I decided to participate in the Book Blogger Appreciation Week after reading about it on Deepika’s blog. The Book Blogger Appreciation Week is an event hosted by The Estella Society. The first day’s task is to introduce yourself, but creatively, with a list of books that represent you. My favourite authors do not make it to this list, that I love their books is a given. JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Stephen King. Here are books that I read at turning points in my life, books that witnessed a new dimension taking shape in me or perhaps the very things that dragged me around a corner into an altered perspective. I think about these books a lot, and here is what each gave me –
“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.”
Life of Pi by Yann Martel. The story of a Pi Patel, an Indian boy who loses his family in a shipwreck, survives 227 days on the Pacific in a lifeboat with a Royal Bengal Tiger. The story revealed creases in the fabric of reality and helped me reconcile with parts of myself that I wished to be rid of. Words fail me when I try to describe what this book did for me all those years ago. The humour, the quirk sprinkled into the terrible horror of it all, the story turned me from sceptic to believer. Not in God, like Pi, but a believer in belief.
“There are things that happen and leave no discernible trace, are not spoken or written of, though it would be very wrong to say that subsequent events go on indifferently, all the same, as though such things had never been.”
Possession by AS Byatt. This book led me to discover the romantic in me. It is a literary mystery, the story of two long-dead poets and a secret uncovered. It is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Byatt is a linguistic genius and Possession stoked in me a rare appreciation for poetry.
“To come to the end of a time of anxiety and fear! To feel the cloud that hung over us lift and disperse – the cloud that dulled the heart and made happiness no more than a memory! This at least is one joy that must have been known by almost every living creature.”
Watership Down by Richard Adams. An epic adventure about rabbits. This book illustrates the utter genius of storytelling. Suspension of disbelief taken to a whole new level, with rabbit languages, rabbit friendships and rabbit mythology. I have yet to find a book written with such unparalleled conviction in the power of fiction.
“Why does everything you know, and everything you’ve learned, confirm you in what you believed before? Whereas in my case, what I grew up with, and what I thought I believed, is chipped away a little and a little, a fragment then a piece and then a piece more. With every month that passes, the corners are knocked off the certainties of this world: and the next world too.”
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Another take on one of the craziest, ruthless and most intriguing stories of scandal in English history. The story of Henry VIII and the Anglican Church told from the point of view of one of the key movers of the time, Thomas Cromwell. This book is everything I love about historical fiction and more. It defines and defies history, shows us the gaps in common knowledge, leads us to the dark crevices in truth, and makes us peer in for a look.
“Somehow, irresistibly, the prime thing was: nothing mattered. Life in the end seemed a prank of such size you could only stand off at this end of the corridor to note its meaningless length and it’s quite unnecessary height, a mountain built to such ridiculous immensities you were dwarfed in its shadow and mocking of its pomp.”
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. A coming-of-age story. A horror, a fantasy, a mythology. Things came full circle for me from when I read Life of Pi to eight years later, two years ago, when I read this. Bad things in my life were just bad things now and I had a choice to either laugh or cry and I came of age. There is no better writer of fantasy or better presenter of reality than Ray Bradbury. This is a must read.
I chose these books off the top of my head. There are others I keep mulling over all the time. The Crucible by Arthur Miller about the Salem witch trials, Embassytown by China Mieville, a sort of linguistic science fiction, Ghost Story by Peter Straub which describes my love for horror and so many more. Which books would you say represent you?