Wednesday, 9 March 2016

YA from my Youth by Catherine Lowell

I am pleased to welcome author, Catherine Lowell onto the blog. Catherine is author of The Madwoman Upstairs. Today, she is sharing the books that she loved from her youth. 
You can learn a lot about yourself by revisiting the books you read growing up. You start seeing how early on your passions and tastes developed, and which books influenced the way you think today. 

If I look at the books that I re-read over and over as a teenager, they fall into a few key clusters: first, books about bored ladies of leisure who decide to run away and do interesting things (like become knights and live with dragons) and second, books about WWII (Letters from Rifka, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank). 

The third cluster consists of books that I now realize weren’t technically young adult novels—but they are books I first read as a teenager and remembered forever. These, then, are both my YA recommendations for adults, and the adult books that I’d recommend to teenagers. 
The Sea Wolf 
I remember thinking that this book had everything: adventure at sea, epic fog, good versus evil, psychological drama, romance, and one of the best characters in any book I’d read at the time—Wolf Larson.
Animal Farm
This is one of the most useful books I ever read, one that taught history, psychology, and politics better than any textbook. It’s nice to read it in a non-academic setting, since you can really get invested in the story and feel the full gut-punch of the ending.  
The Odyssey
You can read this book on multiple levels: as a good story, a useful fable, a piece of great literature, or a true historical marvel. Either way, it really gives you a sense for how one story shaped an entire civilization. 
Arsenic and Old Lace
I loved this play! It’s a bizarre, funny exploration of what happens when you realize your family is insane. There’s also an extra bonus here: after you read the play, you can watch Cary Grant play Mortimer in the film adaptation. 
Jane Eyre
What I love about Jane Eyre is its appeal to any age group. It doubles as a terrific chick flick and one of the most brilliant novels of its time. As an adult, it’s fun to pick up on all the subtle and disturbing things you never really noticed as a kid—like Bertha. 
*****
Catherine Lowell is the author of The Madwoman Upstairs, a literary mystery about the Brontës. Published by Quercus this month. 
Summary
Samantha Whipple - a young American woman - is the last remaining descendant of the famous Brontë family, of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre fame. After losing her father, a brilliant author in his own right, Samantha travels to Oxford in search of a mysterious family inheritance, described to her only as 'The Warnings of Experience'.

While at Oxford, Samantha studies under Dr J. Timothy Orville III, a disarmingly handsome tutor who seems nothing but annoyed by her family heritage. With Orville as her tempestuous sidekick, Samantha sets out on a mission to piece together her family's history - which, it turns out, could also be literature's greatest buried secret.




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