MY 10 FAVORITE BOOKS
Today we are talking books! One of my oldest passions. However, I must admit that with how much I enjoy reading, I haven’t read that many books now that I think about it. When you get into the old habit of being on the go all the time, you leave little room to yourself. And, if you do, you always finds yourself to be so tired that reading more than 3 pages is a nightmare.
Books have given me so much in my life I wanted to share my 10 favorites. I tried to throw in different genres to try and fit different preferences. I think it is a good selection of easy reads, classics and didactic books.
Pillars of Earth, Ken Follet
Ken Follet is one of my favorite authors. I have many authors I like but he is currently one of the only ones which whom I have read more than two books. I have to say I only read some of his finest historial fiction books that narrates similar subject: English religious wars and their continuous fight against anarchy and heir’s succession. I am yet to read his thrillers genres, mainly because they are not my cup of tea. But I do appreciate a lot how he writes, and how consumed I get with his writings.
The Pillars of Earth was the first adult book I read when I was 12 years old. I was so emotional absorbed by it, that my mom told me I needed to first control my emotions if I wanted to read adult books. I actually read the book twice, which I consider a big statement since the book has +800 pages.
WHAT I LOVED THE BEST
The setting and the historical accuracy. Even though, like in most historical fiction, there is a lot of room for eventful inaccuracies. Which, to a certain point, I enjoy quite a bit, because the author has to adapt the character of the book the our imagination. However, most of the times, if I want to learn the history and its actuals facts, I am one nerd that is constantly looking up on google to learn the setting of the era.
I also loved the sensual way he wrote this book. I was young, and felt amused by it. It was never too vulgar, but I found it to be exquisite. The story behind Tom Builder and Ellen was emotionally draining and satisfying to keep on reading.
Granted I enjoy most historical fiction, and I wouldn't dare to compare which century or culture. I find it amusing yet abominating the religious wars fought in the past. And how brute people were in the era. But while it bothers me, I cant seem to put it down. Even though Spain is a monarchy, I am not much of a monarch-enthisiast. Specially during that time where monarch exercises absolute power over its people. But both books I have read recently from Ken Follet, The Pillars of Earth and The Column of Fire, sets on nicely if read subsequently. Times are different, but with similar struggle. I have to admit I enjoyed the last one a lot, actually. I really like the 16th Century and Elizabeth I reign. I like how she defied all the odds against her in her plight for religion tolerance against Catholics and Protestants.
2. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
I cried so very much with this novel. I think I cried much more reading the book than watching the movie. I love Victor Hugo, after I read Les Miserables I read also Bug-Jargal about the Haitian Revolution. Hugo’s social injustice representation in Les Miserable was remarkable. In my opinion, and what I got from this novel was, that despite his effort to portray the despotic situation of France prior to the Revolution, the novel was upraised by Jean Valjean romantic redemption and act of heroism. I love how Hugo embodies Valjean’s life with humanism. Jean Valjean was a human, a good human being that the system could have turned him into a villain. He was sentenced to an unfair imprison by stealing bread for his starving children, a situation which most of the impoverished civilization was because of the French Monarchy lavished authoritarian rule. Yet, he took the chance to do good. However he repented all his life for taking someones else’s life to life his. Les Miserable’s plot is the story of one who turned from hating.
One of my favorite quotes were:
‘ My soul belongs to God I know, I made that bargain long ago. He gave me hope when hope was gone. He gave me strength to journey on’.
‘ Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise’.
‘ It is nothing to die, it is dreadful not to live’.
3. Marianela, Benito Perez Galdos
This is a romantic novel that is very keen to my heart. I read it when I was very young as well, and believe me when I say I read this book more than 4 times. It is a very short novel, written by one of my favorite Spanish authors. It is a life lesson about people’s graceful humanity and its antinomy with the inevitable human physical vanity. I cried every time I have read it, and the last time was last year!
This book speaks of the true love and how devastating it is when you don't have it. It embodies the truth of social class in the past and the importance of keeping up with the look and social pressures. I totally recommend having it a try.
4. The Physician, Noah Gordon
I love how Noah Gordon writes, and what he writes about. The Physician is the story of an English Catholic boy that his passion for medicine takes him to travel the world to meet the most renowned doctors in Persia. There he is met with the conundrum of medicine and religion. It is one of my favorite books, and so does the movie. I will also recommend to read Shaman and Matters of Choice. It's the trilogy that talks about that English’s boy life turns and his predecessors.
5. Shoot, I am already dead, Julia Navarro
I have read all of Julia Navarro’s books and by far this is her best and most ambitious novel yet. Julia does a great job narrating the parallel story of a friendship between a Jew and an Arab that can overcome religious and political differences and that will continue on for generations. However, when writing about this difficult topic between Jewish and Arabs rightfulness in the Promise Land, it is often common to find authors giving their opinion on the matter and picking sides. The beauty of this novel is that Navarro blends us in both lives, with its struggles and injustices and never picks a side. Just narrates and let the reader understand there is no wright or wrong, lawful or unlawful, righteous or unrighteous when it comes to the disasters of history and the decision-making of those in power with humans lives. It is a beautiful and powerful novel, super didactic and twisted with romanticism as well.
6. New Zealand Trilogy - In the land of the long white cloud, Song of the Spirits, Call of the Kiwi, Sarah Lark
These are the kind of historical fiction novels that passionate me the most. The ones you are learning about history facts and at the same time you are gripped with eagerness to know more about the love story behind the plot of the book. Sometimes, historical non-fiction can be hard to digest as it can be heavily loaded with facts and no room for romanticism. But Sarah Lark, which by the way, it's a pseudonym name, does a remarkable job encapsulating the reader in a love story while feeding you with facts about the English colonialism of New Zealand and Australia. Its talks about the struggle the native people went through and it also showcases the struggle the country it self suffered with colonialism (deterioration of soil, depletion of natural resources, etc). You will never get bored because she uses a very naive way of feeding you with relevant information. I devoured this trilogy in no time.
7. Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
What a classic, I must say! I love historical fiction but my weakness is English Romantic Literature. And Jane Austen is one of the mothers of English literature. I am a romantic, and honestly the way the English writers express themselves when it comes to love, its unparalleled. Pride & Prejudice needs no summary or explanation. Just my humble recommendation for you to read it.
8. The Time in Between, Maria Dueñas
Similar to Julia Navarro, Maria Dueñas is also one of my favorite contemporary Spanish authors. The Seamstress narrates the story of the daughter of a single mother seamstress in Madrid during the Spanish civil war that falls in love with a man, which whom convinces her to travel with him to Tetuan, a Spanish colonized city on Morocco. The novel embodies the true powers of women’s independence and survival. Sira must learn how to fend for herself, building up an empire of her own, utilizing her wit to guard herself from the evil that happened during a civil war. And enters in a world of espionage to help her family and herself. They also made a TV series about it which I totally recommend as the plot is super interesting, the costumes are irresistible and the actress is super pretty! ;)
9. Candide, Voltaire
Candide is one of the best human satires I have ever read. But it holds one of the strongest messages I have ever learned : God doesn’t give you anything you cannot bear. So it a way, everything that happens, regardless of whether it is good or bad, its perfect because it was given to that person that could succumb it.
10. Love in the time of cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Another classic, but this time from the Latin American Literature. One of the best love stories of all times, that last a lifetime and transcends wars and tragedies. Just how love should be. And you, how long will you wait for love?
I cried a lot reading this book, and I just learned there has been a movie based on the novel. Which I cannot wait to watch!