|One of the books I have always wanted to read, but couldn't find an edition which translated the Russian narrative and the French dialogues (I believe there is one now, so I will have to make time for it).|
|This is the book which I have learned the most from, and which I would probably pull from the shelf as my house was burning down if I could only grab one thing, but it doesn't make the list.|
2). Moby Dick by Herman Melville: I know I must have read it in high school, but I couldn't remember a thing about it; last summer, I took the hefty volume and was determined to read it; about 300 pages in, I seriously thought about quitting, I was barely half-way through. Having never been defeated by a book before, I resolved to finish, and the last sixty pages were some of the absolute best in the English language, mostly because Melville had the courage to write the first part of the book exactly the way it should have been so the last sixty pages would be able to stand out. It's a favorite now.
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: the younger we are when we read a book, the more likely it is to make a lasting impression; I think I was a freshman in high school when I started reading Hemingway. This is, by my estimation, his most depressing (many would argue with this) even though I really like A Moveable Feast and feel it's more optimistic, everything about The Sun Also Rises has stayed with me, like the sun burning into the desert sand.
4). One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: the book was given to me by my uncle for Christmas one year, and it meant as much for him to give it to me as it did for me to receive it. Marquez was my first introduction to "magical realism," and he opened up an entirely new world for me, especially the one which lead to reading the poet Pablo Neruda and the great Octavio Paz.
|Another I haven't read, but need to.|
6). Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky: I read this on accident. It was the summer before I went into high school, and I had signed on for my first semester of debate; the resolution for that year was how to decrease the prison population. Erroneously, I had picked up the book thinking it would help me with debate; it didn't help me so much with debate, but it certainly did with life. Countless times, after I had fallen away from Christianity, in a quite moment, Dostoevsky and his faith would tap me on the shoulder and remind me that there was something greater: "If there is no God, than I am God," but that "If" is a greater mountain to scale than Everest.
Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman: Lightman is both a professor of Physics and Creative Writing at MIT; this book demonstrates why. To some degree, the book was a detriment for me because Lightman's effortless weaving between narrative and physics made me believe that's how Academia was, or at least, should be; I was wrong. I wanted to bring everything I had learned from all my other classes into whatever class I was taking at that time, and professors didn't appreciate it. I still prefer Lightman's way better, and, without a doubt, I am always conjuring to my mind the images of alternate worlds that he was the first to introduce me to.
8). The Diary Of Anne Frank: It's not the brutal world of the Nazis, or the suffering and sacrificing that I remember, it's her hope, and how incorruptible her determination was to believe in the very best of humanity and of the world. She's a martyr for the human condition, and I could never possibly forget all of what she taught me.
Beowulf, Translation with commentary by JRR Tolkien: It's the great story of the soul and it's obstacles, it's triumphs and downfalls, which forms the basis of the metaphors for all other stories of the soul's progress. It's fantastic, but incredibly practical, monstrous, but intensely human.
10). Smiley's People by John Le Carre: we all have guilty pleasures. I first came across Le Carre's spy novels when I happened to get a copy of The Russia House that was on sale at a local grocery store. I was getting ready to start my sophomore year, and wanted a book that would be good, but sophisticated, in that, it wasn't a romance novel. I liked the book, but wasn't quite a good enough reader at that stage to pick up on Le Carre's writing skill; I was given Smiley's People, which I read several times, and became an addict after that (if you are familiar with the Gary Oldman film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the original book for that film was written by Le Carre, and TTSS is part 1, whereas Smiley's People is part 3 of the story, The Honorable Schoolboy coming before it; so, basically, I read the end first, then went back and read the beginning). It was encouraging, however, to see Le Carre's name at number 22 on the list of 100 Greatest English Writers of All Time! Pretty good for a spy novelist.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner