Author Topic: best books ever  (Read 12837 times)

Offline chillies

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best books ever
« on: January 09, 2006, 02:54:20 PM »
If you were to list ten books that should be read by everyone atleast once in their lifetime, what would they be? There are no restrictions. Classics and modern can be mixed so can fiction and non-fiction. I'm trying to get a reading list.



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Re: best books ever
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2006, 02:58:37 PM »
Well, as a writer, you can't go wrong with my book! Writer's Wonderful Web  :-*


Suzie x

Offline Nick

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2006, 04:52:58 AM »
That's a tough question, and I'm sure everyone will have their own ideas. Here are just a few, hopefully not too predictable, suggestions from me.

* Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee

Wonderful, poetic descriptive writing. Every aspiring fiction writer should read this book.

* Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

A 'play for voices' by one of Wales's greatest poets. Beautiful, vivid imagery, and plenty of humour as well!

* Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

I could just as well have picked any other of his novels, though this one is my personal favourite. Hardy is another poet and all his prose rings beautifully, yet he is a master of the novel as well, and in all his books he creates vivid, memorable characters which live on long after you reach the final page.

* The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

A poignant, touching book, which with its forward-looking views on the role of women and the consequences of industrialization still resonates hugely today.

And some more modern books...

* Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

OK, I'm a bit biased here, as Kefalonia (where the book is set) is my favourite holiday destination. But this is a genuinely beautiful book, combining humour and tragedy. I'm not totally sold on the ending, but I guess that's a matter of taste.

* Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

Zelazny was a hugely talented American SF and fantasy author who died (much too early) a few years ago. Lord of Light was his first published novel and in some ways his best. Zelazny is another author who writes poetically (are you noticing a trend here?). This book, though it is not perfect,  is an amazing feat of imagination which has seldom been bettered. When I first read it, some passages took my breath away. Here is a typically audacious Zelazny sentence:

At the place  called Worldsend, where there is nothing beyond the  edge
of  Heaven but  the distant flicker  of the dome  and, far below, the  blank
ground,  hidden  beneath  a  smoke-white  mist, there stands the  open-sided
Pavilion  of  Silence, upon whose round, gray roof the rains never fall, and
across whose balconies and balustrades the fog  boils in the morning and the
winds  walk at twilight, and within whose  airy  chambers,  seated upon  the
stark, dark furniture, or pacing among the gray columns, are sometimes to be
found the gods contemplative, the broken warriors or those injured  in love,
who come to consider there all things hurtful or futile, beneath a  sky that
is beyond the Bridge of the Gods, in the midst of a place of stone where the
colors are few and the only sound is the wind -- there, since slightly after
the days of the First,  have sat the philosopher and the sorceress, the sage
and  the magus, the  suicide, and  the ascetic freed  from  the  desire  for
rebirth or  renewal; there, in the center  of renunciation and  abandonment,
withdrawal and departure, are the five rooms named Memory, Fear, Heartbreak,
Dust and Despair; and this place was built by Kubera  the Fat, who cared not
a tittle for any of these sentiments,  but who, as a friend  of Lord Kalkin,
had done  this construction  at the behest of  Candi  the Fierce,  sometimes
known  as  Durga  and as Kali, for he  alone  of all the gods possessed  the
Attribute of inanimate correspondence, whereby he could invest  the works of
his hands with feelings and passions to be  experienced by those who dwelled
among them.

How many authors could get away with starting a chapter with a 277-word sentence? Yet, with the help of alliteration and assonance, plus an assured sense of rhythm and sentence balance, Zelazny does!

The Shining by Stephen King

King is another author whose work is sometimes written off as populist by the literary establishment, but the chances are that most of them have never actually read him. The Shining is an early King novel, but one of his best. The film was pretty good, but the book is a lot better (and ends differently). I'd also mention Insomnia and his novella The Langoliers as other books well worth reading.

Fear Nothing and Seize the Night by Dean Koontz

Koontz is often bracketed with Stephen King, as he also writes top-selling horror/thrillers. And he is also a much better author than he is often given credit for. He is prolific, and some of his books are admittedly better than others, but these two (part of a still-to-be-completed trilogy) are among his best. The central character, Christopher Snow, suffers from a rare gentic condition that means he cannot go out in daylight, so all the action in the books takes place in the night, in a (very) strange and beautiful place called Moonlight Bay.

Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg

This was the first book by Silverberg set on his imaginary world of Majipoor. He has since written many other stories and books set here, but LVC is probably still my favourite. Again, it's a hugely imaginative and beautifully written novel, but what gives it the "X-Factor" for me is that the central character takes on the life of a juggler. The descriptions of juggling and its psychological aspects are fascinating and give the book a whole extra dimension. I went out and bought myself a set of juggling balls after reading this book, but sadly never got beyond two (and that's on a good day).

So those are my 10 books - not the best in the world, I'm sure, but ten that have made a particular impression on me. All other suggestions welcome!

Nick GM
Check out my writing blog at I also have a new UK personal finance blog called Pounds and Sense.


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Re: best books ever
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2006, 11:04:42 AM »

Ah thats a difficult one for me but here goes, mainly old favourites

Any book written byTerry Pratchett
Lord of the Rings - Tolkien
The Camomile Lawn - Mary Wesley
The Driving Manual HMSO publication - brush up your UK driving skills
The Origin of the Species - Darwin - not easy reading for some.
The Fabric of the Cosmos - Brian Greene
Whale Nation - Heathcote Williams
The Geordie Bible - Andrew Elliott - Butler Publishing 1986 (just a bit of fun)
Fellwalking with Wainwright
Margrave of the Marshes - John Peel


Offline goldanon

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2006, 02:32:40 PM »
Best of ALL time - well how're we going to avoid the classics?  I usually go by author.  When I discover something by an author that I love I go search out all his/her books and am rarely disappointed.  Okay, here goes:
1. "The Last of The Just" by Andre Schwartz-Bart - words can't describe.

2. "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy - this is a true masterpiece - I MARVEL at it - there isn't a WORD in there that she doesn't MEAN.

3. "Little Big Man" by Thomas Berger - even if you've seen the movie, you still have to read the book.  Many years later (20+) he wrote a sequel which is also good, not as good as Little Big Man, but then few books are.  Can't remember the name right now - anybody in here know the title?  This is going to eat at me all day...

4. "Hundred Years of Solitude" Gabriel Garcia Marquez (this is a best of all time list, no?)

5. Anyone who likes Tolkien has to read "Once and Future King" by TH White.  I'm told the English read it in high school but in this country it is relatively unknown.

6. "Song of Solomon" by Toni Morrison in fact anything by her - Beloved is of course her best, but Song of Solomon is a must read for every American - I try to shove it down everyone's throat - You wanna know what rascism in this country is REALLY all about? I say, shove shove.

7. "They Call Me Asher Lev" Chaim Potok - beginning of a series of books he wrote - if you read any of them, you'll find yourself looking for the rest.

8. "Paula" by Isabel Allende - I'm reading it right now so want everyone to read it - she is a fantastic writer, again everything I've read by her I love.

9.10. I have two favorite authors of which anything they write is worth a read: Mark Twain and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Doyle wrote more than Sherlock Holmes - which I'm sure you British are aware of - that's for the Americans in the crowd).  He's been a source of inspiration for me many many, in fact maybe EVERY time - I use him when I'm stuck, when I'm blue, when I'm happy, when I'm achew -had to end it with a rhyme sorry there.

And then any murder mystery - I love 'em all.  ANyone got suggestins for good, new mystery authors - especially all the Brits in here, for some reason you all are the masters of this genre - anyone new over there that we haven't heard of here yet?

Offline aelfwin

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2006, 07:43:43 PM »
Hi Chillies, What a great suggestion. It's amazing how hard I had to think about this to come up with ten books. There are tons of them that came to mind, but only ten? :P Hard work. When I looked at the results I was somewhat suprised. My genre is fantasy and yet, judging by this I may be a hopeless romantic. Anyway, here they are, not in order of importance.
Against the Fall of Night, Arthur C. Clarke
The Insidious Dr. FuManchu,  Sax Rohmer
Green Mansions, W. H. Hudson
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Dr. Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge, Ambrose Bierce
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
The Bridge Across Forever, Richard Bach.

I know there are more but these are the ones that I wouldn't be without. :) Aelf

Offline Nick

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2006, 03:57:17 AM »
Some good suggestions there, Aelf.

I remember reading "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" at school and being blown away by it (not something that happened very often with things we were forced to read at school!). It's only a short story, and if anyone hasn't read it they can do so at the following URL: Warning: don't skip forward to the ending!

Nick GM
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Offline bestwriting

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2006, 03:58:46 PM »
Well, let's see.

Exact Revenge = Tim Green
Da Vinci Code = Dan Brown
A Million Little Pieces = James Frey
Gap Creek = don't remember.
The Phantom.

Those are books I would recommend.

Offline goldanon

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2006, 04:33:48 PM »
Thank you for that link, Nick.  I've heard of Ambrose Bierce many timesl, but for some reason, I've never read him.  Apparently I missed out in high school.

Offline wealthyblogger

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2006, 08:46:03 PM »

If you were to list ten books that should be read by everyone atleast once in their lifetime, what would they be? There are no restrictions. Classics and modern can be mixed so can fiction and non-fiction. I'm trying to get a reading list.

1) Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky -- I can't even begin to describe all the crazy emotions this book puts me through every time I   read it.

2) The Haunted Bookshop (and Parnassus on Wheels) by Christopher Morley  -- both are must-reads for book lovers.

3) Hamlet by Shakepeare -- every time I read or watch the play, I hold my breath hoping that maybe, just maybe, things will work out different this time.

4) The Gunslinger by Stephen King -- I surprised myself by really, really enjoying this one.

5) The Moon is a Harsh Mistress  by Robert Heinlein
6) Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card  -- I'm not a big science fiction fan, but these two really grabbed on to my imagination and didn't let go till long after the book was finished.

7) The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett -- I admit I initially only read this because of the movie. I am a bigtime Bogie fan. But now it's one of the books I return to every few years.

8)  The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton  - I suppose as a non-Christian I shouldn't be admiring Christian allegories, but I do like the weird sort of metaphysical mystery this book pulls together.

9) Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes -- I first read this the summer before I entered grade 9, and baffled my teachers by submitting a book report on a novel they had never read and were too intimidated to pick up.  I suppose some of my fondness for this one comes from that 'gotcha' moment, but I've recently re-read it, and it's still a wonderfully fun read.

10) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley -- When it comes to dystopian fiction, I've always found Brave New World more probable than 1984... and a little more terrifying.

« Last Edit: January 11, 2006, 08:50:12 PM by wealthyblogger »

Offline katieoliver

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2006, 01:45:16 PM »
 Hi everyone,

  Here's my top list ever, not necessarily in this order:

              1. The Alchemist - Paolo Coelho
              2. Code Da Vinci - Dan Brown
              3. Hamlet- Shakespeare   
              4. The Chronicles of Narnia (all 6 books) by C.S.  Lewis - This special bound edition of all 6 books that was given to me as a present, was the first ever book i read in English.
              5. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy -  J.R Tolkien
              6. The Shannara Saga - Terry Brooks
              7. Anything by Isabel Aliente
              8. Wind of magic - Marianne Curley (is was her first novel) very good
              9. Veronica decides to die - P. Coelho
             10. Eleven minutes - P. Coelho

Offline Matt Walker

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2006, 05:08:55 AM »
Harry Potter (sigh) - JK Rowling
His Dark Materials Trilogy - Phillip Pullamn
Earth's Children (more specifically The Clan of the Cave Bear) - Jean M Auel
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
The Road Less Travelled - Peck
The Bible/Bhagavad Gita/any other religious books
A short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
A Million Little Pieces - James Frey
Fabric of the Cosmos/Elegant Universe - Brian Greene
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Offline Saphía

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2006, 08:06:22 AM »
Hmmm....hard question!
well i think my list would include:

Angels & Demons (Dan Brown) -its the book before the Da Vinci Code ...personally I think its better than its more popular follow up.
The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) -not as good as the first but really exciting.
The Firm (John Grisham) - read this about 2 years ago...liked the plot, gripping  8)
Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthour Golden) - i watched the film first, the book is a bit lengthly but good.
Kenzukies kingdom (Michael Mupergo) - i read this when i was about 11  ::) I really enjoyed it  :)

well at the moment thats all i can think of... but i definately suggest Angels and Demons! Its really good, and the plot is fantastic, and very well thought up. The twists are really good and i LOVED it!

Saphía x

Offline Matt Walker

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2006, 05:38:18 AM »
Yeah Angels and Demons was a good read - you have to give it to Dan, he certainly knows how to create pace and a novel that no one can put down. I get fed up with his over the top twists though. I don't understand why <the man> would raise the Illuminati again. And unfortunately, most of his 'facts' are fiction: Check it out, it'll make you laugh.
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Offline meganinlondon

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Re: best books ever
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2006, 10:46:04 AM »
Hate to be predictable-
Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey- jane Austen
I was given pride and prejudice as an 11 year old by my grandma, and loved it so much that I bought her other six completed novels with my pocket money that year and had read them all multiple times by my 12th birthday. They still mean so much to me and I think have shaped my way of perceiving people as I've grown older.
Notable mentions
Anything George Orwell, his non-fiction is just as gripping and thought provoking as his fiction. The Road to WiganPier is my favourite.
The Scarlet Pimpernel books, action! adventure!- baroness orczy (idiocy is always the best disguise)
Journey to the Centre of the Earth- Jules Verne
Day of the Triffids- John Wyndham (terrified me in my early teens and I've been wary of plants ever since)
The Princess Bride- william Goldman (the best "adaptation" ever)
Harry Potter and the Anything (such amazing construction of a fictional world it's amazing and I'm so hooked)
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell- Susanna Clarke (same as above)
I know they're mostly classics, but most of them are books I read in my early teens and have stuck in my head ever since, so they must be good!
I could go on forever...