Do you sometimes have a sudden urge to escape reality and go to a world of fiction? To just leave all of your earthly responsibilities behind and get lost in a world of magic? Well, then, you aren’t the only one. Because I for one have always felt that way. That’s why I love reading books. Reading books has always helped me escape to another world entirely. A world of fantasy where pens can become swords and brooms can fly. To me, it’s therapeutic. That’s why I have spent this whole lockdown period reading books.
Books have been my life line during this time of hardships. I may have read more books last month than I did last year. Reading has also helped me achieve academic excellence and look at the world from a different perspective entirely. Unfortunately, I have seen that many of my peers have stopped reading books, until and unless it is for academic purposes. In fact, it is very tough to find bookworms nowadays. Also, I have seen that it is very hard to find recommendations for good books. So, I would like to share the names of a few of the books that I have read during this lockdown.
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
The book ‘The Great Gatsby’ is Fitzgerald’s 1925 Jazz Age novel about the impossibility of recapturing the past. Although it was initially a failure, the story of Gatsby’s doomed love for the unattainable Daisy is considered as a defining novel of the 20th century. The mysterious protagonist of the novel, Jay Gatsby, is the neighbour of the narrator of the story, Nick Carraway. It is evident from the book’s title and Nick's introductions, that Gatsby's story would be the main focus of the novel. We learn about Gatsby’s complicated world and also his innermost desire, Daisy. Nick’s cousin and the girl he once loved. To Gatsby, anything and anyone which stands between him and Daisy becomes the antagonist.
Even though Daisy's crude husband Tom is considered the most obvious antagonist, a variety of abstract concepts like class difference, social expectations and Gatsby’s past lies can also be considered antagonists. The most powerful antagonist is time itself, which prevents Gatsby from recapturing what he lost. After a certain point, we find out that everything that Gatsby says about himself is lies or half-truths. The fantastic nature of his stories gives Gatsby's history a mythical quality, which reinforces the sense of him as a tragic hero. Although many people think of ‘The Great Gatsby’ as a love story, I think that it is a work about the flaws of society, the Jazz Age, and the American Dream.
Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
Stephen King has amazed us with yet another marvellous psychological horror story in the book ‘Lisey's Story’. The book tells us two stories: Lisey’s story in the present and the story of the famous writer Scott Landon, Lisey’s deceased husband. Two years after her husband’s death, Lisey Landon, a grieving widow, starts to clean out Scott’s writing area, when she begins reliving her past with Scott. Lisey instantly stops mid-reminisce to avoid uncovering terrible memories. She is also threatened and mutilated by a maniac, who is trying to get his hands on Scott's unpublished papers.
Throughout the book, Lisey remembers certain repressed and forgotten truths about her husband’s past. She recalls the horrible past that Scott had - how his family had a history of mental illness, which often drove them into being an uncontrollable homicidal maniac, or going into deep catatonia. Scott also had a unique gift of transporting himself into another world, which he called “Boo’ya Moon''. This book is a must read for people who love reading horror or suspense thrillers.
The Heroes of the Olympus Series by Rick Riordan
‘The Heroes of Olympus’ is a pentalogy of fantasy-adventure novels written by the American author Rick Riordan. The plot revolves around a prophecy of seven Greek and Roman demigods (mortal children of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses) who have extraordinary strength and powers. The story details a conflict between the demigods and Gaia, also known as Earth Mother. This series, along with ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ and ‘The Trials of Apollo’ are widely popular among teens and fantasy lovers nowadays.
Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
New York Times Bestselling author Colleen Hoover presents us with a moving novel about family, love and the power of truth. This story deals with personal issues and family problems seen through the eyes of a 17 year old girl. I have always been a fan of Hoover’s books and this one did not disappoint. Throughout this whole book, a teenager, Merit deals with various personal issues and loss.
Her family has a lot of baggage, unresolved issues and anger toward one another. When Merit does something very drastic, the family starts to work through their problems. Towards the end, Merit begins to realise that she was blind, judgmental and wrong about her family this whole time.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
‘All the Bright Places’ is a Young Adult Fiction by the American author Jennifer Niven. The book portrays the story of two teenagers, Theodore Finch and Violet Markley, who want to escape their reality very badly. Violet suffers from survivor’s remorse and Finch has overly morbid thoughts and is labeled “Freak” by his classmates. On one fateful afternoon, they meet at their school’s bell tower, ready to jump off the ledge. Thankfully, they were able to talk each other out of it and become unlikely friends. Finch, trying to get Violet out of her own personal cage, decided that they should explore all the wonders of Indiana. But, as Violet’s world started to expand, Finch’s one was only becoming smaller. This heartfelt story is recommended to everyone who deals with self-hatred, social anxiety,etc.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergent series is a very popular Young Adult trilogy by Roth set in a dystopian world. It takes place in the post-apocalyptic version of Chicago. Where society defines people by putting them into different factions. There are five in total: Dauntless, Amity, Erudite, Abnegation and Candor. The plot revolves around a dauntless initiate Tris Prior and her Tobias “Four” Eaton when they find out that they, unlike the others, do not belong to any particular faction. They are divergent, meaning that they have the characteristics of more than one faction. When Erudite tries to control others by drugging them with a serum, Tris and Four start to fight against it. At the end of the trilogy, they get to accomplish their mission by ending the factions.
Great authors and poets say books inspire them, and books have indeed inspired me too, I hope that everyone who reads the books I have recommended here is inspired and appreciates these just as much as I do.
Adrita Kibria is a student of class VIII at Playpen School, Dhaka.