TTT: Books with Characters who Read

TTTI kind of disliked the openness of this question. I already have to pick my 10 choices, now you’re making me decide on the subject matter, too? It was too wide open—it could be anything. That felt more than a little daunting, so I pulled it back in to the subject matter at hand: books.

Behold, a list of 10 books with characters who read…

The Book Thief. An obvious choice, perhaps, but an excellent one. Liesel’s passion for reading, for exploring worlds beyond the terrifyingly violent one she’s in, was the entire reason I picked up this book in the first place.

I Capture the Castle. Cassandra is well-versed in poetry and literature, and because of this comes across beautifully in her writing. She even politely reads Stephen’s plagiarised and terrible original poetry, and doesn’t hate a word of it.

The Girl with All the Gifts. Melanie is a very clever 10-year-old girl who enjoys learning. She particularly likes read Greek mythology, drawing parallels and blending them with her imagination and the world around her.

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop. Technically not a character, as this is Lewis Buzbee’s memoir from a life spent working in bookshops and the publishing industry, but still. His bookish thoughts, observations and tales are wonderful.

The Book of Lost Things. After the death of his mother, 12-year-old David retreats into the world of books and stories, fantasy and imagination. Then his retreat manifests, trapping him in a world of fantasy. But does he want to get out?

Fahrenheit 451. Okay, so technically Guy doesn’t read the books he saves and secrets away, but it’s more the act and meaning behind his actions; the idea that books are powerful, that gets this book on the list.

The Art of Fielding. I guess both Owen and Guert count as characters who love books, but Guert is the only one of the two that I loved. He was perfect in his imperfection, flawless in his flawness. He loved books, his daughter, his lover, his school—all without reservation.

Breakfast of Champions. This is the book I am currently reading, It is witty and insightful and weird and I love it. Kilgore writes bizarre science fiction, the single copies of which he sends out in the hopes of getting published. The only place his stories end up are as filler for porn magazines, which he then buys in order to re-read his own work.

Walking on Glass. This is an odd, but very good, book. It focuses of three story lines, one centring around Steven, who believes he is trapped on Earth following his role in a galactic war. He reads science fiction in the hope of finding clues and messages.

Looking for Alaska. This book was a solid average for me: not bad, but not amazing. Alaska was a fascinating character, though. I can picture her room, piled with books, and it is wonderful. Of course, the fact that she never gets to read them all… less so.

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I Capture the Castle

!!d71vRgEWM~$(KGrHqYOKm8Ew9Bs7C7-BMR82FFvZQ~~_35Title: I Capture the Castle

Author: Dodie Smith

Summary: ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’ is the first line of a novel about love, sibling rivalry and a bohemian existence in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Cassandra Mortmain’s journal records her fadingly glamorous stepmother, Topaz, her beautiful, wistful older sister, Rose and the man to whom all three of them owe their isolation and poverty: Father.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3.5/5

Review: I didn’t know too much about this book before i read it. I can’t even remember how it ended up on my to-read list. I just knew it was about a family that lived in a run down old castle, and that sounded fun.

I love the writing. As the book is the journal of Cassandra, it was impossible to love the writing without loving her too. She’s smart and observant, and i just loved her voice. She is so kind and sees the good in everyone, i admire that because i certainly can’t do it myself!

Cassandra also makes some stunningly beautiful and meaningful comments, almost too casually. She says she wishes she could write poetry, but to me she already does.

What the book lacks is an interesting plot. I loved this family, i loved how close they were despite their troubles and poor financial situation. I love how they all pulled together to do what they could. I loved the mystery surrounding the father and the will he/won’t he, can he/can’t he regarding his writing career.

What i did not like was the love stories. He loves her, but she loves him, but he loves her sister, but she loves her brother… bah. Early on in the book Cassandra and Rose briefly discuss books, Rose favouring Jane Austen and Cassandra liking Charlotte Brontë. I wondered then what i’d let myself in for. Books whose focus is on the main female characters falling in love and being swept of her feet and… not my thing. Not my thing at all.

The writing, narrative voice and lots of the characters were truly wonderful. I just didn’t like what they were used for.

This is the second book i’ve read from my Classics Club list.