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Your Top 10 books of all time.

 
 
drom et reve
 
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Reply Tue 16 Dec, 2003 01:58 pm
There are some great books here that initially slipped from my mind; I love 'Homage to Catalonia,' Epsilon..and Fare You Well, and The Metamorphis, and everything I've read of Dostoevsky so far (is 'The Adolescent' any good?), and La Rève, and to Kill a Mockingbird..

And I'd have to add Kerouac's 'On the Road,' and Ishiguro's 'The Unconsoled' to my list too.
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Frank Apisa
 
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Reply Tue 16 Dec, 2003 02:07 pm
For just plain enjoyment of a well written, page turner...

...I would include James Clavell's, Shogun.
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Tue 16 Dec, 2003 09:04 pm
I admit that I couldn't put down Shogun either, though that was quite a while ago, maybe I could now. Big fat book in paperback... On the other hand, not that we were talking about Michener, I couldn't get past page two of Hawaii.
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ehBeth
 
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Reply Tue 16 Dec, 2003 09:49 pm
This is definitely something to mull over. I know I'd have to include at least one E.F. Benson. Not sure if I'd pick fiction or something autobiographical. He had an extraordinary sense of words.

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter by J. D. Salinger would make my short list.
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dlowan
 
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Reply Wed 17 Dec, 2003 02:09 am
Could people possibly come back and talk about WHY those books are so important to them? I am fascinated - but cannot narrow things down to 10 books!
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Roberta
 
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Reply Wed 17 Dec, 2003 04:39 am
drom, The Adolescents is good. IMO everything Dostoevsky wrote is good. You can't go wrong. Have your read The Idiot? Wonderful.

Okay, Deb, I'll give it a try. Why these books are so important to me.

Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky--This may be the greatest novel I've ever read. Powerful. Haunting. Passionate. Thought-provoking. I can remember the feeling I had as I read it. I was overwhelmed.

The Brothers Karamozov, Dostoevsky--Believe it or not, I read this tome in one sitting. I could not stop. I was obsessed. The reasons are similar to those for Crime and Punishment. And the characters were intricate and complex. The family dynamic was palpable.

The Light in August, Faulkner--Again, powerful emotions. A strange and intricate story. Strange people with strong feelings. And GREAT writing. I occasionally had to stop to reread a sentence or paragraph just to admire the language.

The Metamorphosis, Kafka--I read this book at three different times in my life, and each time it said something different to me. Strangeness. Alienation. And tremendous sadness. Another emotionally powerful reading experience.

Huckleberry Finn (up until Tom Sawyer shows up), Twain--I loved the characters, the language, and the journey. I loved the humor and the sadness.
The Painted Bird, Kozinsky--Again, powerful emotions. Great sadness.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Smith--I don't know how many times I read this book when I was a teenager. I know it was enough times to remember whole passages. There was a potent personal connection between me and the main character. I don't know how I would feel about this book now. But back then, I felt strongly linked to this book.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee--Sometimes you just love a book. I loved the kids. I loved the perfect father. I loved the sense of place and time. I even loved Boo Radley.

The Wall, Haushofer--I recently read this. I was staggered by its story. By the character of the woman. By her acceptance of what had happened. Of how she coped. How she lived. Potent stuff.

Call It Sleep, Roth--I read this many years ago. It's no longer clear in my mind. But it stays with me as a powerful story of alienation and belonging. A stellar book on being an immigrant--an outsider.
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drom et reve
 
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Reply Thu 18 Dec, 2003 01:12 pm
The idiot IS brilliant, Roberta. Everything that I have read so far of Dostoevsky falls second-to-none; I just wanted to ensure that 'The Adolescent' wouldn't be a dissapointment and a waste of £10. I'm going to start my reasons now and finish them off later.

Crime and Punishment The first time that I read this, it was a while ago in the Uni library. I didn't want the book to stop; I stayed there from eleven in the morning until eleven o clock at night to try to finish it. In the end, I went home, still reading it, still mesmerised with a book that creates the perfect balance between description and action, with so much passion and believable characters. It has misery, intrigue, amazing comedy, and it is profound without being down-one's-throat. I highly recommend it.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses Probably the book that I like the most. Strangely, I look upon the perverseness of it all and the dislikeability of the characters as something intimate. It has comedy; it has exhilerating evil; it used the epistolary model even though that had gone out of fashion; it dared to do something else; it created characters that are so believable, that are repugnant, but have the 'Iago' charm; it is unclassifiable.

Faust What can one say after reading Faust? It was written over fifty years or so, and the perfectionism shows. It got me wondering about a lot of things, and when I had finished it, I just felt... blown-over, wanting to start it again.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Thu 18 Dec, 2003 01:20 pm
Here are some faves and why I like them:

The Secret Agent (Conrad): Makes me feel the coldness and dinginess of the lives led by the central characters. Love the story and how it ends.

Lord Jim (Conrad): Reread this recently and loved it. The theme (how an almost random choice resonates tragically years later) is powerful. The idea of personal honor is one we rarely think about these days, but Conrad brings it to our attention.

Walden (Thoreau): Probably influenced me more than anything else I read in college. Could never live up to his ideals, but it made me want to try. And I'm still trying.

Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky): For the reasons so well described by others above.

The Center of Everything (Laura Moriarty): I just read this new, first novel, and I loved it. Growing up in small town Kansas in the 1980s. The language is pitch perfect, and the story is honest.
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OCCOM BILL
 
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Reply Thu 18 Dec, 2003 02:46 pm
How do you mean best... Well here;
Must reads
Atlas Shrugged-Ayn Rand
Shogun-James Clavell
Crime and Punishment-Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Grapes of Wrath-John Steinbeck
Ben Hur- General Wallace
Fun reads
The Matarese Circle-Robert Ludlum
The Firm- John Grisham
Gorky Park- Martin Cruz Smith
Carrion Comfort-Dan Simmons
The Andromeda strain- Michael Crighton

Per your request Drom: If I could choose only one book to recommend; there would be no contest; Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I'll probably catch heck for it, but I don't care. This book exemplifies capitalism and self confidence to the extreme. Despite being quite poor my mother offered me $100 to read it when I was 15. She wanted to instill in me the confidence to follow my instincts and never settle for second best (and all that other good motherly stuff). Of course, I was too stubborn to ever do what I was asked.
10 years later, when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I hastily read it as I was eager to fulfill all of her final wishes. I learned immediately that I had been behaving like a damn fool, the proverbial ship without a sail. Now I'm 35 and I swear if I had read that book when she asked me to, I would be long since retired. If not for a fear of boredom, I'd probably retire to Costa Rica now.
I've left a standing offer to pay that $100 to each of my nieces and nephews when ever they get around to reading it. So far, the one, boy genius, Sam collected his at age 8. I still can't believe he was able to handle the repetition that is so loathsomely familiar to those of you who've read it. Ridiculously slow starter, but well worth the effort. I'd make it required reading for all Americans if I could. It provided me with a desire to succeed, the knowledge that I was the only one that could make that happen and the confidence to do it. Without it, I'd probably still be serving drinks at the bar near my college. If you know any cocky kids that think they know everything, but are on a road to nowhere, you know what to do. Peace, out.
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Fri 19 Dec, 2003 07:43 pm
Occom Bill- I feel the same way about Atlas Shrugged, and a number of other of Rand's works. I started reading her at a time in my life when I was not very well grounded, and she really opened my eyes!
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OCCOM BILL
 
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Reply Fri 19 Dec, 2003 07:57 pm
Now why doesn't that surprise me Phoenix? Most of the points I've seen you make could just as easily have been my own. Lucky for you; you've made mention of your husband on another thread, or I might be tempted to drive across the state, take you to dinner and sweep you off your feet!
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drom et reve
 
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Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2003 09:15 am
D'artagnan: I love Walden too, for reasons that I'll explain whilst contemplating 'Atlas shrugged.'

I don't fit in well to capitalist society. Capitalism is all about money, and money has never interested me. Sure, we all love creature comforts, and if we have people whom we must look after- although, as the book preaches putting oneself first, such emotive beings as children are scarcely mentioned-, we need to make sure that their conditions are good, but personally, I feel that people put much too much importance on its shoulders. People see money as a way of buying freedom, buying the freedom to buy. I feel that there is so much more to life than this objectivism. Given the choice between being pennilless in the middle of Uzbekistan, but with thousands of memories, or being some middle manager with hardly any, in a hôtel room every night with nothing to show for her plight, I know which I would choose; the former. The problem with Rand is that she seems to think that to succeed, one must be ruthless, one must put oneself first. I have been very successful thus far, but I never think of doing things for me or putting myself first. When I worked my ass off to get into one a good college, and then into one of the best Universities, and then to get a good job and to maximise savings, all of this wasn't for want of money, but rather for want of experience and to eventually spread a message. One needn't be capitalist to be confident. One needn't have money to spread joy. Yet I'm in no way criticizing the book; I'm just highlighting my probably strange ideals. I agree though, people should read the book- even though I think that the prose is flaccid and the message self-centred- people should read the book and have a choice. But generations of ruthless people are not what I want to face; the world needs more dreamers; dreaming doesn't essentially mean being Quixotic, but it means being human-centred, thinking of things outside the little box of your own life. Personally, no matter how much one might earn, the day that you fail to dream is the day that you should run away.
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2003 09:23 am
Quote:
Rand is that she seems to think that to succeed, one must be ruthless, one must put oneself first.


dròm_et_rêve - If this is what you have gained from reading Rand, you do not understand her at all. Nowhere does she talk about ruthlessness.

This may help you to understand her position.


Link to Ayn Rand- On Selfishness
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flyboy804
 
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Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2003 09:53 am
In one of her books (it might have been the referenced essays on selfishness) she even allows for altruism ; though not from her, of course, since she considers it counter-productive.
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drom et reve
 
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Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2003 10:59 am
Her attitude is not of sacrificing yourself, but rather screwing over your neighbour for your own game. That's what Capitalism is. I picked up little, apart from rejecting the ideas presented to me.

Thanks for the link; it says basically what I felt about the author. Fair play and all, in the selfishness that she advocates not being a disregard of other, but I dislike- and cannot- concentrate on myself rather than the world in general. This does not make me a less-grounded person, but quite the opposite; a yearning to things for people other than myself, to make a difference, grounds me well. I discount nothing of her beliefs, but rather don't desire to adopt them myself.

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ehBeth
 
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Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2003 11:15 am
Funny about Atlas Shrugged and other Rand. I see her work as beach reads. Nice light fluff when you're not in the mood for something serious.

That's one of the interesting things about 'favourite book' lists. Different perspectives on the same works.

I pick my favourites based on the use of language, not on themes, messages etc. Finding a book where the use of language ties into the theme is a positively orgasmic experience.
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Roberta
 
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Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2003 12:21 pm
My dislike of Rand has nothing to do with her philosophy. I can enjoy writers with whom I strongly disagree. I dislike Rand because I don't think she's much of a writer--at least not a writer of fiction.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2003 01:09 pm
Roberta- And therein lies the problem. Rand's books are philosophical treatises, couched in a fictional format. An author really can't do both at the same time, successfully.

I found it rather disconcerting, when in the middle of some action in one of her books, one of her characters goes off and makes a speech on some point of her philosophy.

In her book, "For the New Intellectual- The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, she extracts the philosophical portions of her novels to describe and clarify her views.


Link to Ayn Rand
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Greyfan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2003 01:40 pm
My top ten (and the next twelve), in no particular order. Most are here because they influenced my thinking. Some are here because they were just a pleasure to read.

Huckleberry Finn -Mark Twain
To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee
Sister Carrie- Theodore Dreiser
Evelina- Fannie Burney
The Scarlet Letter- Nathanial Hawthorne
Animal Farm- George Orwell
Lolita- Vladimir Nabokov
Mrs. Bridge- Evan S. Connell
The Princess Bride- William Goldman
Seventh Son- Orson Scott Card
Rabbit is Rich- John Updike
An American Tragedy - Theodore Dreiser
The End of the Road- John Barth
Native Son- James Baldwin
Kingsblood Royal- Sinclair Lewis
Two Years Before The Mast- Richard Henry Dana
Wise Blood- Flannery O'Connor
The World According to Garp- John Irving
Catch 22- Joseph Heller
Stranger in a Strange Land- Robert A Heinlein
Dune- Frank Herbert
Anthem- Ayn Rand
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2003 02:30 pm
I just finished reading a short novel by Nicola Barker. For those who don't know her, I can describe reading one of her novels as being like having a blind date with a woman who's a lot more intriguing than I expected, maybe a little unbalanced, never boring, and no matter what happens, will share an evening with me I'll never forget--and never regret!

Can't say that about any other writer I can think of right now.
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