Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Persistent Favourites

Reading: one of my all time favourite past times. There is no better feeling than sinking deep into darkest, softest corners of the duvet, book in hand and heart on the prowl for whatever feelings she yearns for. Anger, lust, love, happiness, fear, sadness, joy... the possibilities are endless, your hearts deepest desires unknown till you turn that cliff-hanger page and find yourself thrust into an onslaught of cataclysmic emotion. 

I was very fortunate enough to be born into a family of avid readers. My dad reads adventure novels and comics (his favourite is Batman), my mum reads thrillers and mystery. Maddie reads literature and Japanese manga as well as her fair share of comics. I myself, will read practically anything; adventure novels, thrillers, mysteries, fantasy, literature, science-fiction, classics. The only thing I can't really grasp the concept of is non-fiction books and manga...reading backwards gives me a splitting headache. Don't get me wrong, I think non-fiction books have their time and place (school, university, work etc.), but I just don't think they offer the same sort of needed delusional break that reading fiction provides. 

Our household has books everywhere. We possibly have hundreds, if not thousands of books. We have numerous large bookcases, books in every room, on every shelf, on every bench, beside every bed, in boxes in the garage, in boxes in cupboards... I'm hoping you get the picture and can understand why the sheer concept of choosing a 'favourite' book is incredibly difficult.

I have had my fair share of "phases" as I've grown up. When I was younger I yearned for the fantasy worlds of magic and unicorns, with the likes of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Then all I ever read was R.L Stine and his 'Goosebumps' and "Fear Street' novels. I grew to love authors such as Kathy Reichs with her 'young adult' thriller science-fiction novels, and from then I went through a 'John Green' stage (don't we all?!), where all I could read was tragic romances with very questionable and obvious endings. I could probably claim that every book I ever read has been considered a favourite at one time or another. I have though, managed to compile a list consisting of five books that are generally always at the back of my mind; I call them my persistent favourites. 

Firstly, "Secret of the Sirens" written by Julia Golding. I first read this book in grade 6, when I was living in the hot, and boring mining town of Mount Isa (there is actually no significant Mountains or 'mounts' just for clarification). I was thrust into a fantasy world where certain humans had special animal talking powers... but these weren't just normal animals, oh no, these were mythical creatures. I craved these books to no end and waited endlessly for the next couple to be released (there are four books in the series titled "Companions Quartet"). Despite this book being classed as a children's book, I can still pick it up today and enjoy it more than a lot of other 'adult' books. This book has been through a tormented life; various liquids have had their contents throughout the yellowing pages, the binding is coming loose, the first 6 pages are missing, the contents gone, the pages dog eared (oops!), and the entire front cover ripped off by a distant relative earlier this year and hazardously held together with the duck tape (it fixes everything right?). I love this book and the adventure it holds within its pages. It's something I can always pick up, re-read and enjoy and I'm sure it will be for some years to come. 

Secondly, "Uglies" and  "Midnighters: The Secret Hour" by Scott Westerfeld. I'm doing these two books at the same time because they are by the same author (I think this dude is probably my favourite author, if I'm being honest). So, I started reading these books and the rest in the series, after my best friends mum, and my drama teacher at the time recommended them to me (thanks Di!). I genuinely can't remember which of the two I read first so I'm just going to start with "Uglies". This book is a typical science fiction- dystopian fantasy novel. I even used this book in one of my english essays for grade 12 (it was a killer essay, I did very well). It follows the story of Tally Youngblood, and her adventures in a futuristic world where being "pretty" is practically the only thing that matters. Until the age of 16, one is considered "ugly" and on the 16th birthday, a humongous operation is undertaken in order to turn you "pretty". What Tally finds out with the help of ugly by choice friends, is that becoming pretty not only alters your looks, but it also alters your mind. This book and the rest in the series ("Pretties", "Specials" and "Extras") were easily the books I loved the most in grade 8. I still read them today and enjoy them immensely so I think they will always be considered a favourite. 
"The Secret Hour" is the first novel in the science fiction - fantasy "Midnighters" series by Westerfeld and it easily and very quickly became a stable favourite of mine. The other two books in the series ("Touching Darkness" and "Blue Noon") are just as good, but no matter what series I read, generally the first book is always the best. This series follows the teenage protagonist Jessica Day as she moves to Bixby Oklahoma, and comes to the realisation that she has an extra hour in the day. Whilst everyone else freezes in the 'blue time', an hour between 12:00 and 12:01am, Jessica explores the new world around her and makes some unlikely friends along the way. This book and series provides endless page turners filled with mystery, excitement and fear. This book always makes me wish I had an extra hour in the day, along with special powers, and I can never put it down till I've read it from cover to cover. 

Thirdly, "Girl, Interrupted" by Susanna Kaysen. I'm not going to lie; I saw the film before I read the book. Usually, watching the film before reading the novel always ruins the book for me as I generally prefer books to movies, but in this case I am so glad I read the book last. The movie drew me in in so many ways... I loved the actors (Winona and Angie!? Hello: perfection), the acting, the cinematography, the music, the filmic techniques and languages, the messages... I just wanted more. After some research I did find that the film was based on the book. I ordered it on amazon and voilĂ : an automatic favourite. The book defers from the film in many aspects. Written like a diary from protagonist Susanna Kaysens perspective we are thrust into the crazy, often misjudged world of mental disorders at a physchiatric hospital. Through her own words we go through the friendships, feelings, and angst she feels throughout her experience at the hospital. There isn't much I can say about this book without giving all the juice away, so all I can say is: go watch the film and read this book ASAP. It's wonderful and I am forever gushing over the writing and the story. 

Finally "The Virgin Suicides" by Jeffrey Eugenides. I can not possibly count the times I have re-read this book. I love it to absolute pieces. I'm not entirely sure of why I enjoy it so much. Is it the certain air of mystery and awe the writer creates within the story? Is it how we are thrown into the world of troubled teens and how girls are perceived from a boys perspective? I'm honestly not sure at all, but it's easily one of the finest novels I have ever had the privilege of reading. The way the story of the Lisbon sisters plays out in such a voluptuous spasm of love and pain engrosses me in ways very few books can. I honestly can't even put into words how much this book makes me feel (this is why I am a bad writer), and I always wish for more as I turn over the final page. The mystery and agony surrounding the Lisbon sisters and their untimely suicides is a story that forever holds a dear place in my heart. The movie adaption by Sofia Coppola (1999), that stars a young Kirsten Dunst accurately conveys the mood of the novel, so if you are not a reader, do go and watch the film.
Anyway, those five novels are my "persistent" favourites: the ones I always come back to reading no matter my age, mood or my whereabouts. I can always count on these to take me to another time, or place and enable a fluent transition from this world to the much needed break from reality in the land of delusional. 

Thanks for reading, Love from Tayla xx


  1. Some of books here (that I haven't read) sound really interesting! Thanks Tayla haha
    At the moment I'm reading a fantasy YA (shocker) about a girl, her family of psychics and interesting cast of private school boys ~ living and thrilling it up these holidays ~

    1. Yeah Costa! WOO FANTASY! What book is it? Dude you're living the life :P

    2. "The Raven Boys" by Maggie Stiefvater
      It took me a while to adjust to writing style for some reason but like 50 pages in, I started really enjoying it and the different personalities of the characters are rather amusing.

    3. Oh I'll have to check it out! Thanks for the recommendation!