After an 8 am final (yes, a final at 8 am on a Saturday, not good if you don't live on a college campus), I needed to relax. The best solution I found was a hot bath and one of my favorite novels, I Capture the Castle. I'm surprised it's not more well known. Written by Dodie Smith, author of the famous children's book One Hundred and One Dalmatians, it tells the story of a family living in a deteriorating old castle in the English countryside during the 1930s. Cassandra is the 17 year old protagonist/narrator. Her father is an eccentric writer who hasn't published anything since his first novels' success over a decade ago and they are now living in "genteel poverty". Their landlord's rich American family comes to take over the estate and Cassandra's older sister Rose is determined to marry one of them.
Though incredibly simple in its premise the story is told in such a beautiful way, Cassandra's narration feels so familiar as she records her daily observations. It quietly explores what it means to grow up and how your relationships change with the people you love. Certain moments are extremely funny as well.
Everyone I've recommended it to has found something to love about it. Every time I read it I find a new nuance, or connect differently to a different character. There was a film of it made in 2003 which was pretty decent, but leaves out a few characters and doesn't fully express Cassandra's internal self as well as the book. Essentially: read it.