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Top 10 Favorite Books of JFrater
As today is my birthday, I have decided to do a special list just for me! It is my top ten favorite books of all time. These are the books I would take to a desert island. If you have not read some of these, I cannot recommend them enough! So, onwards to my top 10 favorite books. In no particular order:
1. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged was Rand’s last work before she devoted her time exclusively to philosophical writing. This book contains a variety of themes that would later become the core of her philosophy Objectivism. She considered it to be her magnum opus and is it the most popular of her non-fiction work.
2. Naked Lunch – William Burroughs
Naked Lunch consists of many loosely related vignettes in which several characters such as the sadistic, sociopathic and borderline incompetent Dr. Benway reappear. The primary character is agent Bill Lee. The book’s structure anticipates the cut-up technique Burroughs would later employ in novels such as the so-called “Nova Trilogy” (The Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded, and Nova Express). The book contains what is generally considered to be some of Burroughs’ most memorable and quoted passages.
3. Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) is an international best seller and a landmark in more ways than one: it opened the trade best sellers lists to sf writers, breaking down longstanding barriers that will never be seen again. At the same time Stranger became an emblem of the 1960s generation in its iconoclasm and free-love themes. Telling the story of an Earth baby raised by an existing, ancient Martian civilization, the novel often reads as if it were the “Playboy Philosophy” in dialog form.
4. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley’s tour de force, Brave New World is a darkly satiric vision of a “utopian” future—where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying entertainment.
5. Candide – Voltaire
Candide tells of the outrageous adventures of the naïve Candide, who doggedly believes that “all is for the best” even when faced with injustice, suffering, and despair. Controversial and entertaining, Candide is a book that is vitally relevant today in our world pervaded by—as Candide would say— “the mania for insisting that all is well when all is by no means well.” This book is full of hilarious people and moments – including the gentle ladies whose bottoms were cut off for dinner.
6. The Rules of Attraction – Brett Easton Ellis
This tale of privileged college students at their self- absorbed and childish worst is the very book that countless students have dreamed of writing at their most self-absorbed and childish moments. Through a series of brief first-person accounts, the novel chronicles one term at a fictional New England college, with particular emphasis on a decidedly contemporary love triangle (one woman and two men) in which all possible combinations have been explored, and each pines after the one who’s pining after the other. Theirs is a world of physical, chemical and emotional excessan adolescent fantasy of sex, drugs and sturm und drang wherein characters are distinguished only by the respective means by which they squander their health, wealth and youth.
7. In Youth is Pleasure – Denton Welch
First published in 1945, In Youth is Pleasure is a beautiful and unassuming coming-of-age novel by the English writer and painter Denton Welch (1915-1948). Painfully sensitive and sad Orville Pym is 15 years old, and this novel recounts the summer holiday after his first miserable year at public school–but as in all of Welch’s work, what is most important are the details of his characters’ surroundings. Welch is a Proustian writer of uncanny powers of observation.
8. Other Voices, Other Rooms – Truman Capote
Published when Truman Capote was only twenty-three years old, Other Voices, Other Rooms is a literary touchstone of the mid-twentieth century. In this semiautobiographical coming-of-age novel, thirteen-year-old Joel Knox, after losing his mother, is sent from New Orleans to live with the father who abandoned him at birth. But when Joel arrives at Skully’s Landing, the decaying mansion in rural Alabama, his father is nowhere to be found. Instead, Joel meets his morose stepmother, Amy, eccentric cousin Randolph, and a defiant little girl named Idabel, who soon offers Joel the love and approval he seeks.
9. The Diamond as big as the Ritz – Scott Fitzgerald
The story tells of John T. Unger, a teenager from the town of Hades, Mississippi, who was sent to a private boarding school in Boston. During the summer he would visit the homes of his classmates, the vast majority of whom were from wealthy families. Unger would later learn that he was in Montana, in the “only five square miles of land in the country that’s never been surveyed,” and the unusual and bizarre story that proved Percy’s boasts to be incredibly true. This is now in the public domain and can be read in its entirety here. I recommend buying the book anyway, as it has some of Fitzgerald’s other stories.
10. The Sheltering Sky – Paul Bowles
Paul Bowles and his wife became icons of the American and European expatriates centered in Tangier. Here he concentrated on writing novels, short stories and travel pieces, and also wrote incidental music for nine plays. The Sheltering Sky is a 1949 novel by Paul Bowles. The story centers on Port and Kit Moresby, a married couple originally from New York who travel to the North African desert accompanied by their friend Tunner. The journey, initially an attempt by Port and Kit to resolve their marital difficulties, is quickly made fraught by the travelers’ ignorance of the dangers that surround them.
Notable exclusions: Anything by Chuck Pahlaniuk, everything else by Brett Easton Ellis, Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde
Contributor: JFrater (who else?!)
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