Happy Tuesday again everyone! I hope you are all doing well despite these challenging and uncertain times. I hope and pray that you are all health, in body, mind, and spirit. As it is Tuesday, it is also time for a Top 5 Tuesday update. Top 5 Tuesdays was originally created by Shanah @ the Bionic Bookworm but is now currently being hosted by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads.
This week’s topic: Top 5 Standalones
I am really conflicted about this. This one is a very challenging post for, as I have mentioned in last week’s Top 5 Tuesday update, I am more of a standalone book type of reader. I have read more standalones than I have read book series. I know this is a challenge for many of my fellow book readers as well. I came up with different ways to approach this week’s post but there was just no single approach I can come up with to complete a “Top 5” so I will be listing random books that I love. It would have not been much of a challenge had it been Top 50 standalones (HAHA). Without more ado, here is a very random list of my favorite standalone books. I hope you do enjoy my list.
Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex is one of my more recent favorite reads although I did read it back in 2017. When I first encountered the book in must-read lists, I just knew I had to read it even though I barely had any iota on what the book was. And I was right for choosing to read the book for it provided an unconventional story, the story of Calliope Stephanides. She grew up believing she was a girl until her teenage years when the anomalies of her real gender started to approach the surface. Parts-family saga, parts-coming-of-age, Middlesex is also about one’s journey into understanding more about herself/himself. It also tackled discrimination, and rising above adversities. Middlesex made me a fan of Eugenides’ prose although The Marriage Plot was a downer. I still pinning my hopes on his debut novel, The Virgin Suicides.
By now, it is quite certain that I am a fan of Salman Rushdie and his prose. Of his works, it was Midnight’s Children that really captivated me, turning me into one of his devout followers. The novel charts the story of a group of children who were born within minutes of India’s declaration of independence. It explored how the destinies of these children are inevitably tied to the fate of the Indian republic. Ironically, I had little expectations of the novel because of the underwhelming experience I had with previous Rushdie novels I read. However, Midnight’s Children captivated me from the opening pages until the end. The story of these unique children made me understand why Midnight’s Children was once tagged as the Booker of Bookers.
Of the works of English literature, one book stands out and that is Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Although I also liked David Copperfield, it was Great Expectations that made me interested in the literary classics, especially in a time when I really was not into them; this was during university days, when my preferences were Nora Roberts, Mary Higgins Clarks, Danielle Steel, and Nicholas Sparks. The coming-of-age story of Pip and how he rose above the adversities gave me a different dimension upon which to appreciate literature. A decade thence, Great Expectations is still a title that I list as one of m literary favorites.
By sheer chance, I encountered Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀’s Stay With Me when I was scavenging the shelves of the 2020 Big Bad Wolf Sale. Before this encounter, I came across an interesting book review that made me curious about it. And I thankful that bought the book for it easily made it to my all-time favorite reads. The story revolves around the frailties of marriage through the young couple Yejide and Akin. Stay With Me is an intersection of the modern and the traditional Nigeria which gave the novel an interesting complexion. It was brimming with raw and honest emotions as it touched base with the exploration of motherhood. There was a balance of heartwarming and heart-wrenching moments that elevated the story. If I may say so myself, the novel is a story that “stayed with me.”
I didn’t expect that I would develop an admiration for Russian literature; I have always perceived it as cold or perhaps reserved because of the images of royalties and the Romanovs. Of course, I am wrong, by a mile. One of the reasons I started liking Russian literature was Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It is a dark and heavy book, dealing with murder, poverty, alcoholism, violence and even prostitution. It was a bleak picture of Romanov Russia. What made the narrative interesting was its vivid and careful profiling of a murderer, exploring his motivations and psychology. And yes, we commit mistakes but what makes us human is our ability to transcend this and become a better version of ourselves. In terms of complexity, it was at par with Brothers Karamazov but, thankfully, shorter (HAHA).
I hope you enjoyed my list. But since five is too low a number for me, here are some of my favorite standalones. Happy reading and have a great week ahead everyone!