All entries for Sunday 04 June 2006

June 04, 2006

The Ten Best Books in the History of the World Ever…. (Part One)

Well maybe this won't be a list of the best books in the world ever 'cause i can only read very well in English and never really have the patience for books from more than a hundred and fifty years ago because they take so much concentration to understand, but here's a list of some of my favourite books.

10. Captain Corelli's Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

I really can't find enough superlatives to describe this book, the characters and places are exquisitely painted and the story is told beautifully. "So why does it only appear at number ten on your list?" I hear you ask. I was disappointed with the end, without wanting to give anything away I just did not believe the end of this book, De Bernieres aims for poignancy but he goes over the top and as a reader who'd thought he'd grown to know the characters so well I just did not believe their actions at the end, clearly the makers of the film agreed with me as they toned the finish down and improved it greatly. Still this is an excellent book, certainly one of the most beautifully written on my list and definitely worth a read.

9. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

While many books are brilliant because they describe the interaction of events in a well woven plot line, very little happens in this book. In fact, when pushed to describe it i'm forced to conclude that all it contains is the reflections of a very reserved man upon his life in which not a lot happened. The Independent described it as 'A remarkable, strange and moving book', I really think that to attempt to describe it any further would be foolhardy, just read it its brilliant.

8. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh is not a man i greatly admire, I've read four or five of his books and generally they've been entertaining enough but none other than Brideshead have really captured me and the fact that he's quite right wing comes across unpleasantly in some of them. George Orwell described Waugh as "about as good a novelist as one can be while holding untenable opinions." Waugh also married someone called Evelyn which must have been very confusing.

Brideshead is a fantastic book. It is narrated by Charles Ryder recalling his relationship with the aristocratic Flyte family over several years. In the first half, which is largely set in oxford, the imagery is quite wonderful and the main characters Sebastian and Charles are very well portrayed. The second half is a little more serious and perhaps not quite as brilliant but the book as a whole should definitely be read by everybody.

7. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel – Susanna Clarke

I think this is the only book on my list that doesn't really have any sad bits, but also one of the most enjoyable books i've read in a long time. It tells the (fictional) history of English magic during the 19th Century and of two great magicians who restore magic to its former glory. It took a while for me to let down my guard and become truly excited about a book which says so little about emotion or humanity, but once I'd settled in and allowed myself to enjoy it it was absolutely brilliant.

6. The House at Pooh Corner –A. A. Milne

I've just skimmed through the book again looking for a short quote or paragraph to sum up the brilliance of A. A. Milne and to be honest there isn't one. Each story is made great by the characters of Pooh, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo and particularly Eyeore, to break off a chunk here would not do justice to its genius in context. If you've read the earlier Pooh books or seen the Disney adaptation and been disappointed you should definitely read this, I think its the only one of A. A. Milnes books that translates well for adults, I read it to my friend Kady when she gets sad.

Anyway it's taken me about twenty minutes to write this and so I'm going to stop here and do part two later. Sorry it's so long, I hope at least one person read it all the way to the end.

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