Friday, July 10, 2009

My 15 All-time Favourite Books

Reading Shankari Murali's wonderful note I am persuaded to put my own list of 15 books that influenced me not exactly in the order they are presented here:

1. Lolita - Vladimir Nabakov - a book that made me want to be a writer. I am re-reading it at this moment and can admire his erudition, his research, his vivid description of scenes, his absolute mastery over language, etc. Truly Nabakov is one of the all-time greats of literature.

2. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway - a book about doomed love that resurrects in the last few pages. Hemingway's style is something I try had to imitate sometimes.

3. The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Himingway - a book about a human being pitted against nature and a huge fish.

4. Grapes of Wrath and Travels with Charlie – John Steinbeck. Steinbeck is a wonderful chronicler of the US of the depression years.

5. War and Peace – Tolstoy – took two months to read this huge treatise on Russian life and fell ill in the process. Loved the way pre-revolution Russian society unravelled with its pettiness and selfish deceit.

6. Sadie Thompson and Stories of the South Sea Islands – Somerset Maugham – loved this collection of short stories that remain still imprinted in my mind for the fresh whiff of the exotic South Sea Islands. Again, made me yearn to write similar stories.

7. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger – loved the hero Holden Caulfied both times I read the novel. Full of juvenile angst and youthful energy.

8. Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris – liked it for its eerie quality, a good thriller, inimitable in its genre. Liked the movie a lot for some fine acting.

9. Dr. Zhivago – Boris Pasternak – liked the pastoral beauty of Russia described against the backdrop of intensely personal happenings in the life of Dr. Zhivago in the novel with its intermingling of poetry and prose. Loved the post-revolution scenario described in this epic novel.

10. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy – Especially liked the espousal of the Syrian Christian community (to which I belong) in this novel which deserved all the adulation it received. Roy’s prose has the glitter of diamonds undergoing polishing, though it might, I feel, need a lot of disciplined editing.

11. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie – a Hummer of a book, notable for his use of English in a chutnified form. Chutney mixed with pickle, too, it might seem.

12. Chemmeen – Thakazhi Shivashankara Pillai – Thakazhi’s story of a poor fisherman and his lady love set against the backdrop of Kerala’s beautiful coastline.

13. Paschatya Sahitya Tatwashastram – KM Tharakan – an authoritative book in Malayalam about the philosophy of Western Literature by a noted Malayali critic.

14. The Last Mughal – William Dalrymple – An authoritative history of the last days of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor, how he was more of a poet than a ruler of the world.

15. Marketing Warfare – Al Ries and Jack Trout – a must read for all involved with marketing, advertising, branding and selling. Ries and Trout infer that marketing is like warfare and they quote from the works of Clausewitz to prove their point.

Now that it is done, Alleuiah, Amen!


Anonymous said...

What I especially liked about your post is the one line explanation... :)

John said...

Hi Darpana,

Glad you liked it. I had meant to make people curious about the books I had selected.

Thanks for commenting!

~ J

ZiLliOnBiG said...

Thanks John, some of the books in your list are my FAVS too. Hemingway's 'the old man....' is one of the best novels i have read. subtle yet a very emotionally touching novel.
Lolita-i would like to read it, last time i did the mistake of not picking it, when in India. and 10 and 11 are my favs. Thanks:))

John said...

Thanks Zillion. All of them are great books and I have enjoyed reading them.

~ J