"The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray is by far one of the most interesting books I've ever read. By interesting, I do not mean wonderful. Instead, I was rather surprised that Oscar Wilde actually wrote something so dark. The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde's famous play and one of my very favorites, is so fun and hilarious. Dorian Gray is quite the opposite. It definitely has similar elements of satire, especially in the character Lord Henry "Harry" Wotton whose sole purpose in life is to find pleasure in everything and to turn reality on its head, but the rest of the book is dark and ghostly. The title character Dorian Gray is the beautiful, innocent young man who sells his soul in order to maintain his youthful beauty after a friend paints his likeness at the age of seventeen. Dorian's outward appearance from that time on does not change, but the painting ages instead.

This book offers a unique look into what would happen to a man if his inner self were hidden from the world. Dorian Gray suffers inwardly with sin, guilt, and age, but is always viewed as the perfect, innocent boy that he once was. Loved by many and envied by some, Gray must hide the secret of his apparent fountain of youth and consequently live a life of loneliness and fear.

I don't know if I would recommend this one, but, like Moby Dick, I believe there is value in having read it simply because now I will understand what everyone is talking about when Dorian Gray is mentioned. If you're not a fan of long descriptive passages, this may not be the book for you. If you're not a fan of supernatural elements, this may not be the book for you. If you are a student of literature, however, and enjoy reading something very different . . . read on!


"The Scarlet Pimpernel" by Baroness Orczy

I loved this book! I have seen the movie many times, but my sister Kimberly made me promise that I would read the book this year and assured me that it was even better than the movie. Well . . . of course she was right!

Knowing the basic premise of the book made it a little bit difficult for me to get into it at first, but I read 3/4 of the book yesterday, so I guess that means it drew me in at some point. I can't help but love the character of the Scarlet Pimpernel. In the movie he is lovable and intriguing, but in the book he is so much more.

For those of you who may not know the story already, I won't spoil it for you. Just know that this adventure set during the French Reign of Terror is one that will make you laugh and have you on the edge of your seat with suspense.

Thanks for the suggestion, Kim! This was the perfect start to my 2013 Year of the Books!