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To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.
I was first introduced to Harper Lee's magnificent novel when I was in fifth grade thanks to my mother, who had decided long ago that I was to read all of the classics (whether they were age appropriate or not). It wasn't until this year however, that I was impacted by this masterful work of literature. I reread the book, and instantly was infatuated by Harper Lee's dynamic characters. After reading chapter fifteen where Atticus' masculinity reached it's high point, I decided that Atticus Finch and I were meant to be together, prompting me to spend hours online searching for Atticus Finch apparel to parade around school. Subliminal themes of courage, empathy, maturity, and even superstition were masterfully weaved into the plot, keeping the reader in a hypnotic state, hungrily turning the pages, anxious to discover what chain of events will occur next. To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the few novels that kept me tossing and turning at night, until I gave in to my desires, turned on the reading lamp, and eased myself into the weary town of Maycomb, where I looked through Scout Finch's eyes for a few hours before being joggled back in to reality.
1984, by George Orwell.
As an aspiring political scientist, George Orwell's 1984 instantly became an obsession of mine. I chose to read this book after going online and searching “top ten best novels” in to Google; The very same evening I ordered a used, but loved copy of the infamous 1984. After what seemed like weeks of waiting in anticipation, my precious copy came in the mail, and I immediately dove into the novel. For two subsequent weeks, my tattered edition of 1984 became a loyal companion, and was toted around wherever I happened to venture. On many occasions, my book was forgotten in scattered classrooms across the school and I would be forced to scramble around at the end of the day, frantically trying to remember where I had been reading it last. What stuck me most about this ingenious story was that our world is not only being transformed by government, but also on many aspects. In the Newspeak language words were slowly shorn down to good, double good, double plus good, ungood, and doubleplusungood. In this modern age of technology, many students my age have rid themselves of an intellectual vocabulary and shorten words to such an extent that they are speaking a completely language, otherwise known as “text talk”. The George Orwell's 1984 was not just a novel for me; it was also an unavoidable reality of the future to come.
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
This was the first Dostoevsky novel that I read, and it is certainly my favorite. Raskolnikov's slow transition into insanity is not only maddening, but also fascinating. As I continued on with the novel, I felt increasingly claustrophobic. My vision became blurred, my head spun, and the walls slowly caved in. Raskolnikov's actions made complete sense to me not because I felt empathy for him, but because the novel turned changed my outlook to one of a deranged, paranoid murderer. After reading Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky novels have turned into a craving of mine. I have since purchased The Devils, The Idiot, and The House of The Dead. Although none of these novels will probably never top Crime and Punishment, I am sure that Dostoevsky will have the exact same impact, and once again transport me into a state of delirium.
Animal Farm, George Orwell.
Having already being a hard core George Orwell fan, I was more than apprehensive to start his next book. Animal Farm certainly did not disappoint; Animal Farm terrified me, to say the least. I walked on tiptoes around my dogs for a solid three weeks! The notion of animals overthrowing humans was a horrific one, and it sparked many night terrors. The book was frightening, yet addicting (very similar to Law and order SVU!). As I was reading Animal Farm, a similar frantic, powerless feeling overtook me. It took all of the nerves in my body to not cry out in anguish during one of my late night reading sessions. In my eyes, George Orwell is not only a political genius but also a better horror writer than Edgar Allan Poe, due to the fact that his points were extremely sharp, realistic. George Orwell should also be considered a master horror writer due to the facts that he so masterfully tests how many basic rights can be stolen from a person before they either transform into mindless workers all working towards the same malevolent goal, or crack under the pressure.
5. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck.
Oh Lennie, why did you have to stroke her hair? It shouldn't have luscious enough to take your life! If only Lennie had listened to my objections. Of Mice And Men is one of those novels that didn't make me cry, but left me dumbfounded. I wasn't really able to make a strong connection to George's decision until my dog of twelve years passed away. It may be a stretch to compare a Cairn terrier mix to a young man with Down syndrome, but my canine companion and Lennie died under similar circumstances. George shot Lennie in order to spare him a painful and humiliating death at the hands of a ruthless mob; My little Cairn mix had been experiencing continuous seizures the day she died, so we were forced to put her to rest. Rereading the novel helped me comes to terms with by dear friend's death, and cope with the situation.
Watership Down, Richard Adams,
Watership Down gave me a completely new view on small rodents! For weeks after I finished the book, whenever I saw a rabbit I would immediately dub it the name Hazel Rah. Out of all the action novels I have read, Richard Adams has come out victorious. Hazel Rah proved himself to be more macho than Robin Hood!
Catcher In the Rye, J.D Salinger.
Ah the world of teenage angst. Holden Caulfield manages to express hatred for almost everyone around him, and parade his pompous hunting hat all around Manhattan. Not only that, but he also manages to hire a hooker, receive advances from an old English teacher, and get expelled from his prior school in a total of five days. For a majority of Catcher In the Rye, I was exasperated with Caulfield, rather than sympathetic. However as the book progressed my feelings toward the supercilious young teen altered, and by the end of the book his mannerisms were made completely clear to me. I finally understood why Holden acted like an obnoxious brat, and I even identified with him in certain situations. Catcher in The Rye is most certainly a book that is imperative for young adults to read, so that they may possibly find tit bits of Holden Caulfield in themselves.
8. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini.
To say that the Kite Runner was a spectacular, moving book is a gross understatement. I first read this book in fourth grade, after I pocketed it from my mother's purse, (oh those rebellious days). This book not only sparked my interest in political science, but also marked the day that my eyes were opened. As a fourth grader my life was sheltered at a healthy level. Issues such as pedophilia, and constant warfare were not a daily occurrence. It was not very common to look out the window and see tanks strong enough to crush cinderblock rolling through New England suburbs, pancaking whatever was in their path. The world suddenly turned into a darker place where children my age were made in to sex slaves, and bombs could peel man's skin like a ripe orange. Hosseini's stirring novel was the first crack that formed on my naïve outlook, which over time has been reduced to a few lone columns surrounded by a pile of dust.
Number the Stars, Lois Lowry.
Number the Stars was the first in the line of the countless books on the Holocaust that I have encountered. In this novel, Lois Lowry presents a rather tame story of the Holocaust, but then again, once you have read Night all other Holocaust seem like a walk in the park. I first encountered this novel in third grade, shoved in a crevice of the classroom bookshelf. As soon as I had finished the novel, I became transfixed on the Holocaust. The urge to know every single detail if this national tragedy had never been higher. The book has such an impact on me, that I entered it into Letters About Literature (an essay contest in which you write to the author of your book), and received an Honorable mention. To this day whenever Lois Lowry's name is mentioned, a surge of memories seep in.
A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett.
To be quite frank with whomever this may concern, I enjoyed this book mainly because of the pictures. Please don't judge me to harshly! I was eight years old when my mother first read the book to me, and I found the plot to be inordinately depressing. As a matter of fact, the novel set me into a nail gnawing sense of worry. However, the ornate illustrations in my hardcover edition compensated for this feeling and I find myself admiring them to this day.