Top 3 Reads
1.The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
This stunning work has become my favourite novel of all time, bar none. It need be noted that this is a phrase I do not throw around lightly, as I love a lot of the literature I encounter. However, there is just something about this work, and by extension all of Kingsolver’s writing, that resonates with me. The lyrical style from which the story is told, the seamless interweaving of five unique narrative voices, and the rich history of the Congo all combine for this book that is the perfect storm for a modern masterpiece.The story is told through the voices of the five women of the Price family who are uprooted from their cozy American life by a domineering father who feels it is his duty to preach abroad. The novel follows the family in their journey through the Congo, an impoverished, unstable country on the cusp of rebellion, and the tragedies which come to haunt them. Kingsolver masterfully tackles the subjects of racism, feminism, imperialism, poverty, disabilities, and corruption with a genius level of insight. It is a novel that is life-changing, awe-inspiring, and one I cannot recommend enough.
2.The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
To begin, I must confess that I am generally not a fan of young adult romance literature. This book is the ultimate exception to that rule. The Song of Achilles exemplifies the use of pathos to me; it is impossible to read this book and not become enthralled in both the characters and the love story. In essence, the plot of the story is that of The Iliad, with central focus on the legend of Achilles. The story is told from the eyes of Patroclus and follows his relationship with Achilles, starting from their meeting as children and carrying on for the rest of their lives. Miller spent ten years writing this novel, and her labour of love becomes apparent from the very first line. Every sentence of this text is poignant and purposeful into building the world of Patroclus and Achilles, as well as layering their relationship in such a way that the reader can find their growth palpable. As well, the mythology and history of this account are all credible, as Miller has a masters in Classics. As someone who adores mythology but is often left disappointed by its inaccuracy and oversimplification in modern literature, this was a delight. This story of life, loss, and true love was by far one of the most enjoyable reads I have had in a long time, even though I was sobbing profusely by the end.
3.One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One of my reading goals for this year has been to read internationally, and so I picked up what is arguably Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s most famous work for a little taste of South America. The only way I can summarize my experience of this work is to call it vivid. The amount of detail in this novel, in everything from imagery to familial linage, is so extraordinarily precise that you do not read the book so much as you do live it. By words alone, the reader is able to follow seven generations of the Buendia family throughout a rich and complex timeline that serves as a metaphor for the history of Columbia. The author is one of the founding fathers of the genre of magical realism, a style of writing that has become near and dear to my heart thanks to this book. The interweaving of magic and reality create a potent mix to help the reader digest what would otherwise be an inconceivable tale that at its core is a comment on the human condition. This is not a novel for the faint of heart, but it is exceptionally engaging and stunningly written. There were points in reading this novel where I actually had trouble breathing because that language was that overpowering. I know I am a better reader and writer because I have read this novel, and I now feel as though this is one of those books everyone should read at some point in their life.