A good book will drive you mad. It will make you believe in imaginary worlds and impossible feats. You become emotionally invested in people who don’t exist; laugh with them, and cry with them. You will believe you can read minds.
A great book will fill you with a kind of madness that lingers long after you’ve turned the last page. It will change your life, one way or another. For some, a book will embody the world as they wish it really was and ignite a lifelong passion for reading. For others, a book will transform the way they see the world by revealing the extraordinary qualities of ordinary, everyday events, and objects.
The ultimate goal of an author is to write in such a way that their portrayal of the world is realized perfectly by the reader. These rare moments—when words on a page are chosen and arranged with such care that they resonate within us as absolute truth—are euphoric. Suspension of disbelief becomes, simply, belief.
Here at On The Danforth, we collectively possess centuries of reading experience and have compiled a list of books that have evoked moments of sublime insanity. If you’re like us, and eternally hunting for your next reader’s high, the following titles are guaranteed to drive you mad—for good.
Gypsy Guitar by David McFadden
A book of poetry released in 1987, Gypsy Guitar is our first recommendation for readers. “It was the first poetry I read that was true of my experience of the world and also of how I felt about the world…it changed the feeling of being alive.” While many readers are reluctant to pick up a book of poetry, if you are looking for words to change your life, McFadden will deliver. -Todd Westcott, Publisher
Quietus by Vivian Schilling
A little known book about a group of plane crash survivors being sought by Death. “This book made me ok with the idea of dying.” -Stephanie Buosi, Managing Editor
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
“This is the best characterization of Death I’ve ever read.” Zusak’s YA book set in Germany during WWII became very popular after its release in 2005, won several awards, and was made into a movie. If you’ve seen the movie, pretend you haven’t and pick up the book. -Monika Trzeciakowski, Marketing Director
Not Wanted On the Voyage by Timothy Findley
“It is the reason I applied for [the] English [program in University]…I actually started as a History major…and then I reread Not Wanted on the Voyage and decided to change.” -Ethan Lipson, Coordinating Sales Agent
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
This choice is reflective of an entire generation’s reading experience. J.K. Rowling’s books have helped build an army of book lovers of all ages. The books are able to simultaneously speak to children and the memory of being a child. –Meaghan Sullivan, Summer Copyeditor
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
“All of the characters are different characters from actual plays that have been written…It got me interested in the theatre and the old scripts. Before, I was never really interested in Shakespeare, I never really understood it…I have more appreciation for it now.” -Tiina Vilu, Summer Designer
Reborn: Journals and Notebooks 1947 to 1963 by Susan Sontag
Reborn is a collection of Sontag’s journals from her teens and on. It was singled out as “not a favourite but [still] life-changing… because it made me think of famous intellectuals…differently, [in] a more empathetic, less dumbfounded way.” -Oubah Osman, Summer Misc. Editor
Some Honorable Mentions
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly -Laura Dunford, Summer Copyeditor & Designer
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawso -Sarah Goldstein, Spring Senior Editor
Fifth Business by Robertson Davies -Ethan Lipson, Coordinating Sales Agent
The Death Catchers by Jennifer Anne Kogler -Tiina Vilu, Summer Designer
The Owl Service by Alan Garner -Monika Trzeciakowski, Marketing Director
Loser by Jerry Spinelli -Meaghan Sullivan, Summer Copyeditor
Island by Alistair MacLeod -Todd Westcott, Publisher
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut -Angelene Cerisano, Executive Sales Agent
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch -Catherine Belvedere, Summer Production Manager
Photo courtesy of Halle Stoutzenberger via Flickr.
Laura is a copyeditor and designer for On the Danforth summer edition. She spends most of her time with furry friends but enjoys a foray into the real world to cause trouble from time to time. Connect with her via Twitter.