Category Archives: The Arts
As part of this week’s section on the “Five Best Books about growing older”, I struggled. I have never been one to read novels that are about “coming of age” but I did decide to take Cassandra Neace’s advice about the liberal application of the term “growing older” and looked through the bookshelves for books which I felt that represented a character or characters developing a sense of maturity through the novel.
It was in last week’s list and it’s in this list again at the number five spot because it is one of the few novels that I own that happens to be a coming of age tale. It follows the life of Daniel who, as a child, is given his first taste of responsiblity when his father takes him to ‘The Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ and tells him that he must protect the book until he dies, never giving it away. The book follows him as he becomes obsessed with the book and its author through his teenage and adult years. It really is a thrilling novel, a book about books. There is a reason that I keep putting this book on the lists – because it is just so fantastic.
4. Prince of Mist – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The second book of Carlos Ruiz Zafon to be included in this list. This book isn’t so much about “coming of age” as it is about watching a child grow to accept themselves in the world. The Prince of Mist follows Max Carter and his friends as the two delve into the past of their area and soon discover a dark secret about Max’s home and the ‘Prince of Mist’. If you liked Prince of Mist, you’ll be pleased to know that Zafon has another book under the same genre called ‘The Midnight Palace’ due out in June 2011 and you can pre-order it now on Amazon.
3. Confessions of a Fallen Angel – Ronan O’Brien
Confessions of a Fallen Angel is a novel that sees the narrator suffer a near-death experience as a child and, as a result, he can now foresee the deaths of others around him. The novel follows the narrator as he goes through his adult life suffering from this curse and attempting to save those he loves. It is a troubling and haunting novel that gripped me from beginning to end. As Ronan O’Brien’s début novel, it was a beautiful novel that will forever remain with me – a novel that reminds me of the futility and mortality of life.
2. The Meaning of Night – Michael Cox
Michael Cox is a writer that some people will struggle with and others will take pleasure in. The novel follows the life of Edward Glyver, a fictional scholar who sets out to plot revenge against his rival, Phoebus Daunt, who has haunted him throughout his life. It is a winding, twisting and turning novel that never fails to surprise the reader but those moments of greatness, the revenge plot, the mysteries and the murder are often overlooked as Cox attempts to make the novel appear as a biography with footnotes and comments on events and actions. Deserving of praise, it’s no surprise that this novel was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award.
1. Enduring Love – Ian McEwan
The novel is, as the title states, about endurance, the power of love. It is, at the same time, a novel about maturity, about possession, obsession and its dangers. Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love is a classic. It haunts us after we’ve finished reading it because it’s possible that we could all fall into the trap that the protagonist falls into. It’s not a coming of age story. It is a story about maturity, about how the fragility of love can easily shatter into a thousand pieces what we like to think of our mature period in life.
- Five Best Books…about growing older – IndieReaderHouston
- Top five books about growing older – TheLitWitch
- 5 Best Books…about growing older – Eclectic / Eccentric
- 5 Best Books…About Growing Older – Tonje Anita Solberg
One of the notable changes that I’ve seen in life is the transition from childhood to adulthood and no more is that transparent than in the reading capabilities that I have. Most people will admit that, as a child, it was quite possible to devour a book in a week, a day or even a few hours. I was one of those children. I had a passion for reading. I loved literature. I’d even go so far as to say it was my first love. I loved words. I loved language. I loved the authors, the characters, the settings and the stories. The world of books was as close to me as my family and friends were. Sebastian Faulks might have right when he said that the fictional characters in books we know as well, if not better, than our own family and friends.
I wouldn’t ever dare to suggest that the love of literature has faded. I am still proud that I own a large collection of books from the classics to the obscure. The problem I have is that, as an adult, I have discovered that I am in a world that is full of distractions. As a child, I never knew the distractions put in place to stop me from taking pleasure from the simplest combination of words, the most apt quote or a poignant retort for a character. I only knew the books, the worlds that the authors had created. The pleasure derived from those books is lost when we are forever lost in our own lives, forever thinking that we have to do something or we have a commitment elsewhere.
I was doing some research on how to read fiction effectively and one of the most interesting things that came up (or rather didn’t) was the importance of having a place free of distractions, whether that’s television, work, a laptop or some other form of distraction. There should be a place for readers to sit down and read a book while drinking tea or coffee. This should be the ideal that all readers are seeking. We should be able to sit down in a comfortable chair and just absorb ourselves in the world of Dostoyevsky, Tolkien, Wells, Zafon or whoever else we are reading. I cannot express in words how sorrowful I am that I didn’t have that place, that there are plenty of people who don’t have that place.
I have to express my jealousy at those people who do. In the transition from childhood to adulthood, we lose something of ourselves. I believe what we lose is our power of concentration. In school, we were forever reminded of the importance of concentration and the reason we concentrated was because we had nothing else to do. As adults, we don’t have that. We don’t have the controlled regime of the school timetable. We live by our own timetable and that’s a curse on the reader because the distractions are forever lingering in the back of our minds. I want us to live in a world where literature and reading are one of the main components of our lives.
Too few people are instilled with a love of literature as a child. What are given is a reminder of how hard life is outside the walls of the school. The world might be hard but we still have books to escape that harsh reality. We can delude ourselves in the grand fantasies of literature. That’s what I want. I want to see teachers recommending books to children. I remember a teacher of mine who famously gave me his old copy of Bertrand Russell‘s History of Western Philosophy, complete with a few notes he’d made to start me off. It was that action that gave me the love of philosophy.
Imagine a world where a teacher would proudly say to a child that they’d recommend some author or that they should look at some text. Instead, we are made mind-numbingly bored by those standard texts that the government likes to believe are “classics”. The point of literature is that we derive pleasure from them, not that they are canonical to the English language. If a child has a love of Twilight, shouldn’t we be urging them to look at other similar texts? There are enough books out there for people to move easily from one author to another. Eventually, we will all find ourselves touching the classics. As an adult, I’ve gone from a child who devoured books to an adult who doesn’t seem to have the time for books. I want that voracious self back.
- The Monster of Adulthood (blueepicgeek.wordpress.com)
- Escapist Literature – As Opposed To What? (jillianisreading.wordpress.com)
- Should children read 50 books a year? (guardian.co.uk)
- My Life in Books (bookmonkeyscribbles.wordpress.com)
- Faulks on Fiction: The Secret Life of the Novel by Sebastian Faulks (booktopia.com.au)
This is a post that is a participant of Indie Reader Houston‘s Five Best Books series of weekly memes. This week’s contribution is “Five Best Books … that I did not want to end”. I have selected five books that kept me gripped from beginning to end, ensuring that I never forget the characters, the plot, the setting. Part of the reason that I didn’t want these books to end was because I believed I was part of that world, part of the fiction that the author had created. This is the five best books that I did not want to end.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a cultural icon. It has gone from a sensation in the novel form to a blockbuster film. This is a film that I never wanted to end. It is a book that grabs the heart of moral dilemma, about our inner-most desires, fears and ideas about the world. Dorian Gray is not only a character that we love but he represents something of ourselves. It is impossible for us to escape the feeling that we are all a “double”. As a novel of the fin de siècle, it represents a change at the turn of the century. Oscar Wilde’s only novel continues to hold a sway over me and for that reason it will forever remain one of the most powerful books I ever read.
The simplest explanation for this novel being in this list is because it combines two of my greatest loves: art and the Renaissance. Dunant is known for writing love stories that engage in historical periods and this novel is no exception. It is beautifully romantic but tragic. There is no doubt that this novel will tug at the strings of the heart. We will feel ourselves moved by the characters, forming in our minds an impression of their lives, their love going against the grain of society. It is the tragedy, the history, the romance that puts this book at number four in the five best books that I did not want to end.
3. Transition by Iain Banks
It’s not the conventional science fiction novels that we know Iain M. Banks for but it combines the two genres that he has written in, a beautiful blend of science-fiction and traditional fiction that ensures the reader is never lost for grand ideas. I loved this novel from start to finish. Some people disliked it because it wasn’t science fiction. Some people didn’t like it because it wasn’t traditional fiction. I liked it because it had the best of both worlds. I came across Iain Banks by chance and I will never ever forget the debt I owe to him for introducing me to his mind through his novels.
It’s not a novel. It’s a play. It’s one of the best plays that I have ever encountered. The simplest reason that this book is on this list is because it became a cultural sensation. It has scenes that will forever be remembered, whether you have read Hamlet or not. The iconic “skull scene”, the famous line “To be or not to be?”, these are the reasons that people remember Hamlet. I remember Hamlet because it gave me the love of William Shakespeare, because it showed me a world of tragedy, of comedy, madness and despair. The ending is the most disappointing thing because it brings an end to a tragic play.
Number one in the list of five books that I didn’t want to end and I still can’t believe that it has ended. I still remember when I got to the end of this book that I was torn, frustrated, upset. Since that time, Carlos Ruiz Zafon has published the sequel, The Angel’s Game as well as the young-adult novel, The Prince of Mist. Neither of these satisfied me. Ever since that time, I’ve wanted more from Zafon. The Shadow of the Wind gave me a love, a hunger that I have never experienced before. Whenever I hear that there is more Zafon coming, I get excited because I know it means more from the man who gave me Shadow of the Wind.
- Michelle Birbeck – Five Best Books…that I did not want to end
- The Lit Witch – Five Best Books…that I did not want to end
- Indie Reader Houston – 5 Best Books..that I did not want to end
- Indie Reader Houston – 5 Best Books
- ThirtyCreativeStudio – POST-A-FIVE: 5 Best Books set in a [Hispanic] Foreign Country
- The Sunday Book Reviews – Five Best Books Where Music Played a Major Role