This is for those books that manage to get stuck into your thoughts, no matter how many others followed it.
(All images are taken from goodreads.)
- The book (or series) that made me cry like a baby deprived too long of its formula
Nabari No Ou – volumes 1 – 14 by Yukhi Kamatani
A manga (Japanese comic) about ninjas is certainly not a rarity, but this particular story had a great cast of characters which really increased its appeal for me. Miharu Rokujo finds himself the possessor of the Shinra Banshou (or Secret Art) which will allow him ultimate power and knowledge, and unsurprisingly finds that he is the top target of the few ninja divisions still active. He’s pursued by those who would try to protect him and the Art, and those who would use it for their own benefits.
There are only a few volumes (by manga series standards), but the manga-ka (or manga creator) managed to focus on her array of characters in a satisfying way that really made me invest in each of their stories, coming to care deeply for them in a relatively short amount of time. What makes this story especially poignant is the unlikely friendship between Miharu, one who is known for his apathy and refusal to care about all thing, and Yoite, a dangerous Kira master who has isolated himself from all relationships. It (the story and their friendship) starts off slow, gains momentum, and soon afterwards you’re just hurtling towards a resolution you know is going to leave you overwhelmed.
By the end, all the characters were shattered and enriched, and that kind of speaks for my whole reading experience.
- The book that gave me the heebie jeebies while thrilling me at the same time
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I’ve already waxed lyrical about this novel on this blog, but no amount of waxing was enough to dispel it from my mind. It sunk its talons into me, refusing to let go, and I’ve been mulling over the deftly, dextrously crafted masterpiece that is this story.
It’s narrated by Mary Katherine Blackwood, who lives in a reclusive mansion with her sister, Constance and their uncle. The family are shunned because it hasn’t been too long since Constance was acquitted of the attempted murder of the rest of their family members. There’s an uneasy dynamic that threads the whole of this narrative, both among the remaining family members, and between the Blackwood family and the rest of the villagers . You’ll never be quite sure just who you should be trusting.
I think the word creepy was invented for Jackson, and even then it doesn’t really do her justice. She’ll make you feel uneasy, but she won’t tell you why or how and you just have to deal with it the best you can, while trying to keep up with her intricate storytelling.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
The Hobbit sucked me in and held my attention like no other book had for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found a lot of books to obsess over and which make me ponder them for a long time, but with this one I really did feel like I was reading at the age of ten again, when nothing mattered but the story and the characters. I guess I left my critique at the door and just engaged in it, but I was swept along on this amazing adventure as if I was a vital part of it.
It was a magical thing to feel again, and all the more wonderful because I hadn’t realized how much I missed it, or that I even did in the first place. So, for that, I have to thank Tolkien. It also broke my heart a little because I realized how long I’d gone without such a feeling.
- The book that made me realize that life is full of pain, and yes, pleasure, but that the pain is inevitable and that belonging is both over-and-under-rated
Homesick by Roshi Fernando
The stories are poignant, and masterfully constructed. The writing is sharp that it cuts like a knife, straight to the point. The pain of each character is palpable, their sense of being lost and unmoored is a tragic theme that runs through all their stories.
Everyone is so eager to belong, to find something that they have in common with, and the writer brings in to focus how this journey can be filled with a blind desperation that can veer wildly out of control if we let it. As a Sri Lankan, this collection did resonate on a personal level for me, but I believe the way this writer wields her words and weaves her characters will make it a more than worthwhile reading experience for any reader.
- The book that made me bubble over like a fountain while still managing to Keep It Real
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
The main thing about this book is that it felt real. I felt the pain of both these protagonists. They weren’t stereotypical cut-outs, made to fit a formulated romance. Their personalities were as real and as organic as their relationship that developed.
Probably what I appreciated the most was that it’s a story that chronicles the romance as beginning from a friendship instead of diving straight into the ‘love’ category. The connection felt more believable that way, and thus made the story more real. It made me laugh, but it also made my throat and chest ache in terrible, terrible ways.
- The book that made me realize that just because it’s in your head doesn’t make it any less real (and no it isn’t Harry Potter)
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Eleanor is one who has never belonged anywhere. Her whole life has been nothing but tending to her sick mother, and playing second fiddle to her elder sister and her family. So when she finds an advertisement that requests a few subjects for a supernatural experiment in a (reclusive, again, yup) mansion, she decides this is the adventure to begin her new life.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, for Eleanor, Hill House has a mind of its own and it decides that it wants Eleanor, and for a girl who has never belonged anywhere, this doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. How could it be right? A house wants to claim you? To lock away your soul with how many thousands of others that are already sealed away within it? Surely, that’s flattering. Or maybe Eleanor’s mind is just unravelling. Who knows? Read it and you’ll find out. Or maybe you won’t. That’s Jackson for you. She’ll keep you biting your nails out of sheer frustration (and yes, some fear).