Monday, November 10, 2008
Ten Books That Will Change Your Life
The litmus test of a good book is that you find new joys in it upon a second reading. Shorter days and colder nights are a good excuse to turn to your bookshelves and pick up those books you've always wanted to read or the ones you want to revisit. Here is a list of books that have enriched my life in numerous ways. Some I've read more than once. Tell me about your list and just try to keep it to ten.
1. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy. It is said that Tolstoy started this book with the intention of writing about a despicable woman, and fell in love with his creation.
2. Still Life – A.S. Byatt. The sequel to Byatt’s Babel Tower, but a far more poignant story of a family trying to find sanity and love in their disparate lives.
3. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov. The quintessential American road book that started the genre – by a man whose native language is Russian, no less.
4. The Debt to Pleasure – John Lanchester. A cookbook wrapped in a travelogue wrapped in a murder mystery.
5. The Golden Bowl – Henry James. The only writer who could tell such a gripping story with so little action. Hint: the bowl has a fatal flaw.
6. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy. The story of a brilliant young man who finds comfort neither in his native, bucolic countryside nor the august halls of academe where he so powerfully longs for acceptance.
7. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway. Gertrude Stein refers to the men who fought in WWI as ‘the lost generation’ for a good reason. Warning: have good food and wine on hand before opening.
8. Orlando – Virginia Woolfe. A man – no, a woman – er, a person gallops through history finding wisdom through the ages.
9. I Praise My Destroyer – Diane Ackerman. A naturalist, poet and lover of life explores the pain and beauty of accepting mortality.
10. Howard’s End – E. M. Forster. A love story about a house and the people who live in it.