Top 5 Books About Obsession | #BookBreak


I have just read one of the most talked about
books of the year: The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal. This is an incredible Victorian thriller set
in the build up to the Great Exhibition. And I think there’s something about obsession
as a theme that is so intoxicating to read about. It’s really scary, but it also sucks you in
and leaves you feeling kind of obsessive about the book as well. So I have put together a list of four more
books about obsession to read after you’ve finished The Doll Factory. So in The Doll Factory there are two main
storylines, there’s two main main characters. So first we have Iris, who is rescued from
her job that she absolutely hates working at a doll factory, when she meets the Pre-Raphaelite
artist Louis Frost. And she agrees to be his model in exchange
for professional art lessons from him. So their story is one of love and ambition
and art, and it’s quite reminiscent of The Clockmaker’s Daughter in that it’s about this
group of artists, and there are all these discussions of new emerging technologies and
the effect that they’re going to have on art. So that’s one whole really lovely storyline
in itself. But then, the story gets a lot darker, and
to explore the darker side, I’m going to have to introduce you to the other main character. So Silas is a taxidermist who is building
a collection of weird and beautiful curiosities for the Great Exhibition. And when he meets Iris, they have a very very
brief encounter on the street, that she doesn’t even remember. For him, that changes everything. He becomes completely obsessed with her. And Elizabeth Macneal paints his obsession
with her so wonderfully, it is so so dark and creepy to read. So he becomes really really fixated on her
physically, so he’s obsessed with her warped collarbone, and he imagines in great detail
taking out parts of her body to preserve them. So it’s like he sees her as an item that should
be part of his collection. It’s super chilling stuff, and when their
storylines finally collide, it gets super dark. And this book has such a strong ending. So as you can tell, the two strands of that
story are actually really different, but they blend together just so well. There is a reason why everyone and their mother
is talking about this book this year, and will continue to all year. And so to tell you about it, I thought I would
come back in time to the right time period, I am here at the Dennis Severs house. Now if you haven’t been here before, this
is one of the most incredible unique places I have ever visited. So it’s a house, where each room is set in
a different time period. So in each room, it looks like the family
who lived here have just left, like just a second ago, and the minute you walk out of
the room, they’re going to come back in. I’ve honestly never felt more like I’ve actually
gone back in time than walking around this house. And Dennis Severs is the man who collected
all of these items. This was his house, he actually lived here,
he slept in the master bedroom. I found that absolutely fascinating when I
was just walking around just now. I think possibly my favourite room in this
house is the kitchen, because it really does smell like something has just been baked. So the room that I’ve come to here is in the
Victorian period, which is rather appropriate for The Doll Factory. Now the next book I’m going to talk about
is An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sara Pekkanen. Now this one is your classic twisty turny
thriller. It’s about a make up artist called Jessica,
who is struggling for money, and so she signs up to take this ethics and morality study
that’s being conducted by this very mysterious figure Dr Shields. But very quickly the questions get really
personal, and start digging deeper and deeper and making Jessica confess some of her darkest
secrets. And the study soon starts to take over her
life. It’s not just questions anymore, it’s telling
Jessica where she should go, and what she should wear, and who she should talk to. But by the time Jessica wants out of the study,
it’s too late, because she’s already confessed her deepest darkest secrets. And by the time you realise the deadly obsession
that is driving Dr Shields to run this study, you will get genuinely scared. It’s one of those books that leaves you wondering
what could you possibly do in that situation. Next up I’ve got a very unusual one. So this is Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi, and she
always writes very unusual books. This one is set in the 1930s, and it’s about
a writer, Mr St John Fox, who is notorious for killing off women in his stories. Then there is Mary Foxe, and that one is Foxe
with an e. She’s his muse, and he is completely infatuated
with her – but he made her up. So in the first scene, Mary Foxe comes to
see him to confront him about the fact that he is a serial killer of women through his
books. And then they start this game, that consists
of each of them writing stories, and that’s what the rest of the book is made up of. So in each story, we meet these two characters,
but in different identities. Sometimes with different names, living out
different situations. And it’s constantly this game with yourself
to try and figure out which of them is writing the story. And all of the stories explore the main themes
of this book, which is violence against women, and the male obsession with women that can
lead to that kind of violence. And I’m kind of obsessed with Helen Oyeyemi
so that’s pretty fitting for this video. Now the next book I’m going to talk about
was recently made into a Netflix show, and that is You by Caroline Kepnes. I loved the show, but the book is so much
darker, and so much more disturbing, and I absolutely love it. So You is all told from the perspective of
the stalker, named Joe. And it’s all told in the second person, to
‘You’, who is this girl Beck who he is stalking. And his thoughts are super obsessive, and
misogynist, and possessive, and so it’s really really creepy being inside his head. Especially because he’s also quite funny and
charming. So the author very cleverly gets you to empathise
with him, and quite like him, even while you’re being completely repulsed by him, and hate
being inside his head, and accidentally agreeing with things he says. Another thing that’s really interesting in
this book is that Beck is very deliberately unlikeable. She has a lot of flaws, and therefore we can
see the contrast between who she really is as a person, just a human with flaws, versus
how Joe sees her. He has just fixated on her, and put her on
this pedestal, and she’s never going to be able to live up to that. So by the time she disappoints him, his obsession
is going to get deadly. And finally, a classic, and possibly the ultimate
tale of obsession. This is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. So this is, in part, a story about the completely
obsessive love between Heathcliff and Catherine, and they are both pretty terrible people,
whose obsession for each other makes them do all sorts of terrible things to the other
people in their lives, and to each other. But even moreso, it’s about Heathcliff’s obsession
with getting revenge, on the families that he believes ruined his life by keeping him
apart from Catherine. So the main targets of his revenge are Catherine’s
daughter Cathy, Catherine’s nephew Hareton, and Heathcliff’s own son Linton. It’s a very uncomfortable read, Heathcliff
beats women, children and puppies, so he’s not exactly the romantic hero that you might
have in your mind when you go and pick up one of the most famous love stories of all
time. But it’s also, and probably the reason that
it’s lasted so well, is that it’s such an immersive read. You read this book and you’re instantly picturing
yourself on the Yorkshire moors, screaming your lover’s name through the wind. So what are your favourite books about obsession?
I think that’s such a great theme for a book, they make such compelling reads, and The Doll
Factory is one of my favourite books of this year. So leave us a comment below if you’ve got
any favourite books about obsession of your own, or you can always come over and chat
to us on Instagram, @bookbreakuk, we have all of our fun behind the scenes footage over
there. And of course do give this video a thumbs
up, and hit that subscribe button below for new videos every Thursday. Coming up next week we’ve got a video all
about Greek myth retellings, and I’ve got some really fab books to talk to you about
there. See you next time.