D. M. Cain, author of the upcoming The Pheonix Project, tagged me into the Chocolate Book Tag last week. Her own list of books by chocolate is a wonderful mix of old and new, and she’s got great taste in chocolate too!
I’m really excited to be a part of this, but I have a confession that may shock some of my readers: I’m not a big fan of chocolate. Yes, you read it right—chocolate is NOT among my favorite foods. My husband makes a lot of fun of my chocolate-eating habits. I enjoy Twix, but I can’t finish a Twix bar in one go. I normally put a half-eaten bar in the freezer (because this is Karachi, and we have blistering summer 9 months out of the year here), forget about it for a couple of months, and take it out when there’s nothing else to munch on. I’d say I eat chocolate about 6 times in a year.
So when it comes to matching chocolates to books, I have more books than chocolates to work with! Thankfully, I have memories of chocolate-eating days in the UK to fall back on. Here goes.
1) Bitter chocolate: a book that covers a dark topic
The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice: The Vampire Lestat, unlike today’s vampire lore, is a rich, layered chocolate cake that will remain with you for years. Of the Vampire Chronicles, this is definitely my favorite. As much as you will hate Lestat in Interview With A Vampire, you’ll love him in The Vampire Lestat. Spanning centuries and continents in search for an answer to every vampire’s question (where do we come from?), Anne Rice creates a dark, horrific supernatural world that has yet to be matched by any of today’s books.
Honorable mention: The Witching Hour (also Anne Rice), Child 44 (Tom Robb Smith) and We the Living (Ayn Rand).
2) White chocolate: your favorite humorous read
The World According to Garp by John Irving. This book defies explanation. It’s a mad, weird look into an almost-famous (by proxy; Garp’s mother is a well-known feminist) man and his maniacal childhood and life with a famous mother. It’s the kind of book that makes your head spin with laugh-out-loud disbelief.
Two honorable mentions for this category: M.A.S.H (Richard Hooker) and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (Sue Townsend).
3) Milk chocolate: a book with a lot of hype that you’re dying to read
The Book Thief by Marcus Szusak: I haven’t read the book, and I haven’t watched the movie yet. I’m waiting to watch the movie first, because whenever I read a book first, I inevitably hate the movie (it never quite lives up to my imagination). So I’m holding off, just for a little while.
4) Dark chocolate: a bittersweet book that has both darkness and light
Samarkand by Amin Maalouf. This is a beautiful read, an epic, sprawling novel about the decline of Islam’s vast empire at the end of the first millennium. It’s a story of the power struggles within the empire and the rise of Hassan el-Sabah’s assassins, but the darkness is balanced by the fictional tale Maalouf weaves around the life of Omar Khayyam.
5) Maltesers: a book that will surprise you with hidden depths
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut: This is a quick read, a hilarious book, but it’s a satirical look at the deeply shattering experience of war; in particular, it questions the concept of soldiers ‘following orders’.
Honorable mention: The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
6) Hot chocolate: a book that you would turn to for a comfort read
There are so many… this is a tough one. I’m starting this with honorable mentions first: Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll), Rest and be Thankful (Helen MacInnes), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Arms and the Man (G. B. Shaw) and Little Women (Louisa M. Alcott).
My comfort read is probably obscure and unheard of by this generation of readers: Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart. Mary Stewart wrote romantic mysteries, beautifully detailed and researched. Airs Above the Ground is one of my favorites, a stunning mystery set against a world of a travelling circus and the famous Lipizzaner stallions.
To round off the Chocolate Book Tag and to ensure that it keeps moving onwards, I’m tagging in fellow author Linda Huber to pick up the baton.
Linda Huber is Scottish but has lived over half her life in Switzerland, where she teaches English and writes suspense novels. Her debut novel, The Paradise Trees, is set in Yorkshire and tells the story of a woman who is so preoccupied with her own problems that she fails to notice the stranger who is grooming her daughter.