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Treasured Books to Talk About

An English and Theatre Student’s most treasured books 💗:

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

My favourite quote: 'I don’t want realism, I want magic.'

This is my favourite play of all time. I think Blanche makes the play for me, her exceptionally romantic and naïve outlook is somewhat heart-breaking but also inspiring. The play is set in New Orleans, in the late 1940’s and considers a transitioning world in post-war America. William’s stage directions are so vivid and really paint a picture of what surrounds the action. The tensions created between gender, culture and class really prompts the reader to consider the issues we see in the world today. Has enough change been made?

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

My favourite quote: 'Her plan for the morning thus settled, she sat quietly down to her book after breakfast, resolving to remain in the same place and the same employment till the clock struck one...'

Controversial opinion alert!😳 Northanger Abbey is my favourite Austen novel, even though it’s one of her most disliked. I find Catherine the most relatable protagonist out of all Austen’s novels, her passion for fiction is inspiring and her trust in everyone is heart-warming. Although these attributes bring her into a few troubles, she learns so much in her journey into adulthood. I love the gothic twist and how she perceives life through the eyes of her literature. If you really love reading, I am sure you will find similarities and likenesses with Catherine. Her playful and innocent energy will also bring you back to your adolescent years.

Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet

My favourite quote: 'That’s what story is. It’s the never-ending leaf fall'

I am cheating a bit here because this is four separate novels. I think my favourite would be Autumn – the story just resonates with me the most. Each novel interrogates different themes and ideas, and each has a different narrative. Sometimes characters might prop in a couple of the quartet so look out for them. I like these so much because they are so contemporary, they address problems we are facing right now. Summer was published in 2020 and brings in COVID. They are super relevant, and I genuinely learnt from them. They are rebellious, revolutionary, and I think they could really prompt the reader to encourage change for the better. The seasonal element is also quite deceiving, you might imagine lovely seasonal images. Ali Smith directly confronts YOU! They also get you thinking about climate change and the structural element of the seasons. You absolutely must read these.

The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann

My favourite quote: 'Float up, up from the submerging element'

This novel is beautifully written. I truly think this novel needs to be more widely available and read. It was written between the two World Wars. The story follows Olivia, a single woman who has an affair with Rollo Spencer (a rich, married man). It perfectly intertwines paranoia, secrecy, love and manipulation. Sometimes the text would feel disjointed to show the internal anxiety of Olivia, at other points the text would flow with ease demonstrating Olivia’s happiness. We certainly go through a journey of emotions. It was also super relatable; Lehmann perfectly displays the volatility of female experience.

I hope you liked a list of some of my favourite reads! I do have lots more, but I really wanted to narrow it down...

Book recommendations by Amy Hazelton 📚

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