardrobes, for example, and behind doors and protruding cupboards. Even under the bed and in the cupboard under the sink in the kitchenette. Anywhere a person might crawl in or curl up, there was a camera. Sometimes as you moved through a room they followed you with their one-eyed stare.”