Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
By the same author who wrote Fight Club, this book changed how I perceived life. The official plot sounds trite; a model gets her face blown off by a stray bullet on the highway and teams up with a transsexual on a North American road trip to figure out if it was her ex fiancé or ex best friend who pulled the trigger. This novel had me hooked from the first page because it’s really about so much more. It’s about leveraging your failure to create your own success, finding beauty in the ugliest moments and deconstructing what you thought was important in your life. Do not read this if you are easily queasy, Invisible Monsters is so disturbing that publishers initially refused to publish it – only changing their mind after Fight Club became a hit.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire:
Maguire takes on the story of the Wizard of Oz from The Witch’s point of view. The novel takes you from the birth of Elphaba (The Witch) and chronicles her rise to fruition as a forsaken hero and leads to her bitter ending. The plot is both inspirational and inevitably tragic. Everyone knows the story of the Wizard of Oz, so it’s no small feat that Maguire manages to coax compassion out of the reader for The Witch – at the end of Wicked I wanted that spoiled brat Dorothy dead!
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Who hasn’t wondered how they’d fare if stranded on a deserted island. Lord of the Flies is about a group of young boys whose evacuation from Britain during the war is interrupted when their plane crashes on a tropical island. The novel offers an interesting commentary on the ideals of leadership, morality and survival. I couldn’t help but imagine myself in their situation and wonder what I would do if I was in their position – making it a really fun read!
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
An absolute classic! Taking place after WWI during the roaring twenties, The Great Gatsby centers on Nick Carraway who has moved to New York from Minnesota. Nick thrusts himself into a world of social climbing and extreme wealth but soon discovers that the high life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Infidelity and murder course their way through the upper crust and Carraway is forced to come to terms with the realization that money does not equate happiness.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Taking place in Alabama during the 1930s, To Kill A Mockingbird centers around Scout, Jem and their friend Dill who entertain themselves by toying with their scary neighbour Boo Radley. Over the three years of the story they learn why Boo, though he’s different, does not deserve to be tormented. Also in the story, Scout and Jem’s father, a lawyer, takes on an especially difficult case of defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. The story explores themes of racism, social injustice, good versus evil and moral growth. A surprising, emotional and uplifting ending tops this story off and makes it an amazing read which awarded Harper Lee a well deserved Pulitzer Prize.