So as exciting as it is to get to write about my four favourite books, on taking a step back it really sports a bit of an eclectic mix in both genre, as well as a split between ‘wordy novel’ and… picture-books. Hopefully the range is useful! These books can be read over and over again, but I always try to leave a suitable time period between reads to ensure I can’t remember them word for word (or try my best not to anyway).
The picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray is by far one of my favourites, for several reasons. Oscar Wilde had such an incredible talent for writing stories really rich in intrigue, twists and sneaky underlying messaging, but also his descriptive writing is unparalleled. This story of a beautiful man and his moral downfall explores themes of appearance vs reality, the effect of vanity, and what true beauty really means; physical or internal.
With imagery so stark you feel like you’re living and breathing it, it leaves you enchanted by the setting and hungrily reaching for the next page at the same time. Whilst the book was written in 1890, the messages and teachings remain relevant through the centuries, and every time I read it I love the multifaceted perspective it provides on life.
Zen: The Art of Simple Living, by Shunmyō Masuno
Zen takes a slightly different route for genre, as an artistic and visually pleasing minimalism book written by Shunmyō Masuno, Head Priest and Garden Designer of a Zen Temple. The word to describe it is simply lovely. Each page is not only endowed with a beautiful piece of traditional artwork, but with 100 rules for a beautiful, calm, serene, and fulfilling life.
The primary focus is simplicity and clarity in a modern world, and each time I read it I’m reminded of what’s really important. Even down to arranging your shoes at the door as opposed to allowing an unattractive mountain of rubber and laces to accumulate as you enter your home; it gets you thinking.
My favourite rule: #7, Make a delicious cup of coffee.
The Rules Of Life, by Richard Templar
The Rules Of Life is another book that reminds you of what’s important. With an easy to read set-up of rules, bullet points, tips and tricks to ensure you’re not dragged down with forgettable advice, it’s another piece that reminds you what’s important to focus on in life. It’s got a light, sometimes comical tone and it’s a genuine read with some important lessons.
My favourite rule: #14, I wish I’d done that — and I will.
Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult
Nineteen Minutes is one of my favourite books of all time. A fictional story exploring the harrowing subject of a school shooting, in classic Jodi Picoult style it ensures you are provided with twists you don’t expect, immersive writing, and a wide breadth of perspectives from each character.
As several storylines run parallel to meet at a climax of the story (with a brilliantly written twist, as always) you literally cannot put the book down. The emotions in the book are so well written you’ll feel like you’re experiencing them yourself, so with love, loss, shock twists, and a roller-coaster journey from past to present, there’s not a mediocre chapter in sight.
Featured image: Zen – The Art of Simple Living, by Shunmyō Masuno