There’s something exciting about a nice thick chunky book. For starters, the author is allowed to let the plot breathe and develop the characters in a more well rounded manner. Personally I find a door stopper novel a fully immersive experience and those are the ones that have stuck in my brain.
All the five books listed here are over the 500 page mark and have just captivated me from beginning to end and have caused serious book hangovers when I finished them.
5. John Irving – A Prayer for Owen Meany
Originally when I first read …Owen Meany I kept getting images of the film Simon Birch and that put me off it completely and I did not pick it up after a good five or six years. When I finally convinced myself to stop being silly, I just picked it up and savored it slowly. In fact I made it last a month, just reading a few pages in the morning before work. Due to the episodic nature of the book, reading it in bits and pieces helps.
The story is in the form of a memoir, John Wheelwright recalls his childhood adventures with the dwarfish, helium voiced, hyper intelligent, resourceful Owen Meany. A hefty part of the novel is funny, a lot of the escapades are told through a child’s perspective but things change as the duo grow older and the book takes a serious tone, bordering on the horrifying.
Irving is known for repeating his plot traits : religion, sport, perverse habits but for Owen Meany all of Irving’s quirks come together magnificently.
4. Hanya Yanagihara – A Little Life
Torture porn? Emotionally Manipulative? A Little Life usually is heavily criticised for these things but there’s no denying that this book will affect you in an emotional way. This book is about four friends and how their lives interact. The main focus is on Jude though, the most enigmatic of the four friends.
Just to note that this book has a lot of graphic descriptions of abuse and displays the worst aspects of human nature but if you can stand that then be prepared to read a book that will bring out your sensitive side to its fullest.
3. Rohinton Mistry – A Fine Balance
This is another novel which will activate the tear ducts but it is a masterpiece. Never have I read such beautiful writing and considering that the majority of the book takes place in a house just goes to show that Rohinton Mistry is a genius at his craft.
This simple tale of a student, two tailors and a wealthy widow trapped in a house during India’s Emergency is a fantastic portrayal of the caste system and Indian politics of the time. Although it is a tearjerker of a book, there are some funny moments, even with some gross out humour occurring now and then. A stunner in every single way.
2. Haruki Murakami – Kafka on the Shore
Kafka on the Shore is Murakami at his best. The plot revolves around Kafka, who is searching for his parents and Nakata, a person who looks for lost cats.The even number chapters focus on Kafka, while the odd, Nakata. Only once do their destinies cross but their actions affect the book’s development to its high fantasy conclusion. As a librarian who likes cats and Radiohead reading about librarians, cats and Radiohead, I had a lot of fun reading Kafka on the Shore and despite the thickness, it will take no time to finish.
1.Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch
For many years I held that Donna Tartt’s debut, The Secret History was a literary highpoint. That was until The Goldfinch was published, which blew that novel out of the proverbial water. The Goldfinch is a magnificent book. Well written, brilliant characters and an unpredictable plot. It is perfect and addictive. If I explain the book it will sound banal. After all a novel about a boy who steals a painting of a Goldfinch and keeps it with him throughout his many life changes sounds too simplistic but in Donna Tartt’s hands this novel is an exploration of modern society that bears similarities to Dickens at times. The Goldfinch is an amazing novel and has to be read, dare I say even a contemporary classic.