Isn't it nice new discover new authors? Sometimes it is someone who had simply been hidden from YOUR view and sometimes it is someone who is brand new. No matter which it is, finding a new author is like opening a Christmas package - joy in of itself. Today my newly discovered author is Leigh Hershkovich and she has graciously agreed to share her "top ten books" with us. I am looking forward to exploring these books. If you have read any of these books, let us know what you think of them. As for me, I am off to the book store *sigh* again. It never ends and I wouldn't want it to.
Welcome, Leigh! Tell us a bit about you and the books you like.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
My fascination with Ayn Rand began when I was fourteen. As a fan of strong, powerful women, especially in the literary sense, I was drawn to Rand like a magnet. That is not to say that I agreed with her philosophy, she’s well known for being a political nut. Everything that she stood for was so foreign and unheard of in my tiny, sheltered childhood, and so I found myself drawn to her. The Fountainhead was the first of her novels that I read, and it changed the way that I viewed the world. A brilliant play on power struggles and objectivism, it paved the way for the harsh world I would find outside of the confines of my high school environment. It taught me to view life with just a tiny bit of cynicism, but oh, what beautiful cynicism it is indeed!
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This was the novel that began my literary career. I felt the beauty of this book pour through my veins and completely transform me. Everything about this novel, from the unique writing style to the terrifyingly brilliant characters captured my mind and made me the writer that I am today. I attribute the push to write novels to Zafon. Without this novel, I would have never discovered myself. I’m not doing the book justice, but I hardly think anyone can. Read it and you too will understand such a small book can make such a huge impact on a life.
2666 by Roberto Bolano
I discovered this book when I was in my senior year of High school. It was fabulously displayed in the corner of Barnes and Noble, so although it was visible, any ordinary person would walk by without recognizing its greatness. I recognized it’s greatness, and was immediately struck by the brilliance of it. Bolano’s way with words captivated me; similarly to the way that Zafon’s writing style gave life to my writing career. A monster of a book, 2666 was meant to be released as a series, but upon Bolano’s discovery that he was dying, he instead chose to release the book as one novel- almost 1300 pages of sheer brilliance. It was grotesque, scary, bitter, heartbreaking and absolutely magnificent.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
From Victor Hugo, I learned about love. Not just silly puppy love that most novelists come across in their search for truth, but the real, hard core, earth shattering love. Les Miserables is so much more than a story about war, which is a common misconception, one that I had when I first picked it up. The backdrop of the novel takes place during the French revolution, but it is far from a story about war. It is a story about love, and the unbreakable bonds of the human spirit in search of such love. Les Mis taught me hope in humanity.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The brilliance of the timing during when I read War and Peace was that it came to my life immediately after I read Les Mis. It was almost as though I was sitting in a court room, watching the two sides go at each other’s throats. First, I was given the French account by Hugo, and then the Russian account by Tolstoy. I could not ask for a better gift than to be graced with two such brilliant novels, one right after the other. Through War and Peace, my hope for humanity was strengthened. I cried with the characters, I laughed with them; I scoffed at their decisions and shook my head in disbelief as they continued to make the same mistakes in search of love and happiness, over and over again. This shows the truth brilliances of Tolstoy’s work: Any one of those characters, in today’s day and age, could very well fit into my world. They were believable characters because I knew people very much like them. That was what made War and Peace such an easy ready for me.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
It is difficult for me to explain how much I love this book. I’ve reread it at least eight times, and every time, I discover something new. I am not a fan of holocaust fiction, but this novel won me over again and again. Zusak conveyed such powerful messages, and did so in the most creative, artistic way, that it became difficult for me not to fall madly in love with every single character, no matter how horrible they were. I find that my style is very similar to Zusak’s, which is why it was so easy for me to enjoy the Book Thief- I understood everything about his process.
The House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
The first time I read House of Leaves, it took me fourteen hours. The second time, it took me seven. I swallowed it so quickly that for days after, it was impossible for me to connect to the outside world because I still digesting the brilliance. I was horrified and completely blown away. This novel is a literal monster, and it managed to make it’s way into my life in ways that I’m sure are yet to be discovered. What added to the sense of exhilaration and chaos that this book brought into my life was meeting the man behind the madness. I had the privilege to hear Danielewski speak when his book tour passed through New York. Everything I thought I understood about House of Leaves was tested, and it gave a new meaning and appreciation for this fantastical creature.
The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Disclaimer: I read Perks about six and a half years before it became a movie. I read it before it had a cult following. I was sixteen when I read it, close enough to the age of the characters in the novel. Perks was what my life would have most likely been like if I attended a co-ed high school. I was the misfit in high school, though there were a lot less drugs, sex and rock and roll at my high school to make Perks come to life. It spoke to me, as I see it has spoken to the hundreds of thousands of fans it has accumulated throughout the years.
A Confederacy of Dunces
I have no words with which to describe just how much I love this book. It was assigned to me as an extra credit assignment (yes, I was one of those students in high school) by my AP Literature teacher. John Kennedy Toole was a genius. There’s no other way around it. The man was a pure genius. The characters of Dunces continue to make themselves at home in my mind to this very day. I too see myself, like Ignatius Riley, a wise (wo)man in a world of dunces.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
The History of Love stole my heart and gave me hope in this era of literature. It is as simple as that.
Like my taste in books? Be sure to check out my website and Facebook page for fresh updates on what I’m reading. Shattered Illusions will be available May 23rd.
Leigh Hershkovich’s writing career began almost at infancy. Born and raised in The City by the Bay, Leigh was never seen without a pen and paper by her side, and was never without a story to share. With her vivid imagination and sharp writing tactics, she has taken the world by storm twice over. Now, with her debut novel Shattered Illusions, readers will get a first time glimpse into her first full fiction attempt.
An avid reader, accomplished pianist, passionate scholar of the language and the arts, Leigh currently resides in New York with her imagination.
You can learn more about Leigh and the world of Shattered Illusions by visiting her website (http://www.leighhershkovich.com), her blog (http://www.leighhershkovich.blogspot.com) or by following her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/LeighHershkovich). Shattered Illusions can also be found on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16104490-shattered-illusions).