In response to BBC’s arbitrary list of “masterpieces”, you choose books and books choose you, and no one but you can create such a list. The most meaningful ones are the ones that challenge your perception of reality and make you (un-)cognizant of the pure magic of words. I encourage you to create your own list of books and share it with people.
You do not have to mark (x), asterisk (*) or insert a plus sign next to any of these titles, but you can provide your own comments.
1. The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath= One of few novels that I have read more than twice. Plath has been my literary idol from as far back as I can recall; TBJ is her first and only novel. It provides me assurance that even a devoted lyrical genius can break her habit to produce phenomenal results.
2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle- Haruki Murakami= the first novel I will recommend to anyone who asks my advice. It has violence, suspense, history, science fiction, ethnic diversity, romance… you name it. murakami combines these generally clashing aspects to create an engaging masterpiece that still somehow satisfies all of the qualities of a traditional chinese fairy tale (but, no it is certainly not a fairy tale)
3. The Illustrated Man- Ray Bradbury= I am pretty certain that this book could be a “gateway drug” for reading.
4. Anthem- Ayn Rand= I have found no greater depiction of Socialism that still adheres to the common misconception of today. It is typical of people to fear something that they do not understand because of what their parents or friends believe about it, but that approach reminds me of why I think freely and research what I do not fully comprehend. If you fear Socialism, do yourself a favor and google it. I’m sure you’re now wondering why I would bother including such a novel on this list. Even if I don’t agree with the overall message, I still found it to be a very engaging and worthwhile read. 🙂
5. Deception Point- Dan Brown= While I enjoyed his other novels (with the exception of the ending of Angels & Demons bc it was drawn out and overdone), I believe DP pulls him out of the sacrilege spotlight and back on the road to literary genius… or I’m just a sucker for suspense novels.
6. The Host- Stephenie Meyer= yes, she’s the well-known author of the Twilight series… and yes, I read them ALL and enjoyed them. Even though vampires and zombies- the idea of anything living post human- pretty much make me giddy, Host trumps Twilight. Epic display of her intelligence and creativity… more science fiction- less romance= 2 thumbs up.
7. Holocaust Literature- I cannot limit myself to just one author or story. From Ewa Lipska to Saul Bellow, Elie Wiesel to Paul Celan, all are phenomenal authors/poets who deserve recognition whether it be a single poem, short story or excerpt from a novel. There is not a single work from that period that fails to touch me emotionally.
8. Cloudstreet- Tim Winton= randomly selected off of the new books shelf, and was absolutely worth it! an australian novel that taught me to embrace life. the slang is difficult to follow, but the message is profoundly clear.
9. The Metamorphosis- Franz Kafka= I’m currently rereading this story, but it is fascinatingly true to life that the people we love and try to please still equate us to nothing more than a pesky bug… and my nickname is “bugger”
10. Paranoia- Joseph Finder= never thought that I would be a sucker for corporate espionage novels. Finder’s ability to manipulate the often unsuspected white collar worker is, in my opinion, unprecedented.
11.The Lovely Bones- Alice Sebold= what? I couldn’t put it down! I know now that I am far too trusting.
12. The Old Man and the Sea- Ernest Hemingway= I read it long, long ago- 7th grade to be exact, but I will forever remember the story of Santiago.
13. A Confederacy of Dunces-John Kennedy Toole= it is quite a busy story, yes, but i found it exhilarating and hilariously ridiculous… any novel that makes less sense than my life, makes sense to me- if that makes any sense.
14. Looking for Alaska- John Green= his only work worthy of reading… it is a teen novel, but I found it impossible to quit because it hit so close to home.
15. Why People Believe Weird Things- Michael Shermer= self explanatory? Go ahead, label me a skeptic.
16. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler- Italo Calvino= If you think The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is all over the place, Murakami has NOTHING on Calvino. But… read it in its entirety and then try to tell me it makes no sense. believe me, it’s not what you’d expect.
17. The Grapes of Wrath- John Steinbeck= the great epic novel! i really just enjoy the style of Steinbeck’s writing… I’m a sucker for more elaboration, less dialogue.
18. Times Arrow- Martin Amis= I enjoy novels that require me to think, that keep me on my toes. Amis doesn’t spoon feed you anything; you have to pull out those dusty old deduction skills to keep up with this one
19. Outer Dark- Cormac McCarthy= *shudders* Depiction of the disturbing realities of the South. This novel will make you feel like a filthy, perverted voyuer but, in the end, you’ll be grateful for the life you lead.
20. The Tommyknockers- Stephen King= My horse of a different color. I read it at a young age and it disturbed me greatly then; it disturbs me to this day. Any novel that leaves such an impression must be included on such a list, no?
21. Chronicle of a Death Foretold- Gabriel Garcia Marquez= I wish I was fluent in Spanish because I would LOVE to read this novel in its original state. I am sure much was lost in translation… unfortunately.
22. A Million Little Pieces- James Frey= I do not care about Oprah’s objection; she has no right/room to judge. Regardless of whether it was completely fabricated or exaggerated for entertainment purposes, the guy tells a compelling story that is sure to send any half-witted individual running for the door at the thought of drug use. I cringed, I cried and shared it with anyone who was curious. Have I mentioned that I cannot stand Oprah?
23. A Child Called “It”- Dave Pelzer= Do NOT eat anything while reading this novel; you’ll regret it. At the time that I read it, I hardly cared for children, but I would never dream of treating a child in such a manner. This novel was the first to ever cause a nauseous and hostile reaction in me.
24. A Little Change of Face- Lauren Baratz-Logsted= because every girl deserves a guilty pleasure and this one honestly will make you appreciate your body and mind (ladies especially)
25. The Bible- the most profound “self-help” book ever published.