Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature created by The Broke and the Bookish . The theme for this week is “Back To School Freebie”, which means anything “back to school” related “10 favorite books I read in school”, books I think should be required reading… etc
I don’t think I can do 10 favourite books I read in school in English, as I went to school in Poland, and most of my favourite books I read at school are either badly translated, not translated, or untranslateable… But I can pretend to be Bill Gates ( if you haven’t checked out his book blog at Gates Notes, please do – it’s a very interesting read) and be prescriptive about books everyone should read…
These are not my ‘favourite’ books – this book list would include a hell of a lot more Jane Austen if that were the case. I am trying rather, perhaps in an idealistic, George Eliot-like way, to find books that might help us with the understanding the world we live in a bit more.
This comes, however, with the great risk of seeming dull. This is a list of the ‘so-called’ classics, books that are often seen as required reading. But they are truly amazing books. Many (Books 1-6) are even quite short. Don’t skip them.
Books that I think everyone should read:
- Hannah Arendt’s The Banality of Evil
I’ve only read it recently, but I think this book is amazing. Hannah Arendt’s exploration of evil (through the description of the trial of Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann) is a harrowing and insightful read. It’s also quite short, so you haven’t got too much of an excuse.
2. Joseph Conrad The Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness describes a white European’s journey into the heart of Congo… Francis Ford Coppola’s famous film Apocalypse Now is based on this book. Whatever you think of the whole Joseph Conrad/ Chinua Achebe debate (Achebe was a Nigerian writer who has accused Conrad of racism), you can’t really have an informed opinion unless you’ve read Joseph Conrad’s original book. To be reread and re-understood again and again.
3.William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Yes, another book about the bleak aspects of existence. It’s also the only play on this list. Yes, I know I should be ashamed of myself.
4.Emily Dickinson Selected Poems
Because – if you haven’t read at least some of them yet, you are seriously missing out. Just go and read them now.
5. Plato’s Symposium
Have you ever thought that you were searching for your other half? That metaphor comes from the Symposium. Have you ever thought that love can lead you to great deeds that you might not otherwise attempt? That idea is from the Symposium too. Do you know where the phrase platonic love comes from? Just go and read it – all those love poems from the ancients to the 20th century will make a lot more sense.
It’s short and a very poetic read.
6. Albert Camus The Plague
This is probably not a rational choice, but I really really loved that book and Dr. Rieux became a personal hero of mine. The story is that of a group of friends in Oran in Algeria struggling with an outbreak of the bubonic plague.
7. Toni Morrison’s Beloved
A story of slavery and motherhood that rips your heart up into tiny little pieces.
8. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Because everyone should know that you can be female, witty and a fantastic novel writer. Don’t just watch the film adaptations, READ IT.
9. Vladimir Nabokov Lectures on Literature
If you are fond of reading as past-time – this is an unmissable book. Nabokov tells you exactly what habits a good reader should have and which practices to avoid. His list of lectures also gives you a pretty good idea of books you should read. Don’t miss this. A little- known gem.
10. James Joyce The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
I know many people say that everyone should read Ulysses, but perhaps it would be best for people to attempt to walk before they attempt to run a marathon. An incredible book about a young man’s adulthood in Ireland, which redefines the limits of novel writing.
What do you think of my list? Which titles would you add?