I was going to include these anyway, but Mom suggested that after the stuff I posted in the first two days - which she pretty much described as a world tour of the most heavy, depressing, and oft-unintelligable literature ever - I should post stuff that people without my fondness for Russian literature or post-colonial magical realism might actually want to read. Because, yes, those are the sorts of conversations I have with my mother.
11. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier:
With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten—a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house's current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim's first wife—the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.
Why you should read this: For SGA fans, you know "Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Loose"? This is kinda like the "real book" version of that. It is haunting and beautiful and we never learn the narator's name and is the absulte best mystery I've ever read. My mother loved this book so much she wanted to name me Rebecca (she got overruled by my dad, who still cannot spell my name correctly, which is ironic 'cause he chose it) and I fell in love with it myself sometime in my junior year of HS. An absolute must read.
“We can never go back again, that much is certain. The past is still close to us. The things we have tried to forget and put behind us would stir again, and that sense of fear, of furtive unrest, struggling at length to blind unreasoning panic - now mercifully stilled, thank God - might in some manner unforeseen become a living companion as it had before.”
12. A Room With a Veiw by EM Forester:
A Room with a View is a 1908 novel by English writer E. M. Forster, about a young woman in the repressed culture of Edwardian England. Set in Italy and England, the story is both a romance and a critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century.
The first part of the novel is set in Florence, Italy, and describes a young English woman's confusion at the Pensione Bertolini over her feelings for an Englishman staying at the same hotel. Lucy Honeychurch is touring Italy with her overbearing older cousin and chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett, and the novel opens with their complaints about the hotel, "The Pension Bertolini." Their primary concern is that although rooms with a view of the River Arno have been promised for each of them, their rooms instead look over a courtyard. A Mr. Emerson interrupts their "peevish wrangling," offering to swap rooms as he and his son, George Emerson, look over the Arno. ...
Why you should read it: I'm not usually a big fan of these sorts of novels. I hate Howard's End and absolutely lothe The Age of Innocence. But this one is... this one is not your average turn-of-the ceuntry novel. It's about finding a connection with someone and holding on to it with all you're heart, because only through love can we become fully human.
“You have to go cold into a battle that needs warmth, out into the muddle that you have made yourself; and your mother and all your friends will despise you, oh, my darling, and rightly if it is ever right to despise."
13. A Seperate Peace by John Knowles:
Set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.
Why you should read it: One of the definitive coming-of-age stories. I discovered it while doing an internship my senior year with a pediatric surgeon, and maybe the timing had a little to do with my have of it, but this is one of those books that is overwhelmingly true in its simplicity.
“I felt that I was not, never had been and never would be a living part of this overpoweringly solid and deeply meaningful world around me.”
14. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:
"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel—a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice—but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.
Why you should read it: Seriously, if you haven't, do so now. I'm almost reluctant to include it because, well, everyone has read it, at one point or another, and every books everyone should read list I've found online includes it in their top ten, but it's true. Read it. Just do.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what."
15. Lord of the Flies by William Golding:
William Golding's classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, "the boy with fair hair," and Piggy, Ralph's chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island's wild pig population. Soon Ralph's rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: "He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet." Golding's gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition.
Why you should read it: This is another one where, if you've not read it, you just should. It's not just about boys and growing up and life and death, it is what is it to be human? The evolution - devolving thereof - of human civilization is played out in these boys, showing just how tenuous our claims of being "superior" to other animals really is.
"Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?”