Just 10 recommendations

Discussion in 'Other Literature' started by Boreas, Nov 24, 2016.

  1. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    What works would you recommend that in some way defined you or made such major impressions that they've had a lasting effect? Perhaps they changed your way of thinking, or perhaps they were just the absolute most pleasurable works you've ever read, or both.

    No restrictions in literary or fictional genres. Not more than 10 works.

    Cumulative works in a series that have recurring characters or are very closely tied by themes are accepted. For example, the Aubrey-Maturin novels by Patrick O'Brian, or The Sandman volumes by Neil Gaiman, or the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle would all be fine.

    Not accepted would be, say, the complete works of Shakespeare (not even narrowing them down to just the histories or the tragedies or the comedies - must choose one play).

    Poets are exceptions. You can choose specific poems or collections or their complete works.

    So, what are your ten choices?
  2. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I need to think about this as I'm pretty bad at compiling lists...
  3. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Shibumi - Trevanian
    Heroes Die - Stover
    Once and Future King - White
    Robot series - Asimov
    Centennial - Michener
    The Ill-Made Knight - Cameron
    The Hobbit/LOTR - Tolkein
    Wuthering Heights - Bronte
    Steel, Blood & Fire - Batchelder
    Game of Universe - Nylund
    Diziet Sma likes this.
  4. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Mine are all purely F/SF:

    Wheel of Time series (Jordan/Sanderson) - my real introduction into the world of fantasy literature. Brilliant epic 'farmboy with a sword' story.

    Gormenghast trilogy (Peake) - the first books that left me speechless and made me cry. Some of my favourite characters in any book, Fuschia and Steerpike in particular.

    Malazan Book of the Fallen (Erikson) - The most awe inspiring and truly epic (in every sense) books I've read. Every fantasy fan should read these.

    The Expanse series (Corey) - The first SF series I read, and the most fun I've had reading SF.

    The Road (McCarthy) - Again, kind of left me speechless. So bleak, in prose and setting.

    Ketty Jay series (Wooding) - The best set of characters I've come across .. certain parts left me laughing out loud, and each book got better and better as the series progressed. Humour is important for me in literature, and thus had it in buckets.

    Stardust (Gaiman) - one of the most magical 'good-feeling' books I've had the pleasure to read. It left me smiling for a long time...

    That's it for the moment, I'll add more when I think of them :)
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016
  5. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    From the top of my head, and as I'm a newbie in F&SF, it shows in my list/on my list?! (I love prepositions!)

    1. The Sven Hassel Collection (Legion of the Damned) My introduction into War literature.
    2. Treblinka by Jean-François Steiner. Overwhelming.
    3. The Heretic, Miguel Delibes. A beautiful auto-criticism.
    4. Poland, by Michener. The story of a very big part of Europe.
    5. Martin Beck Inspector, by Maj-Sjöwall. How I got into Noir novels
    6. One hundred Year Solitude by G G Márquez. Magical Realism wouldn’t be the same without this work.
    7. The Hive, C J Cela. My first adult, hype-realism novel I read. An eye opener.
    8. Lord of the Rings, my introduction to Fantasy
    9. 1984, G Orwell. Another eye opener, the second time I read it, I found it even more disturbingly real.
    10. *Edit* The Count of Montecristo, by A. Dumas, because God will give me justice.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016
  6. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Regarding Fantasy and SF, I see these tittles mentioned over and over. Maybe it is time I tackle them.
  7. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Over the years I've seen so many people fall in love, or absolutely despise, or anywhere in between, these series (particularly WoT & Malazan). I'd obviously recommend each of them, but whether they're your cup of tea, you'd have to find out for yourself :)

    On a side note, and looking back at my list, it's fairly evident that I read purely for entertainment. I don't particularly go for the 'deep and meaningful' books.
  8. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    In no particular order:
    • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. My introduction to war fiction and still one of the greatest love stories I've ever read. I had lumps in my throat.
    • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Pure brilliance. So simple, and so quintessentially American. In some ways, a little like the road to Damascus, but on the Mississippi.
    • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. First post-modern work I read. Major eye-opener and a brilliantly satirical novel. Another war narrative.
    • The Brothers Karamazov by Fydor Dostoyevsky. A powerful work and brimming with this mad, perhaps even insane energy. Just genius.
    • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, pere. One of the greatest romances I have ever read. The kind of adventure that defies belief.
    • The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. A work of comparative mythology and religion. In many ways, my life is pre- and post-Campbell.
    • Letters from a Father to His Daughter by Jawaharlal Nehru. Beautiful letters sent from prison with enlightened perspectives on world history, religion, politics and human nature.
    • Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. Another one of the greatest romances I have ever read. Re-affirms life and the path to self-knowledge/-awareness in one of the most quaintly poetic ways I've ever encountered. I cannot love this novel enough.
    • The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. One of the most difficult novels I've ever read, at times overwhelming and an almost torturous Bildungsroman. But so powerful that it left me indelibly marked and I had to include it.
  9. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    I'm shell shocked! No Banks ?????? :eek:
    Diziet Sma likes this.
  10. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Well-Known Member

    Mused on this for a few days. In no particular order:

    Dune - probably my biggest sff influence

    Wuthering Heights - just because of the raw vitality in it

    Captain Corelli's Mandolin - a masterclass in story telling

    The Time Traveller's Wife - a masterclass in characterisation

    The Snow Goose, Paul Gallico - a masterclass in the place being part of the story

    Vorkosigan by Bujold - my go-to character-led sf

    Waiting for Godot - I love it. So unstated. So funny. Always have enjoyed it.

    Louis MacNeice - I love his poetry. So lyrical.

    A book I won't name by a writer I won't promote (but she's sff as well and well known) - it's about a circus family in the 40s and a masterclass in time and place, characterisation and understated love.

    Starbeast - Heinlein. Because it brought me to sff.
    Diziet Sma likes this.
  11. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    I'd love to include some sf 'classics' on my list, but almost every one I've read, I've found dull, or at best, decidedly mediocre. Maybe I just need to keep plugging away. This thread has definitely compelled me to broaden my horizons outside the SF/F bubble, which is good I suppose.
  12. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Weird, huh? I only listed nine options. I had actually typed out 11 works when I realised that none of them were SF. So I decided to think on the last one a little more. I have a feeling that like with @jo zebedee's choice, I might actually go for Dune. But I'll think on it a little more.

    This one has been on my list for a while now. I already have the book, but I've recently been wondering if I should watch the movie first before reading.
  13. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I should have included this one on my list too.
    On my Xmas letter to Santa
    Loved it too and forgot all about it.
    I've got it on my Kindle. 2017 TBR list
    Love Michener. I have this book but haven't read it yet. Another one for 2017
    I have the first book of Malazan and I'm always dithering about when to pick it up... I would really love to enjoy it and plunge myself into this series.
    jo zebedee likes this.
  14. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I'm pretty sure most of us read for entertainment, but I guess how you get initiated into reading has a very powerful influence if your literary taste. Both my parents were avid readers and we lived surrounded by books, they hardly bought us books while growing up. We simply had to choose from their personal library. This has definitely had an influence on what I currently like, for example regarding war literature, I was the only one amongst my friends to be interested in this genre, purely because my father loved it and I followed his cue.
  15. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    You can always edit your list.
    I want to read this series, but it always seems to feel like it may be a chore, so I keep putting it off.
  16. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    It might actually be a very enjoyable chore. I might have a go in 2017?!? :confused:
  17. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I actually read the first volume sometime in 2008. I remember getting through it quite easily even though it was a little convoluted. But I couldn't get past the first 10 pages of volume 2. And I picked it up 2 or 3 times over a few weeks with the exact same result. The good thing is that I don't remember anything about the first story except for some vague images of major fantasy battles with powerful magic, so it'll probably be like reading it for the first time.
  18. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    We should maybe time it for 2017...
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016
  19. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    You both so should !!! It's got so much depth, complexity and scale, coupled with brilliant characters, humour and every degree of 'epic' you could possibly imagine! I'd be tempted to join you, but it took me 14 months first time around, and I just don't think I could face that again so soon :)
    Boreas likes this.
  20. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    This i what I'm hoping to get out of Malazan.
    14 months?!? I couldn't possibly read them in a row without going completely cucu. I would need to space them out.

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