This week’s Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish is another thought-provoking topic: Top Ten Beginnings/Endings of Books. This one is going to be tough for me, I’ll say that right up front. As I discussed in the last “Let’s Talk” post, my reading has been slow and sporadic for the last couple of years, and the details of a lot of the books I’ve read are a bit fuzzy. I might not make it to 10, guys, but I’ll do my best!
1. Travels – Michael Crichton. One of the best first lines in the history of ever: “It is not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw.” You just have to keep reading, don’t you?
2. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith. Another epic first line: “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” The rest of the book lives up to the first line, drawing a picture of a sensitive, observant young girl caught up in an eccentric family. Her journal, as the title states, captures life in the castle that she shares with her father, a washed-up literary phenomenon, her stepmother, an artist’s model who enjoys communing (read: wandering around nude) with nature, her vain and ambitious sister Rose, younger brother who, despite everything is a pretty normal boy, the son of a former servant who is desperately in love with Cassandra, our narrator, and the dog. What is so endearing about the book is that although it depicts a quirky life that is miles from any semblance of normal, it is normal to Cassandra, so she writes it as anyone else would write about mundane daily affairs. I first fell in love with this book as a teenager and have never fallen out of it.
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (though they’re all pretty good) – JK Rowling. I wish these books had been around when I was a kid. They are superbly written, and magical in their own right. I feel like each of these books opens wide a door into a fantastic world and sets it up so all the reader has to do is walk through. It’s impossible to start reading one of these books and not be instantly captivated.
4. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams. I’ll admit right up front that I never finished this series – or this book. I think having it read to me as a child, listening to it on the radio and then watching the movie made the story too familiar to me, so the book feels as if it’s going too slowly whenever I try to read it. It’s hard to get swept up in it when I already know what’s going to happen next. And this is sad, because had I stumbled across this series as an adult, I am positive I would have loved it. That said, the beginning of the book is masterful and hilarious.
5. Travels with My Aunt – Graham Greene. The book this ends up being is very different from what you expect when reading the first few pages. It starts off stuffy, buttoned down, and unerringly proper, as its main character is described himself. But by the end of the second chapter, the book has done a 180 and suddenly our starched retired bank manager is swept into a world of smuggling, sinister characters and adventure. Excellently engaging read.
The best first line of all time has to go to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. But I haven’t read past that line, so I didn’t feel like I could really include it….
1. Harry Potter (pretty much every one) – JK Rowling. I wasn’t disappointed in her once. She manages time and again to provide a satisfying (if sometimes tear-soaked) ending to each section of the story – the final book being, naturally, an epic conclusion.
2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – JRR Tolkien. This is a series I am so grateful to have read, but that was completely exhausting while reading it. The danger, the endless stream of hopeless situations and dire circumstances. It’s a world descending into hell with one small hobbit its only chance at redemption. This was a story that is so impeccably written that to read it is to experience every harrowing moment of it. Which is, of course, the sign of an amazing writer, but for a story this long it really does take it out of you. But when you finally make it to the end with Bilbo and Sam, feeling as if you have struggled beside them every step of the journey, you will experience an amazing sense of relief. Not only that, but the story’s finale is flawlessly composed.
3. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving. Now, I read this one in high school, and honestly the memory of its details are fuzzy. But I do remember getting to the end of this book and feeling like the author had managed to pull of something amazing. I felt like the bits of the story snapped into place as I read and by the end I was deeply affected by the story. I should probably re-read it so I can get more specific!
4. The Twilight Saga – Stephenie Meyer. Say what you will about the quality of writing, the horrible role model Bella makes for young girls, the soppiness of the romance, the whole sparkling fiasco (and trust me, I’ve probably said all that and more), she does do a good job of drawing all the threads together at the end of the final book.
5. The Fault In Our Stars – John Green. Being a more contemporary super-star, you have probably all heard of this book. But if you haven’t, trust me, you need to read it. This is one of the happiest sad stories I’ve ever read, and I have rarely fallen so completely in love with two fictional characters. Fair warning: You WILL require tissues.
I’m sure I could have done better if I were up on my reading, but that’ll have to do for this week! //<![CDATA[ var sc_project=10144299; var sc_invisible=1; var sc_security="82f610c9"; var scJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://secure." : "http://www."); document.write("”); //]]>