Tuesday, February 2, 2010

On Books

I was thinking that I probably hadn't updated my Facebook profile in awhile. And I really had no recollection of what was listed in my "favorites." But after reviewing it, no matter when it was last updated, the info still seems to be relevant enough. And I was reminded as I looked at my "favorite books" of some oldies - but GREAT books - definitely on my ever evolving (and growing) list of "favorites" (although a full list could be potentially really long).

What's on the Facebook list:

1) The Brothers Karamazov - I think this book is on there because finishing it felt epic. Does anyone agree?? It's super long - and really well written - and loaded with allegory. I would say anyone who has read it might list it somewhere among favorites, just out of the principle of reading a long and difficult book.

2) The History of Love - Given to me by my husband (then boyfriend), it's a must read. It's pretty complex with lots of different characters, different times & places, a novel within a novel - but it's well worth your time.

3) Midnight's Children - I loved this book! I'm not sure it's for everyone - but I found it to be the most accessible Salman Rushdie that I've read. Really well written - and a plot that nicely moves between different times and places.

4) Heart of Darkness - I first read this in 12th grade; and actually, it was an assigned reading book that I didn't finish within the assigned time - but then went on to finish on my own time, even though my class had moved to a different book. I think that says a lot. This was the first book like this (erring on the post-colonial side) that I had ever read - and it really resonated. Not high on everyone's list of favorites (and I will admit, the plot might be slow at some points), but I loved it.

5) The Alchemist - Such a short, strange, little book. If you haven't read it - give yourself a couple hours (that's all it will take) - it's interesting and unusual.

6) Hotel World - This is a book unlike a lot of other books - it's structurally postmodern - which makes it a little inaccessible. But if you can get past that, Ali Smith does a great job with all the different voices. And the whole book has a sort of ethereal quality to it. It was short-listed for the Booker, so it received some critical acclaim - but I don't think the "one-star readers"* on Amazon would appreciate it.

7) Interpreter of Maladies - I LOVE Jhumpa Lahiri. It's as simple as that. And I would feel comfortable having her other two books on this list as well (The Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth) - she is just an awesome writer. Period. And I would say, if you haven't read Unaccustomed Earth (a book of short stories), there are three stories at the end that all go together - and they took my breath away. Awesome.

8) On Beauty - I also LOVE this book (and I know I've recommended it to a couple people who didn't necessarily have the same reaction) - but I finished reading this and felt inspired to either write a paper or teach an English class or become a professor - something - I just didn't want to close the book and be done. It reminded me what good writing can be: thought provoking, allegorical, a representation/critique of our current culture - so good! (And also, if you read White Teeth and are turned off to Zadie Smith - give this one a try - I didn't like White Teeth that much.)

9) The Time Traveller's Wife - It's a good book - plain and simple. And I think it has fortunately received the recognition it deserves because of the movie. But even though the movie was a little lame, the book is wonderful.

It's a good list, I think. And in current news, I just finished reading The Historian (which I would recommend - it's a historical mystery about Dracula - and who doesn't love a book about vampires??). Then yesterday I started Let The Great World Spin (this year's National Book Award winner). On deck to read next: Netherland.

*On Amazon.com, my husband likes to read the one-star reviews given to really good, critically acclaimed books and make fun of the people who wrote them. The reviews are usually something like "this book was too confusing" or "I had no idea what was going on" or, the latest, "there were too many curse words."


LB said...

Ugh I am so jealous of how much you read. I had six weeks on break from school this winter and all I did was watch Dexter and Mad Men. It's like I want to specifically squander away the time because i CAN.

b|rad said...

Have you read The Help?

Jackie said...

b|rad - yes i read it. i had sort of mixed feelings - what did you think?