16 September

This week, I had a fancy to do something where a bit more audience participation was required… so, here follows the opportunity for you, the reader, to have a bit of a gas about your favourite book (yes, just one) and why it’s your favourite.  Hopefully, other readers will pick up some good reads through this, myself included.

I shall start the proverbial ball rolling with one of mine.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving

This was my first John Irving book, read about a year ago although published twenty two years ago, in 1989.  It’s a phenomenal book that grabbed me on many levels.  The narrator tells the reader at the very beginning that his best friend, Owen Meany, ‘was the instrument’ of his mother’s death and his reason for believing in God.  Not only that, he tells the reader that Owen ‘was the smallest person’ he knew and that he had ‘a wrecked voice’.  Already I love Owen Meany – how could you not?  This kind of immediacy in plot and characterisation is so compelling that I danced through the religious references and detail that otherwise would have tripped me up.  To add to this, Owen Meany ‘speaks’ in capitals throughout to highlight the hideousness of his whining voice, which adds to the comic element… and there is a lot of humour in this book.  At time’s it’s awful and hilarious all at once.  The main reason that this rises above so many other books that I have read though, is the plotting.  A few pages before the end of the book, you hit the climax, and it is one heck of a climax.  But what is so clever about this is that the seemingly insignificant bits and pieces from earlier all lead to this moment, and suddenly, everything makes sense.  I gasped, I went “Ahhhhhhhhhh!” and “Oh my God!” all at the same time and had to stop reading for a couple of minutes before I could go on. I have only read two other books that gave me such a sense of overwhelming shock –  John Boyne’s, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and Markus Zusak’s, The Book Thief… but I’ll save those for another day!

So there you have it.  A most amazing and memorable book.  Now it’s your turn… click on the comments link below to give me your favourite read, and why.

About Abi Burlingham

I write children's books and paint pictures inspired by nature, animals, trees etc, mostly in acrylics. I am a crisp addict.
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13 Responses to 16 September

  1. Difficult to leave much of a comment, as I absolutely agree with your first-choice book. Brilliant, rush-along style and the final revelation – an immensely satisfying read. If I had a second choice, it would be Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna. Long but again extremely satisfying.

  2. nettiewriter says:

    This is my favourite book too! And for all the reasons you gave above. The way Irving pulls together all the strands that you thought were perhaps unrelated is just masterful. My joint fave book is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. That is a work of genius and I have way too much to say about it – I’d take over your blog! I am so pleased to know that Owen Meaney is loved by others too.

    • Ah! Thanks Nettie. It is just amazing isn’t it? I would be so proud of myself if I could ever come up with a plot even half as good as this. I haven’t read Cloud Atlas so will add that to my list of must reads, which I suspect will be quite long by the end of today. Hubby had better hire a van to do his Xmas shopping for me this year!

  3. Ann Wright says:

    My favourite book is ‘The Nostradamus Prophecy’ by Theresa Breslin. The first time I read it, I couldn’t put it down and stayed up into the night to read (hubby wasn’t too impressed!). I never thought I’d get so caught up in a drama set in sixteenth century France. I can pick it up now, open it at any page and start reading, and I’m immediately immersed in the story again. Yet the writing is still fresh and enjoyable.

    • That sounds like a wonderful book Ann. I have heard of it, but it’s not a book I would have been immediately drawn to. It sounds as if the writing is pretty compelling though. Another one to add to my Christmas list (I shall warn my hubby in advance!) Thanks ever so for commenting and giving me your fave read.

  4. Jo Carroll says:

    Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy – for its cast of characters, and wonderful sweep of India with all its contradictions and wonderfulness. (I’m not at home, so can’t give you more details here!)

    It’s a huge book. Settle down when the weather is dreadful – and get into it. It’s wonderful!

    • Thanks Jo. This is a great recommendation. I have read this one and I totally agree with you. It is such a colourful novel… and it is rather big! I can imagine you enjoying this with your interest in travel. Have you read his novel ‘An Equal Music’? It’s one of my favourites and is so beautifully written. Thanks again.

  5. Emma Pass says:

    Favourite book? As in *one* book? Argh – I have so many favourites it’s hard to know where to start!

    I suppose, though, if I was forced to choose, it would have to be L.M. Montgomery’s EMILY OF NEW MOON. I’m a big fan of Anne of Green Gables – the character Montgomery is best known for creating – but for me, Emily wins hands down every time. Orphaned at the very start of the book, she’s parcelled off to live with two elderly aunts who have no idea what to do with this feisty, mysterious girl with jet black hair and violet eyes, who spends every spare moment scribbling stories and writing letters to her dead father. Even though the book was published nearly 90 years ago, Emily is so real she seems to leap off the page. Once you’ve met her, you’ll never forget her.

    And I’ll be good and not say a word about how the other two books in the trilogy, EMILY CLIMBS and EMILY’S QUEST, following Emily’s ambitions to become a writer, are also favourites, because– Oops.

    • Thanks Emma! It is soooo hard to choose isn’t it? Often the stories we read as children stay with us though don’t they? I loved Anne of Green Gables as a child – my daughter has my origianl copies of this and Anne of Avonlea. These Emily books sound lovely. I really like the sound of Emily and the thought of her scribbling away at every available moment – a character I bet most of us can relate to!

  6. wendyfreckles says:

    This has to go on my ‘to read’ list. I’ve been on a Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen mission for quite some time & have worked my through them now so it was time for a change into the modern day! I chose Cloud Atlas but it’s such a shock of a contemporary change to the system! After the first humerous page the subject matter didn’t grab me but I will persevere as I’ve heard good things about it.

    My favourite book has to be Jane Eyre because it was the most memorable – I made it last my entire pregnancy, digesting every single word – sometimes thrice! Apparently lots of people don’t like this classic which surprises me. But I really need to get reading some modern day classics.

  7. I love Jane Eyre – one of my favourites and one of the first novels I read. I haven’t read Cloud Atlas, but if you’ve heard good things about it, it probably is worth persisting with. I am now working my way through John Irving… his books alone will keep me going for some time. Thanks Wendy.

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