— Amelia Olson
I don’t normally do things like this and despite the fact that I just finished a degree in English literature, I don’t really consider myself that well-read. Still, I would like to share with you some of the best novels I’ve read and how they’ve affected me and helped me in various ways.
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Everyone has their favourite novels by an nineteenth century female British author. There’s Jane Austen, who I don’t love and Emily Bronte who doesn’t fascinate me either. There was something about Jane’s experience and voice that really touched me - her need to do something more, to get out into the world.
The Magus - John Fowles
I developed my love for Fowles after being made to read The French Lieutenant’s Woman in sixth form. Everybody else hated but I loved it straight away. His existentialism and the mystery of his novels is really quite gripping and despite The Magus being a bit of a long read, it became an instant favourite.
The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman
Maus is actually a graphic novel and the only one I have read so far at all. It’s a fantastic autobiographical perspective on being a child of a holocaust survivors, the experiences of the survivors themselves and the tensions that arise from being the descendent of such inhumanity. You must read this.
A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
This is one of the most important books I think I’ve ever read. It follows the tales of two women living in Afghanistan between the 1960s and 2000s and their family and social experiences. It’s hard-hitting at times and I love it.
The Raging Quiet - Sherryl Jordan
I read this so long ago, when I was about 10 or something, maybe even younger. I don’t remember a lot about it except that I loved it, in fact I didn’t remember the name of it for ages. Then I recently was going through all my stuff to move house and I found my reading record, which we had to keep in middle school. It’s basically about a young woman who makes friends with a deaf man. I plan to re-read it soon.
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
I have to put this here. It was a GCSE text in high school. As a child I always remember being really, really angered by racism and this book made me feel so angry. I’m still angry.
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
I love gothic fiction. This is such a cliché choice but it was the first one I read and I just find it so moving. Everybody loves an outsider.
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
We read this in first year right after we’d read Heart of Darkness. I really want to read more by Achebe because I found this such an enthralling and eye-opening read about the Igbo people and their traditional culture, set against the antagonism of colonialism.
The Testament of Mary - Colm Tóibín
I read this book this year and it’s such a great take on the Jesus story. I’m not Christian and, in fact, you’ll probably enjoy this more if you’re not either. It’s a dead quick read as well at only about 100 pages. I read it as part of a Psychoanalysis module during a week on masculinity, if that makes any difference to you.
Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling
This may seem like a really ridiculous last choice but Rowling literally saved my childhood. At best I would say that my childhood experiences were tumultuous and Rowling fantastical world pulled me through that. One day my mum (who was a force of antagonism in my life) told me that I had to stop reading them over and over. I really hated her for that because she didn’t understand that when she was being a shit mum, it was those stories that kept me going. I will be forever grateful that I had them in my life.
And that’s it. I actually struggled to find ten books that I really love, which I realise is quite sad but like I said before, I haven’t read all that much. Now I’ve got a bit more time in my hands, hopefully I’ll have the chance.
So I arrived back from my family holiday in St Lucia yesterday and I will soon have lots of photos and hopefully videos to show you too. It’s a really strange time for me at the moment as I’ve just graduated and am trying to work things out and get my head screwed on properly. It’s nice to get away but really my heart lies in places where I can focus on doing what I love and getting on with things that make me happiest, which include moving into film and letting my photography return to a place where it’s about creativity and expression rather than meeting some standard of what people expect.
More to follow soon!
After a day of looking for running jobs and film work experience, I’m feeling pretty dejected. Doesn’t help that it’s a miserable day…