Obsession: what a fantastic opportunity for the storyteller. It can be the internal driver in a story where the obsessive is oblivious and therefore unable to stop themselves; or even better, the obsessive may know what they are doing and don’t want to stop themselves.
Here is The Guardian’s list plus my 5 additions:
1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Cathy has insight into her obsession, even her marriage to another man is an act of love for Heathcliff. Unfortunately, he doesn’t see it the same way, his obsession for her morphs into a vendetta.
2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Blinded by his obsessive need to get even with the whale that took his leg, Captain Ahab ignores the danger not just to him, but to all hands and his ship.
3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The object of Humbert Humbert’s obsession is only twelve-years-old and we are forced to see her through his eyes. He knows what he’s doing – and the reader can only watch on with revulsion.
4. The Collector by John Fowles
Lonely butterfly collector, Frederick is obsessed with Miranda, a pretty student. Lacking the social skills to start a conversation, he drugs and kidnaps her. His intention: to add her to his collection.
5. Misery by Stephen King
Annie Wilkes is a bookworm gone bad. Her obsession with a favorite character turns her into a violent kidnapper.
6. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
A butler looks back over his life of unflinching service to an English gentleman and confronts an uncomfortable truth: his was a life half-lived due to his obsessive loyalty to a man who may not have deserved it.
7. Possession by A.S. Byatt
Two obsessions collide when literary scholars Rolland and Maud find their research intersecting. Love blooms, as together, they unearth long-buried secrets.
8. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby’s memoir, Fever Pitch, proves that stories of obsession need not always be about secrets, lies and death. Although, tears and heartbreak are a by-product of his obsession with his football (soccer) team, Arsenal. Hornby details the highs and lows of being a rusted-on fan.
9. The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
This novella is based on an episode in the short life of the poet Novalis who fell in love with twelve-year-old Sophie. They were engaged but never married as she died a few years later. Sophie and a mystical blue flower, of which the poet writes, become interlinked – Novalis longs, desperately and in vain, for them both.
10. Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller
Barbara is obsessed with younger colleague Sheba who has done something very foolish. Sheba confides in Barbara – big mistake, the obsessive now has power over the object of her obsession.
11. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Obsession with obsession is the theme. A young woman’s refusal to eat meat sets off a chain reaction in her family. Obsession spreads like a virus.
12. The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
The love story of Kemal and Füsun is one of bad timing, missed opportunities, and unanswered questions. He consoles himself by hoarding objects that remind him of their happiest moments, and with these, he creates a museum.
13. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
A classic, ‘outsider looking in’ story. Faraday has always been around, but never quite part of the glamorous Ayres family. That is until, as their doctor and advisor, he makes himself indispensable.
14. Wilful Disregard by Lena Andersson
What happens when you have a crush on someone who doesn’t return your feelings? Hopefully, you go on your way, sadder but wiser. Not Ester, who knows she should rationalize her obsessive feelings for the object of her desire but just can’t.
15. You by Caroline Kepnes
Kepnes has written her story, about an obsessive who stalks his prey by stealing her phone, in the second person. A seriously creepy one-sided conversation. Think about what you keep in your phone.
It’s fun to meet obsessives in a great story. Not sure I’d want to meet one in real life.
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Featured image via Her Campus
h/t The Guardian