As part of her World Book Day celebrations, ickle sis Ivy, who also turns 20 today – Happy Birthday! – has invited us to share our five favourite books. So here goes:
1. A Madness of Angels, Kate Griffin
I fell in love with Griffin’s vision of London, her quirky magic, the rhythm of the city, the electric blue angels. I also fell in love with the main character Matthew Swift, but regular readers already know that…
The plot races along, hurtling through back alleys and secret meeting places of the wizards and witches of the urban age. The cast is colourful and unusual, as is the prose style the novel is written in.
I love urban fantasy as a genre, though I find sometimes it can become a bit repetitive with its vampires and sexy women and over the top sex. A Madness of Angels is a tornado of fresh ideas and I love it for that. I could barely put it down.
2. To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
A classic I have no doubt is on many people’s favourite lists.
I studied this in school, and managed to maintain my love for it even throughout that disection. I love reading, but I’m not a fan of studying literature, and hated English Lit at school. To Kill A Mockingbird was the only part of the course I enjoyed!
The clever way the storylines converge, the events all having a bearing on Scout and her brother, how the moral message is so strong, but elegantly delivered and not overbearing all adds up to a word perfect novel about the racism of the American South.
It’s tragic, funny, heart warming, brilliantly written and a book that haunted me long after I turned the last page.
3. The Stand, Stephen King
My mum is a massive Stephen King fan and has most of his books in her collection. The Stand was the one she reccommended I read.
It’s a monster of a book, something like 1000 pages long with a massive cast of characters, whose lives overlap as the world unravels at the hands of a super virus.
It’s choc full of classic King horror with endearing characters and a touch of the supernatural. One of King’s great writing abilities is to make you empathise with all his characters, good and bad, and there wasn’t a single character (aside from the real bad guy) who I didn’t love in this book – and that’s no small feat given the number of them.
It was made into a pretty fantastic mini series, staring Gary Sinise, which has the unusual honour of being one of the few films that frighten the boyfriend. Every time we watch it, I really want to pick up the book again.
4. If I Stay, Gayle Forman
A book I read in one sitting, cried buckets at and kept thinking about for days.
It’s only short, but a ton of emotion is packed into the pages. I related to it particularly because it’s about two young people about to embark on a long distance relationship, not sure if they are doing the right thing or not, and I read it when I was away from my boyfriend at University. Personal response not needed for the tears though – the book is heartbreaking enough without that!
I’m not normally one for contemporary YA, and though If I Stay does have a slightly unusual twist, much in the vein of The Time Traveller’s Wife, it’s definitely about the characters and their relationship, not the mild paranormal element. And much like The Time Traveller’s Wife, I love it to bits.
And now there is a sequel coming out. Yay, I can’t wait!
5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I wouldn’t say that Harry Potter was in any way one of my favourite series. I felt it lost its way a little towards the end, and I pretty much lost interest by the seventh book. However, when I was trying to think of books I read obsessively as a child, turning back to the start as soon as I reached the end, discussing at length and imagining my own sequels to, Harry Potter 3 was the first that came to mind.
I love time travel, so the time travel plot helped this become one of my favourites. Although I was already well versed in Rowling’s traditional ‘The badguy is not actually the badguy, it’s someone else’ plot arc, enough to guess that the mysterious Sirius Black wasn’t as bad as made out, the story still kept me second guessing. And it was back in the days before Harry became whiny and annoying, so the characters were still fabulous too.
Rowling deserves every credit she’s ever been given for sheer creativity in her world building, and Harry Potter 3 really made me want to exist in that world. I wrote fanfiction, I played games with my sisters, I dreamed up stories in my head. When I ran out of Harry Potter enthusiasm, I started making up my own ideas. And that’s the main reason why this is one of my favourite books.
What are your favourite books?