Newest Review: ... who witnessed the bombing of Dresden. Sounds a bit weird? Well, it is put like that, but it's wonderfully constructed, with excellent wr... more
My Top Ten Most Prodfoundly Great Books of All Time
Top Ten Fiction - General
Member Name: i_heart_elo
Top Ten Fiction - General
Advantages: If you dont' like any of these, you simply can stop reading them =)
Disadvantages: You'll get so hooked into reading them then stop being productive
People always seem to obsess on at least one thing in they're life. It could be something as trivial as not ever wearing socks to bed, (which my one friends swears she'll NEVER do then I always give her that "Your weird", look whenever she mentions it) or it can just be the urge to constantly read at every given opportunity. There are times when I'm out having a good time with my friends that occasionally, I'll let my mind wonder and think to myself "Ok if I get home by midnight, I can still finish a few chapters of _____ before I have to get to sleep". It's so bad that sometimes when I KNOW I should be doing something productive i'll cast it aside and resort to my lazy pastime.
In the spirit of my obsession and from other Ciao readers review of this same subject, I figured to give my two cents worth. Namely, what I feel are the top 10 books of all time thus far. And the winners are....
1. Les Miserables- Victor Hugo (1862)
No book has ever touched me mind, body, and soul, as much as this. I probably think about one of the characters or circumstances at least once every week. That may sound odd to you yet, it's simply an amazing story with the best (in my opinion) written character of all time in Jean Valjean. He of course is the protaganist in this story and deserves something more than respect. He is the surpreme example of a complex, unselfish, tortured soul. Everything about him envokes sympathy yet, you almost feel like there is no need. He has this will and strength that make you wish you knew him or at least went out with him for drinks on occasion.
This story, although it evolves around him, has several other very strong and memorable characters. There is Fantine, a women who's had bad luck in life and has been forced into prostitution. Yet , her only concern is her child to which she sends every penny she earns. Her child is named Cosette and plays a larger role through the middle/end of the book. The so called "Villian" of the book is a Jean Dame Police Inspecter named "Javert". He isn't your classicaly evil villian. In fact he's merely a victim of his own rigid rules and discipline and as such, isn't without honor. I don't want to give anything away if you haven't read this or seen the movies made. The only thing I want to put across is how this story envelops you. The writing of Hugo to me is unparelled. He's a poet writer in a way, and you can see if by his style of writing. It's just....beautiful. Some great quotes are from this book as well like;
" If the soul is left in Darkness sins will be committed" and,
" All extreme situations have their flashes that sometimes blind us, sometimes illuminate us" and then my favorite,
" Is the underworld of civilization, bad because it is deeper and gloomier, less important than the upper? Do we really know the mountain when we do not know the cavern?
At the end of the day, I will say this is NOT an easy read. It isn't one of those novels you can read in a few nights. If you are patient though, this will move you and make you appreciate all this nuances and literary genius.
2.) The Princess Bride - William Goldman (1973)
Not to be confused with the movie. Although, the movie was a great adaptation from this book. Like all movie's based on books, it didn't tell the entire story. So, if you ARE familar with this movie (which come ON! Who hasn't seen the Princess Bride? That's INCONCIEVABLE!=), you'll be even more impressed with the book.
William Goldman is one of my favorite authors. He's more well known as a screenwriter having written such masterpieces as, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Stepford Wives, Misery, Chaplin, and Fierce Creatures. Yet, it's his books that really endear him to me. He wrote Marathon Man, Boys and Girls Together, Magic, The Color of Light, and one that just barely missed my top ten called "The Temple of Gold" , which was his very first novel. I think it's his style of writing that really grabs you. In the Princess Bride, it's written more like a satire, but it almost didn't need that. If he would have changed and just purely made it an adventure story , it still would have worked and people would STILL have loved it. With what he adds in terms of comedy, witticisms, and the like, captapult this into icon status. In 100 yrs I hope young and old people around the world are still reading this. And when i'm old and gray and lying on my deathbed I want someone to read this book to me so it's the last thing on my mind. I love it that much!
3.) Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (1847)
Don't worry, not all of these top 10 books are going to be from the 19th century. Only, there are so many stellar writings from that time. Literature then was at it's peak and modern day writing has been so influenced by these older authors. Think about the "horrid" novels. Those started Mary Shelly's Frankenstien, which then gave way to Bram Stokers Dracula and stared all sorts of movies and movies based on these types of characters.
Jane Eyre is the same type of timeless piece that people try to duplicate but can just never be quite as good. In a lot of literary circles, this is not only harolded as the greatest novel written by a women, but some have even called it the greatest novel EVER written. That goes a bit far to me, but maybe they really aren't THAT far off. In terms of writing, Bronte surprizes you throughout the novel. There are times where you can feel her 19th century oppression and stoic almost depressed tone. Then she'll turn the tables and it will become passionate and driven , full of hopes and dreams. In a way, I think Bronte wanted to be Jane. I mean, we'll never know of course, but it just seems that she wrote Jane's character, based on her qualities and emotions.
The protaginists of the story being Jane Eyre and Mr. Edward Rochester come off the book as your reading. It's like you can see them fighting against they're instant attraction, not really knowing what it is. Yes, this is for all intents and purposes, a love story. Which, if your a girl you'll love. If your a guy, you are thinking " ok moving on...". Only, you might want to check yourself. This is a "dark" love story. It's not full of "I love you's" or "heaving breasts" or people waxing poetic over one another. It's deep and intense and forboding and sad and happy and everything else all rolled up together. In a way, to me, Charlotte Bronte was like the female Edger Allen Poe. So, for you men out there, if you like Poe.....you'll like Jane Eyre. Give it a try but just make sure your mates aren't around to see you reading it. =)
4 - This is All I Ask - Lynn Kurland (2000)
Ok so THIS is a quote unquote ROMANCE. Who cares? Now all you males reading this can move down to the next few which I promise will not make you lose your mancard.
Most novel critics would never in a million years put a book like this in they're top 10. Well i'm not a novel critic, so i'm breaking all the rules. To my sister and myself this is our brain candy favorite and most "read" book. It is soooooo easy to get caught up in ,and the storyline is sigh worthy. Let me assure you though, that this is NO way a bodice ripper or full of words like "Assiduously", "Umbrage" or "Scoundrel". It's actually pretty PG and is decently well written. I've read some of Kurland's other books and like them "ok" but not half as much as this one.
It's a story about a girl sold into marriage by a father who constantly abused her. She is almost afraid of her own shadow b/c of this and has become painfully shy and skittish. There are parts of the story that make you want to roll your eyes and think it's a little corny but those are few and far between. The male character is an infamous knight (yeah I know how very Sir Walter Scott Ivanhoe, right?), that has lost his eyesight and his first wife as well. He's very jaded, but under all his menace is capable of kindness. Seeing these two characters get together is.....well fun. This is a book I end up reading almost in one sitting if I have the time. It's story is such that it sucks you in and you can't stop looking. All of my girlfriends I let borrow this book (which usually they STOLE and never gave back so i've had to buy this a few times) have always gushed about how much they loved it. So, basically if your a girl....You'll adore this story.
5.) The Rainbow - D.H. Lawrence (1915)
This was one of my first "grown up" books I read. I was in junior high at the time and I saw this book on my English teachers desk. I asked her what it was about and she sorta looked a little embarassed and said " oh well, you'll probably read it once your in high school". That got me wondering "Why do I have to wait until high school? And, why wouldn't she tell me what it was about?"
So of course, being the annoying little Curious George that I was, I went and checked it out at my library. Let me preface again that I was around 12 at the time. That is vaugely important b/c this book was actually banned in several countries b/c of it's taboo subject matter at the time. I was in for a bit of a shocker, but it really wasn't all THAT shocking. Sure some things were, especially for a 12 yr old, but when I read it now, it seems so tame and just, beautifully written.
It's mostly about the characters trying to find themselves?? It's hard to say b/c there is no real plot at ALL in this book. In reality , if Lawrence wasn't such an amazing writer, this would have been a complete bust. In other words, what made this book worthwhile was Lawrences's way of describing things. At the time it took me weeks and weeks to read this thing because I had to re-read sentences or look up all the huge words. (Lawrence is the most articulate writer i've ever come across) . There was also this great sense of sensuality. Not necessarily "sexuality" but, it was quite sensual and just had this viceral feel to it. LIke I said it's more of a character study than anything else, but it's still beautiful and Lawrences writing will blow your mind. I personally liked this better than his others simply because of that. Lady Chatterly's Lover is his most popular, but I didn't think it really showed off his talents quite like The Rainbow did. (Women in Love is the sequel to this novel and I'd also recommend that one as well =)
6.) The Complete Works of Alexander Pope - Alexander Pope (1700s?)
I'm sure many of you will not be rushing out to buy this on Amazon or Borders. =) It's not what i'd call a very....entertaining read? Although, to me it was entertaining in some parts. Pope is more of a preacher of ethics and morals than anything else, but he does get in a few humorous quotes now and then. You can tell he had a sense of humor beneath his brillant mind.
His most famous work was "An Essay on Critisism". Which, i'm constantly in awe of whenever I get a chance to read it. It's not very long per se, but its writing is more in prose , so it's a bit hard to read. You'll find yourself having the same lines over again in order to grasp it unless your paying REALLY close attention and concentrating on the words. Some very famous lines come from his "Essay" like;
"Fools rush where angels feel to tread" and,
"To Err is human, to forgive, divine".
In reality he's a poet, but not a poet just such on purely asthetic qualities. You can just feel that everything he says, he says with a purpose. With the hope that someone will listen to him and pay heed, and learn from it. He didn't write things just to sound "pretty", except his writing really IS beautiful. It's always said that Shakespere had such a way with words that to this day, no one can match. Well, in my mind Pope had a better way with words than even Shakespere did. And, until you actually read his stuff, you'll never know what your missing.
7.) Money - Martin Amis (1984)
Martin Amis' most famous novel is probably "The Rachel Papers" that was , ta daaaaa made into a movie. (They really need to just start letting screenwriters WRITE movies and Novelist WRITE novels, stop turning them into bad movies!) Anyways, Amis's stuff has always had it's bad and good critics. After I read the Rachel Papers, I "liked" it enough to check out some of his other stuff. So, I checked out "Night Train" at the library and well....I hated it.....I couldn't even finish it . So, i just gave up on the guy after that. Until last year when I heard his name mentioned again. I thought ok, maybe I should give him one more shot. I went through his list of books and found the one with a story line that looked the most promising called "Money".
This book was....GREAT. I mean it made up for "Night Train" 100 times over. I just loved almost everything about it , tThe funny lines, the wit, the self-loathing, the names of the characters, (and the characters themselves)....I mean how can you not like the names , Spunk Davis, Frank The Phone, and even the main character named "John Self". All the names reflect who the characters really are. John Self is....Selfish...essentially. He's directs commercials so has a little bit of money that he always spends and he's pretty much always drunk. Plus he's obsessed with sex and food. You get to see Self, go through the process of having Frank The Phone want to kill him, and dealing with crazy actors and the like, then climaxing to a HUGE plot twist at the end. I mean I could NEVER have dreamed up the ending to this. It really showed me how imaginative Martin Amis is. I really think most people would enjoy this book, it's a fun read and I think it really was the ending itself that made me appreciate the beginning (if that makes any sense?)
8.) This Side of Paradise - F. Scott Fitzgerald (1920)
This only made the top ten because of Fitzgeralds writing ability. the storyline is a bit dull, but it's done in typcial F.Scott fashion and is kind of similar to The Great Gatsby (Which i'm not very fond of). This book though, unliked Gatsby, was done in a lighter fashion and shows that the author wasn't full of himself ....yet. I first read this book my last year of high school and while I was not sure If I liked it or not, I had to end up reading it a few times in order to do a good report on it. After that, I really did fall in love with it. The main character is a young man who goes to princeton falls in love and it's unrequited. He then joins WW1 but it's already pretty much over when he joins so there is no mention of him "fighting" in it. He then falls in love AGAIN only to be rejected b/c the women is rich and he is not.
It sounds pretty depressing I know, but while you feel sorry for him being unlucky in love, you really like his character and the way he expresses his emotions and just , talks in general. There are some great lines in this book but the most famous is at the end where he says " I know myself, but that is all." This is a great book to read on a train or in the middle of work ,where your brain is humming, b/c then you'll appreciate Fitzgeralds writing style even more.
9.) The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury (1950's?)
I was going to put an H.G. Wells book here because he is the king of Sci-fi. It would just be too obvious though. Wells deserves a top 10 mention but, I simply couldn't leave this one out. Bradbury is more known for his book Farenheit 451, which I've really never finished reading. It's sititng there on my bookshelf and i'm sure i'll get around to reading the rest of it one day. Still, this book of his captured my interest far more than 451 did. It is a sci-fi book while also being a social discertation. I really don't want to even go into a synopsis of it based on the fact that it's the type of read you need to experience in an undliuted form. You need to go into it, not knowing what it's about. Let me just say, that it's most assuredly NOT disapointing and , in most parts , quite riveting. If humans ever do terraform and colonize Mars, this should be the Bible for telling us what to do and what NOT to do in that case.
10.) The Time Travelers Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (2004)
Mentioning this book reminds me that I really need to read it again. My brother-in-law's parents had this book at their house one day and in a moment of boredom I picked it up and started reading. I wasn't all that impressed in the beginning, only , there was something about it that made me continue. I"m so glad I did because it just got better and better with every page. Niffenegger must have an enormous imagination to conjure this idea up and it's so original. There was even a brief TV show in the U.S. called Journeyman, that used her story as a concept for the series. Her writing style might not be as polished as some of the greats, but the plot itself makes up for the lack of it. It can be somewhat....confusing...in parts, but you end up forgetting that and just , going with it. It's about a man who has a "disease" that causes his body to *whoosh* vanish into different times. One minute he'll be walking down the street in the present day, the next, he'll be in some random field back in the 1960's. It's during one of those time travels that he meets his future "wife", whom, at the time, is a child and he is already married to her in his 30's. His meeting her in the past, causes her (when she's in her early 20's)to seek out the future him (when he's also in his 20's)....are you confussed yet? Ha, it's definately NOT easy to explain, but this author does it very well and there are full of funny moments, and touching ones as well. It's not really a "love" story, it's a story of this guy trying to deal with this horrible "problem" and making a life for himself despite that. I think men, women, old people, young people, and every other demographic would really fall in love with this story. It's very easy to love.
Some that just missed the list........
The Time Machine -H.G. Wells
The Silent Gondoliers- William Goldman
The Once and Future King - T.H. White
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
Feel free to comment on any of these or send me your top 10 , i'm always looking for new books to check out and obsess over.
Summary: These may not be on everyones book *wish lists*, but they're still terrific and one of a kind