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Top 10 Books
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Lexilogio
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:30 pm    Post subject: Top 10 Books  Reply with quote

Might as well echo the film thread...

1. The Bible (kind of has to be)
2. The Oxford English Dictionary (the several volume versions are fascinating)
3. Sophie's World - Josteinn Garder
4. Miss Smillla's Feeling for Snow - Peter Hoeg
5. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
6. A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter J Miller
7. Uncle Vanya - Chekov
8. Cider House Rules - John Irving
9. The Bridge - Ian Banks
10. The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given how many books I've got this is almost impossible.

However ...

I will say - at the risk of coming across as a poncy and pretentious pseud - that my favourite work of fiction really is James Joyce's Ulysses. I read it first when I was about 22, 23, or something like that, and - I'm sorry, it has to be said - I thought then, and still think now, it's the greatest novel ever written. I can't say what an exhilarating, life-affirming read it is. I also think its difficulties are vastly exaggerated. I admit that it gives no quarter: you really do have to stay on track with it to get it, but presumably it helped that I had an annotated edition with so many footnotes explaining everything that it made an already long book twice as long. You probably couldn't read it to any profit without some sort of reader's guide such as this. It worked though: I 'got' it, and in spades. It's not deliberately difficult and obscure for the sake of it as I would say the genuinely almost entirely unreadable Finnegans Wake is.

It may not be the book for everyone, but surely it deserves a fair chance rather than being tossed aside after twenty pages as I'm sure most people do who attempt it. I've read many books and I hope to read many more in the time left to me, but I've never yet come across anything with quite the same unique magic about it, and frankly I doubt if I ever shall.
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david_geoffrey
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A la Desert Island Disks, I will take the Bible and Shakespeare are a given.
So in no particular order - and I could write out another 10 just as easily
1) Anna Karenin (Stunning sweep of characters and a love story to die for, well...)
2) Great Expectations (Dickens at his best, I fell in love with Estella)
3) Nicholas Nickleby (OK Dickens at his equal best, still funny and exciting and sad)
4) For Esme with Love and Squalor (Not Salinger's most famous but the title story is brilliant)
5) Jeeves in the Morning (but could be any of several dozen)
6) 100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (You either love Magic Realism or hate it but I love it...and this is so memorable)
7) A Time of Gifts (Travel book by Patrick Leigh Fermor - the sequel Between the Woods and the Water is equally good)
8 ) The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. (Oliver Sack's masterpiece collection of neurological studies.)
9) The Oxford book of Verse (sort of desert island choice as it means i would have some poetry to read)
10) King Ottaker's Sceptre (Tintin - again could be almost any of the others. There are few duffs)
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gone
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since my husband's illness I find it hard to concentrate long enough to read a novel, which is a shame. The book that I read daily is the Bible!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
6) 100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (You either love Magic Realism or hate it but I love it...and this is so memorable)

Not so fast Mr Bond! Not necessarily - I hated One Hundred Years of Solitude but absolutely loved The Satanic Verses.
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Lexilogio
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a poetry book it wouldn't be the Oxford version - too many dry poems. It would have to be "Staying Alive:Unreal poems for unreal times" edited by Neil Astley, by far the best anthology ever published.
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LornaDoone40
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My current top 10 fiction (and this is not the classics list, which has to be separate...), and in no particular order:

Snow Falling On Cedars - David Guterson
A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon
The Tenderness of Wolves - Stef Penney
A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
Alias Grace - Margaret Attwood
The Outcast - Sadie Jones
March - Geraldine Brooks
Girl With a Pearl Earring - Tracey Chevalier
The Poisenwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
The Resurrectionist - James Bradley
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LornaDoone40
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

... and the classics:

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austin
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austin
David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
Little Women - Louisa May Allcot
Jude The Obscure - Thomas Hardy
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austin
The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Graham
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Lexilogio
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to admit, both Jane Eyre and Great Expectations were strong considerations for my top 10.

For me, Jane Eyre has the best concluding line in a book, and Great Expectations has one of the best opening chapters.
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northernstar
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lorna, not Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore?! I must admit to being a philistine where "classics" are concerned, I like to switch off by reading thrillers, mainly Lee Child, Jonathan and Faye Kellerman, Michael Connelly, Robert K. Tanenbaum and Jack Higgins. I've not voluntarily read a classic since school, a very long time ago!

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