Favorite novel & why

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Favorite novel & why

Post by jkbarnes »

FULL DISCLOSURE: this post is motivated by a perfect buzz brought on by two pints of beer, a great cigar, and an absolutely perfect moment on the deck with glorious weather.

As the thread title states, what’s your favorite novel and why? For me it’s Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. That novel hit me on an emotional level that I’ve never experienced before. I’m rather indifferent to the plot line with Anna and Vronsky. It’s the story of Kitty and Levin that sucks me in. Tolstoy’s descriptions of Levin’s love for Kitty (see the quote in my signature; that could be me describing my wife!) hit me like a punch to the gut. Then when Tolstoy describes the birth of Levin’s son and the instant love Levin felt for the child…wow. That’s it man, Tolstoy nails it. That, and Levin’s moral and philosophical struggle throughout the story. That really connected with me.

What’s funny is that an English professor friend of mine loathes Anna Karenina as much as I love it. Isn’t that funny, how the same novel can illicit such diametrically opposed reactions. A bit like watches, I suppose.

A runner up is The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. That one got me through a failed marriage, divorce, and the rebirth that came after. It’s also where my forum name comes from - Jake Barnes.

I’ll add this. I think one needs to have gone through some struggles to appreciate Hemingway. I remember reading The Old Man and the Sea in high school and thinking the whole time, “Jesus dude, just cut the line. What an idiot.” Years later, it was a different story! Same for The Sun Also Rises, that bored me to no end in high school. Years later, after the collapse of a marriage where I completely lost myself, it was a completely different story!

So what novels connected with you? What do you go back and reread with some regularity?
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Re: Favorite novel & why

Post by gwells »

fwiw, i rarely ever reread a book. i'm a voracious reader, 50-60 books a year at least. i may have a shortlist of authors i always read, but i would be hard pressed to pick a favorite individual book. well, more than that. i woudn't be able to. any more than a favorite song (if i had one, it would change regularly), a favorite band, or a favorite album.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

Post by jkbarnes »

gwells wrote: Sat Jul 22, 2023 9:01 pm fwiw, i rarely ever reread a book
I understand that completely. Normally I don’t reread anything either, with the exception of three: The Old Man and the Sea & The Sun Also Rises and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. I think those three keep me grounded, so I like to revisit them. I don’t know that I could handle Anna Karenina a second time!

The two I mentioned had such a profound impact on me that it’s easy to label them as favorites.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

Post by missF »

I don’t read novels, and haven’t for much of my adult life. It’s a pretty desperate state of affairs because I loved reading as a child and teenager. I haven’t the concentration now. I lose threads, especially at the beginning of novels where characters are introduced. I forget what I read a day back. Or half a chapter back. I try not to think about it often :(

BUT - apart from I-Robot by Isaac Asimov which I read and read as a teenager (and I know it would still blow my mind today), the one book that I love as an adult, and always will, is The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. The English translation (i don’t know about the original), is so beautiful, so poetic, so musical that I could take an age over a page and just savour the sounds of the words. The book slows me down so I enjoy the language for its own sake and it doesn’t matter whether I remember the actual action or not. But the book is also a whodunnit of the highest order - a cracking read chock full of fabulous characters. So I want to speed up and get to the next page, the next chapter. And so years ago I got through the whole book breathless between savouring the words and galloping through to find out who dunnit! :lol: :D
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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I hadn’t read for years (I think since I was in my teens- I’m 41 now) until maybe two years ago, and now it’s part of my daily routine. I regularly get caught up in a book and look at the clock at 1am and realise that I should be asleep at that time.

I eased myself back in with the Harry Porter series, which were just magical. If you like the films, then the books just add a whole new dimension for you; there is so much detail in there that was missed.

Since then, I’ve moved to crime-based novels. I tend to pick an author and stick to them until there’s nothing left.

Karin Slaughter - completed. The Will Trent/Sara Linton based books are brilliant. There’s a new one out in that series, which is on my list to get to when I’ve finished the Lee Child/Jack Reacher series, of which I’m 16 books into, with another 8 or so to go.

Sharon Bolton - completed

Val McDermid - completed

Plus a couple of other authors who I found on Kindle Unlimited when I was subscribed to that.

Since then, I’ve walked away from the Amazon ecosystem and use a Kobo device. It supports multiple file formats, and Kindle DRM content that I’ve previously purchased can easily be converted to use on it.

So after my long winded ramble, I would say that I have a favourite genre rather than a favourite novel, but if I have to pick it would be The Prisoner of Azkaban.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

Post by jkbarnes »

Trs1982 wrote: Sat Jul 22, 2023 10:15 pm I eased myself back in with the Harry Porter series, which were just magical…
I tore through that series pretty quickly! Great stories.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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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.

A little deep, but would definitely recommend.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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missF wrote: Sat Jul 22, 2023 9:57 pm I don’t read novels, and haven’t for much of my adult life. It’s a pretty desperate state of affairs because I loved reading as a child and teenager. I haven’t the concentration now. I lose threads, especially at the beginning of novels where characters are introduced. I forget what I read a day back. Or half a chapter back. I try not to think about it often :(

BUT - apart from I-Robot by Isaac Asimov which I read and read as a teenager (and I know it would still blow my mind today), the one book that I love as an adult, and always will, is The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. The English translation (i don’t know about the original), is so beautiful, so poetic, so musical that I could take an age over a page and just savour the sounds of the words. The book slows me down so I enjoy the language for its own sake and it doesn’t matter whether I remember the actual action or not. But the book is also a whodunnit of the highest order - a cracking read chock full of fabulous characters. So I want to speed up and get to the next page, the next chapter. And so years ago I got through the whole book breathless between savouring the words and galloping through to find out who dunnit! :lol: :D
This! This is what I’m looking for. I’ll add this to the list.

For years, I stuck to non-fiction, mostly histories, as one might expect with a history teacher. I had a terrible English teacher senior year of high school, who completely turned me OFF to literature. So much so that I managed to make it through a four year liberal arts education without taking a single literature class. My dad, and English major, thought that was criminal. It wasn’t until later in life that I discovered the joys of a good novel, and I’ve been slowly working my way through the classics ever since.

In middle school I was captivated by a collection of short essays by Asimov.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

Post by JAFO »

I used to be a voracious reader of SF in particular. A couple that stick in the mind are The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner, and Ubik by Philip K Dick.

I read (past and present tense) a lot of short story collections too, and I actually find many short stories rather more memorable than novels. I re-read 900 Grandmothers (RA Lafferty short stories) regularly. Possibly my favourite collection, and completely whimsical.

A quote I just came across, that I'd never seen before.

“If you’d told me twenty-five years ago that the SF that would get it most right, up to a point, was not Heinlein or Asimov but J.G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick, I would not have laughed at you, just looked puzzled, just as I would if you had told me that the root form of millennial reality and millennial SF would be John Brunner’s The Shockwave Rider.” – Neil Gaiman in his introduction to 2001’s tenth-anniversary edition of Pat Cadigan’s cyberpunk masterpiece Synners.

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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.

A little deep, but would definitely recommend.
I struggle with wanting the escape offered by a good book but feeling so drained after a day at school that I don’t have the mental energy to engage with a book. It’s beyond frustrating.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

Post by Trs1982 »

:silent: I
jkbarnes wrote: Sat Jul 22, 2023 10:27 pm
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.

A little deep, but would definitely recommend.
I struggle with wanting the escape offered by a good book but feeling so drained after a day at school that I don’t have the mental energy to engage with a book. It’s beyond frustrating.
I used to be exactly the same. My other half coaxed me into trying it out, and it took a good few months of thinking about it and working myself up to give it a go, but I’m so glad that I did. I’ve discovered that I do need silence around me when reading though, so bed time is the right time. Even when travelling on a train I can’t immerse myself properly without noise cancelling headphones and mature or rain sounds playing softly in the background.

I guess that working in an education environment it’s even more difficult to practice what you preach so to speak, probably with unsaid expectations that you’re able to pickup any book and focus on it.

All I can say is that if you can find a millimetre of space that you can lock on to and use that to allow yourself to fade into a fictional world then it will be so worth it.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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Just ordered a second hand copy of the Name of the Rose for 50p. So incredible to hold so much in your hands and it costs 50p :D
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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jkbarnes wrote: Sat Jul 22, 2023 10:27 pm
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.

A little deep, but would definitely recommend.
I struggle with wanting the escape offered by a good book but feeling so drained after a day at school that I don’t have the mental energy to engage with a book. It’s beyond frustrating.
i do my reading both in short spurts (like 5-10 mins when i'm sitting somewhere waiting for something) and longer bursts (mostly over lunch and in bed before falling asleep). that's part of why i love reading on the kindle app. as long as i have my phone with me, i can take a 10m break any time and read a chapter. and any device keeps me synched up to where i am. phone, ipad, work computer, home computer. and i read on all of them.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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I’ve read some PKD, it’s always interesting! I’ve never read it on purpose though. I worked for about 5 years as an audio engineer for Amazon in a studio, recording audiobooks. It really helped me branch out, since I read mostly either sci-fi and fantasy or adventure growing up.

I read I can’t pick one book, sorry. I can call out 3 series that were majorly impactful on my life.

The Lord of the Rings, which I read just before the movies were announced. I was thrilled, and the films became my favorite movies as well.

Harry Potter, who I felt I grew up with. The final book was released the summer after I graduated high school. I picked up each book after the first at the midnight release, and each time immediately read the book straight through in one sitting.

And finally, the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I was devastated when he passed before finishing this MASSIVE series of books, but he enlisted Brandon Sanderson to finish, who did so magnificently.

Why? I guess I’ve always looked at reading as an escape. These 3 series transported me into their respective worlds more deeply than anything I’ve ever read.
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Re: Favorite novel & why

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I also do my reading at night while lying in bed, just before sleep. This has been a habit, done almost without fail since i was probably 6 or so. Helps me disconnect from the day and clear my mind for a good nights sleep.

I did take a break for a year or so after my kids were born. I just needed the sleep so badly :lol:
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