I forgot how much I good stories. Like most people, I read some great books in school as part of the curriculum, but then stopped once it ceased to be mandatory. I began opting instead for fictional TV series, films, and story-driven video games.
Little did I think, these are all just different modes of delivering entertaining narratives.
In 2020, I set a resolution of getting back into reading – 3 books that year. This grew to 6 books the next year, which in reality became 13 books. Including comic book collections, auto-biographies, novels, thrillers, mysteries spoofs, and educational books. I was hooked.
Reading expands your vocabulary, shows other points of view, and entertains – as good a form of escapism as any.
Of all the books I’ve read, only 3 truly were ‘page-turners’, gripping me, preventing me from putting them down until I’d reached the back cover. Note: all of the books are better than the film adaptations. These are those 3 books…
The Firm (John Grisham)
Grisham’s second hit novel released in 1991. It’s a legal thriller about a law graduate, Mitch McDeere, who signed up to a job that seemed a little too good to be true. Company BMW, exorbitant salary, spacious house, beautiful wife. He finally starts to realise that the firm has a darker side, and has to make a dangerous choice.
I got hooked on The Firm, my first Grisham book, while in Tunisia, and remember sitting on the beach to read it… and by the pool, and in the hotel room. The cult-like, mafioso nature of the company, in which the main character is entangled, gets better and better as it progresses.
I have never been so enthralled by a book; the pages practically turned themselves.
Adrift (Tami Oldham Ashcroft)
Love-stricken, real-life couple, Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp, set sail across blue waters from Tahiti to Santiago. Several days into their voyage, a freak hurricane strikes, battering the boat and its terrified passengers. Tami wakes up covered in blood and water, with no Richard to be found.
This autobiographical story tears at the heartstrings the whole way through. Tami goes from peacefully in love to heartbroken agony (both physically and emotionally).
I read Adrift while in Greece, and remember reading the last chapter under a canopy outside a Rhodes coffee shop one morning. As the waitress brought a fresh mug over, she remarked that she’d love to be reading in the shade of the sun right now. I read the last pages, and got that empty, sad feeling when you finish something incredible. Tami’s story is one of miraculous survival that inspired me to get into sailing (disastrous hurricanes aside).
Princess Bride (William Goldman)
The most beautiful girl in the world falls in love with her lowly stable boy. However, he’s not quite what he seems. An adventure ensues. One of “Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.
In short, it’s about everything.”
As you can tell, this is a fantasy book. Or a spoof of a fantasy book. It’s written so wittily, the sheer genius of Goldman’s writing would be lost on children. It’s funny, engaging, and without spoiling the real-life/fictional lore, cements itself as a classic. The author’s brilliant sense of comedy, of love, and of fantastical adventure propelled me through all 404 pages.
After finishing The Princess Bride, I found myself scrambling to find the original manuscript…