Books don’t always need to be learning, sometimes the best thing they do is let you escape for a little while into another world and into another person’s story. Here are some of my favourite fiction books that I haven’t been able to put down (sometimes a few times).
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
This is now pretty common on lists of favourite fiction, and so it should be. Historical fiction, in particular, is something that is so incredible when it’s done well, making you believe the story taking place within the realms of something you already know to be true. This story is told from the perspective of death as the narrator during the holocaust and can only be described as hauntingly beautiful. It’s a personal favourite of mine, as we studied it in the 10th grade and our teacher had us write questions to the author. Little did we know, she sent the questions off and a few months later I got a personal response with a signed copy of the book which now sits proudly on my bookshelf as one of my favourite possessions.
“One was a book thief. The other stole the sky.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
In doing this list I started to notice an obvious pattern that I tend to really enjoy WWII historical fiction a lot. This particular book was one of the first I read in a single sitting since I was a teenager. The story about the German invasion of France and the aftermath from the perspective of a blind French girl and a very clever German boy delves into the stories we don’t necessarily hear when we study history. The way it’s written just constantly leaves you wanting more and makes it impossible to put down once you’ve started.
“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”
― Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
The Martian – Andy Weir
It’s an awfully old trope that the film is never as good as the movie. The film adaptation is very much worth a watch but, as so many adaptations do, it misses out the best of the detail. Perhaps it’s because I’m an engineer and by proxy, very nerdy, but the book describes the way the character solves problems so cleverly, with parts of actual laugh out loud humour (especially dark in some places) to create a character that of course could only be portrayed by Matt Damon who needs to be saved once again.
“Yes, of course, duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped.”
― Andy Weir, The Martian
Middle England – Jonathan Coe
Although fiction, this story tells the tale of how Brexit came to be in the UK through the lens of many of the main types of protagonists that changed the outcome of the vote. It doesn’t sugarcoat and dives right into the microscopic consequences of one of the biggest referendums in history. Exploring how people’s day to day relationships with friends, families and other people we interact with can be so drastically affected by the divisive politics that engulfed the UK and the rest of the world while reminding us of the human element behind it all.
“You know she wanted you to vote the other way. It’s her future, you know. She’s the one who’s going to be around the longest.”
― Jonathan Coe, Middle England
Uncommon Type – Tom Hanks
Like his films often do, Tom Hanks writes a collection of short stories that looks at the normal world but with a not so normal view. A great book for when you don’t have time to read a whole novel as each story is pretty easily read in one sitting. Nothing earth-shattering or “woke” that makes you question existence really, but some great stories and well-developed characters that make a perfect book for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
“Kirk, as his defensive stance, pulled out book after book, reading like he was a chain-smoker with a carton of menthols.”
― Tom Hanks, Uncommon Type
What are some of your favourite fiction books?