Read Read Read! 5 Brilliant Book Recommendations

by Julie Cleaver

There’s nothing quite like getting stuck in a good book. Whether you’re on a hot stinky bus or simply sitting on the toilet, with a captivating novel in your hands you can literally be anywhere or anyone. Novels with excellent character development and/or stunning literary qualities contain the power to touch individual’s souls. When a novel is truly thought provoking and ingenious it can even possess revolutionary qualities. Great authors can expose a generation to a whole new way of thinking, potentially alter a generations zeitgeist and propel societal change (think Nineteen Eighty Four or Catcher in the Rye). Reading exercises and strengthens our brains, helps us concentrate, increases our vocabulary and therefore enhances our capability to express ourselves more accurately. Ultimately it develops our ability to empathise with others and creates well rounded human beings. Studies show that couples who both frequently read are more likely to stay together, and that a common trait of highly successful people is that they all, yup you guessed it, read. There’s a myriad of reasons why reading is so good for us, yet in people’s busy lives it often drops to the bottom of the priority list, below Facebook and even below trolling through cat memes (guilty!). So as my social contribution to AUT students I decided to review my top five favourite novels in the hope of rekindling or perhaps even igniting the inner reading flame living in all of us. As a side note, these books are all regarded as excellent by people much smarter than me, so you don’t just need to take my word for it!

The Beach by Alex Garland

Fast paced, concise and edgy, this book is one seriously epic motherfucker! Garland wrote the screen play for the film 28 Days Later and The Beach is no doubt equally as action packed and intense as that zombie apocalypse number, making it a gripping, never-a dull-moment kinda novel. For those of you who appreciate fowl language dispersed among beautifully eloquent sentences, extremely to-the-point micro chapters and a love/hate relationship with your narrator, The Beach is most definitely for you! Sorry for the cliche but it has to be said, the book is TOTALLY 100 times better than the movie! So even if you’ve seen Leo parade around Thailand without a shirt on I still completely recommend this novel for a fantastic read!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

An absolute classic, The Great Gatsby is a highly rewarding novel to those who relish in a more sophisticated style of literature. The pages are filled to the brim with fluffy and descriptive five-line-long kinda sentences, which are often breathtakingly beautiful if you re-read them enough to understand them. Though some people complain that the story is too simple and needs more dragons, if you look beyond the narrative and read about Fitzgerald’s deep messages hidden within the tale you’ll find it actually harbours a rather fascinating sub context which comments not only on the era it was made in but also timeless themes, making this 20’s piece still largely relevant today.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Oh Lolita, what a polarising novel! Yes the story is centred around a 36 year old and his love affair with his 12 year old step daughter, but it’s so much more than that! Hear me out before you disregard it completely! The charm to this novel resides not within the story so much but rather in the way it is told. The 36 year old is the narrator and his style of prose is so alluring, so enamouring, that he indeed manages to seduce the reader into empathising with him. Though he is clearly a predator whom should be regarded as a villain, his excellent writing forces the reader to enter into the deep confides of his mind, making it nearly impossible not to feel for the poor old pedophile. Lolita is also riddled with symbols and motifs giving it some hefty literary substance. If you’re interested in extremely talented writing and unusual themes I recommend this novel to you; prepare to be seduced by a madman!

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

This novel has won countless awards and for good reason; it will most definitely take you on a journey that you will not see coming! In White Teeth there is no main protagonist, instead the story rotates around a handful of interconnected characters, allowing the narrative to evolve through various lenses. Tackling issues regarding immigration, love, tradition, and intellect this book is extraordinarily nuanced and insightful. It’s a novel that I genuinely wish I could unread so that I could pick it up again for the first time!

Women by Charles Bukowski

If you’re not into sex then don’t even try starting this book; cool so that eliminates no one reading this article? No but seriously, Women is pretty heavy on the sexual content so if Disney and Harry P is your usual forte, I’d stay away from this risqué piece of foreplay. The story follows Henry Chinaski’s life, a boozed up semi-famous writer who seeks fulfilment by fucking every women that crosses his path. But is the animalistic, purely physical aspect of sex enough for any human soul to be happy? What really makes this novel a cult classic is Bukowski’s absolutely brilliant style of writing; direct, easy to read yet extraordinarily profound. Highly recommended read, however I warn you, only start it when you have no assignments due because the second you begin you will likely be physically unable to put it back down!

I hope this list has inspired you to pick up a novel again, give the pages a good old sniff, (we all do that sometimes, right?) and get amongst the reading scene once again! If you end up reading one of these books and would like to tell me how accurate or misleading my reviews were, please feel free to give me a holla at juliecleaver@hotmail.co.nz (yes I still use hotmail, sue me.) Or even if you’re just down to have a good old yarn about a novel, my inbox is always open.

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