Top Ten Quotes from My Favorite Books

Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is about our favorite quotes from literature. Books have the power to put your deepest, most complex thoughts into words that stick with you for your entire life.

I’ve separated these ten quotes into three categories: existential ideas that make you think, timeless adages that make you appreciate each moment, and heart-wrenching words that make you pine for love and mourn its absence.

Let me know what you think of these quotes, and feel free to add your own!

Evoking Existentialism

1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik

2. The Stranger by Albert Camus

3. Demian by Hermann Hesse

The Traveling of Time

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Love and Loss

7. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

8. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

10. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

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Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

To explain today’s post, I have to use my fellow book blogger Wanton Creation’s intro, since he put it so perfectly:

“Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke And The Bookish. I haven’t participated in these before, but today’s one looked quite fun so I figured why not?”

Why not indeed? Let’s get started!

Image via The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

  1. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  2. His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman
  3. Demian – Hermann Hesse
  4. 1984 – George Orwell
  5. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  6. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  8. The Stranger – Albert Camus
  9. Fight Club –  Chuck Palahniuk
  10. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Reviewing this list, I realized some things. As much as I love The Lord of the Rings, I find that I do not recommend it often, since it’s truly an acquired taste that unless you’re giddy for fantasy, you won’t stomach well.

I also noticed how much I enjoy pushing classic dystopian and existential literature (also known as books to piss you off and shake things up!) onto those who have jumped onto The Hunger Games bandwagon. Orwell, Huxley, and Bradbury are my Holy Trinity of oppressive governments!

Lastly, Never Let Me Go will continue to be my top recommendation, for these reasons:

  • It’s a perfect blend of romance, tragedy, science fiction, and other genres–thus, appealing to a wide audience.
  • I can’t say much without giving away the plot, so the mystery gets people intrigued.
  • Ishiguro is a literary genius, and I would recommend anything he writes. 
  • It’s just what the world needs, given the over-saturation of Stephenie Meyer, E.L. James, and Nicholas Sparks. ESPECIALLY Nicholas Sparks. In fact, my loathing of him deserves its own blog post in the near future. So be on the look-out!

I would have included some ancient Greek and Shakespearean plays, but I don’t consider them “books,” so do a bit of searching, and I’m sure you’ll find some great choices.

So what would your top recommendations be? Would you veto any of mine? Sound off in the comments!

The Booker Award and My Top 5 Books of All Time

The real world is overrated, anyway!

One of my favorite blogger friends over at http://wantoncreation.wordpress.com nominated me for yet another award, this time “The Booker Award,” which can be given to any blogger who devotes at least half of their posts to reading.

While I’m never good at fulfilling the chain-letter-esque nominations and keeping the ball rolling, I will finally reveal my top five books of all time! I know a lot of you have been waiting with anticipation!

In order from greatest to oh-my-god-why-are-you-still-on-my-blog-and-not-reading-these-books-right-this-second! A few I reviewed for Masterpiece Monday, so click the links to learn even more!

5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847). This novel combines two of my favorite things: Victorian literature and star-crossed romance. Many people despise the lovers Catherine and Heathcliff for their often selfish, cruel behavior towards each other, but I can’t get enough of this tragic tale of true–albeit, angsty–love. Heathcliff is the perfect brooding lead, and Bronte does a fantastic job on character development for the two generations of these families. Not to mention, she includes critical discussion of social and racial issues of the time period. Can you believe Wuthering Heights was the only novel she ever published? Talk about the literary jackpot!

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005). I first read this novel my freshman year of college, and I’m still a die-hard fan. When the movie adaptation came out a couple years ago, it gained a boost of popularity, and I would literally stop people in the bookstore if they were looking at it and say, “Don’t even think about it. Just buy it.” And if you don’t take my word for it, TIME named it the best book of 2005, and among the top 100 English-language books since 1923. I can’t really tell you anything about it without spoiling the story, but trust me, it’s breathtakingly haunting. Movie also highly recommended!

3. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954-55). I hesitated in determining where to place this series on my list, because I have a multifaceted opinion of LOTR. I truly believe that it is the greatest story ever created; however, I do not believe that it is the greatest written story ever created. I admit that Tolkien was more of a historian than an author, and I understand that many cannot swallow his dry, textbook-like style. I should also be honest with my fellow book bloggers: I watched “The Fellowship of the Ring” and then read the whole series before the sequels were released. I know, blasphemy! But I think that no matter how you come to this story, it’s worth it, because once a Ringer, always a Ringer!

2. Demian by Hermann Hesse (1919). This is probably the least known novel on my list, and I owe it to my English teacher senior year of high school for introducing me to it. Translated from its original German, it’s a coming-of-age story of Emil Sinclair, who befriends a enigmatic young man named Demian. Demian teaches Emil about philosophy, religion, and finding your true self. It’s a short read, but my absolute favorite to re-read, because I learn something new each time. If you’re looking for something mentally stimulating and completely engrossing, this is it. Total life-changer.

1. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman (1995-2000). Hands down, favorite series of all time. Many critics label Pullman’s trilogy for children, but this modern adaptation of Milton’s Paradise Lost is anything but childish. I walked into a bookstore one day in middle school, suffering from Harry Potter withdrawals, when the cashier recommended the novels. I bought the Del Rey mass market paperbacks (which were located in the adult fantasy section, by the way), and since then, nothing has influenced my life so profoundly. These novels motivated me to question the status quo and think for myself, so on the off chance that Pullman stumbles upon this post, I want to say thank you. If my writing can affect someone a fraction of what His Dark Materials has done for me, then I can die happy.

I know that I can sound a bit dramatic, but who can’t when discussing their all-time favorite books? Of course, I’ve got decades of reading left to do, so this list may be subject to change. You never know!

I would LOVE to hear your top five books–we have to help each other in making our to-read lists even longer, right? So many books, never enough time!

Masterpiece Monday: Demian

Cover of "Demian (Perennial Classics)"

Image via Amazon

Rating: 5 out of 5

I can’t believe that I haven’t reviewed this book, since it’s easily one of my top five favorites. Written by Nobel Prize-winning German writer Hermann Hesse in 1919 under the protagonist’s name Emil Sinclair, Demian’s the perfect example of a Bildungsroman (a coming-of-age story).

Emil is torn between the worlds of light and darkness, and struggles as a child who wants to obey and rebel against his parents at the same time. After bouts of bullying in school, he eventually meets a mysteriously mature classmate called Max Demian.

Demian broadens Emil’s views on religion and spirituality by making rather controversial claims about the Cain and Abel biblical tale. He also advises Emil to not separate light and darkness, good and evil, God and Devil, but rather worship both worlds simultaneously. Emil will eventually learn of this dual-powered diety known as Abraxas.

The novel follows Emil’s life as he goes to boarding school, meets other male mentors and female love interests, and inevitably runs into Demian again. The reader is given a sense that their fates are entwined, especially when Emil moves into Demian’s home and forms an unique relationship with Demian’s mother Frau Eva.

Demian is relatively short and easy to read, but don’t assume that it’s simple. It’s chock-full of influences from Jungian psychoanalysis, Friedrich Nietzsche, and various other philosophies. Hesse was an author heavily concerned with spiritual and intellectual enlightenment, as seen in his more popular works Siddhartha and Steppenwolf.

That being said, if you’re an evangelical Christian, this story will be more difficult to swallow. Demian is not afraid to make blasphemous comments about God and faith. But he encourages the reader to question and doubt religion in order to find your true self, so I recommend Demian to readers who enjoy widening their minds.

I have to thank my high school English teacher for giving us the opportunity to read this book. She loved it so much, in fact, that she named one of her dogs Demian! This novel truly changed my life, and I will treasure it forever.

Favorite Quote: “I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?”

30-Day Book Challenge: The End!

It’s the last day of September! For once, I’m glad my birthday month zoomed by, because it means I’m that much closer to ending 2011, starting anew, getting my Master’s, and finally joining the ‘real world.’ But sadly, the end of September also means the end of the 30-day book challenge. It was a fun list to fill out, and I’ll definitely refer back to it when I’m mulling over what to blog on my slow days.

So here’s the end of the list!

Day 21: Favorite picture book from childhood = Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer

Day 22: Book you plan to read next = 1984 by George Orwell

Day 23: Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t actually finished) = Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Day 24: Book that contains your favorite scene = Wizard Howl’s meltdown in Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Day 25: Favorite book you read in school = Demian by Herman Hesse

Day 26: Favorite nonfiction book = On Writing by Stephen King (book-related), The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (unrelated)

Day 27: Favorite fiction book (That hasn’t been stated already) = Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Day 28: Last book you read = The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

Day 29: Book you’re currently reading = Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison

Day 30: Favorite coffee table book = Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers (I only have magazines on the coffee table, so I chose what’s in my bathroom instead)

As always, feel free to jump in and comment on my choices–or add your own!