We always talk about books that we love. Today, I am going to talk about the top five books that took me by surprise...
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license...records my first name simply as Cal."
Tarryn Talbot handed me a beaten up copy of this novel, Read this. It's fantastic. She said. As I started reading it, I felt that I might be the only person in the world who would say Eugenides was boring as all hell, but something clicked and I was swept up in Calli's story of discovery, sexuality, growing-up, taunted by youth, and family. This one swept me up and slapped me awake.
2) One Day by David Nicholls
"What are you going to do with your life?" In one way or another it seemed that people had been asking her this forever; teachers, her parents, friends at three in the morning, but the question had never seemed this pressing and still she was no nearer an answer...
Set up by the hype of a bestseller, I was reluctant to pick this one up. It took a good three to four months for Tammy February to convince me, all her berating and gushing finally paid off. This was a novel of love, life, and two friends. Nicholls brought a sense of wit, vulnerability and reality to his characters. There is no happy-ever-after in life, but he revels in those tiny moments of life.
3) On Writing by Stephen King
This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit. Fiction writers, present company included, don't understand very much about what they do—not why it works when it's good, not why it doesn't when it's bad. I figured the shorter the book, the less the bullshit.
I have always dreamed of being a writer. That and a dolphin show artist, but a writer certain out-weighs. King enlightens us on the craft, hints and tips that no doubt made me look at writers and my own writing in a new way. This wasn't a how-to write garble, it is the celebration of words and the respect we as readers (and writers) have for them.
4) She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
'Love is like breathing, you take it in and let it out.'
One of the first books Keryn Colyn would hand me in the bookstore that would change how I read the world, and how I ended up loving books. I tease Keryn by calling her the Great and Powerful Keryn, my very own Book Guru; but I shouldn't. It was Keryn's suggestion that led me to this particular tome, one that would be the most challenging novels I have read to date. Nothing easy and simple with Wally Lamb, but one of the most self-deprecating female characters I have ever come to read. A great novel about being a woman - and it's written by a man. *cough*
5) Me before You by Jojo Moyes
'You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.'
A fairly recent novel, compared to the list above. I wanted a Marian Keyes-esque read when I picked this one up. I was in for a ride, while incredibly accessible, this novel showed more of heartbreak and love in a matter of chapters. This one proved that women's fiction is no longer chicklit.
I would love to hear what books took you by surprise, or if there are any on my list that you disagree/agree with. Go on. Leave a comment (make my day.)