Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Literary Lovin'

I woke up this morning, fixed a cup of coffee and logged into my various internet accounts:  Hotmail, Blogger, Facebook, 20sb.  A new photo album published on Facebook by a young girl from my church caught my attention, so I browsed through the pics, then took a look at her profile.  As I read the lists of favorite movies, books, music, etc., I was appalled.  When did Twilight become the absolute favorite book (series), and all other literary classics (ie: gold) become necessary evils of school reading lists?

(Editor's Note:  I do, in fact, own the Twilight Saga, and have read it numerous times.  That doesn't make it my favorite.)

It's disappointing that kids have no desire to read wonderful pieces of literary art anymore.  When I was a teen, I read classics over and over again, astounded at how an author described the characters in such a way that I developed an image of them in my head.  The stories unfolded like a movie in my mind, and I cherished them all.  Now you can only get a kid to read F. Scott Fitzgerald if their English grade is dependent upon it.


So, in my own form of protest, I've decided to list my ten favorite novels of all time in the hopes that young people will be inspired to go to the library or bookstore and read something other than Harry Potter or Twilight.

NOTE:  I'm not including The Bible in this list, because - in my opinion - everyone should own a Bible and read it often.  

Also, you won't find The Hobbit, 1984, Animal Farm or Of Mice and Men on this list, because although they're considered classics, I hated them.  Every stinkin' page. 

So, here we go....

10. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

The book that inspired the movie that started the original vampire craze. No lovey-dovey vampire/human relationships in this book.   

9. The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
A true story about the incurable Ebola virus.   Stephen King himself described it as "one of the most horrifying things I've ever read." The film "Outbreak" was loosely based on this book.

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Battles of wit between independent Elizabeth Bennet and the charmingly cocky Mr. Darcy.  A lovely literary classic, entertaining from start to finish.

7. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Multiple personality disorders, a secret society and extremist organization run amuck in this awesome book later turned into a film starring Brad Pitt and Ed Norton.

6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
A story about sisters, feminism, individuality, hardships, love and family.

5. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
A collection of short stories - all entertaining.  The movie "A Knight's Tale" is based on one of the stories and two other characters.

4. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis 

Investment banker by day.  Raping, murdering obssessive-compulsive 80s music buff by night.
Also inspired a movie starring Christian Bale.

3. A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice
The first novel by Anne Rice's son, a gripping and dark look into the lives of four childhood friends torn apart - and eventually brought back together - by alcohol, sex, homosexuality and tragedy. 

2. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Excellently written story of Mary Boleyn, lover of King Henry VII, and the competition with her sister Anne.  Not completely historically accurate, but still a wonderful read. (Also much better than the movie, as usual.) 

1. The Great Gatsbyby F. Scott Fitzgerald
Bachelor Nick rents a home between two mansions, and after observing the aristocrats inside, becomes wrapped up in a world of unrequited love, mysteries and murder.  The Great Gatsby is considered by many to be a fictional examination of the "American Dream" (the 1920s version, that is).

One of the best books ever written, and my personal favorite. 

For need of sharing, I've also included a few "honorable mentions" for you guys:

That's all, folks.  Now go to your library, check a few of these out and enjoy!


  1. I really have dichotomous feelings about the way kids and young adults read these days. On one hand, I think you're right. There are so many classic works out there that shouldn't get brushed under the rug. On the other hand, though, at least they're reading (my best friend, an English ed major with a special interest in young adult literature, and I talk about this a lot).
    You've got some great selections there! =)

  2. You took ALLLL the words right out of my mouth! My own brother, who's merely 6 years younger than me, was brought up with Harry Potter, Goosebumps and Who's afraid of the dark? books. Shameful!
    But wow, your favourites are all favourites of mine as well. And I also was unimpressed by books like The Hobbit, Animal Farm, etc..

  3. Thanks for posting the list! I've read a few of the books, and will consider some of the others in the near future.

    Just for the sake of getting my two cents in, here are some of the authors I have been moved and influenced by, with my fave books by them in parenthesis:

    Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Identity, and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting)

    Richard Brautigan (Trout Fishing in America, Revenge of the Lawn, and In Watermelon Sugar)

    Russell Banks (The Sweet Hereafter)

    Franz Kafka (Metamorphosis)

    Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer, and Tropic of Capricorn)

    Fyodor Dostoevsky (Notes from Underground)

    Lately I've been trying to find books (any books!) by Witold Gombrowicz, but a) they're proving difficult to find, and b) the English translations tend not to be well-regarded by those who have read the original Polish editions.

  4. Thanks for sharing! I'll have to go by the library and see if I can find any of those...

  5. Totally agree!! Twilight is a fun, BRAINLESS read. I own the series, too, but would never ever put it in a "TOP BOOKS OF ALL TIME" list. Love your book choices.