I find books to be amazing in every possible way. I love how they feel in your hand, how they smell and how they open a new dimension when you read them. Everybody searches for different things when choosing a lecture and this is why we have so many genres out there. I can’t say I have a particular type of book that I prefer. I read almost anything as long it triggers something inside me. But there are those incredible moments when an author manages to give a story a fabulous epilogue. And this is what I want to talk today. I want to share with you 10 book endings that I thought to be amazing.
1. Flowers for Algernon
“Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes is a book written in 1959 which received the Nebula Award for the Best Novel in 1966.
Even though the title gives you the impression that the main character is Algernon, well it’s not. The book it’s about a mentally disabled man, named Charlie Gordon, who at the age of 32 is given a chance to change his life and increase his intellectual capabilities.
I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.
The whole book is based on intense emotions, but the ending will leave in tears.
2. The Aviator
“The Aviator” is written by E.G.Vodolazkin. The main character, Innokenti Platonov, is a Russian who was accused of a murder he didn’t commit and sent to a Soviet camp after the World War I. In there he is selected for an experiment, and he is cryogenized among other prisoners. He is the only successful subject, and he awakens in our contemporary time.
The novel is written as a journal and has two parts. The first one is only Innokenti’s diary, and the second it contains the daily life written from the main character’s point of view, but also from two other ones: his doctor and a female persona.
I don’t remember anything. Only some little things: snowflakes in a hospital window, the coolness of glass if one touches it with a forehead
The end of the book is absolutely incredible. In the last pages, because it doesn’t specify anymore who is speaking it gives you the sensation of the old blending with the new. And the way the author chose to finish his story…I can only tell you this: I can’t imagine a better idea of ending such a great tale.
3. For Whom the Bell Tolls
Ernest Hemingway wrote a lot of amazing stories. However, I want to talk today about the one that stuck to my mind the most: “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.
The book’s plot is set during the Spanish civil war and has as its main character, Robert Jordan. He is an American that fights against Francisco Franco’s fascist forces. On one of his missions, he meets the rebel Anselmo, who takes him to a guerrilla camp. Here, Jordan encounters Maria and falls in love with her.
I loved you when I saw you today and I loved you always but I never saw you before.
The ending is brutal, heartbreaking and unexpected, so I recommend you to read the book if you haven’t done it already.
4. On the Beach
“On the Beach” is a novel by Nevil Shute and was published in 1957. In it, the author talks about a hypothetic post-apocalyptic world after World War III. Almost all the population is killed after multiple nuclear attacks. The only parts of the world where life was still possible were Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
When the people of Australia detect a Morse code coming from Seattle, they send the last American nuclear submarine to try and contact the possible survivors.
All those cities, all those fields, and farms, with nobody, and nothing left alive. Just nothing there. I simply can’t take it in
The ending…well…it will leave you with a “what the fuck” feeling, but is definitely not something you can expect.
5. Anna Karenina
I think “Anna Karenina” is my all time favorite story. I read it so long ago but still, the images that I created in my mind about it are as vivid as they were back then. Probably I was most affected by its ending and this is why it stuck with me for so many years. It was the first book that didn’t end as I expected. I was 14 years old when I read it and at that age, I still thought that love was simple and can only mean happiness and the conclusion shocked me.
In the beginning, we meet Prince Stepan Arkadyevich Oblonsky (Stiva) who has been unfaithful to his wife, Princess Darya Alexandrovna (Dolly). To set things back between the married couple, Stiva’s sister Anna Arkadyevna Karenina comes to visit them.
At her arrival, she witnesses how a railway worker accidentally falls in front of a train and is killed. Anna considers this a very bad sign. Along with her brother, who waits for her, she also meets the young army officer, Vronsky, who is bewitched by the countess from the first second he lays eyes on her.
He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.
I don’t want to say anything else because there are so many characters and events in this story and a short presentation won’t do it justice, but I am begging you to read it if you haven’t already done it.
6. The Lady of the Camellias
“The Lady of the Camellias”, originally named “La Dame aux Camelias” is written by Alexandre Dumas Jr. and is a semi-autobiographical novel. The book focuses on the romantic involvement between a young bourgeois, Armand Duval, and a courtesan, Marguerite Gautier.
No matter how long I live, I shall live longer than you will love me
I will not spoil the conclusion, but I will say that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life. It is touching, amazingly well written and has an ending that probably nobody hopes for.
7. Life of Pi
“Life of Pi” is written by Yann Martel, and it has as the main character an Indian boy, Piscine “Pi” Patel, who when traveling along with his parents to move all the beasts from their family zoo to the US, encounters a sea storm and their ship sinks. The book is composed as if the author is interviewing the adult Pi Patel, now living in Canada, about the way he survived as a boy on the sea after the shipwreck.
You might think I lost all hope at that point. I did. And as a result, I perked up and felt much better
I can only admit that I cried like crazy reading this story. The ending was absolutely amazing. I was always sure that animals are nobler than humans, but the conclusion literally made me sick to my stomach.
“Trainspotting” is written by Irvine Welsh and focuses on the lives of a group of friends from Leith, Edinburgh, three of which are deep into heroin addiction. The 1996 movie adaptation of the story has become a cult classic, and the shenanigans of Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie are well known.
Sometimes ah think that people become junkies just because they subconsciously crave a wee bit ay silence.
My fellow Foxy Badger who is the biggest fan of the story tells me that she didn’t expect it to end in the way it does and as always she recommends it.
9. Sophie’s Choice
“Sophie’s Choice” is written by William Styron and is one of the hardest stories to digest. In it, you will meet Stingo, a novelist. When he is forced to move into a cheap boarding home in Brooklyn, he meets an issued couple: Nathan Landau and Sophie Zawistowska. Sophie is a very beautiful Polish survivor of the Holocaust and Nathan is a Jewish-American who is supposed to be a Harvard genius.
I have learned to cry again and I think perhaps that means I am a human being again
Sophie starts to tell her life to Stingo and talks about the hard choices she had to make in her life. Her story is absolutely devastating. And when you think you can’t be more shocked about the book…the ending comes like a brick to your head.
10. Shutter Island
“Shutter Island” is a book written by Dennis Lehane. In 1954, police officers Edward “Teddy” Daniels and Chuck Aule are sent to Shutter Island where a hospital for the criminally insane is located. They need to investigate the disappearance of a patient by the name of Rachel Solando. However, Teddy has another purpose for being there. He wants to avenge his wife’s murder by locating her criminal, Andrew Laeddis, who is believed to also be a resident of the hospital.
Which would be worse, to live as a monster or to die as a good man?
This story is, from my point of view, one of the best thrillers out there. It is intense and puzzling. It provides two different realities, but you never get to understand which is the true one. And of course, the ending is exquisite.
I am absolutely positive that I’ve missed books that have unexpected endings, but this are the novels that first came to my mind. So if you can add more titles to this list I will be very happy to read them if I haven’t done it yet.