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1984 by George Orwell
To this day, 1984 is, without any doubt, my most favourite book of all times. It is one of the books you should read and one I recommend to everyone I meet. You are probably wondering what I find so fascinating about this book. Well, I read this book way back in high school, and it immediately caught my attention. I found it absolutely mind-blowing that in the year 1949, George Orwell managed to capture the essence of what the world would be like many years after it was published. I am well aware that the book is grim, depressing, but it is also eye-opening and a true masterpiece.
Just think about the very first line in the book- “It was a bright cold day in April, “and the clocks were striking thirteen. If that doesn’t make you want to get lost in the world of Winston Smith, then surely the way Orwell plays with words creates new words completely will. Another striking subject of the story is fear. But I really think you ought to read it yourself to be able to see what I mean.
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
I don’t think there is a single person on earth who hasn’t heard about the little girl Alice that falls down the rabbit hole and wounds up in Wonderland, where she attends the tea party with the one and only Mad Hatter. To be completely honest with you, I didn’t like Alice at all when I was younger. It was way too complicated for me, and I just didn’t get the beauty of the language that Lewis Carroll used. Only in my late 20s, I discovered my love for the stories. I listened to an audible version narrated by Scarlett Johannsson, and it finally came to me. The story is something everyone should read at least once in their life. It keeps the child spirit lit inside of us, and that is something that we need to do- during these times more than ever.
Afterdark by Haruki Murakami
Afterdark by Japanese author Haruki Murakami was the first book that I picked up after graduating from university in 2018. And I am so glad that I did. This book is unlike anything I have ever read. The story takes place during one night in the life of the main character named Mari. She meets a boy in her favourite diner, where she likes to read every night. The boy and Mari share an acquaintance- her sister Eri. Eri is sleeping in her room. But there is something wrong with the way she is sleeping. It is too pure, too perfect. Parts of the story take place in a world between reality and dream. Each chapter begins with an image of a clock depicting the passage of time throughout the night.
Every chapter means a different hour in the night in Tokyo. The story itself is poetic and trippy, and it leaves you with your mouth wide open. It is a page-turner, and you will get immersed in the world very easily. Murakami’s writing heavily influenced my own writing. Hence, if you want to try a Murakami book, I highly suggest this one to go with first.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
If you are looking for a book that feels like a hug but will also make you cry- look no further. We Are Okay is probably one of the best books you should read (if not the best book) I read last year. LaCour really is a master of words. Here is the synopsis from Goodreads (which you can also find here):
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
The book deals with loss and with mental health, which is something I really love reading about. Marin is such a complex character. She is a bit annoying at times, but she is someone I would love to have as a best friend. Another great thing about this book? The cover. When I saw it, I just knew I had to have it in my bookcase. It really is a piece of art through and through. The book is really sad at times, but I promise you, there is a happy ending waiting for you at the end. It really left me floating on a cloud for a few weeks.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
In my opinion, The Poet X is unlike any book I have ever read. For once, it is written in verses like a poem. Being a poet myself, it was something that really caught my attention and I was not disappointed one bit. The story is raw, deep and the main character Xiomara is an unapologetic and beautiful soul from whom a lot of us could learn a thing or too. Here is the synopsis from Goodreads (which you can find here):
A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.