The wonderful Marwhal tagged me in my very first book tag and I am embarrassingly excited. If you are tagged, you are meant to connect five emojis you use most often with books you have read. I had such fun matching books to emoji and I can’t wait to do more book tags.
The cry/laugh emoji
This is my most-used emoji. I find many things amusing. Some things are just so awful, all you can do is laugh. A prime example: the pay rise of the Indonesian House of Representatives when they make no secret of being utter shit at their job. But I digress.
What book on my shelf is so bad, it’s funny? It took me a while until epiphany struck. That singular compliment would go to Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Everyone in this novel is batshit insane. I love it. Where do I begin? I guess it’s best to just quote Heathcliff. I actually have a collection of loosely gathered Heathcliff quotes on my phone for whenever I need a good laugh.
Heathcliff [on the love of his life Cathy and her husband]:
I never would have banished him from her society, as long as she desired his. The moment her regard ceased, I would have torn his heart out, and drank his blood!
Isn’t blood-thirsty obsession sexy?
Heathcliff [on Cathy]:
You suppose she has nearly forgotten me? Oh Nelly! You know she has not! You know as well as I do, that for every thought she spends on Linton, she spends a thousand on me!
Overweening arrogance, also sexy.
My personal favorite. Also from Heathcliff:
I only wish to hear from herself how she is, and why she has been ill; and to ask, if anything that I could do would be of use to her. Last night, I was in the Grange garden six hours, and I’ll return there tonight; and every night I’ll haunt the place, and every day, till I find an opportunity of entering. If Edgar Linton [Cathy’s hubby] meets me, I shall not hesitate to knock him down… If his servants oppose me, I shall threaten them off with these pistols…
A creepy stalker, the man of my dreams. Excuse me while I laugh my guts out.
The horror emoji
This was easy peasy, since I took it to mean ‘a book that scared me.’ I am a horror fiend so I had a lot of books I could connect the emoji to. But I decided to highlight a little novel that I think is really underrated and that would be Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone by Stefan Kiesbye. Come on now, admit that the title is intriguing!
I was surprised to find that this novel had a pretty low rating on goodreads. I thought Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone is an excellent novel. It’s not shocking, it’s not gory. The story is told in a cold, dispassionate manner, which makes the horrific things people do here even more chilling. Overall, this is a novel that induces chills and shivers rather than screams and terrors. It’s my favorite type of horror story, where the real horror comes from what people do to one another rather than supernatural events. Characters in this novel think supernatural events are behind their woes, but really, they’re just using it a front to cover up their bankrupt behavior.
Told from multiple viewpoints, the novel charts the coming-of-age of some of the village’s children. The setting is the little German town of Hemmersmoor. People here are quite poor with bleak futures. I read this book a few years ago and I have forgotten many plot threads (which means I need to reread this soon – Hooray!) but I remember the race to marry the heir of the village’s wealthiest family. It’s understandable that girls with no prospects would fight over this boy, but the things girls would do, would sacrifice to get a better social position turned my stomach. Something appalling (and disgusting) happened to the girl with ambitions to become the heir’s second wife. But for her goal’s sake, she keeps quiet about it – and lets it happen again and again. Similar things happen, where boys and girls do things out of boredom, out of petty cruelty, to climb the social ladder. All of this is told so coldly – and that makes the horror so much more compelling.
The heart eyes emoji
Another easy one. It must mean ‘a book I love.’ There were several candidates for this, but I decided to go with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Not an original passion, I know. But this is the one book that forever made me pay attention to a writer’s style. Thanks to The Great Gatsby, I am forever an easy lay for beautiful prose.
I won’t bother telling you the plot of The Great Gatsby, I’m sure most of you know it. Even if you don’t, just read it. Despite its status as a major modern classic, you shouldn’t be intimidated. No one taught me what symbols to look for in The Great Gatsby, I never had English lit classes until I majored in the subject in uni. I knew nothing of bootlegging and the Prohibition, we learned nothing of American history throughout elementary to high school. All I knew was one day, I sat down in a dingy cafeteria table, The Great Gatsby in hand, suffered the sultry heat of Jakarta and started reading.
I was transported to another time and place. The blistering humidity was forgotten. I could see, smell, taste, feel everything Fitzgerald described – from Gatsby’s parties to the opulent mansions to Daisy Buchanan’s dresses to the flappers of the era. I wanted to rail at Fitzgerald for writing such a short book. I never wanted it to end yet I couldn’t leave my seat until I finished. Only the most special writers can do that. And in my mind, no one wrote prose as beautiful, as elegant, or as lyrical as Fitzgerald.
The displeased emoji
Not sure what this emoji is truly called but I always use it whenever I am displeased. Another easy choice. White Noise by Don de Lillo. To be fair, I would have never read this book if it wasn’t a course requirement. I knew it wasn’t to my taste. But after reading White Noise, I hadn’t the slightest clue whose taste would align with this novel. Pretentious people? Hipsters forever lamenting anything commercial?
One word: pointless. It was the very definition of pointless. Maybe it had a point at the end. I wouldn’t know, I never finished it, which would show you how bad it was. Not only did I have to write a paper on it, I never not finish books. The Phantom of the Opera made me want to cry; it was so boring, but I forced myself to persevere because I can’t stand unfinished books. But White Noise defeated me.
Plot? What plot? All I can remember is the family patriarch endlessly swanning about in supermarkets while the children are hollow receptacles for everything the television says. It probably is satire for the way we live, but why, why is it so boring?
The smiley face emoji
This emoji is interpreted as ‘a book I liked and made me happy but didn’t love.’ Now, Dodie Smith is an author I can always depend on to give me comfort. Her novel I Capture the Castle is one of my favorite novels of all time. I think Dodie Smith is woefully underrated and singularly charming. She’s also really easy to read. I think a lot of YA readers would love her. That said, however, The Town in Bloom isn’t as good as I Capture the Castle. It has its charm (of course, it’s Dodie Smith), but it’s not first-rate.
The Town in Bloom details the exploits of three English girls; Mouse, Molly, and Lillian as they each try to forge a living through show business in London. Molly and Lillian are chorus girls. Mouse, our narrator, wants to be a famous stage actress and The Town in Bloom is her coming of age tale. Her adventures include meeting the wealthy, enigmatic Zelle and romancing Rex, actor-manager of the Crossway Theatre.
The reason The Town in Bloom didn’t work as well as I Capture the Castle had to do with Mouse. She’s no Cassandra Mortmain. I love Cassandra with all my heart; Mouse I found brash, rude, and lacking in self-introspection. But the way Mouse was written appeals to individual tastes. I didn’t like Mouse very much, but a different reader could find her bold, confident, and resourceful.
I am now going to tag some people. Bear with me as it is my first time tagging people. Of course, only do it if you want to. And if I didn’t tag you but you want to do it, please go for it!