Literature and Books

Since finishing school in December 2016 I’ve read sixteen books (one book I forgot to add to list and have since forgotten the title):

Five Women, The Best of Everything, The Road Taken, An American Love Story, and The Cousins (all) by Rona Jaffe – by-far Jaffe has become my favourite author! Her career spans forty years, from the 1950s to the 1990s (crazy right?!) In all her books she manages to create deeply intricate characters with whom you can find similarities with yourself, this is one of her most special talents as a writer. She focuses on the lives of women and how they are affected by their families, occupations, love, men, and friends. My favourite is easily The Best of Everything, published in 1958. My second favourite is Five Women and then The Road Taken which is about a family that spans three generations and ninety years, and focuses on how the relationships in the family evolve and the different pressures each generation lives through.

The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald – the famous book about a mysterious fellow names Gatsby as recollected by his not-so-famous neighbour. An easy and short read.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – a classic about what life will be like in future London, written from Huxley’s 1931 perspective. Sex is widely promoted and marriage is not; children are conceived in test tubes; there are no familial relations and the idea of a mother or family are meant to make one blush; social conditioning is rampant and in-your-face. If you liked 1984 by George Orwell you’ll love this.

On Liberty by J. S. Mill – the political philosophy in which John Stuart Mill discusses the idea of the ‘Harm Principle’ – that individuals should be enabled to do anything they desire so long as they do not hurt any other individual in the process, among other ideas.

What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin – an amazing book about the experiences of two women in India during Partition: when India was partitioned into predominantly-Muslim Pakistan and predominantly-Hindu India. Baldwin focuses heavily on the Sikh experience in India, and how religious and cultural factors shaped the lives of two women in one family.

Ishmael by Danielle Quinn – a book about a telepathic gorilla who is searching for a student who will change the world. About environmentalism, activism, and our willingness to believe in something larger than ourselves.

Speak You Also by Paul Steinberg – an incredibly interesting book about the experiences of Steinberg in Auschwitz. Steinberg was inspired to write this book after recognizing himself in Primo Levi’s memoir Survival in Auschwitz (titled What is a Man in European volumes). After recognizing his own character Steinberg wrote about his own experiences and pressures. I loved this book because of its raw expression of how one individual survived Auschwitz – generally, the picture painted of the camp is one of severe brokenness and sadness (rightly so), whereas Steinberg adds a new dimension and paints a picture of a raw, cunning, and creative human desire to survive.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer – a famous biography, written in a creative manner, about Christopher McCandless, a twenty-four year old who sold all his belongings to go up to Alaska and attempt living in the wild. The book includes a lot of background history about geography, other individuals who also tried to live in the wild, and the stories of the people who crossed paths with McCandless.

Sex and the City and One Fifth Ave by Candace Bushnell – Sex and the City is written as a compilation of very short excerpts from articles that centre around the lives of various New Yorkers. It discusses, most centrally, sexual relationships and pressures in New York City. One Fifth Ave is a fictional novel about a group of New Yorkers who either live, or aspire to live, in one of New Yorks most notorious apartment buildings – an incredibly easy read with an exciting plot!

Emma by Jane Austen – Emma centers around a twenty-one year old protagonist and the prevailing social structures and interactions in her community. Austen focuses on Emma’s activities in attempting to shape the relationships around her and manipulate relationships between individuals of various social classes.

Have you read any of the books on my list? What did you think of the books, do you agree or disagree with my little descriptions? What have you read this year? Who are your favourite authors and why? I’m always looking to add to my reading list so please share any recommendations.

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