Monday, 14 November 2011

All about books today

So a short while ago Robyn got a book swop going on her Bookclub blog and I joined in without thinking twice - as most of you know I am one of life's perpetual readers - have been since I was 5 years old and will be until I can see no more. There is very little better than a good book.

What she asked of us is to send someone our favorite novel of all time. Wow, such a difficult decision for me as I love so many. I have had a list in the back of a note book for years - I add to it, I take away, but I have not ordered it in numbers for years. And I did find it daunting to do - in fact, I have settled on a top 10 (in no specific order) and then a top 10 to 20 etc. Down to 40 - I have some that I have fallen out out the top 40 as I have added new books. I use the following criteria to build my list: 1. I have to immediately think that I need this on my top list, 2. I possibly gave it a 10/10 when reviewing it in my book journal, 3. I want to read it again or have read it several times and 4. I must remember the name and author's name - that way I know it stuck well enough to recommend to someone else.So I decided to send her my top love story ever -" Love in the time of cholera"(see below).

In return, Shayne sent me " Five quarters of the Orange" by Joanne Harris, a book that I actually have a history with - I have read many of her books (loved "Chocolat and "Coastliners" best)  but somehow gave up on this book and had to give it back to someone I borrowed it from - so I never finished it. So now, I will attempt it again but only after I finish "7 Dae" the new Deon Meyer released today and delivered to me by the friendly Kalahari folk this morning. I took my lunch time, had a coffee and read the first 65 pages. But back to my top 10 books.

Although through the years I have taken care of reading the prize winners as well as most of the classics (yes, I have read the whole of War and Peace), I must stress that this is a very very personal top 10. Those that spoke to me, those that moved me and those that I love to read time and time again.

 So, my top 10 books of all time (in alphabetical order):
Atonement - Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is the master observer of the human emotions and dealing with it. This is just such a masterfully told story of a young girl's world going wrong and influencing so many around her. Stunning read - have read it 3 times already and have never seen the movie - I have to admit that I am scared the movie will take some of the magic away

Lord of the Rings Trilogy - JRR Tolkien
Such a  classic - the very very best fantasy ever written. Have read the whole trilogy twice, and some a third time.For once, the movies did well with the books. And do read The Hobbit before you tackle these.

Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
The best love story ever written - spanning over more than 50 years. I can just imagine the two on the boat at the end of it. I have read it at least 4 times and want to read it again. Never saw the movie but apparently it is crap. So just don't - read the book! It will make you believe in love forever.

Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie 
A wonderful story of the birth and the life of a man and two nations - colorfully woven with the magic of India.  Not exactly sure of how many times I have read it (I do not always make the note in my book), but I bought my own copy after having borrowed one as a student.

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Yes, I know, two books by one writer (which must make him my favorite although I am not so sure about his newer books - he was the Nobel literature prize winner in 1982). The magical family saga that introduced magical realism to the world. Stunning - but remember to refer to the list of characters - after 4 reads I still sometimes get confused between all the Aurelios.

 People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks 

A more recent first read -The magical story of a little Jewish prayer book and how it came to be saved through many wars by many people of other religions. Read my full review on my Bookclub blog

The Book Thief - Markus Zusaf
I have only read it this year for the first time, but a magical magical book and story. In general I avoid World War 2 stories but this one is wonderful and imaginative and so uplifting. Do read it.

The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende
Stunning family saga over many generations taking place in Chile and to the background of the never ending South American wars and civil wars. I love how she portrays woman and the relationships between them. I have read it 4 times and the movie is ok - great actors, but totally ignores one of the generations.

The Songlines - Bruce Chatwin

Without a doubt the most unusual choice in the list and a very personal one - I am quite sure you will not find it on many "Top 100 books" lists. But to me, something that speaks to me about man, and our restless nature. I have read it many times, lost my original copy when I loaned it to someone and had to re-order one. I only know one other person who have ever read it - Dana Snyman, the travel writer, and he says it is one of his favorites too. 
Wuthering Heights -Emily Bronte

The only real classic on the list - there has to be one and currently this is my top one ( some of the others are Modern Classics thought). I love the story of Heathcliff and Catherine and the incredible moody atmosphere that permeates the whole book. One to be read over and over again. During dark and light moods.

So please tell me - who is your favorite writer and which are your top books (be it 1, 3 or 10) . And have your read any of my top 10 and what is your opinion of it?


  1. You've inspired me! Thanks for the list. Haven't actually read any of these ....currently into Dorothy Koomson and Anita Shreve.
    Agree with you on books and reading : it's an endless adventure for young and old!

  2. My dear friend, I've read none of them :)

    One of my favourites was The Success Principles - Jack Canfield (I know, boring but it is ME!).

    There is a Richard North Patterson that got a 10 from me - Eyes of a child (or something like that) - but haven't re-read in years - I may have changed my mind.

    I really enjoy ANYTHING by Michael Connelly - this is the guy I raved about on the blog - that I actually MET :)

    And definitely in my top 3, MOTHERSTYLES - Janet Penley.

    I also love Amy Tan's stuff. The Joy Luck Club was not my favourite though - The Bonesetter's Daughter was. And her memoir.

    And then to keep it real, I love chick-lit. Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella :)

  3. I first read Lord of the Rings aged 10 and since then I have read it countless times. I agree the movies where brilliant. Waiting for The Hobbit by the same director:0 Love in the Time of Cholera is also brilliant. Now I will have to get onto reading the rest. Good thing I have a Kindle now as it has saved me huge amounts of money although nothing beats the smell of a new book:) So yes my house will always be crowded with books. I will post my top 10 tomorrow. I need to think about that.

  4. @Marcia - I know you love non fiction stuff - it's just not me. And the Joy Luck Club is somewhere in my top 40 books - I think I must give the 10-20 list next. And I have read some Marain Keys and some Sophie Kinsella.

  5. @Kat - will be lovely to see your list too.

  6. What a cool list. I loved Atonement .... and adored "Book Thief" - my other favourite has been "We need to talk about Kevin.." just from a very memorable perspective .... love the idea of a book list.

  7. Thanks for providing this list...I want to go out and get myself a book right now...and just lose myself in a good story.

  8. Feeling a little intimidated. LOL I love Marlena DeBlasi's 1000 Days in Venice or 1000 Days in Tuscany.

  9. I am still waiting for my book to arrive... Can't wait!
    LOve your list! I agree with Lord of the rings. It would be on my list as well! You've given me a couple of ideas!

  10. Reading is very close to my heart and since joining a bookclub I’ve really been enjoying getting back into the swing of it again. I’ve just finished The Bang Bang Club and I can highly recommend it for any South Africa.

    My top 3 books of all time are the Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns and tied in 3rd place is The Time Travellers Wife and Shantaram.

  11. @Fiona Time Travellers wife just fell out of my top 40 this year abd a Thousand splendid suns is inmy top 40 list

  12. The first Markus Zusak book I read was I am Messenger. I couldn't put it down and devoured it over a weekend so when I found The Book Thief I knew it was going to be great.

    It's hard to pick a favourite author. If you look at size of collection alone it would be Terry Pratchett but there's so many other authors I enjoy and whose books I buy regularly.

    Have to agree with you. There is little better than a good book.

  13. @Alidaonline Funny enough, I could never get into Terry Pratchett. I read Maskerade first - I loved the play on Phantom, and somehow, no other one seemed the same after. Just abandoned them after a couple of pages.

    Oh and I am so going to put I am Messenger on my to read list.

  14. ooohh you reminded me to go and check for my book :)

    I loved The House of the Spirits - we did it when I studied English at Varsity so we got to talk about it lots :)

    I battled with Love in the time of Cholera - enjoyed moments of it.

    I have Atonement - must just read it!

  15. Ooo, I love books and have just, in this year, read the whole of War and Peace (sadly, not one of my favourites). I also recently read one of Joanne Harris's new ones, Blue Eyed Boy, and really enjoyed that.

    My 2 favourite books of all time are The Count of Monte Cristo and Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I absolutely adore Terry Pratchett and have read most of his books countless times

  16. @Kaleidoscopicchameleon I really want to read Blue eyed Boy and The Hitchikers guide is in my top 40 somewhere. Sadly, never read the Count! Have to.

  17. Yay...I can comment :-)

    I have totally slipped of the reading bandwagon...I am so bushed by the end of the day, that i cannot keep my eyes open. I need to get back into reading again...

  18. Gosh I am somewaht embarrassed to say I have not read ANY of your top10.

    I'd need to give my Top 10 a serious think, but off the top of my head some memorable favourites are:

    The Alchemist, The Pilgramage, Eleven Seconds by Paulo Coehlo
    Tom Robbins (All) but especially Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas and Jitterbug Perfume
    Angela's Ashes by Frank McCoutrt
    Shantaram by Gregory Roberts
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Cry the beloved Country - Alan Paton
    Most by Douglas Adams

  19. I LOVED The Book Thief and House of Spirits. I have an Isabelle Allende on my shelf - not sure if you know "Paula". It's the story of how she watches her daughter die - haven't had a chance for it yet but it's on my list. Have never read a Gabriel Garcia Marquez so will add that to my list as well.
    Think I'm going to steal this idea for a post. Hope you don't mind.

  20. I love both the Book Thief (favourite at the moment) and Songlines.

    I have not read the rest of your list.

    Some of my all time favourites are:
    Pillars of the Earth (in fact almost anything by Ken Follet)
    Tea House Fire

    I am not very good at remembering titles or authors.


So what's on your mind?