By Abeera Ahmed
What began as a bedtime ritual to put me to sleep soon became a passion and finally a part of me. From the frighteningly revolting antics of Mr. and Mrs. Twits, to the rollicking stories of the Old Member, to hungrily flipping pages to get to the lowdown on the chocolate factory, to wishing that Chocolate Frogs were real, and to melting into a pile of mush by the end of the Selfish Giant, these and many more are some of the most profound memories of the sheer unadulterated joy that books have brought to readers like myself all over the world ad infinitum.
So in the same vein, hoping to impart some laughs, some truisms and instill the love of books, here’s a roundup of books which have an exalted status in my shelf:
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov:
It follows the narrative of its protagonist, Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged literature professor, who begins by recounting his various and many paramours, their debilitating inadequacy to fulfill him, whilst he harbors his secret fondness and desire for prepubescent girl, Nymphets, as he likes to call them. Eventually, he stumbles upon and is passionately fixated with with Dolores Haze (Lolita), the 12-year old daughter of his landlady. Their relationship strengthens, grows and takes turn for the very dangerous. The ensuing story then reveals the consequences of the dangerous obsession for all involved.
Controversial and explosive, Lolita has gained a worldwide repute, or notoriety, as you view it, across generations and decades. Lolita explores the unspoken territories of succumbing to our primal urges, taboo love and the resultant corruption which plagues the world, all topped off with a tragi-comedic tone, and written in one of the most famous and laudable proses of the 20th century.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath:
The Bell Jar is semi-autobiographical novel which, much like the reflection of the author’s own life, recounts the story of Esther Greenwood. Just like Plath, Greenwood was born and raised in Massachusetts, orphaned at a young age owing to her father’s death, had an exemplary academics in college, and was well on her way to a bright future, starting with a glamorous internship in a women’s magazine in New York. However, despite having the makings of a dream life, Esther Greenwood simply could not grapple the life that was handed to her. The frenzy of New York life, academic rejection, tumultuousness of being a woman, all resultantly caused the protagonist to spiral into a debilitating and protracted depression, leading to stints in mental institutions, and several suicide attempts.
Seemingly the novel may be horribly depressing, but it shines through as a solid piece of feminist literature. It questions the very dichotomy of morals that exists between men and women in our ‘modern’ and ‘equal’ society, sexism and materialism, making it one of the most widely read novels.
The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling:
We’ve all read the book(s), if not, then we’ve all heard of it, we’ve all seen the movie(s), and we’ve all come across a diehard Potterhead in our midst; that is just what the Harry Potter books are all about. They define a whole generation, grace every bookshelf, and have established themselves firmly as one of the most widely acclaimed and popular work of the English language.
If by a long shot you are still not aware of the premise, here goes: the story begins with an orphan, Harry Potter, who discovers after 11 miserable years with his uncle and aunt that he is a wizard, head bound to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Once he enters the magical world, he discovers his two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and along with him an arch nemesis, Lord Voldemort, responsible for his parents’ death. Over the course of the seven books, Harry Potter gains friends, mentors, enemies, and above all, thwarts repeated attempts by Voldemort at his life. Like in the real world, he has grown up with us, met friends to die for, people who care for him, lost the ones he loved, and met the love of his life, all while with an added touch of magic.