Wednesday, 28 October 2015

My Favourite Book Is... by Samantha Tonge & Hayley

Samantha Tonge, author of Game of Scones and My Big Fat Christmas Wedding

It is very difficult to choose an all-time favourite book, but one stands out for me:  The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I am in awe of the exquisite teenage voice he creates. With two teenagers myself, I feel he got it spot on. The book moved me enormously -  made me sad, contemplative yet even laugh, and I think that is the reason for the story’s success; the message that there can be humour in adversity and that laughter can also spring from the darkest times and get you through. What’s more the characterisation was excellent – vivid and original. I adored the romance between the two main characters, Hazel and Augustus, and even though very sad, found the ending unexpectedly uplifting.  The Fault In Our Stars doesn’t belong to a genre I usually read, which makes it even more of a treasure.

My all-time favourite book is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I first read this book over twenty years ago as I was a young teenager when it caught my eye in a second-hand book shop. It’s a short novel so I read it in the space of a couple of hours and immediately after finishing it I read it all over again. Every year since then I’ve re-read it, it’s one of the very few books that I regularly go back to. A couple of years ago my husband surprised me with a beautiful new clothbound hardback edition of the book, which is now one of my most treasured books.

Fahrenheit 451 a futuristic dystopian novel about a time when books are banned; the government has banned them because they make people think, and people who think are harder to control. Firemen only exist to burn books - anyone who suspects a person of having books calls the fire service and they come out immediately and burn the books! The title of the book comes from the fact that 451 degrees fahrenheit is the optimum temperature to burn paper. 

This is ultimately an uplifting story though because Montag, who is a fireman, begins to question in his own mind why they are burning books. One day he steals a book, rather than burn it, and finds he can’t stop thinking about books; he becomes consumed with questions about the world he lives in. Then he hears whisperings that there are other people who think like him, people who have been secretly trying to save books for a long time and he feels compelled to seek them out, even though doing so could cost him his life. I’m not going to tell you exactly how it ends but it is a moving ending, and it leaves you with hope.

I always recommend this book to anyone who loves books; for me, it’s one of those books that every book lover should read because it’s brilliant, and also still very relevant. It makes you think about the format we read books in and whether that matters as much as the stories contained inside. Best of all though, it’s a book that makes you realise that books will always survive, in one form or another, as long as there are enough people who are passionate about them, and that’s a wonderful thing!

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