Over the last 3 years I have done a lot of reading. I've read some pretty lame books, some okay books, some pretty darn good books...and then there are the books that remind you why life is amazing. I only encounter these books about once a year, maybe twice if I'm lucky. Today, I'm going to share my most-amazing-books-ever list. I mean, I might be exagerating a bit when I say 'most-amazing-ever,' but over the past 3 years, these are definitely some of the best that I've encountered.
Persepolis is a graphic novel autobiography by Marjane Satrapi. Satrapi relates her experience of growing up in Iran following the Islamic Revolution. It's not a pretty or sentimental story, rather, it's a riveting, deeply moving coming of age story. Satrapi begins her tale at childhood, depicting her sweet, believing innocence and the many talks she had with God in these younger years. She then moves on to describe her tumultuous youth of exploration and self-discovery all with a heated political backdrop. Her parents, political activists, send her away to live in France where they know she will receive a better education and be free from the opression she would face in her own country.
This beautiful autobiography is not only a peek into the world of nations overcome with political unrest, but it is also a sweet coming of age story. Satrapi explores feminism, religion, politics, family life, romance and growing up. She is not heavy-handed, rather, she lets you draw conclusions and focuses on narrative.
The book was made into a movie, which is brilliant, but skips a lot of content.
A Monster Calls was based on an idea by the late Siobhan Dowd, a amazing author who died in 2007 of breast cancer. It's a lovely story of a boy dealing with death. Conor is 13 years old and has a mother who is terminally ill. Conor's mother is hopeful and fights her cancer fiercely. She is determined to stay with Conor, and as a result, Conor has not faced the idea of life without her. Except in his dreams. Every night Conor has the same terrible nightmare.
At exactly 12:07 Conor wakes to voice calling him. He looks out his window to see a gigantic monster. This monster tells Conor that he has 3 stories to tell Conor. He will come each night and tell his stories and when he is done, Conor must tell him a story.
Despite the wild idea of a monster appearing in the night, A Monster Calls is a deeply realistic story. The reader lives through every day with Conor--at school, dealing with his grandmother, visiting his mother in the hospital, and grieving. But every night at 12:07 the monster visits and you hear a story...a story that somehow helps Conor.
The book is beautifully illustrated and is definitely worth a read.
Lost and Found is an incredible collection of my 3 favourite Shaun Tan books. It includes: The Red Tree, The Lost Thing and The Rabbits. Tan's illustrations are vivid and poignant and the stories are meaningful. I read The Read Tree on days when I'm feeling sad. I read The Lost Thing on days when I'm feeling lonely. Finally, I read The Rabbits on days when I need to remember.