This post was inspired by my old buddy, Phil. Last night he tweeted the following:
"I'm wondering when I will next read a book that will destroy my life and turn me into a recluse."
I know that feeling. There have been a few books which have, while I read them, absorbed me so completely that the real world paled in comparison. I think that's a sign of a truly powerful story. I say "story" because for me it's not just that way with books. I'm also a geeky gamer and the stories of Final Fantasy (VII, VIII and X) and the epic Dragon Age also had me obsessing and shutting myself in. Oh, and the anime Escaflowne. Astoundingly good!
When I asked Phil what the last book to "destroy" him was, he supposed it was the Harry Potter series. If anyone read my x - Show And Tell - x post dedicated to Emma, then you'll know that I'm still waiting for my owl, so evidently that would be on my list too.
I started having a ponder. What books could I recommend to my old pal which might turn him into a recluse because of their power? Then I had an idea. I'll write my suggestions below, sure. But it'd be great if all of YOU could suggest a book or two as well. Share the books which took you over. How did they manage it? What was their "magic"?
THINKING QUESTION OF THE WEEK.
What book would you recommend to a friend if you wanted to "destroy" them? (Not a Necronomicon... I mean destroy in a good way).
Furthermore, I'm willing to loan out a couple of my old favourites to see what you all think too. MAYBE, some of you would be willing to do the same (but don't feel obligated). We could all pay our own postage and treat the books with respect. Books come back home after you're done. Simple!
So. Here it is, or at least a first draft of it as I'm sure I'll add to this list in my head as the day goes on and I'll have to revise it later.
Laura's Destructive Book List.
In no particular order.
The Harry Potter Books, by JK Rowling.
I've mentioned these already but just thought I'd reiterate. I was a kid myself when I read the first four of these. I guess I grew up with the characters to a certain extent. I know the movies and all of the hype have made these "uncool", but I still love the books. I got lost in this world of magic and wanted nothing more than to be whisked away to Hogwarts and to begin my training as a witch.
I remember reading books 1-4 over and over while I was waiting for book 5 to come out. My heart ached to know what would happen next. It was a world I longed for. A world I still long for.
One day that owl WILL show up. He's just lost somewhere...
The Stand, by Stephen King.
This was the first Stephen King book I ever read and it made a life long fan out of me. This book is epic. At over 1000 pages it drags you in and actually makes you wish for a disease to strike down 99% of the global population. I rather fancy having the opportunity to make a go of it in a post-apocalyptic world! ...as long as the people I love all survive too...
I've re-read this book several times, and every time I do, it's like I'm visiting old friends. Each of the characters is so rounded, so detailed, so believable, that they really take a hold of you.
One of my favourite things about King's style is his realisim. Even when his narrative is fantastic and far-fetched, he makes it all seem so possible. Just like in reality, not all of his endings are happy ones. I thoroughly recommend devoting MANY hours of your life to this incredible read!
The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, by JRR Tolkien.
Ok. It's a bit predictable. Everyone says this is one of the best books ever written. Well that's because it is! Tolkien created a world which is now synonymous with fantasy. Even if you've never read this book you'll still be familiar with its imagery.
But the books are just wonderful. If I had to suggest a trilogy which must be read before we all meet our maker in that big ol' library in the sky, then this is it.
His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman.
No. Wait. THIS would be the "read before you die" trilogy! This must be one of he best collections ever written. After reading this I sooooo wanted a daemon of my own. I wanted to travel between worlds, I wanted to cast out a senile god and defeat and outmoded church.
The movies might have put you off, but don't let it spoil your chances of ever reading perhaps the greatest story ever told. This was the first book I truly broke my heart over, I think. I cried like a baby at points.
This is a masterful and poignant trilogy. I remember thinking, at first glance, that it might be a bit young for me. But I was so wrong. Pullman deals with truly sophisticated, philosophical ideas in a way which tugs you in and gets you contemplating what really is the meaning behind this play we call existence.
Monsoon and The Courtneys of Africa Trilogy, by Wilbur Smith.
I first thought these would be too "boy" for me, but Smith's charm is universal. His books are vivid, brutal, beautiful, terrible. They will make you want to hunt elephants, sail the seas, travel over deserts and savannas on horseback. He can make you wish that you had lived in times and places of horror because the adventures he describes are so wild; the settings so untamed and so free.
Some true favourites of mine. Monsoon in particular is just...wow.
The Mortal Instruments series, by Cassandra Clare.
I listened to the first of these on audiobook as I'm a member of audible.co.uk. I ended up listening to the whole series within four days. I couldn't face waiting a month to get the second, and another month to get the third!
The books deal with the underworld of demons in New York City, not to mention the rest of the world.
The beasts and battles are magnificently described, and the relationships between the characters really makes every nerve in your body clench with anticipation.
I only have these on audiobook, so can't loan them out, but you could download them yourselves for a reasonable price and let them consume you while you go about your everyday business.
The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub.
With echoes of Mark Twain, The Talisman is the sort of adventure that breaks your heart. You might be noticing something of a theme in a few of my choices here. I love those stories in which characters visit other worlds, or show underworlds in our own. The Talisman offers both. Jack Sawyer, the main character is only twelve. You forget this pretty quickly. The weight of the worlds (yes, plural) on his shoulders has aged him. His is a weathered soul and his adventure nearly breaks him.
Another book which made me shut myself away. I kept wishing I could visit the world of the Territories (where they have magic in the same way we have science) and making best friends with my very own werewolf.
Also check out The Dark Tower books by Stephen King, too. A series of seven books which follow Roland the Gunslinger, a character I might just have an eternal crush on even though he's actually kind of a git. The books are based on two of my favourite poems: The Wasteland, by TS Eliot - part of which is tattooed down my spine, and Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, by Robert Browning).
The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer.
Look, don't hate me. I KNOW the films are cheesy. I KNOW Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are about as charismatic as cardboard. But I swear, these books really are good! The characters are well rounded, the writing is gripping and the imagery is quite lovely in places. It's such a shame what the teeny-bop-vampirates have done to this series.
The first books echo three familiar classics. Twilight is Pride and Prejudice, New Moon is Romeo and Juliet, and Eclipse is Wuthering Heights. Meyer doesn't plagiarise or steal or anything, she simply echoes these classic tales (even mentioning each of them in the three texts) to highlight the classic sort of romance within the pages.
The Twilight Saga really did absorb me, and I waited on tenterhooks for each release. At some point I'll get over my disappointment with the movies and go back to the books, and I know any doubts I might have about the two leading characters will be cast aside. (Check out The Host for another amazing read).
So! There you have it. This has taken a while and, no doubt, as soon as I press the "Publish" button, I'm going to think of some other true love of mine... Oh wait! Already thought of one!
The Well Of Echoes Series, by Ian Irvine.
This series brought to life a completely imagined universe that mixed fantasy, science fiction and dystopia. Over the four books, you follow sever characters who are detailed and realistic in such a fantastically dark setting.
Irvine didn't skimp away from the gory details, which made his descriptions even more compelling. I bought the first of these on a whim and had to go back and buy the rest of the series the next day. I lost three days to these four books and emerged from my room feeling jet lagged, like I had just returned from a wearing but terrific adventure.
I must try out more of Irvine's work.
Right! I'm going to leave it there. I hope this lengthy post prompts some discussion, and I hope you all remind me of a few books I've forgotten, or recommend to me a few I've never tried. Email/Facebook/Tweet me if you are interested in a book swap. I think it'll be fun!
Remember the QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
What book would you recommend to a friend if you wanted to "destroy" them?
Hoping for some comments from this one! :-)