Tell the truth. When was the last time you read a book? Whether hard back or paper back, within the last week have you taken or rather had the time to sit down and enjoy the pleasures of reading an imaginative and well versed piece of literature?

The onset of technology has changed the face of humanity as we know it. The fast paced and immediate travelling of news via social networking means we have become both accustomed to and expectant of information at our fingertips as soon as we need or request it. Like a dying breed, that well-known virtue called patience is slowly but surely leaving mans’ disposition. We want and believe we are entitled to everything now, now, now.

Technology has aided in the development of many of the arts such as music. Twitter allows for artists of any stature to converse with peers and fans alike, promote music, downgrade others and push their own sound. You only have to look at the MySpace generation to witness stars using the platform to elevate themselves form a nobody to a somebody.

 

 

But of course music and technology have not always been a perfect fit. Many industry professionals claim that the downloading of music is not only illegal, but makes it difficult for artists to earn a living from it. Hence why you have musicians showing their obvious disdain when their singles or albums are leaked, the way they see it is that they worked for that production and so should reap the rewards for it. But let us face it, technology has been more of a help then a hindrance for music. What I am concerned about is how the internet has almost revolutionised the position of print media and literature.

With the launch of such products as the Amazon Kindle, readers are now able to download their favourite classics for a price and read on the way to work, on the beach, in a lift, on a plane without the inconvenience of having to lug around multiple hard backs. The physical action of buying/borrowing a book and flicking through each page is no longer appreciated or revered, especially when you can read it on a screen and have nothing to do but scroll down.

Being a passionate student of literature from a very young age, I enjoy nothing more than being perched on my bed wrapped in my duvet, reading a novel from start to finish completely forgetting the world around me. Placed in between my palms, I feel a connection with the story, imagining what each character looks like, their mannerisms, pausing every so often for a drink or reaching over to my pack of cookies. Reading isn’t just about scanning or skimming words on a page, it’s about escapism.

Each novel presents a unique experience in itself and when you can’t feel the pages softly caressing your fingers but instead feel the offensive glare of the monitor opposite you, it takes away from the magical and existential themes created by the story.

Walking passed an independent book shop yesterday, I couldn’t help but pop in, gazing at the wealth of fiction/non-fiction and biographies staring back at me. There was that book shop smell (all book lovers will understand what I mean) which hit my senses and reminded me how much I enjoy the comfort of reading. I ended up purchasing Face by Benjamin Zephaniah, a British Afro-Caribbean poet, writer and one of my heroes. I’ve read the story countless times and never get bored with it. Carrying it home, made me think of some of my other favourite novels, realising that each one has become synonymous with a particular point and time in my life. So to honour the beauty of books and reading, here are not necessarily my top five favourite books, but the five that have had the most impact on me:

 

1. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

This may just be my favourite novel ever. It amazes me how Morrison is able to use a mixture of disjointed prose and beautiful poetry to distinctly paint the picture of Pecola Breedlove, a little black girl living in America’s Great Depression. Suffering racism, abuse and battling her misconceptions of beauty she sets out to attain a set of blue eyes, a mission that she believes will make someone love her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirteen Cents by K. Sello Duiker

2. Thirteen Cents by K. Sello Duiker

Thirteen Cents depicts the story of thirteen year old orphaned Cape Town street child Azure. He spends most of the novel being beaten up, sexually abused and smoking ‘zol’. By the end of the novel, Azure is transformed into a broken young boy, unable to distinguish between reality and the imaginary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Brixton Rock by Alex Wheatle

Brixton Rock by Alex Wheatle

The 2009 release of Wheatle’s honest portrayal of life for a young black boy in Brixton, is refreshingly honest and holds recognisable and identifiable components of South London.  A must read for those who want to know what this part of London is really like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger

 

4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger

Dealing with issues of identity, teen angst and rebellion, I would recommend this to anyone interested in the human condition. Regularly listed as one of the classics and deservedly so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

5. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Indian author Roy weaves a tale of love, caste and relationships to describe how each little thing that takes place in our life reverberates and are just as important as the bigger events. Stunning piece of work that constantly questions ones ability to love and be loved and how sometimes that love comes with limitations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(I couldn’t resist but throw a play in there)

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Without doubt one of the most powerful pieces of literature I have ever had the privilege to come across. Will forever be touched by main protagonist Blanch Dubois’ final words: “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.” The black and white film version starring Marlon Brando, although omits a few pivotal moments, is just as visually arresting.

What is your favourite book and why? Do you enjoy reading books? If not why?

Leave your comments below and let the FAB team know what you think!

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