Some time ago I've written a guest blog for Language Lab Blog about Christmas Reads (you can read it here: http://languagelabblog.wordpress.com/) and that made me wonder: do we have any New Year's Eve Reads? I've spent some time thinking, googling and asking friends, just to find out that probably we don't.
Some were trying to suggest the 'life changing' books, but whenever it came to some specific titles, they came up with nothing! I thought of Bridget Jones or anything by Paulo Coelho, but honestly, that's not what I would like to be reading on New Year's Eve! I wanted something ambitious but not difficult, something easy to follow, a story that we might have read as children and then again as adults.
I find the idea of NYE Reads much more appealing than Christmas Reads and I came up with my own small list of books one might want to read that night (all the descriptions come from Wikipedia) Can you add any? Post your choice in comments!
1. 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' by C.S. Lewis
Most of the novel is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical creatures that the White Witch has ruled for 100 years of deep winter. In the frame story, four English children live in a big, old country house during their World War II evacuation from London. The youngest visits Narnia three times via the wardrobe in a spare room. All four children are together on her third visit, which validates her stories and comprises the last 12 of 17 chapters except a brief conclusion. In Narnia the siblings seem to fulfill an old prophecy, so they are soon adventuring both to save Narnia and their lives.
2. 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' by J.K. Rowling
When the first novel of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (published in some countries as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone), opens it is apparent that some significant event has taken place in the wizarding world—an event so very remarkable, even the Muggles notice signs of it. The full background to this event and Harry Potter's past is revealed gradually through the series. After the introductory chapter, the book leaps forward to a time shortly before Harry Potter's eleventh birthday, and it is at this point that his magical background begins to be revealed.
Harry's first contact with the wizarding world is through a half-giant, Rubeus Hagrid, keeper of grounds and keys at Hogwarts. Hagrid reveals some of Harry's history. Harry learns that as a baby he witnessed his parents' murder by the power-obsessed Dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who then attempted to kill him also. For reasons not immediately revealed, the spell with which Voldemort tried to kill Harry rebounded. Harry survived with only a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead as a memento of the attack, and Voldemort disappeared afterwards. As its inadvertent saviour from Voldemort's reign of terror, Harry has become a living legend in the wizarding world. However, at the orders of the venerable and well-known wizard Albus Dumbledore, the orphaned Harry had been placed in the home of his unpleasant Muggle relatives, the Dursleys, who kept him safe, but hid his true heritage from him in hopes that he would grow up "normal".
With Hagrid's help, Harry prepares for and undertakes his first year of study at Hogwarts. As Harry begins to explore the magical world, the reader is introduced to many of the primary locations used throughout the series. Harry meets most of the main characters and gains his two closest friends: Ron Weasley, a fun-loving member of an ancient, large, happy, but poor wizarding family, and Hermione Granger, a gifted and very hardworking witch of non-magical parentage. Harry also encounters the school's potions master, Severus Snape, who displays a deep and abiding dislike for him, and theDefence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Quirinus Quirrell, who later turns out to be controlled by Lord Voldemort. The plot concludes with Harry's second confrontation with Lord Voldemort, who in his quest for immortality, yearns to gain the power of the Philosopher's Stone, a substance that bestows everlasting life.
3. 'A Little Princess' by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Little Princess opens with seven-year-old Sara Crewe and her father, Captain Crewe, arriving at Miss Minchin's boarding school for girls in London. Captain Crewe is very wealthy and states that Sara is destined for a lavish, comfortable future. Despite being pampered all her life in India, Sara herself is very intelligent, polite, and creative. Headmistress Miss Minchin is secretly jealous and dislikes Sara for her cleverness, but openly praises and flatters her because of her father's wealth. Before departing for India, Captain Crewe purchases Sara an elegant wardrobe and a doll whom Sara adores and names "Emily." Sara's friendliness and love for pretending and storytelling makes her popular with most of the school's students. They soon begin regarding her as a princess, a reputation which she embraces. Sara befriends Ermengarde, the school dunce; Lottie, a spoilt four-year-old student; and Becky, the Cockney scullery maid.
Four years later, Sara receives word from Captain Crewe that he and a childhood friend have become partners in a scheme to gain control of a diamond mine which could potentially multiply his wealth enormously. Miss Minchin later treats Sara to a very luxurious eleventh birthday party per Captain Crewe's request. Just as the party is ending, Captain Crewe's lawyer arrives unexpectedly and tells Miss Minchin that Captain Crewe has died of jungle fever and his partner has gone missing. He then adds that business troubles rendered Captain Crewe's estate completely insolvent, leaving Sara an orphaned pauper. Enraged that she will never be reimbursed for all the services and goods spent on Sara since receiving the last cheque, Miss Minchin seizes all of Sara's possessions except for an outgrown black frock and Emily. Miss Minchin then tells Sara that she will live in the attic next to Becky and work as a servant to continue living in the school.
4. 'A Game of Thrones' by George R.R. Martin
In the novel, recounting events from various points of view, Martin introduces the plot-lines of the noble houses of Westeros, the Wall, and the Targaryens. The novel has inspired several spin-off works, including several games. It is also the basis for the first season of Game of Thrones, an HBO television series that premiered in April 2011
5. 'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova
The Historian has been described as a combination of genres, including Gothic novel, adventure novel, detective fiction, travelogue, postmodern historical novel, epistolary epic, and historical thriller. Kostova was intent on writing a serious work of literature and saw herself as an inheritor of the Victorian style. Although based in part on Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Historianis not a horror novel, but rather an eerie tale. It is concerned with history's role in society and representation in books, as well as the nature of good and evil. As Kostova explains, "Dracula is a metaphor for the evil that is so hard to undo in history." The evils brought about by religious conflict are a particular theme, and the novel explores the relationship between the Christian West and the Islamic East.