It’s been a busy week. My level of brain function is currently somewhere between a large, sleepy dog and a pot of yoghurt. But I am determined to get on a regular schedule for this blog, so today I’m going for the first, and laziest, idea that came into my head – my all time favourite books, and why.
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
This book made me do something no other book has – when I got to the end, I went straight back to the beginning and started again. It was that damn compelling. There’s a combination of intriguing characters, an intense setting that combines the familiar and the unfamiliar, and of course the flowing, elegant prose. Fitzgerald manages to be both poetic and minimalist, putting in beautiful imagery but never slowing the story down. It’s an impeccable example of a deceptively straightforward story beautifully told.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Heller’s story follows men from the air force bomber crews caught up in the madness, the terror, and sometimes the tedium of the American military machine during World War Two. It’s the opposite of Gatsby. It’s crazy and rambling and full of weird details. Events are presented in ways that fracture chronology but heighten the drama and emotion. It’s both funny and bleak, neither focussing on nor ignoring the horrors of war, and it isn’t afraid to show the absurdity that abounds even in such a serious situation. The characters are wildly over the top, perfectly sane people driven to acts of madness by their circumstances, and I love every one of them.
The Saga of the Exiles by Julian May
A four book series that combines epic fantasy with sci-fi in a thrilling story of power, freedom, and the search for purpose. It’s got everything – action, adventure, intrigue, and moments of calm contemplation. There are sworddIt explores issues of religion and human destiny without laying it on too thick. The plot is complex and compelling, and shows how, with well developed characters, a story doesn’t need to chose between being character or plot focused – the one will drive the other. I seldom read a book more than once, especially one that 400+ pages, but I’ve read this series three times.
What are your favourite books? Give me some recommendations below. Let me know what your favourites are and why. Even if it’s a book that others dismiss, what makes you passionate about it?