I have always craved to write this post from a long time. Here is a list of 15 books which I truly-deeply-madly love. Some of them changed my perceptions, some of them made me cry, some of them gave me a terrible gooseflesh, some of them took me on a journey beyond the realms of my imagination and some of them made me think. So here is the list of my absolutely favourite books.
15 The catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger
The book which conveyed the teenage anger and frustration vividly. What really made this story thought provoking was the fact that it shows the world through the eyes of a 17 year old. And boy!!! the world did looked disgusting. The narrative is broken and has random ideas thrown at times, somehow very close to how a teenager will explain things if he is asked to. The book was widely challenged when it was published because of its theme and the way it portrayed things. Now its considered one of the best books of all times. To say the least, around 250, 000 copies are sold every year.
14 Uncle Tom’s cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Published in 1852, the novel is rumoured to trigger the American civil war. The novel centers around Uncle Tom, a black slave who suffer constantly in the hands of evil masters. The book came out at a time when slavery was very much in practice and thus left a deep impact. The book had some memorable characters like Eliza ( who escapes after she has been sold with her five year old son), Eva and Topsy. The best incidence which underlines the impact of the novel is that when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet, he commented – “So, this is the little lady who started the great war.”
13 Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The book won the Man Booker Prize in 2002 and revolves around Pi Patel who narrates his 227 days long journey on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, a haena, a zebra and an orangutan, when the ship carrying his family from Pondicherry to Goa sinks taking his family with it. Basically there are only two characters – Pi and Parker as the rest vanish one by one. The best thing about the book is that the narrative hold the interest even though there are only two characters. The adventure about how Pi survives being eaten by the tiger forms the crux of the story.
12 Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
One of the best books on the impact and aftermath of the World War. The narrative moves through three time periods – before, during and after the war. The war is seen through the eyes of Stephen Wraysford who is learning the manufacturing process at a factory and ends up having a passionate affair with the factory owner’s wife. The second track is the world war as seen through Stephen’s eyes when he becomes a Lieutenant in the British army. The third track is the story of his granddaughter who is trying to cope up with her messed up life and trying to know who her grandfather was.
11 The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Creativity and imagination at its best. The novel was a huge phenomenon which gave rise to everything from stage shows, tv series, computer games and movies. The book is the first one in a five book series which included “The restaurant at the end of the Universe”, “Life, the Universe and everything”, “So long, and thanks for all the fish” and “Mostly Harmless”. I was completely knocked down by the narrative which is nothing less than a roller coaster ride. The movie based on the novel was released in 2005 and generated mixed reviews as it differed widely from the novel…the way 99% of the movies are.
10 The Da Vinci code by Dan Brown
A book which shocked and surprised me to unimaginable ends. It was the first time I have seen such widespread recognition of a book. I have known people who have read only one book in their life and this is that book. People got so curious that it became mandatory to read this one. Robert Langdon became a legend and there were widespread discussions on Mary Magdalene’s role in Christ’s life. For the first time a book blended facts with fiction with such minute detailing that it was hard to separate them. The success of the movie can also be credited to the curiosity generated by the book.
9 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Emily Bronte wrote just one novel and what a novel it was. A classic in the true sense. I read this book a loooong time back but it always stayed with me. Unforgettable characters and narrated like a dream. The doomed love story oozing utter despair and loneliness will leave you sad, so much that you would wish to hug the characters and tell them that everything will be all-right. You could almost feel the agony and bitterness of Heathcliff and the free spirit and sorrow of Catherine. Its a story of heartbreak and revenge which too gave rise to numerous forms of art like plays, movie, ballet, opera, tv series, radio series and songs.
8 The interpreter of maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
The best book of short stories I had laid hands on. Don’t expect some over dramatized oh-my-god surprise stories. Its a subtle collection of human bondage, sufferings and understanding. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000 and added Jhumpa Lahiri in the A grade list of writers of Indian origin. When I picked up this book I was quite apprehensive and had some preconceived notions. I readied myself for a Yawny boring book, but the first story ( A temporary matter ) killed all my notions. I read five stories in a row before I felt satiated.
7 Midnight’s children by Salman Rushdie
One of my absolute favourites. Its a reader’s sheer delight and is nothing less than a blinding flash of brilliance. It took the Booker Prize in 1981 and later the Booker of Bookers in 1993. If I try to narrate the theme in one line, you might find it really silly but it has been presented in such a way that you find sense in the chaos. The book follows the story of a group of children born at the stroke of midnight on 15 August, 1947. It follows the turbulence of a newly born nation through their eyes. The novel ran into a controversy because of the criticism of Indira Gandhi for imposing emergency. Typical Rushdie. 🙂
6 David copperfield by Charles Dickens
This was the most autobiographical book of Charles Dickens which came out in 1850 and was being published in monthly installments as most of the books in that era were. I have read so many Dickens’s novels like Dombey and Son, Oliver Twist, Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby, Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit and Great Expectations but this one is my absolute favourite. Maybe because of the believable characters he created for this book. The book chronicles the story of David from his teens till he grows into a mature adult. This is the first Dickens novel to do a narrative in first person.
5 The memory keeper’s daughter by Kim Edwards
I had no idea about Kim Edward’s work when I picked this one. There were two reasons to pick the book. A) It was an International Bestseller. B) I liked the cover. 🙂 The book had such a strong undercurrent of human emotions that it left me spellbound. A doctor is forced to delivers his twins on his own and finds out that one of them(the girl) has Down’s syndrome. He hands over this girl to the nurse to dispose her off in some institution and tells his wife that one of the twins died. The nurse brings up the girl instead of disposing her off and one the other side the Doctor’s family crumbles under the burden of this lie. Beautifully written and definitely worth reading.
4 Sphere by Michael Crichton
I am an ardent Michael Crichton fan. He is one hell of a science fiction writer. I was completely bowled over by Timeline, Congo, Airframe, Disclosure, State of Fear, Terminal Man, A case of need, The Andromeda strain and Prey but the one book which gave me some nice gooseflesh was Sphere. I never knew what people meant when they say that the book is unputdownable until I read this. I finished it off in two days(my fastest ever). The story starts with a group of scientists who are assembled to examine a huge spacecraft buried in the Pacific ocean bed for around 300 years. It soon turns into a psychological thriller as the scientists reach the ocean bed. And don’t watch the movie. It was nothing near the book.
3 The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
This was Colleen Mcullough’s most famous work of all times which gave rise to the most successfull tv miniseries of all times. The book follows the life of Meggie since she was four to the time when she falls in love with a priest almost double her age to the time when she grows old after suffering in the hands of fate. This forbidden and doomed love story of Meggie and Father Ralph was considered a “bad” book. The Australian settings and the beautiful descriptive style of the writer makes the book a delight to read. To read more about the book, read this.
2 The Redemption of Althalus by David and Leigh Eddings
Ok. So this book seems completely out of place here. I read this book at a time when “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” did not existed for me. So for me this was moi first fantasy novel. 🙂 Its fascinating and in the league of the LOR series. Can anyone please make a movie out of it? Is any Hollywood director listening? Steven? Jackson? Helllooo??? On a serious note, Its a love story between a thief named Althalus and the Goddess Dweia whom he meet in the “House at the end of the world” where he is sent to steal the “Book of Deiwos”. The book reaches epic proportions as it races towards its end. One of the very few yummy books I have read twice.
1 The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The book which changed the way I perceive the world, the way I perceive my job and the way I perceive love. The book was a major literary success of its times and was rejected by numerous publishers before it saw the light of the day. It still sells like hot cakes since the sixty years it was published and was followed by “Atlas Shrugged”, another of Ayn Rand’s work which underlines her theory of Objectivism. The book was rightly called “a hymn in praise of the individual” by a NewYork times editor. The novel follows the story of Howard Roark, an unconventional and creative architect who has to constantly fight the dogma of established beliefs and conventions of his profession. Its a book which has inspired millions to flow against the tide.
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