Three Recommended Reads

Across the past month I've read some wonderful books that completely ensnared me. So, naturally, I thought I'd share some of the absolute best out of these books. Ranging from the labyrinthine streets of Victorian London to a great Gothic novel about a wholly unusual family to the mysteries of Tokyo at night – here are three books I highly recommend.

REVIEW: The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
| PAGES: 835 | Publisher: Canongate | FIRST PUBLISHED: 2002 | Historical Fiction | *FOR MATURE READERS* | 
When I think of The Crimson Petal and the White, I'm still unable to fathom how the lives of Sugar and those around her are fictitious. Both Michel Faber's characters and his Victorian London are so vivid, intricate, colourful and alive that, even in retrospect, it seems utterly incomprehensible for such pulsing life to be born from something as monochromatic as black ink on a page. If such an impressive feat is not the mark of a fantastic book, I honestly cannot tell you what is. The Crimson Petal and the White, flawed only slightly by its occasional tendency to meander off course, is a wonder. Faber's compulsively readable Dickensian epic offers the reader a tour through the Victorian London the real Victorian writers shied away from showing. So, to Michel Faber, I say thank youThank you for taking me to the real Victorian London. Thank you for introducing me to Sugar and the cast of indelibly wonderful characters her life entails. And, most of all, thank you for writing what one can fondly describe as a really, really good book.

| PAGES: 146 | PUBLISHER: Penguin | FIRST PUBLISHED: 1962 | Classics | Gothic |
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is quietly unsettling, bleakly written, brimming with pervasive unease, suffocatingly tense – and oh how I loved it! Shirley Jackson is a masterful storyteller, simple as. From the characters to the chilling climax, every aspect of this novel is decidedly creepy. It doesn't involve monsters or anything of the sort, but something far more disturbing. In fact, Jackson explores themes of insanity and the unhinged human mind. I won't say anything else (because this isn't a book you want to know too much about before beginning), but I'll share the opening – and what an opening it is!“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in our family is dead.”

After Dark by Haruki Murakami
REVIEW: After Dark by Haruki Murakami
| PAGES: 201 | PUBLISHER: Vintage | FIRST PUBLISHED: 2004 | Magical Realism | Contemporary | 
“It’s true, though: time moves in its own special way in the middle of the night.” When the reader begins this book they unknowingly enter a different realm; they cross the subtle line between reality and fantasy, and enter a surreal, dreamlike version of Tokyo – a Tokyo that's draped in darkness. After Dark, unlike many of Murakami's other books, does not have intricate and frustratingly complex characters. After Dark, unlike many of Murakami's other books, is not openly strange or fantastical. The strength of After Dark lies in its subtlety; its subtle character development, shown through the touching relationship between two siblings, and its subtle atmosphere, experienced through the haunting and bewitching narrative. In short, this book is exquisite in its execution. I have little else to say other than this: After Dark is best read at midnight, when your mind is most vulnerable to the allure of nighttime Tokyo and the wonders that lie within.

Have you read any of these? Have you read anything recently you recommend?
I'm still considering setting up a second blog, so more on that soon!

14 comments:

  1. I haven't read any of these but you've genuinely made me add them all to my wishlist. :'D Great post ♥

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  2. After Dark sounds fantastic. I've been meaning to read Murakami for some time. Nearly bought Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki today but the copy was damaged so I'm waiting for more to come in.

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    1. Ooh I really did enjoy Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki!

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  3. After dark and We have always live in the castle sound incredible! Adding to my need to read list! :D

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  4. I keep seeing Michel Faber's work being highly recommended, I definitely need to pick something up very soon!

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    1. You should! I've just started "Under the Skin" & I'm really enjoying it so far.

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  5. I love your words about The Crimson Petal and the White, as you've just summed up my feeling on the book. Delicious adventure!

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  6. I just finished Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki (after I saw so much Murakami love on your blog:D) so I'll have to look out for this title!

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  7. What beautiful reviews. I'd love to read all three of those; the first, especially, sounds like my kind of book. I just bought (on your recommendation, of course) a Murakami seconhand; it's called The Colourless Pilgrimage of Tsuko Something-or-other" or something along those lines. I (clearly) can't entirely remember. It has a disturbing opening passage about suicide being as easy as eating a raw egg. I don't know. Do you know the one I mean? (Sorry, this comment has very much gone off course. Hmm. Maybe it's bedtime.)

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