I’m embarking on an undertaking. A project, if you will. I’m going to list my 100 favourite books. The books I love the most and read over and over again. The books I hated finishing and the books that were pure fluff, but made me feel good. I’ll do it in instalments and break it up a bit, so it’s not just one big chunk, but for your edification, here’s the first, oh, let’s say 13.
And before anyone starts, Dan Brown will NOT be on this list. I tried a good three or four times to read The Da Vinci Code and Devils and Angels, and they were shit. I don’t care how good the plot is, or how much it will change my perception of the Catholic Church. It was badly written. Very, very badly written. I got twenty pages in and hated the main character and his suits.
1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen. It’s good. It’s terribly, terribly good. It’s so good that it changes the way I speak while I read it. For a start, if I wasn’t reading it now, I doubt I would have used the word edification. Or said terribly.
2. Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a genius (Apart from that spirituality stuff, but anyway). Not only did he come up with the cases and solve them, there was character stuff in there that was great but managed to not detract from the foreground.
3. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens. Who didn’t want Pip to get the fortune and the girl? Who didn’t want to shake him by the shoulders when he got older and needed a good kicking?
4. Tess of the D’urbervilles – Thomas Hardy. When we first read this book in school in an English Lit class, I had to explain to the rest of my classmates what the rape scene meant – they didn’t understand the language. I did, and detested it. Then I came back to it a few years later and all of a sudden it was beautiful. I even named my cat Tess.
5. Sense & Sensibility – Jane Austen. She just created a world that you wanted to live in. I wish things were still that simple, and yet so complex. I would love to live in a world where for the most part, the outcomes were assured, or at least predictable.
6. April Fools Day – Bryce Courtney – If you can read this book and not cry, you qualify as a sociopath in my book.
7. Lunch with the Generals – Derek Hansen – Not a book with a twist, a book with worlds created within worlds. Genius.
8. 1984 – George Orwell – A scary, scary book. A razor sharp, machete of a book. I hate reading it for the same reason I love it – it’s scares the living bejesus out of me.
9. Zig Zag Street – Nick Earls – Nick Earls is a marvellously funny guy. You know those moments that you cringe and think “Oh shit. That never happens to anyone else. I’m a freak”? They’re all in here. Nude Dancing, knocking people unconscious with shoes. Reading this is therapy with a bookmark.
10. Love and Other Near Death Experiences – Mil Millington – Apart from the fact that Mil has red hair and a delightful website, he’s also an astonishingly refreshing writer. The way he writes is the way most people wish they could speak.
11. The First Casualty – Ben Elton – Ben Elton is very good at provoking thought. This book made me laugh, cry and made my head ache with the thinking.
12. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K Rowling – A rare case of the book well outshining the hype. If you haven’t read them, do it now.
13. The Vampire Lestat – Anne Rice. Anne Rice didn’t just create a series of books. She created a world. You can smell the Queens Wreath. You can hear the water lapping on the shore, and you are suddenly convinced that the things you have always dreaded are real.
Feel free to comment, rail, or just say “Meh” in the comments.
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