In all honesty, the only reason I decided to read The Lovely Bones was because my high school banned it. I was still in middle school when it happened, but basically my school chose it as the school-wide summer read until an army of conservative, suburban moms rallied against it. This, of course, bumped it up to the top of my reading list.
That being said, there are unquestionably triggering elements in this story. However, I don’t think that merits a school-wide ban. Like most banned book cases in the world, this book is infinitely more complex than dissenters believe.
In the beginning of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, the narrator, Susie Salmon, is raped and murdered by her neighbor, George Harvey. Susie ascends to heaven, where she watches the continuing lives of her family and friends. While Susie now knows that Harvey is a serial killer, she looks on in frustration as the police write him off as creepy but harmless. Susie’s family struggles to move forward after her death, and she watches them slowly break apart under the pressure.
You know what I really love? Movie adaptations of novels. I’m definitely not one to be pretentious about them — I absolutely love seeing stories projected though different mediums. However, you know what I really don’t love? When movie adaptations of novels completely degrade the overall purpose of said novel, which I believe to be the case in the movie adaptation of Matthew Quick’s Silver Linings Playbook.
Now, I’m not talking minor plot points or scenes being left out; the movie actually followed the book’s plot pretty accurately. This book follows the story of a man who suffers from a mental illness, and the movie does an awful job of portraying him. I watched the movie first and liked it well enough. However, I didn’t end up reading the book until a couple years after the fact upon the recommendation of a friend, and I’m so glad I decided to give it a chance.
Silver Linings Playbook is narrated by the character Pat Peoples, a former history teacher who suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be institutionalized. In the beginning of the novel, Pat is released from the hospital and goes to back to his hometown to live with his parents. He thinks it has only been a couple of months since the incident, but is shocked and confused when he finds out it has actually been years. He longs to go back to his wife, who he finds out has left him. Pat decides he needs to piece together his memory and improve himself in order to win her back, which proves to be a problem since Nikki wants nothing to do with him.
Now, I realize Harry Potter is the most obvious choice for this list from a millennial such as myself, but leaving it out would be against everything I am. That, and it’s pretty difficult to ignore the series that changed the face of young adult literature. I try to be pretty casual about my Harry Potter obsession in my day-to-day life, but it often comes to the surface via accidental references if I haven’t told you about it already. Honestly, I’m not even sure the term obsession covers it. J.K. Rowling’s stories have literally dictated my entire life.
It all started when I was five. No, I didn’t read Harry Potter when I was five years old, but I did have an eight-year-old sister whom I idolized. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone was fairly new at this point, and when my sister read it I wanted to read it. Since I obviously couldn’t tackle it on my own, she read parts of it aloud for me, and it definitely stuck with me. Around the time I was eight, I began reading the books by myself. I remember carrying those heavy books with me everywhere so I could read them in the few minutes I had to spare between class activities or at the bus stop. I also think part of me was just a little shit who felt really smart carrying around a book roughly half her size (I was that kid).
So, I quite literally grew up with Harry. I guess that phrase is a little bit of a cliché at this point, but I stand by it. My love of literature stemmed from reading the series, and now I’m nearing the end of my English undergraduate education and will soon be looking for a job based on that passion. Maybe I would have ended up here whether I had read Harry Potter or not, but I certainly feel a connection. Who knows if I ever would have fallen quite so in love with reading without J.K. Rowling’s masterpieces? …yes, I’m incredibly biased.
I won’t bother with any sort of plot synopsis in this case, because I doubt anyone needs it. I’m not even really sure how to convince you to read these books. My official testimony is: I want to have children for the sole reason of forcing them to read this book (honestly, no other reason). But on a more serious note, I feel as though it’s important to become acquainted with a series that has caused such a generational phenomenon. That didn’t just happen randomly. While Potter classifies as young adult literature, I believe that only the most talented writers are able to tackle world-building as flawlessly as Rowling did.
When I pick up one of the Potter books, I feel like I’m living it. I love so many books, but I’m not sure any have impacted me as much. And I think it’s important to note that I’ve held the same opinion since I was eight years old–that’s not an exaggeration. I attended a Harry Potter convention in 2012, and I am one hundred percent not joking. But I met the real life Luna Lovegood, so joke’s on you.
As J.K. Rowling wrote, “in dreams, we enter a world that is entirely our own.”
For several years during my youth, my mind decided that Fahrenheit 451 and Fahrenheit 9/11 were the same thing. That’s probably pretty embarrassing to admit on a literary blog…but in my defense, they’re pretty similar titles and 9/11 was probably first major world disaster I paid attention to in my young life. After years of picking up context clues and realizing that Fahrenheit 451 and Fahrenheit 9/11 were indeed two different artistic entities, I decided it was time to culture myself and read Fahrenheit 451.
This happened last summer when I was visiting my oldest sister while she was living in Holland, Michigan, a.k.a. Rich Retired Old People Town, USA. Needless to say, there wasn’t much to do during the day when my sister was at work unless I hitchhiked to the beach (too shady) or went to one of the seemingly infinite ice cream shops (too fattening). I decided to take advantage of the alone time and read. When I saw Fahrenheit 451 on my sister’s bookshelf, I thought I owed it a read since I didn’t even know what this classic was for many of my formative years. I read it in one sitting.
Do you ever read a book and think that everyone else in existence needs to read it immediately? I certainly do. Over the years I’ve read many books I’ve enjoyed, but sometimes I read something so amazing that makes me completely reevaluate my life. I know I’ve read a truly life-changing book when I finish reading the last page and feel physically unable to close the book. Sometimes it’s because I don’t want the story to end, and other times it’s because I’m so mind blown by what I’ve read that I sort of just stop functioning for a moment.
Through this blog I’d like to share with you some of these books, which I like to think of as required reading material for all of humanity–or Kelly’s Book Bucket List, because that’s a lot catchier. These books have affected my life so profoundly that I’d like to share them with you in hopes that maybe some of them will be just as important to you.
The first book I’d like to introduce you to is perhaps the most important to me: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I frequently refer to it as “my bible” when recommending it to friends. The story is also extremely difficult to explain, so I apologize in advance. Cloud Atlas begins in the year 1850 in the point of view of Adam Ewing, an American notary who is voyaging through the South Pacific. During his travels he meets a physician who joins him and diagnoses him with a rare brain parasite–and this is where things get interesting.