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 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?”