10 Books That You Must Read
Having just reached the five-word mark perplexity has started to churn my guts.The task that lay ahead is a formidable one.To select just 10 from a myriad of absolutely magnificent works of human wisdom is one tough nut to crack for sure.So biased however you may think I have been, I have tried my best at making generic selections this time over.No wonder my choice of books may disappoint some.But that’s an honest opinion as it is highly improbable to find even two souls with identical interests on something that invites enormous uncertainty.The following analogy helps make it somewhat clear; some of us may prefer our Maggi noodles soupy, others may prefer them dry; some may like ketchup on them, yet others may want them fried.But at the end of the day everybody loves Maggi.Same is the love for reading that we all share in common, however, diverse our literary preferences may be.Here is one such list of creative finesse that must be tasted once, if not digested according to all:
Published in two volumes, Don Quixote is one of the most influential works of literature from the Spanish Golden age. The plot revolves around Alphonso Quixano,a lesser Spanish noble(hidalgo) in his fifties who after having read an excess of chivalric romances loses his sanity.He takes the name of Don Quixote, dons up an old armor and sets out on a pursuit of his own to revive chivalry.Early in his journey, he recruits a simple farmer named Sancho Panza as his squire to accompany him. Sancho is well aware of Don’s fantasies but joins him only to make some money, Quixano being rich. But as they proceed Sancho’s mental faculties fall prey to Don’s imagination.Throughout the novel, Cervantes uses realism, metatheatre and intertextuality to his advantage. The book has had the major influence on the literary community, evident by direct references in numerous other masterpieces.AndOfcourse the word ‘Quixotic’ was born.
Swann’s Way, the first part of Proust’s seven-part cycle, was published in 1913.The novel begins with tye middle-aged narrator’s memories of his happy childhood. The along the way introduces a series of unforgettable characters, among them Charles Swann, Odette, GilbertSwann, Baron de Charlus et al. At one point he feels that time is lost, beauty and meaning have faded from all he ever pursued and won. But through a series of incidents of unconscious memory, the narrator realizes that all the beauty he has experienced in the past is eternally alive. It comes as a surprise that the first volume was refused on several occasions and had to be issued eventually at the author’s expense.
The story revolves around Captain Ahab and his obsession with a huge whale, MobyDick. The whale caused the loss of Ahab’s leg years before, leaving Ahab to stomp the boards of his ship on a peg leg. Ahab is so crazed by his desire to kill the whale, that he is prepared to sacrifice everything, his life, the lives of his crew members, and even his ship. A young Ishmael, on his first whaling expedition aboard the Pequod, is the only one who survives and lives to tell the tale.
4. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
There is little debate that Shakespeare is the greatest Renaissance tragedian and Hamlet and King’s Lear are among his most read and enacted works. In the play, Prince Hamlet of Denmark is urged by his father’s Ghost to avenge his murder at the hands of the dead king’s brother,now king Claudius who also marries the king’s widow Queen Gertrude soon after his demise.Hamlet feigns madness with his family and friends, including his beloved Ophilia. The prince feels he must delay his revenge until he is certain Claudius is guilty. Compounding Hamlet’s problem is his mother, whom he loves dearly but is perplexed on whether she is involved in the conspiracy. He wants Claudius to reveal his guilt and thus arranges for a dumb-show that recreates the death plot before the latter.Polonius, Ophilia’s father is killed accidentally by Hamlet which draws the ire of Laertes who plans to avenge his father’s death.The end is tragic as Hamlet dies at the hands of Laertes after successfully poisoning Claudius, who accidentally poisons Gertrude to death. Laertes dies too. The work is arguably the most popular one on the list too.
5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Dostoevsky’s last and greatest novel The Brothers Karamazov(tl.), is both a brilliantly told crime story and a passionate philosophical debate.the dissolute landowner Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov is murdered; his sons-the atheist intellectual Ivan, the hot-blooded Dmitry, and the saintly novice Alyosha-are all at some level involved.Bound up with this intense family drama is Dostoevsky’s exploration of manly deeply felt ideas about the existence of God, the question of human freedom, the collective nature of guilt, the disastrous consequences of rationalism. The novel is also richly comic: The Russian Orthodox Church, the legal system, and the author’s beliefs are so presented that orthodoxy and radicalism, sanity and madness, love and hatred, right and wrong are no longer mutually exclusive.Dostoevsky is one among the greatest authors to have graced the human kind.And it would be unjust if one fails to mention his another masterpiece Crime and Punishment.
The divine comedy by Dante Alighieri is a famous medieval Italian poem depicting the realms of the afterlife.The divine comedy is divided into 3 separate volumes the first being Inferno(depicting hell), the second Purgatorio, and the third Paradiso.The Inferno or hell as he depicts at the earth’s center and is structured like an inverted cone. The circles become smaller as Dante(himself the narrator) proceeds and at the end of the cone are the gravest of sinners tormented by Satan himself.After the harrowing experience in hell, Dante and Virgil(his guide) enter purgatory where penitent souls endure punishment before entering heaven.Purgatory is shaped like a mountain and divided into 7 different levels associated with the seven deadly sins namely pride, envy, wrath, sloth, covetousness, gluttony and lust.He is then guided by Beatrice(his real-life love interest) to heaven which is arranged in a series of 9 spheres loosely correlating to the planets’ orbits.Music and delight characterize heaven.They meet Augustine and other Biblical saints here who teach Dante about God’s nature.
If choosing between Dostoevsky’s two masterpieces was any easy, here’s Tolstoy. And with a special mention of War and Peace here Anna Karenina makes the list.Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer Count Vronsky.Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society.Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia,the novel’s seven major characters create a dramatic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness.Beautiful, vigorous and eminently readable, Anna Karenina will be the definitive text for generations to come.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, follows Jay Gatsby, a man who orders his life around one desire: to be reunited with Daisy Buchanan, the love he lost five years earlier. Gatsby’s quest leads him from poverty to wealth, into the arms of his beloved, and eventually to death. Published in 1925, The Great Gatsby is a classic piece of American fiction. It is a novel of triumph and tragedy, noted for the remarkable way Fitzgerald captured a cross-section of American society.NickCarraway is the narrator, or storyteller, of The Great Gatsby, but he is not the story’s protagonist or main character. Instead, Jay Gatsby is the protagonist of the novel that bears his name. Tom Buchanan is the book’s antagonist, opposing Gatsby’s attempts to get what he wants: Tom’s wife Daisy.From the gold hat mentioned in the novel’s epigram to the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, The Great Gatsby is filled with things that are gold and green: the colors of money.There are two kinds of wealth in The Great Gatsby: the inherited wealth of Daisy and Tom Buchanan and the newly acquired wealth of Gatsby. The first kind comes with social standing and protects the Buchanans from punishment, as Daisy literally gets away with murder. Gatsby’s kind of wealth, though considerable, leaves its owner vulnerable.Yet another tragic tale of betraying told so beautifully.A must read for all.
9. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Revered by all of the town’s children and dreaded by all of its mothers, Huckleberry Finn is indisputably the most appealing child-hero in American literature. Unlike the tall-tale, idyllic world of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is firmly grounded in early reality. From the abusive drunkard who serves as Huckleberry’s father, to Huck’s first tentative grappling with issues of personal liberty and the unknown, Huckleberry Finn endeavors to delve quite a bit deeper into the complexities — both joyful and tragic of life.It took skipping the likes of Homer to promote Huckleberry to the top.And I’m sure you’ll second the decision made.
10 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for “offenses against morality and religion.” What shocks us today about Flaubert’s devastatingly realized tale of a young woman destroyed by the reckless pursuit of her romantic dreams is its pure artistry: the poise of its narrative structure, the opulence of its prose and its creation of a world whose minor figures are as vital as its doomed heroine. In reading Madame Bovary, one experiences a work that remains genuinely revolutionary almost a century and a half after its creation.