MY TOP 5 FAVOURITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME #1
a while ago, i said something to Gab in passing about my top 5 favourite books of all time, ever ever ever ever. and she was like ‘ey that’d make a good blog post’. typically, i’ve overcomplicated it all and decided to make a DEDICATED LIMITED SERIES where i have a blog post per book. but it makes sense bc i love these books and i don’t j wana fling them up in a listicle. i wana take the time to give you the hard sell, convince you that these should be in YOUR top 5 too. so. coming in HOT at NUMBER 1,,,, my favourite book of all time, FOREVER EVER, top spot, bury me with a copy of this thing:
#1: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
i first read the master & margarita when i was a teenager. i think i was on a lil family summer beach holiday actually (!!) which is funny. i just remember lounging in the sun and not being interested in anything except this book & cold fanta. i’ve maintained that this is my favourite ever book since then. but of course, it’d been OVER A DECADE since i actually read it. so i re read it in july/august this year. partly because i’d forgotten what actually happens and i wanted to read it for the first time again. but also because i feel like if you have a favourite book, you should be able to tell people WHY. and beyond saying ‘idk, it just blew my mind’, i was kinda at a loss. I didn’t remember enough about what happened to tell you why i loved it or why it threw me for a loop. i just remember that it blew my 15 year old brain. and can’t lie, i was worried that at 15 i was just easily impressed. i wanted to reaffirm my love for the master & margarita with my big adult 28 year old brain - renew my vows now my frontal lobe is fully developed. pleased to say that i promise to love and to cherish to have and to hold this book, till death do us part, amen xxxx
in the middle of stalinist russia, the devil comes to moscow. he presents himself as a foreign magician. with his accomplices: two weird looking guys, a black cat and a witch - they have a fun chaotic romp around the city. a poet called homeless watches his friend and editor get beheaded by a tram car, and then gets locked up in an asylum where he meets this guy: the master. the master tells him he was writing a novel about pontius pilate but it drove him mad and he destroyed it. then he tells him another story, a love story: about himself and margarita. those 3 stories: the devil’s romp across moscow, pontius pilate sentencing jesus to death, the master & martgarita’s love story. all these stories run across each other, looping back and forth in time, through retelling and living. they overlap. margarita is summoned by the devil-magician. she becomes a witch, goes to satan’s ball, reunites with her love - the master. they get the novel back from oblivion bc manuscripts don’t burn. they are happy. the cat is a trickster. the poet is melancholy. the devil leaves. pilate finds peace and closure for the guilt he feels over jesus' execution. moscow is left partly rubble but partly gripped by rumour and terror and gossip, in complete disarray - so cities remain the same always. i guess these are all spoilers, but take my word that the real novel itself tells you this all in a truly beautiful and mind boggling way.
as for why i love it - idk… i’ve read lil summaries of this book that describe it as a political satire - a bleak portrait of stalinist moscow, a gotcha novel that lances straight through understanding towards the heart of a political situation. i’ve also read things that summarise this book as high literary fiction, grappling with the moral fundamentals of good and evil, religious or theological or maybe just using allegory as a vehicle for this moral drama.
it’s all of that, yeah whatever, AND it’s a good story. i think it is just a fucking good time. it’s NUTS. it’s a good time (for me) because it has 3 narratives that run across each other, over each other, getting all tangled and knotted against each other. it makes my brain feel like it’s hot and melting. it makes me feel woozy and loopy. it is dreamy and bizarre, hot and fantastical, in possession of actual magic. like the devil is a magician so magic is a subject - but the way story itself is crafted is hot with this magical heat. the story itself is unstable. it moves sharp, rapid and unpredictable and like the hinges are loose. i love it. what a ride! that’s magic!!! when a story is unstable but on a fine line where balance is momentary.
this is my favourite book because i cannot fucking comprehend it. it bamboozles me. i don’t want to understand it. i am happy to let it make my brain melt and ooze out my ears. you should definitely read it, if you haven’t already. it’s gorgeous.