5 books that have kept me breathing

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Every now and then I find myself feeling quite nostalgic and reminiscing on the past few years or so; on the people I’ve met, the adventures I’ve been on and the things I’ve learnt… in books! Today I thought I’d share with you my 5 great book loves. These are the books that have kept me alive, afloat and breathing. These are the books for which I live.

The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde

All art is at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

From the preface this book had me and I remained mesmerised the entire way through. Beautifully haunting it follows one man’s quest for eternal youth. Decadent, sinful and yet so enchanting, this book changed me.

Dead Europe, Christos Tsiolkas 

There is no God but Allah and his Prophet is Mohammed. I sour the luminous spires of the Notre Dame. Jesus Christ was the Son of God crucified and Resurrected on the third day in order to redeem us from sin. I capture the Hebrew lettering on the windows of a bakery in an alley off the Bastille. There is one God and the Jews are his Chosen People. The savage mythologies of ignorant, obsolete tribes. I am not tired, I am still elated. I am of this world, only in and of this world. Revelation. Every photograph I take is an act of defiance against God.

Part nightmare, part Greek myth, part voyage into hell, Dead Europe is my favourite of Tsiolkas’ novels. I couldn’t sleep for nights after finishing this, its words were so profound. Isaac’s journey still resonates deep within me, so much so that I question just how unreal this book actually was. The more I sit with it, the more I think – not very.

The Hearing Trumpet, Leonora Carrington

When Carmella gave me the present of the hearing trumpet she may have foreseen some of the consequences. Carmella is not what I would call malicious, she just happens to have a curious sense of humour. The trumpet was certainly a fine specimen of its kind.

Told from the point of view of 92 year old Marian, this novel is unlike any other that I’ve read. Carrington seamlessly weaves the fantastical and spectacular into ordinary existence and the product is a novel that is so unique you’ll be reading and re-reading paragraphs and pages in awe of its magic. I got lost in this book and when it ended, was oh so sad to have to leave my trumpet and friends behind.

The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen

Ringing throughout the house was an alarm bell that no one but Alfred and Enid could hear directly. It was the alarm bell of anxiety. It was like one of those big cast-iron dishes with an electric clapper that send schoolchildren into the street in fire drills. By now it had been ringing for so many hours that the Lamberts no longer heard the message of “bell ringing” but, as with any sound that continues for so long… it simply blended into the background except at certain early-morning hours when one or the other of them awoke in a sweat and realised that a bell had been ringing in their heads for as long as they could remember… 

Whenever I like something that I’ve read, I doggy ear the bottom of the page that it’s on. My copy of The Corrections has zero doggy ears. Zero. Why? Because if I was to doggy ear everything that I liked, every page of this book would be doggy eared! A confronting, clever and frank picture of 21st century American domestic life, this book is ingenious and, in my opinion, has all the features you’d expect of a modern masterpiece.

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

It is a very strange sensation to inexperienced youth to feel itself quite alone in the world, cut adrift from very connection, uncertain whether the port to which it is bound can be reached and prevented by many impediments from returning to that it has quitted. The charm of adventure sweetens that sensation, the glow of pride warms it: but then the throb of fear disturbs it…

A love story at its core, I savoured every page of this book. Young Jane takes us along on her journey of growth and self discovery – and what a privilege it is to accompany her. Defiant, dynamic and determined her strength of will and resilience make this book unlike any other of its time. This novel is divine. A classic for a reason.

What’s your favourite book? Which book has kept you breathing?

Happy reminiscing xx

2 thoughts on “5 books that have kept me breathing

  1. It is such a divine book… doesn’t matter what mood you’re in or where you are, this book takes you awaaaaaaaaaaay. Love it xx

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