Saturday, 11 January 2014

My Top 20 Recommended Reads.

My Top 20 Novels

After my wife and my family, novels are my favourite thing in the world. Here are the top twenty novels I have read. I'm sure I will realise soon after writing this that I have missed at least one of my favourites out. All of these are well worth a purchase. 

#20 - 'Into The Wild', Jon Krakauer, 1996. 

People have very mixed opinions about Christopher McCandless (the person this novel is about). I think that he was a fascinating person and I enjoyed every page I read about his life. 

#19 - 'Invisible Monsters', Chuck Palahniuk, 1999.

Palahniuk is a master of grossing the reader out. This novel is fast paced and keeps you hooked from the first page with its unusual story line. I loved the characters he created and you find yourself empathising with the most unlikely of people. 

#18 - 'Half Of A Yellow Sun', Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2007. 

This novel tackles a serious issue in a very approachable way. The gradual downfall of the main characters is painful to read. It looks at a part of history that has largely gone unseen by the majority of the public. 

#17 - 'Things Unspoken', Anitra Sheen, 1999. 

I am a big fan of memoirs and this is one of the best ones I have read. The language used is very simple but incredibly effective at drawing our emotions to all the things that are left unsaid. I think many people would relate to the dysfunctional family at its heart.

#16 - 'The Year Of The Flood', Margaret Atwood, 2009. 

Probably my favourite dystopian novel that I have read by Atwood. It is the kind of novel that could be enjoyed on many different levels. I like the different sects portrayed in the novel as well as the array of colourful characters. 

#15 - 'Disgrace', J.M. Coetzee, 1999. 

The life that Coetzee portrays in this novel is brutal. The language is gritty and when violence is portrayed it feels very real. It starts off with someone making their own mistakes and gradually strips them of the control they had over their own life. 

#14 - 'The Catcher In The Rye', J.D. Salinger, 1951. 

The first novel in my list that is truly considered a 'classic' by most readers. I read this as a teenager which I think is probably the best time for anyone to read it due to the themes being presented. Saying that, it feels relevant regardless of your age. 

#13 - 'The Story Of My Experiments With Truth', Gandhi, 1929. 

Gandhi, in my mind, was simply one of the greatest people to have ever lived. This book charts his amazing life from early childhood right up through his political career. You can learn so much about how we should live from how he lived. 

#12 - 'Nineteen Eighty-Four', George Orwell, 1949. 

For most people this is the definitive dystopian novel. It has stood the test of time amazingly and remains even more relevant today than it ever was. 

#11 - 'Once', Morris Gleitzman, 2005.

By far the best children's novel I have ever read. It is based on the life of an amazing person and has a very well written, emotional ending. The impact of the novel hasn't been affected by the fact it's written for children at all. 

#10 - 'Island', Aldous Huxley, 1962. 

For me, this works as a sort of companion novel to 'Brave New World'. It is probably the greatest utopian novel I have ever read. Huxley has a way of presenting you with a world that makes you question everything about your own world. 

#9 - 'The Great Gatsby', F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925. 

One of those classic novels that really lives up to its hype and is as good as everyone says it is. Many of the characters have a mysteriousness about them and it has often been described as a novel that has no truly admirable characters. 

#8 - 'Crime And Punishment', Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1866. 

This novel starts brilliantly and doesn't let up until the end. The murder scene is probably the greatest I have ever read. There is so much to take from this masterpiece. I feel that this is by far Dostoyevsky's standout work. 

#7 - 'Women', Charles Bukowski, 1978. 

A truly brilliant novel that I read as quickly as I read all his other stories. The simple prose used manages to be sad, funny and beautiful all at the same time. It is one of the very few books to make me laugh out loud as I read it. 

#6 - 'Freedom', Jonathan Franzen, 2010.

An epic novel of family life. I think almost everyone would be able to relate to at least one of the characters. Gives a brilliant study on the way our family impacts on the person we become as we grow up. 

#5 - 'The Time Traveler's Wife', Audrey Niffenegger, 2003. 

You quickly believe in the relationship portrayed despite its ridiculous premise. It took a little while to get into due to its mixed up structure but it soon hooked me completely. It is so much more than the awful film that was based on it. 

#4 - 'Birdsong', Sebastian Faulks, 1993. 

This is the best romantic novel I have ever read. The characters manage to remain somewhat enigmatic throughout but the relationship itself is portrayed beautifully. The prose has a dreamlike quality to it and every scene is presented just as it should be. 

#3 - 'The Road', Cormac McCarthy, 2006. 

The relationship between the man in the novel and his son of one of the most believable I have ever read. The film based on the book is actually almost as good as the book itself and well worth a watch (largely due to the performance of Viggo Mortensen). 

#2 - 'Brave New World', Aldous Huxley, 1932. 

In my opinion this is the truest dystopian novel of them all. I read it when I was a teenager and it answered all the questions that 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' hadn't. 

#1 - 'Ham On Rye', Charles Bukowski, 1982.

Simply put, the greatest novel I have ever read. Every page is brilliant and it has more quotable lines than anything else I've experienced. This was the novel that introduced me to Bukowski and I have loved every single novel I've read by him since.