|A Girl Reading, 1932 by Vanessa Bell|
I think you have to do a post like this on a blog largely about books. So here we go, twenty-five of my favourite books.
- The Death of Ivan Ilyich- Tolstoy. This book is incredible. It covers so much in so few pages, and leaves you with a lot to think about. You’re left questioning your own life, and wondering if you’re an Ivan or a Gerasim.
- The House of the Spirits– Isabel Allende. Allende’s other works didn’t appeal to me so much, but this one I’ve loved every time I’ve read it. Great descriptions of suffering and surviving. I wrote a school essay on the theme of catharsis in this novel.
- Anna Karenina- Leo Tolstoy. This book is legendary for a reason.
- Trainspotting- Irvine Welsh. My boyfriend recommended the film to me, and after a while of putting it off, I read the book and absolutely loved it. Then the film also. I’ve never been high, but oh well, there are lots of other things to relate to.
- First Love- Ivan Turgenev. This guy is a great writer. The stereotype is that Russians are impossible to read, and you need to inflict extreme force on yourself to get through a book. Read this and you’ll realise it isn’t true.
- War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy. My family thought I was insane when I put this on my Christmas list in my early teens. It’s not the easiest book to carry about (and people on the train give you strange looks!), but its message stays with you for a long time. The love stories were incredible. Everyone really should read it.
- A Christmas Carol- Charles Dickens. There’s something great about reading this in the week up to Christmas. I have a lovely Penguin Classics hardbound edition with a load of his other Christmas tales in.
- The Book Thief- Markus Zusak. I loved the narrator. I’m not saying I love Death, but this Death can really write.
- The Brothers Karamazov- Fyodor Dostoevsky. Alyosha was such a good guy. The rest of his family, not so much.
- The Shadow of the Wind- Carlos Ruiz Zafón. There’s something different about Ruiz Zafón that makes him really stand out from other writers. Maybe not in his other books, but this one presents his skill and imagination in all the right proportions.
- Rebecca- Daphne du Maurier. One of the first classics I read as a child. I remember there being a fantastic description of a wood; I’ll have to track it down.
- The Count of Monte Cristo- Alexandre Dumas. A loooooong book. But worth it. The plot line never fails to make me want to shout, “WHYYY?!”
- Love in the Time of Cholera- Gabriel García Márquez. I read this a while ago, then re-read a World Book Day copy. The idea is to give it to a friend after reading, but my boyfriend – as my chosen recipient – has neither read it nor given it away. I’ll have to summon more anger when I next see it on his bookshelf.
- Kafka on the Shore- Haruki Murakami. A writer in a league of his own. His books are always so different to everything else I read, which provides a welcome change.
- Requiem for a Dream- Hubert Selby Jr. Scary, very scary. Not in a conventional sense, but the effect is probably worse.
- Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic- Alison Bechdel. The only graphic novel I’ve ever read. Anything with literary references in it makes it a winner for me. Amusing but also has serious themes.
- Paradise Lost- John Milton. This book has a bad reputation. A really bad reputation. Well, I’m sure there are many people who love it too, but I’ve never met them.
- The Waves- Virginia Woolf. This novel is written in such a revolutionary way for its era, and contains so many international themes: empire, friendship, alienation. Short but complex.
- Pnin- Vladimir Nabokov. Ah, Pnin. You can’t help but feel sorry for him.
- The Twits- Roald Dahl. I had an audio-tape of this as a child. The food in Mr Twit’s beard still gets to me.
- Ulysses- James Joyce. I loved this. When I was regularly reading it, I flew through the book. When I spent weeks staring at the sheer size of it, my reading pace wasn’t so consistent.
- A Clockwork Orange- Anthony Burgess. The first disturbing book I read. Perhaps I should’ve started with something a bit more tame.
- The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald. This author is incredible. I should probably have included “Flappers and Philosophers”, his short story collection, on this list. But Gatsby is just as incredible. One of those school books I’m glad was forced on me!
- Dubliners- James Joyce. The ending to “The Dead” must be one of the greatest pieces of writing, surely.
- The Odyssey- Homer. Self-explanatory.
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