Favorite novel & why

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Amor Vincit Omnia
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Re: Favorite novel & why

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

Complex question; how long do I have? I’ve decided to have a “desert island five” - books I could (and do) happily re-read and dip into for favourite passages. I will limit it to novels, as per the rubric, but I’d love to have a couple of travel books cached away.

Firstly, I’m not really into books set in the modern/real world. Fantasy is my thing, whether based on this planet or some other. I’m not fond of 19th Century novels in general, so don’t look for Dickens, Balzac, Galdós and co.

@missF I’m happy to say that The Name of the Rose is on my list. A rattling good story, as you say, and if you know something about the religious, philosophical and moral history of Europe in the Middle Ages, it’s quite stimulating intellectually. Add a secret library (a sort of Bodleian in the hills) and I’m hooked. It has many of the elements of fantasy whilst also touching real historical people such as Bernardo Gui, Ubertino of Casale and Michael of Cesena, as well as a posthumous nod to Dolcino.

Don Quixote (Cervantes) is widely regarded as the precursor of the modern novel; although it takes place in the Spain of the author’s day (turn of the 17th Century), it is undoubtedly a fantasy of the mind, where the protagonist lives in a totally different “universe” from those surrounding him. Of all the “great” literature (mostly turgid) I was required to read at university, this was the one I loved the best.

The Once and Future King (T.H. White) - if you’re going to read a book about the Arthurian material, read this. Scholarly yet accessible.

Lord of the Rings. Yes, Tolkien was a bit prim at times and his moral geography is very questionable, but my word that man could write! An astounding philologist, he actually created a world for the invented languages he created.

I thought long and hard about this last one, and I’m leaving a few favourite authors out with considerable regret. But I think I need to take His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. An incredible vision and some complex and believable characters. And if you take it on a deeper level, in terms of intellectual content and moral compass, we have come pretty much full circle from Eco.

And if I had to take just one it would be Lord of the Rings.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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I thought long and hard on this yesterday. Good question. Eventually, after a good night's sleep, I came back to Great Expectations. It has stayed wuth me and continues to offer up insights and truths about the human condition.
I rarely read fiction these days, I much prefer to read books that are firstly, well written and secondly, interesting to me.
I have just finished Anthony Seldon's walk along the length of the western front (14-18), and currently switch betwwen a book about how to improve your walking and one about owls. (There is a species in central America that holds meetings at night.)
I do have a weakness for American crime fiction and I reread the Parker novels by Richard Stark. Very well written they are too.
Oh, and the Lifemanship books by Stephen Potter are the funniest I havenread.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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To give a balanced viewpoint, I'm the heretic or philistine for this thread.

I was encouraged to read as a young boy and remember the Biggles stories by Capt W E John's and American 'Gangster' stories by James Hadley Chase.

As a teenager I managed to get through Catch 22 and read war stories by Sven Hassel and about Southern Africa by Wilbur Smith.

Beyond then really, reading books is something I don't do and I've certainly never touched any of the literary works mentioned in this thread so far (although I managed the first two Harry Potter books, but stalled during the third; after my son, they were perfectly timed for him, and wife had read them).

To give an example of my apathy towards reading books I've had two 'on the go' for the past 3 - 6 years; one a travel account, a Walk in the Hindu Kush, the other a sports analysis/ documentary, Friday Night Lights. :oops: :oops:

Mind you, it's been fun reading this thread. :grin: :grin:

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Re: Favorite novel & why

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Although I am not the reader I once was, I am a huge fan of Don Quixote and have always been a fan of the Dean Koontz novels.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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What a great thread, inspiration to look up some authors I’d never considered before. Also the original post set a fantastic scene.

I must have read ‘As I walked out one midsummer morning’ half a dozen times now. I’ve no idea why it struck such a chord with me, but I seem to revisit it every five or six years.

I’m a big fan of the Inspector Montalbano crime series also, by Andrea Camelleri. Very funny, great descriptions of Sicily, and delicious descriptions of the many meals the Inspector enjoys at Enzo’s restaurant by the sea.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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Like many others have said I seldom re-read a book (and I'm not a massive reader, I maybe get through a handful of books a year), but the one book I've re-read more than any other and never tire of is Catch 22.

It masterfully swings between laugh out loud sillyness and tears rolling down your cheeks emotion, whilst doing an amazing job (IMHO) of capturing the absurdity and futility of war.
I first read it in my early twenties, then have since re-read it in my thirties and forties and think I've appreciated it in different ways at each point.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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Ulysses - because it was the first Modernist novel ever published, because the streams of consciousness writing is exactly what goes on in our brains, because of the masterful language, because I love Dublin . . . . just because!
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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Stif wrote: Sun Jul 23, 2023 10:26 am Like many others have said I seldom re-read a book (and I'm not a massive reader, I maybe get through a handful of books a year), but the one book I've re-read more than any other and never tire of is Catch 22.
You’re the second person to mention Catch-22 now. I tried reading this once in HS upon the recommendation of my dad (it’s his favorite), but found it impossible. Perhaps I need to revisit it now that I’m older, much like Hemingway.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

@jkbarnes What, even with Major Major Major Major and the maid in the lime coloured panties?
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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NigelS wrote: Sun Jul 23, 2023 11:35 am Ulysses - because it was the first Modernist novel ever published, because the streams of consciousness writing is exactly what goes on in our brains, because of the masterful language, because I love Dublin . . . . just because!
Your comment makes me want to read Ulysses!
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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Trs1982 wrote: Sat Jul 22, 2023 10:23 pm To add to the above, reading has become my escape from whatever else is going on in life around me. To get lost in a book helps me unwind; engrossing myself in a fictional tale is calming, and something beyond anything that can be prescribed.
Very nicely put.

As for me...far too may impactful books to list one. I'm also a prolific reader, like a few on here it seems. My personal tastes would certainly not be mainstream. A favourite author of mine was quoted as saying, 'if you only read what everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.' And just recently I came across a quote in a newspaper attributed to someone or other that said, 'a person that doesn't read suffers the same disadvantages as a person that can't.' I thought that was a very salient point. Reading is a gateway to starting out on a journey, and that's reason enough for me.

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Re: Favorite novel & why

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Amor Vincit Omnia wrote: Sun Jul 23, 2023 12:22 pm @jkbarnes What, even with Major Major Major Major and the maid in the lime coloured panties?
I don’t think I made it past the first chapter! I struggled with literature in my youth, with little appreciation for anything beyond a simple, easy to follow story.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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strapline wrote: Sun Jul 23, 2023 12:42 pm …'a person that doesn't read suffers the same disadvantages as a person that can't.' I thought that was a very salient point. Reading is a gateway to starting out on a journey, and that's reason enough for me.
Sadly, it seems my desire to read exceeds my practical capacity to read lately. I’m the living embodiment of Newton’s First Law - a body at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.

The irony is that more consistent reading would absolutely address some of my mental woes. I just need to get on with the job of it!

This thread is an inspiration.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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jkbarnes wrote: Sun Jul 23, 2023 12:44 pm
Amor Vincit Omnia wrote: Sun Jul 23, 2023 12:22 pm @jkbarnes What, even with Major Major Major Major and the maid in the lime coloured panties?
I don’t think I made it past the first chapter! I struggled with literature in my youth, with little appreciation for anything beyond a simple, easy to follow story.
You definitely should read it...but there's a catch...
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Re: Favorite novel & why

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

@jkbarnes To the catch-22 and Newton’s First Law, we can add what I call the Larra paradox. Mariano José de Larra was an early 19th century Spanish writer and critic. In a an article entitled “Carta a Andrés” (appropriately, letter to Andrew) he was bemoaning the lack of good quality literature in Spain at the time, as well as commenting on the lack of motivation to produce it. One of my favourite quotes of all time:

“Do we not read in this country because no one writes, or do we not write because no one reads?”

(¿No se lee en este país porque no se escribe, o no se escribe porque no se lee?)
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