some years ago i got tagged to do this online game where i would list 15 books i’ll always remember. i found that list again a few days ago, and it’s nice to see that my answers are all still relevant today too. these are, in fact, still the 15 books i remember best, and they have their reasons. i’ve decided to give the list a proper place here in my blog, and also since i have nothing better to do at the moment (or nothing better to write about, to tell the truth) i’m gonna attempt to write down the reasons why i will always remember them.
the list is in no particular order.
1. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells: before reading this book, the only English books i’ve read were the Sweet Valley series (starting from Sweet Valley Kids, SV Twins, The Unicorn Club, and on to SV High and SV University), Goosebumps series, Fear Street series… well, you get the idea. i was a teenager, and those were the days when chicklits weren’t even invented yet. :p some time around my last few teenage years, there was this English book rental place that opened not far from our house. you see, you can’t really rely on libraries in my home country, so this rental place sounded promising. from there, i felt like my world of reading was finally opened to a bigger scope. the Ya-Yas book was one of the first books that i rented. it was a rather simple story, about girl power (literally), girl friendship, and the consequences of the actions done in the past. but i loved it! (and before you ask: i hated the movie.) it was the first “adult” book i’ve read, it was funny, heart-warming, and touching. this was the first book that could take me deeper into the story than all those children/teen/teen-horror books i previously read, so this book deserves a special place in my heart, always. 🙂
2. Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling: i’m sure there are millions of others who would say that they practically grew up with the series. the thing is, i did too. though when i read the first book, i was not a child, but since the series took years to complete, it felt like i grew up as the characters also grew in the book. waiting for the newest book to come out was always something to look forward to, and after the last book came out, it was almost like saying goodbye to a certain chapter of my life. i still re-read the books to this date. 😉
3. Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn: i got to know about this novel from a magazine, where some celebrity listed it as her fave book of all times. i don’t remember who the celebrity was, but she described the story as something like how a family of ‘deformed’ characters try to live among ‘normal’ people. i was intrigued, because the setting was a circus, and by the idea that some parents would experiment on drugs just so that they would get deformed kids that they can then exhibit in the circus (hence the name ‘geek’, another name for ‘freak’). and as i read it… i realized that what i read in the magazine was almost the complete opposite. this book embraces diversities and uniqueness, and i strongly agree with that. my fave line(s) from the book goes something like this: “don’t you ever wish you’re normal?” to which another character answered, “i’ve wished i had a third hand, or a tail, or green skin. but to be normal? never.” being different is a gift. be proud of it.
4. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: unlike other fans, i did not get the chance to read this book when i was a kid. i could only vaguely remember seeing an animation of this story back when i was small and could not read the subtitle (let alone understand English). but i liked the illustrations, and i knew for a long time that it’s a classic that fans around the world worship. so when i finally came across the book, i bought it. i fell in love with the characters, the way the story was told, the simple yet deeply meaningful story, and then i knew why the book is so famous. not long after i too became a fan, i was lucky to experience seeing the string puppet adaptation of The Little Prince live in my hometown, which was so enchanting and unforgettable.
5. The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux: growing up in a musical family, it was only natural that i first heard the songs from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical of the same name (and fell in love with Michael Crawford’s voice… sigh…) before knowing anything about the story. i believe it was my sister who then recommended me the book, and so after searching for it, i finally found it, and started reading my first “classic” novel. this was years before the Hollywood movie was made, and i still had not seen the musical in any form at all. as with the other books in this list, once i read it, i fell in love with it. though i have a feeling i would love the actual musical as well (it’s going to be performed in Finland next year, yay!), i must say that the Phantom in the book is more scary & smarter than the one depicted in the movie, and also from reading the book you would get the sense of just how deep his love really is. it will always remain as the greatest love story in my heart.
6. The Five People You Meet In Heaven, by Mitch Albom: i have always been fascinated by the mysteries of life, death, and afterlife. i like hearing other people’s theories, be it religious or non-religious. i also like hearing other people’s experiences. this book gives a calming theory about an afterlife, one that i’m sure many people can relate to and probably wish it were true. at least, i do. the theory ‘why we are here in this life’ that this book gives is quite similar to what i also believe in, and that was more than enough for me to connect to this book.
7. The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories, by Tim Burton: i had just broken up with my last ex that time, and as an attempt to cheer me up, my sister’s ex (who was already like part of our family) lent me this book. it worked like a charm. just like Burton’s (earlier) works, this book, with its bizarre characters & rhymes, enchanted me. the stories are as tragic as they are hilarious, i still can’t get over the fact that Burton could come up with them (but of course he could, he’s Tim Burton, for crying out loud!). and let me tell you, reading tragic stories when your own heart is broken does help. take my word for it. (hey, i survived, didn’t i? :D)
8. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger: when i was in middle school, i had this dream of becoming a scientist (physicist, to be precise) who would uncover the mysteries of time. 😀 needless to say, i did not follow that dream, but i’m glad i ran into this book. the formula worked for me, as i like cheesy romantic stories and in this one the author added a ‘time traveler’. it’s far from being scientific, but i do agree with how the author made it so that what already happened in the past can never be changed, and for a time traveler whose past is in the future, his future can also never be changed because it already happened. not gonna give any spoiler to anyone who hasn’t read it yet (and in case you haven’t, don’t even bother watching the movie), but i can say that this book will leave you thinking about it long after you’ve finished reading it.
9. The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield: though this is not a horror book (and you should believe me, i’ve read lots of horror books in my youth, LOL), i actually got goosebumps time and time again when i read this book. some of them were because of some scary moments, some were because the words rang so true, and some were just because of the unexpected twists and turns in the story. the whole book has that kind of gloomy, gothic feeling, which is probably also why i liked it so much. you know how these days there are books/stories that has so many interesting things going on and then the end come so abruptly that makes you wonder what the hell happened to the characters afterwards? i usually hate those kinds of ‘vague-ending’ books, and so another plus point for this book is that it was written in an old-fashioned kind of way, with clear narration of what happened in the past, what’s the present situation, and what happens after. no vague-ending in this one!
10. Dracula, by Bram Stoker: almost every year around Halloween time, they would show Francis Coppola’s Dracula movie on TV back in my home country. so you can pretty much say i grew up knowing the Count the Gary-Oldman-way, and Mina the Winona-Ryder-way. and though i actually do like the movie, i must say that after reading the novel and knowing the true Count & Mina (which is quite far than those depicted in the movie), i much prefer the book’s characters. the Count is even more scary and behaves in a more unexpected way, and Mina is much stronger and tougher in the original book. it changed my view of the story almost completely, and just like the Phantom of the Opera, Dracula is a “classic” that i just simply adore.
11. Who Needs Donuts?, by Mark Alan Stamaty: stumbled upon this book when i was looking for a gift to give to a friend who happened to be a great illustrator himself. the black and white illustration caught my eyes among the other children books that were filled with screaming colours. i flipped it open to see a few pages, and right at that moment i realized that i was looking at what is probably the most detailed and intricate graphic book of all times. i ended up getting it as the gift for my friend, and before giving it to him, i read and re-read, aaaand re-read the book (and repeat the same sequence for a couple of more times). i feel kind of sorry that i didn’t get it for myself (LOL), but who knows, maybe i will one day. anyway! the story is super absurd, but the graphics!!!! OMG! every time i read it, in every page, i saw something new i didn’t notice before. i don’t know how the author/illustrator did it, but he’s a genius. he’s amazing. yep. and now i want my donuts.
12. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll: when i was a kid, i of course saw the Disney cartoon version of this story. i didn’t love it as much as i loved The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, or even Peter Pan, but it was such a strange story that i was bound to remember it. then as i grew up, i thought i would give the book a try. and, well, i’m sure everybody knows already how bizarre and strange the book really is. so, it’s only natural that i loved it! 😀 it’s the strangest thing i’ve ever read, if you could even call is a “story”, and at the same time so meaningless (so don’t even try to look for any moral of the story) that it is something just right up my alley.
13. Supernova series, by Dee: finally, something from my own home country! the first book mainly told 3 separate stories, with everyone involved trying to find their true selves and their lives’ meanings… and then suddenly there was a twist in the end that they were not 3 separate stories after all. the second and third book each told 1 story, and in the end this too had something to do with the first book. (haven’t read the 4th–last–book, so i’m deliberately not saying a thing about that one). i can’t really explain what it is about the series that i like, possibly it has got to do with the fact that the author successfully weaved the characters together even when the stories are completely different. because after all, that’s how it is in life too. some of us live day by day without ever thinking what our missions in life are. some of us are looking for answers. and every now and then, our paths cross which then create new missions, new questions, new answers… it’s a series of books about life, but very lightly told in different voices of the characters. and these stories, these voices, will stay with you for a loooong time.
14. Tono dan Tini (originally called Jip en Janneke), by Annie M. G. Schmidt: probably the most loved book of my entire childhood. even though the physical book has long disappeared, i can still remember the smell of the pages, the battered fabric cover, and how the bindings had become loose over the years that some pages became detached. it was my fave book to pass the time, because it was a compilation of short stories of these two best friends (Jip aka Tono and Janneke aka Tini) so i could just open any page and start reading that story. i was so delighted to find the English version last summer when i went to Amsterdam, and though some stories that i have come to memorize over the years are not included in this version, but still i’m grateful for the chance to pass them on to my future child.
15. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Peter Süskind: usually, when i read a book, my mind would create these visuals, so i could imagine what the story would look like in motion. but this book is different, and so far it’s the only one that could do this. this book made me smell things when i read it, and even after i put down the book, i could somehow still smell the scents of things described in it for a while. of course, i also see visuals in my head, but it’s the scents that made an impact. it’s a brilliant way of telling a story, and this reading/smelling experience cannot be matched by watching the movie (though i have nothing against the movie…). i’m glad i read the book first before watching the movie… to me, reading the book was far more adventurous both for my imagination and my sense of smelling compared to seeing the movie.
i’m such a (fiction) book geek, so i would love to know what 15 books YOU will always remember, no matter if they’re non-fiction or fiction, or even graphic/coffee table books. you don’t need to give me your reasons (unless you’re super bored, like me), and the trick to doing this is to write down the list in less than, say, 5 minutes. just the first 15 books that come to your mind. chances are they’re the ones you’ll always remember. 🙂
i’ll be waiting to see your lists in the comments field!