Lots of books are good, but there are those few books that keep us awake at night because they’re too good to put down, or compel us to spend that last £5.00, perhaps even forsake lunch in favour of buying that special find.
There are some books that have had me reading through the night, when I can see sunlight slowly brightening through the curtains, and hear birds getting louder, and I know that my alarm will be going off in two hours to get up for work, but I just can’t stop reading. The tiredness becomes something at the back of mind, something irrelevant, and I’m spurred on by some magic literary adrenaline. Equally, I have given up lunch hours in search of a particular book, and ended up starving hungry for the whole afternoon, or left myself without money because I couldn’t not buy that book I’ve searched for. Nowadays we can order books online and have them through the letterbox the following morning, any book ever written, but I still go in search of that old-fashioned thrill of searching the spines of Waterstones, or better yet, a small, independent bookshop. This thrill is even greater.
These particular books aren’t just good, well-written and interesting. They have to have something exciting and enthralling about them.
We read books for different reasons. We might read a crime novel for the rush of working out whodunit, and the intrigue and mysterious plot, or we may read a romance to swoon at Darcy or Heathcliff. Sometimes we read books because the characters wrap us up in their life, or because the twists of the story keep our breath short and avid. I usually read books for the language. I’m attracted to novels written by poets, because one often comes across a sentence that you have to stop and re-read, and let yourself be filled with a glow because the sentence is so beautiful. I think the corny expression is; ‘takes your breath away’. I love books that make me laugh, and have exciting twists, but I love books that make me smile just by how beautiful the sentences are.
And so, for any one of these reasons, sometimes a book goes beyond being just good. A good book can keep me glued to a chair all Sunday afternoon, totally wrapped up, or make me oblivious to the people getting on and off the bus, but sometimes a very special book will make it impossible to sleep.
These are the few that have kept me awake most recently.
The Help, Kathryn Stockett.
This book combins all of the reasons I’ve already talked about. The characters, the plot, the language, the whole novel just made me happy to be reading it, and I didn’t want to put it down. I looked forward all day to getting home and picking it up. It’s a novel with so much warmth, and vibrancy, and jumps between every emotion possible.
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte.
What can I say? I’ve read this book so many times, but I never tire of being swept up in the wildness and romance of it, being totally enraptured by the desperation and bleakness, and the LOVE! ( I felt I should type that in capitals). Oh, the love.
Comfort and Joy, India Knight.
This book, although categorised at chick-lit, is so much more. I don’t usually read chick-lit, apart from Bridget Jones, but I was immediately wrapped up in this novel. It takes you away from your ordinary life and suspends you somewhere warm, and enveloping, and comforting (hence the title). The characters, the exciting plot, the humour, it’s just so endearing and welcoming. I forgot what was going on in my own life and stayed in a safe, colourful pocket somewhere. It has a good story, makes you laugh, and is full of colour. This book made me very content, and kept me up until it was light out.
Death Comes to Pemberley, PD James.
As an ardent Darcyist, I was totally carried away with this book, which is essentially very well-written fan-fic. It’s a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, and if you didn’t know better, you would think Jane Austen had written it. PD James is remarkable, especially when one reads her long list of accolades and awards, and has been able to write a true sequel, as though it were actually created by the author herself. It quenches that thirst for all readers of Darcy and Elizabeth who wanted more than just the one novel, a century after the original, and wanted the story to carry on after the author had died. How often does that happen? And aside from all of that, it’s an exciting murder mystery, with a great whodunit plot.
It started when I stayed up through the night to read the Harry Potter books when I was a teenager (and twenty-something), and I will always love that feeling of being part of something communal and important.