Back in May, the BBC launched its #LovetoRead campaign to celebrate reading for pleasure and to ignite a national conversation about books and words. Over the summer, the BBC have partnered with a variety of leading literacy organisations to promote the campaign, encouraging us to share our favourite books and what they mean to us, and to inspire others to love reading too. At the Festival, we have been joining in on the conversation online through Twitter and Facebook. Here, Lucy, Robbie and Lily share their favourite books. Stay tuned for the second instalment!
Lucy – The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I discovered this book when I was immersed in all things beautiful while studying History of Art. It was probably the importance of concept of beauty that prevails throughout that appealed to me, or possibly the fact that I felt a New England College would quite suit me…but either way I have adored this book since my first reading. Set in a picturesque New England College, the story is about a small group of eccentric and rather conceited Classics students whose obsessions with the mythological worlds they are studying lead them to experiment in ways that are initially light-hearted and amusing but soon become far more dangerous. The contrast between their beautiful surroundings and the romanticism of the language and myths they are studying is in stark contrast to the darker plot that unfolds which makes this book completely gripping and a little unsettling.
Robbie – The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
It was a hard job to choose between John Irving’s novels – should I go for A Prayer for Owen Meany, The World According To Garp, A Widow for One Year, Until I Find You? In the end, it had to be The Hotel New Hampshire, a typically sprawling saga of an eccentric family, filled with recurrent Irving themes (private school, Vienna, bears, wrestling, sex and death) as well as his trademark black humour and sudden heartbreaking poignancy. I first read it in my early 20s and it’s stayed with me ever since.
Lily – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
I can remember reading The Kite Runner as part of my English Literature GCSE and I was completely bowled over by it. A Thousand Splendid Suns is equally powerful. In both books, you feel like you are there witnessing the story unfold right in front of you. Hosseini engages with all your senses – you can taste the food, you can feel the heat, you can hear the characters and feel their pain and heartache. Suns explores the relationship between two Afghan women married to the same man, and their resilience and strength during the rise of the Taliban. It’s a fantastic book that I have read again and again, and each time fills me with emotion and admiration for the two women – themes that continue to resonate with today.