Thursday, November 25, 2010

These are a few of my favourite books...rum tum tum rum tum tum

Here’s a list of some of my most loved books. I’ll keep adding to it as I remember more. This is just the novels, will need a separate list for short stories, poetry and drama. :D The numbers are just for itemization, and NOT a grading. I love all these books. Cannot rate them.

1. Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma – Jane Austen

Love all of Austen, but these three are undoubtedly my favourites. Keen observation of human idiosyncrasies, great humour.

2. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Old fashioned romance. Amazing language, very visual. There’s just something about it that makes me keep rereading it.

3. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Dark, disturbing, irresistible. Again very visual, strong, can see the wild moors and hear the wuthering winds.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Beautiful examination of loss of innocence, effects of conditioning, racism

5. Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel – Daphne Du Maurier

Dark, eerie, psychological, and very interesting women characters.

6. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

An examination of the slow decent into madness. Always leaves me with goose pimples.

7. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy – J R R Tolkien

The sheer scope of the work gets to me. A whole different world, a language, history, geography. And I do like my monsters :D

8. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

What if the utopia was not such a great place after all? Also love Antic Hay and Chrome Yellow. All of these books are so simple on the surface. Just a straightforward narrative, but how disturbing when you think about them.

9. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

Usually read this back to back with Brave New World similar in subject, but how different in handling. But equally disturbing, although this one is a lot more overtly disturbing.

10. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

Love the character, the picture of the time, the fashionable world, and the “bheed me akele” feel that runs through it.

11. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Five Parts – Douglas Adams

What can I say?…I’m a blind Adams fan. Anyone who can make heavy science this much fun has my vote. Not to mention a twisted sense of humour and some exquisite nonsense. Love Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Salmon of Doubt, and The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul as well.

12. Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, To a God Unknown – John Steinbeck

Very real, very –not nice, vey “non lecturing” examination of human mind and behavior. And what language “the sun cut itself on a jagged peak and bled into the valley”….wah!

13. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

Revenge, love, prison break, pirates, disguises, what’s not to like? Have read the 1300 page unabridged book something like 30 times. Much more complicated than most people think. But he holds the attention. The only Dumas I like actually.

14. Midnight’s Children, Shame, Haroun and the Sea of Stories – Salman Rushdie

Another author I adore. Love everything except Fury which sucked. Magic realism is definitely one of my things.

15. Around the World in 80 Days, The Mysterious Island – Jules Verne

Old fashioned Sci-fi, but very interesting. Lovely language.

16. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Children’s fiction. Sweet, nice, but good writing, and very visual.

17. Such a Long Journey – Rohinton Mistry

Although I do like his other work, I think this is his best. One of the very few examples of “Indian/Indian origin writing in English” that I like unqualifiedly.

18. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

The Only Dickens that I really like at all. Dark, disturbing, and I cannot get the image of a “black Madame Defarge” knitting calmly as heads roll under the guillotine.

19. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Amazing, fantastic, totally awesome mind f@#k. magic realism at its best. Can be heavy going for people not used to the genre, I guess, but I love it.

20. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Very very dark, very disturbing, examination of what happens to so-called human beings when there are no social checks and balances on behavior. are not as INNOCENT as we like to think. Scares the SH#T out of me every time I read it.

21. A Ghost at Noon – Alberto Moravia

The not so slow disintegration of a marriage, through misunderstandings, not-understanding, and towering obsessions. Fantastic. I also like his other books, especially Conjugal Love. Something quite lyrical about the language as well, maybe an effect of the original Italian?

22. The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Orczy

Swashbuckling heroes, daring rescues, historical background of the French revolution, fashion, beautiful women in distress, blackmail, betrayal, and love… the complete entertainer :D

23. Silk – Alessandro Baricco

Surreal romance where nothing is as it seems and everything is magic. Tiny little book, but I usually need about a day after putting it down, to finish reabsorbing it. Some lovely images too.

24. Beloved – Toni Morrison

Amazing. Strong, deep, visual, real, donno what to say. Love it unconditionally though. Also really really like her other work.

25. The Fifth Child – Doris Lessing

Creepy, eerie, but what impact. Like her other work as well, including “The Grass is Singing”.

26. Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

Love most of Woolf’s work, but this is my favourite. Love Clarissa Dalloway, and the whole fragmented, stream of thought, exploration of all the characters.

27. The Hours – Michael Cunningham

Brilliant. Preferably to be read just after Mrs Dalloway. A sort of retelling and reinvention. Like a book becoming real. Fascinating. The women are well written too…which helps :D

28. The Mote in God’s Eye – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

My absolute favourite Sci-Fi book of all time! Fantastic science (not surprising as the guys are astrophysicists and ex NASA and whatnot), great characters, nice twists, fascinating imagination of what the future might be.

29. Inferno – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

A retelling of Dante’s Inferno by a couple of astrophysicists. Lots of fun, especially if you have read the original. Good stand alone book too. On the ever blurring borderline between science and magic, technology and mythology.

30. Foe – J M Coetzee

Retelling of Robinson Crusoe from a whole new angle. Love most of Coetzee’s work. Very interesting, very subversive.

31. Saint Jack – Paul Theroux

Raw, fairly dark, bit of an “adventures of so and so” kind of book. I like the vigour of the language, and love the central character, even though he is a bit of a bastard.

32. The Crucible – Arthur Miller

Study in mass hysteria, adolescent peer mechanisms, and vested interests. The historical background of the Salem witch trials just adds to the effect, for me.

33. Monsignor Quixote – Graham Greene

Interesting modern twist on the classic tale of Don Quixote. Fun. And, of course, there’s Greene’s writing style and language. Also love his “the Quiet American, and The Power and the Glory.

34. The Plague – Albert Camus

My favourite Camus, although I do love his other work. Another dark book, but what imagery, and what impact. And history is one of my pet hobby horses after all J

35. The Green Man – Kingsley Amis

Horror and satire in equal measure. Surreal in bits and all too real in others, how perfect!

36. Time’s Arrow – Martin Amis

Must thank Soma for originally lending me this one. Everything happens backwards. Fantastic book.

37. Love Story – Erich Segal

The ONLY Segal I like. Hooked from the fist line .. its my favourite tearjerker. Nice in being non maudlin, and for the dry humour even in some of the darkest bits.

38. The Black Cloud – Fred Hoyle

Another Sci-Fi masterpiece by another astrophysicist. Loved both the concept and the telling. One of the best I have ever read.

39. King Solomon’s Mines, She – H Rider Haggard

Obviously, I have a thing for adventure novels :P These two are among my favourites. Loads of history, lots of travel through hostile lands, and many many miraculous saves. Good fun on a rainy Sunday afternoon with garam chai and pakoras. Little tough on the women though…when there are any.

40. Wide Sargasso Sea –Jean Rhys

The disintegration of a marriage, the descent into madness, and how the OTHER can affect the basic…self, relationship, whatever. Loved it.

41. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey

The shenanigans in a ward full of mental patients. Amazing characters, a feeling almost like a riot, and some deep truths. Great book.

42. Heidi – Johanna Spyri

Just a nice sweet kid’s story that I love to revisit every so often.

43. How Green Was My Valley – Richard Llewellyn

Welsh miners, life, times, troubles. Very beautiful in a darkish way. Language is beautiful, and visual.

44. Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

More adventure. History, psychology, crusades, Knights Templars, damsels in distress, Norman Saxon enmity, Robin Hood, King Richard…gooood fun.

45. The Dark Tower series – Stephen King

Seven books, unlike most of King’s work. Fantasy/western/ adventure rather than straight forward horror, although it does have elements of that too. A classic.

46. Phantoms – Dean Koontz

I am a horror addict…whether in books or movies…and this is the only thing that’s ever spooked me! I was decidedly uncomfortable stepping out of my room after finishing this one. That’s high praise for any horror, coming from a jaded “I laugh at the scary movies” addict like me.

47. The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

Historical murder mystery….what fun! Its has everything kahani me twist hai drama hai emotion hai :D

48. The Father Brown Stories and other works of G K Chesterton.

Nice whodunits, and a totally unexpected kind of detective, but the language and the imagery attract me more than the mysteries.

49. Jurassic Park, The Lost World, and The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton

I like most of his work,(except Congo I guess) but these are the best. Love the ease with which I can imbibe good science while reading a nice tight story.

50. Anything by Dick Francis

A blind fan. These are by far the best thrillers I have ever read…..and consistently so (although some I like a little bit better than others). I love thrillers that can make me laugh out loud even when the hero is hanging off a cliff with one hand with fingers being stepped on by a meanie.

51. Where Eagles Dare, The Guns Of Navarone, Floodgate, and Fear is the Key – Alistair Maclean

Laugh out loud funny at the moments of highest tension, and otherwise. Good thrillers. Not all of his work matches up to these though, probably ghostwritten or something.

52. WODEHOUSE!!! – anything and everything. Have been told by people that his stories are ordinary, juvenile even. Well…they’re not…they are the most sublime nonsense. And who the hell reads Wodehouse for the stories anyways? It’s about the LANGUAGE. The sheer artistry of the man with the English language that makes you roll around on the floor clutching your tummy and “gurgling like a turkey with laryngitis” a la Pongo Twistleton. Man is a genius.

53. Terry Pratchett – again..anything by him. Does the most amazing things. Puts science, mythology, nonsense and a wicked sense of satire into a blender and pours out the perfect laugh. Brilliant!

54. Gerald Durrell – anything. Right up there with Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett…..a dedicated conservationist writing about animals (and his family). Funny as hell.

55. Dorothy L Sayers – especially the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Unexpected sort of sleuth…funny quips, intelligent language, and interesting whodunits.