This morning on Facebook I saw a post from a friend which appears to be the latest ‘tag & share’ game. It is called ’10 Books That Touched You’, and it immediately captured my imagination as the list started writing itself in my head, and completed itself while I was out for my run.
Don’t tell anyone but one of my goals for 2014 (‘resolutions’ are recipes for failure) is to complete at least one new book a month and re-read a book every quarter. Anyway, here goes the list:
1. Kurt Vonnegut – Cat’s Cradle – my favorite Vonnegut book and one of my all-time faves. I have re-read this dozens of times and always discover something new.
2. Isaac Asimov – Foundation Trilogy – yes this is a cheat choosing all three books, but it is really essential reading for the sci-fi genre, but is much more than that.
3. Albert Camus – The Plague – an amazing tale of the human spirit in the face of crushing despair, and a very hopeful and positive take on the essence of existential philosophy.
4. Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451 – although technically dated, the heart of this book is the character study of the interface of people and information and freedom.
5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – 100 Years of Solitude – this sprawling tale of many generations of the Buendia family captured my imagination as a teen and never left. I have re-read a few times and always love it.
6. V. S. Naipaul – Guerillas – Naipaul was recommended to me by my 11th grade English teacher, Mr. McLellan who called him ‘the best living writer’. This book is not a happy, fun or easy read – yet it is incredibly compelling.
7. Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse 5 – for me this remains the essential war book, which tells you a lot about my views on war, violence and guns.
8. Jean-Paul Sartre – Nausea – pretty much the flip-side of The Plague, I remember reading this on vacation on Cape Cod in high school. The prototype of the bleak, negative, solitary existential story.
9. Sherwood Anderson – Winesburg, Ohio – Anderson (no relation) transports you to a small town just after the turn of the century. While there is a central character, the stories are told through the loneliness and despair that permeates the people of the town and the town itself.
10. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner – Faulkner is an incredible master at constructing realistic portraits of the elements of his fictional south and those moving through it. The tale is dark and poignant, and the character voices and insights are just incredible.
Other choices would be Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and Ulysses by James Joyce. Catch-22 is another great WWII anti-hero story and is regularly hilarious, but it falls below Slaughterhouse 5 for me. And Joyce … well, I have only completely finished the book once in a deliberate front-to-back read, and read it in chunks other times … not enough to really qualify, although I adore it whenever I read it.
All of these books were initially read as physical books, but any reading in the past two decades was digital – so all of my most recent re-reads of these books was done on some sort of digital device. I have no particular love of physical books or magazines, and the minute I can keep my digital devices powered on during air travel is the end of physical media for me.
What about you? Do you have thoughts on these books, have favorites of your own? And what are your thoughts on digital versus physical books?
Oh, and I love the wild image of the huge book and cup of tea/coffee as you sit on the couch reading – it came from here.