27 June 2009

the book list

This is basically a re-post of a note I made on Facebook on my all-time top 10 favorite books.

Wrote this note way back in March, and I just feel that I ought to re-post this on my blog because I love making lists, and nothing is better than a list of books! Besides, I started this blog in the first place to talk about the books I read.

So here's the list then.

P.S. These are actually the editions I have.


Tagged by Miguel. Ten books you've read that will always stick with you. First 10 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes, in no particular order.

I have to say, Miguel, that being forced to list down only 10 books is just plain cruel. Had to leave out a lot of my favorites. And I can't make this list in 15 minutes!!!

Basically, the books I've put here are the ones that I re-read the most. They're not exactly the most highbrow, cerebral books in my collection (I gave up on Marcel Proust after, like, 100 pages, and I haven't mustered enough patience to finish the darned thing) but these 10 books are so great in their own way. Some of them I read every year, the others every two or three years.

So even if I have an obscenely long list of new books to read every year, I always make time to re-read these old favorites. =)

1. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (the edition I own is in beautiful hardcover, illustrated by Ted Nasmith). Spent considerable time struggling with the idea of putting both The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings in this list, but I wanted to leave slots for the non-Tolkien books, haha. So if I had to pick my favorite Tolkien book, this would be it. I've read it every year without fail for the last 11 years, and it still gets me really teary-eyed in some parts. This 2009 is my 12th year to read it. Yes, it's a weird tradition of mine, and yes, I love this book. You can stop snickering now.

2. Dune by Frank Herbert. This is absolutely one of my favorites. I have a very old paperback copy which has a lot of creases on its spine (I didn't do it!!) and was handed down to me by my brother when I was in high school. I also have a hardcover edition of Dune which I bought around 2 years ago, but I'm really attached to the paperback one. Simply a lot of happy, happy reading memories with this book. =) It's such a shame no one's made a good film version of it yet. Oh, and nobody should ever read Books 2 & 3: Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. Big mistake of mine. To say that they suck is an understatement.

3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Oh my God, I hope they never make a movie version of this one. It's just too HARD.

4. 1984 by George Orwell. Was deciding which dystopian novel I loved more--Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, or this one. 1984 won. This book freaks me out more than Brave New World or Fahrenheit 451 ever could. =P But if I had to come up with a top 20 list, Brave New World would be there.

5. Possession by A.S. Byatt. I love stories within a story within a story! All those layers of narrative! Prose candy, really.

6. The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. I am such a fan of mythology--and it's largely due to Joseph Campbell (and, er, Prof. John Giordano, who introduced us to Campbell in Philo 103? Hehe). Campbell talks about the Story of the Hero, and how myths all over the world--ancient or modern--amazingly share the same hero-story formula and structure. THIS BOOK IS F$&@IN' FANTASTIC AND I HOPE EVERYBODY GETS TO READ IT SOMEDAY.

7. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I have to agree with Miguel on this one. With his spare prose, Ishiguro actually says and means so much.

8. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. If you love words (or the English language for that matter!), you'll love this book. I can't get enough of it; I have to read it every year. Puts a whole new meaning into the sentence 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.'

9. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Okay, this is such a nerdy choice. Started reading Dickens when I was in grade 5. I love, love, love him. Haha. Until now, I still can't decide which of his books is my #1 favorite--Nicholas Nickleby, Great Expectations, Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend?? But I remember reading and re-reading Great Expectations in my childhood years, and the book--in spite of its long, meandering passages--managed to make me cry on several occasions. There's just so much heartache and frustration in this book. The original ending is pretty sad, and I'm glad Dickens decided to change it in order to end the story on a more hopeful note.

10. The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton. This book is subtitled "A Nightmare." And it IS a nightmarish tale. Great read. First time I read it, I couldn't even bear to put it down even for a second--and I had to control my pee the whole time. It's that good.

If this had been a Top 20 list, I would have included the following:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Atonement by Ian McEwan
The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov
The Frederica quartet by A.S. Byatt
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
Grimm's Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm (because the fairy tale is always a fascinating subgenre for me)

Whew. Making this list was so stressful.



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