Friday, 6 November 2015

Books in Second Person

There's something so fascinating about books in the second person. I haven't read that many in novels in the second-person narrative but as soon as I came across it, I knew I needed more! How entrancing and captivating is it that you become the character? All these beautiful and complex plots are told around that unexpected "you."

So here's a list of books that use second person because they may be worth exploring!

1. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler is a marvel of ingenuity, an experimental text that looks longingly back to the great age of narration--"when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded."
The Reader buys a fashionable new book, which opens with an exhortation: "Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade." Calvino intersperses 10 different pastiches--stories of menace, spies, mystery, premonition--with explorations of how and why we read, make meanings, and get our bearings or fail to.

This book is one of the most famous second person books and it's supposed to be the ultimate book for book-lovers! Why? Because it's all about reading, but throughout the journey of books is also love and tragedy which sounds like a intoxicating mix to me!

A book that starts with "You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, "No, I don't want to watch TV!" Raise your voice -- they won't hear you otherwise -- "I'm reading! I don't want to be disturbed!" Maybe they haven't heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: "I'm beginning to read Italo Calvino's new novel!" Or if you prefer, don't say anything: just hope they'll leave you alone." is a book I know I'll drown into. One great thing about second person books is that you tend to forget the world around you and feel fully immersed in a book that's engaging you as there's some intangible emotional pull to an author writing about "you" - especially when you're characterised as "The Reader". I haven't read this book yet but I really want to so hopefully I will soon.

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

I have read this book and I'm absolutely infatuated with the use of second person because it transported me to the mystical and magical night circus that I now dream of visiting. The plot about the duel may not have always been strong nor parts of the romance but this book was definitely worth reading and I still love it because it's one of those times when I felt like I had literally jumped into a fantasy world. The writing is gorgeous and Rick Riordan himself loves it;)

The whole novel is not in second person but whenever the night circus is being described, second person is used to give the reader a feel of the dreaminess of it all. There's a quote from the book that goes, "like stepping into a fairy tale under a curtain of stars" and that's how the description of me walking into this bizarre and beautiful circus made me feel.

“You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des RĂªves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus.
You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.”

3. Bright Light, Big City by Jay McInerney

With the publication of Bright Lights, Big City in 1984, Jay McInerney became a literary sensation, heralded as the voice of a generation. 
The novel follows a young man, living in Manhattan as if he owned it, through nightclubs, fashion shows, editorial offices, and loft parties as he attempts to outstrip mortality and the recurring approach of dawn. With nothing but goodwill, controlled substances, and wit to sustain him in this anti-quest, he runs until he reaches his reckoning point, where he is forced to acknowledge loss and, possibly, to rediscover his better instincts. 
This remarkable novel of youth and New York remains one of the most beloved, imitated, and iconic novels in America.

This is also one of the most famous second person narratives. I am so intrigued by the idea of experiencing someone's "anti-quest" as he slowly loses himself but hopefully finds his happiness again. I feel like reading a book like this could give me a new perspective and also give me the opportunity to experience his rollercoaster journey (from the safety of my couch). From the blurb it seems as though he loses hope and purpose, and if a book that brings you in, by making you the protagonist, explores this journey, I hope it leaves you with a profound message on redemption or identity.

And read this amazing quote: "But what you are left with is a premonition of the way your life will fade behind you, like a book you have read too quickly, leaving a dwindling trail of images and emotions, until all you can remember is a name.”

4. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris, David Javerbaum and Antony Hare


Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened? Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life, you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht. Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, but make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

As an avid 'How I Met Your Mother' fan, I was so excited by this book. But that's not the only reason... an autobiography that's in second person is such a fun idea! I like the idea of choosing Neil's path and seeing where Neil would end up if I was the one making the decisions. It's a book that seems like it would make me smile.

Also Patrick Rothfuss, the author of the Kingkiller Chronicles, said, "I expected this book to be witty. I expected it to be clever and fun. And it was. It was all of those things in spades. But I didn't expect it to be sweet and sad and honest and touching. I mean, it's framed as a choose-your-own-adventure. You don't expect those to be heartfelt, emotional stories...." (To read his lovely review, click here!).

That's all for now!
Thanks for reading:)

1 comment:

  1. Books in second person have a sense of urgency and full immersion into the book. Sometimes it's kind of creepy, but it works with the right type of book.

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books