Six Great Books Recommended by a Book Lover
Books were my first love, and I am not exaggerating. Imagine a huddled-up little girl, perhaps seven years of age, on the stairs in her home thumbing through a dog-eared book with a sandwich in hand – and that’s still me today albeit twenty years later. When I was an awkward kid who was bullied at school, books were my refuge to another place. The new English textbooks we received every school year were devoured by yours truly from cover to cover, and finding a story I haven’t caught between lessons was always a happy surprise.
As an introvert, books took me places and filled my imagination with stories, introduced me to wonderful characters, and took me on voyages throughout the world without having to take not one step outside of my room. Books engulfed me, cheered me up, and I breathed in their slightly dusty, unmistakable smell and always felt happy – even those I couldn’t understand.
But then there are some books that stay with you, books that never really stop being a part of your life and that you find yourself reading over and over. This list contains some of them, and while many may be famous and dense with complexities and ideas, others relatively light reading or not that famous – but to me, they are profound.
The Walking Drum by Louis L’amour
This is hands-down my favorite book, ever, and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been turned into a movie. I have no idea who gave it to my parents and how the work of a mostly American West fiction writer made its way to my hands in Lebanon, in a non-decrypt blue hardcover with no pictures. But it took my breath away, a tale of caravans and Moors, princes and battles, love and revenge. The main character is Mathurin Kerbouchard, who sets on a journey to find his father. This journey leads him from relative enslavement on a ship in Europe to the Mongolian steppes of Asia, and I am in awe of the detail and significant historical research that L’amour must have placed into writing this epic story. It’s not for everyone, but I have read this book so many times it fell apart.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Honestly what is there not to love about Jane Eyre? I read the unabridged version while I was a teenager and I enjoyed every word. I purchased a small electronic dictionary just so that I can look for the terms I didn’t understand and always read the footnotes. I even translated Adele’s enthusiastic French sentences into English, because I wanted to understand everything about it. Jane is a plain governess who lives in Edward Rochester’s home and takes care of Adele, his “French ward” who is the daughter of his former French lover. Orphaned at a young age and raised by a cruel Mrs. Reed (her uncle’s wife), Jane navigates life like the introvert she is, from a terrible orphanage to a quiet life in the countryside until she finds love in a man who she never thought would love her back, especially given the beautiful Blanche who had set her eyes on him for his purported wealth. This book is frankly, one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever had the pleasure of reading and I found myself rooting for Jane all the way.
The Happy Prince and Other Stories – Oscar Wilde
If I ever write short stories (which I’m itching to do), my inspiration would be the brilliant, brilliant Oscar Wilde. This man can take you on a journey to a world that is far away, with fantastical creatures and with a chilling perspective as to the whims and hearts of people that stays with you. The Nightingale and the Rose infuriated me, the Birth of the Infanta taught me about life, The Fisherman and his Soul filled my heart with wonder, and The Happy Prince made me sad. The way this man weaves his tales, you can almost feel yourself there, and if there was ever a master at story-telling, it is Oscar Wilde.
One Child – Tory Hayden
This book was written by a social worker and is a true story of a little girl names Sheila. Sheila smelled strongly of urine and was a very unruly little girl – you almost recoil at the description of her. Yet Sheila turns out to be sexually abused by her uncle, and although she shows signs of brilliance, the experience shatters her further. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but you should read this book because it sheds light on how so many children still live with monsters, and how these monsters can destroy their life.
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Animal farm is a book about human nature. It frightened me at first, as I read it when I was a child, but I found myself remembering it every time I saw or heard about evil in this world. The book talks about a farm of animals that overthrew their human owners and they were led by the pigs. The pigs were considered to be the smartest of the bunch, but the end, they end up being just as bad as the humans. The ending of the book, especially the last line, is truly chilling and accurate, even today.
In the Company of the Courtesan – Sarah Dunant
I respect Sarah Dunant’s work and I love it, because everything she writes is so historically accurate and rich with detail. The story follows a courtesan in Renaissance Italy, Fiammetta Bianchini, with her dwarf “assistant” Bucino, as told in his words. Fiammetta is naughty and wise, very beautiful, and highly intelligent. This made for an awesome read and opened my eyes to just how beautiful a storyteller’s mind can be. It also ignited my love of history and my fascination with the Renaissance in general. I love this book!
I hope you have read some of these, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend that you do. I tried not to put any spoilers, and you can find most of them online nowadays through any online book retailer. Happy exploring!