This is my favorite meme – it’s the only one I participate in… I haven’t participated for long but each week I’m looking forward to creating a top ten list based on the subject for the week. I don’t have much time to explore the many many participants but I try to read some new blogs every week to read other people’s take on the subject. As always, the meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and usually, has more than 200 people taking part. So if you haven’t already, go check out some of the other people’s top ten lists.
This week is a rather tough subject, I think. Most classics are not close to be forgotten so you have to find some that are maybe not Classics with capital C or maybe not so old or … I mean, there’s no chance that Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre or David Copperfield will ever be forgotten. The other thing is that even though a book is not mentioned on the blogs I frequent or by my Goodreads friends, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s forgotten. The only thing I really know is, that I don’t hear other people talking all that much about it.
So I have had to give my list a lot of thought – and here it is… Quite a varied list, I think. Not quite ten – but sometimes you can’t force a top ten list to be completed…!
- Johanne Spyri: Heidi. When people talk about children books, they talk about A Little Princess or The Secret Garden, they rave about Charlotte’s Web and various books by Roald Dahl – but I never see anyone talking about Heidi. Heidi is a book about an orphan girl who comes to live with her grandfather in the Swiss alps and later becomes a companion for a sick girl who is sitting in a wheel chair. It’s a wonderful children’s books and there’s a series of books about Heidi, the first one being the best however. It may be that Heidi is more of an European book, read by European readers – but it’s a great book and deserves to have a wide audience.
- Clifford Chase: Winkie. Ted is a popular movie. Winkie is it’s literary predecessor – in some ways. At least, both have teddybears as their main protagonist. However, Winkie is a commentary on politics and how evidence doesn’t always matter, if you are believed to be guilty. This is part Velveteen Rabbit, part The Trial by Kafka – and I’ve never met anyone who’ve read it!
- Georges Perec: Life – a User’s Manual. This book is on the 1001 books you must read before you die list, I really liked it when I read – and it’s definitely not for everyone. Perec was an amazing author who experimented a lot. For instance, he wrote a book where he didn’t use the letter ‘e’. This one is less experimental but is still a bit different from most books. The book is based on the lives of the people living in a (fictitious) Parisian apartment block. It’s a huge books and it’s not a novel, maybe more like several novels. Just writing about it makes me want to read it again. But – not many people have read it, I think, and more people should.
- Steven Hall: The Raw Shark Texts. Another book that really plays with words and with the novel as a medium. The book is about a man who wakes up choking in your living room and realizes you have no idea who you are. And then, you find a letter from yourself to you, telling you to call your shrink and including a picture of your car so you know which one it is … And then you just start receiving letter after letter, letting you know how to survive – because something is after you. This is a clever novel in so many ways – it’s a debut novel and it’s really, really good.
- Sarah Hall: How to Paint a Dead Man. A beautiful, but melancholic book about art, love, loss, death … We follow the lives of four very different people – a painter, a blind girl, an art curator and a landscape artist – as they twist and sometimes intertwine across five decades. Such a beautiful novel. I don’t think it got the recognition it deserved. I loved it!
- Harry Mulisch: The Discovery of Heaven. Harry Mulisch is a Dutch author who I got recommended when I visited Amsterdam a couple of years ago. And I loved this novel! It’s such a huge story that deals with philosophy, religion, art, politics, world war II and so much much more. And at the same time, it’s so exciting and you just want to read and read to find out what happens.
- David Leavitt: The Lost Language of Cranes. Even though this book is on the 1001 books you must read before you die list, it’s not a well-know book. At least, I have only heard of it because of the list and the only people I’ve seen reading it, were the ones that read it for the 1001 book group on Goodreads… But it’s really a good book. It’s a book about relationships in families and between friends – but also a book about how it’s sometimes easier to share your innermost feelings and longings with strangers. It’s also a book about being gay and coming out. I’m still not sure about what the title means but the novel made a huge impression on me and I wrote quite a bit about it when I read it and one of the impressions I came away with, was that the author tried to show the different faces of being gay and in some ways, the history of being gay, how the attitude towards gays has changed. At the same time, it’s a at times heart breaking story about a middleaged couple and their son.
- Mark Helprin: Winter’s Tale. This is a beautiful, lyrical, poetic, fairytale like book. Set in a mythic and fictionalized New York City, the burglar Peter Lake meets and falls in love with Beverly Penn, a rich heiress. Their love gives meaning to Peter Lake’s life, a life so fantastic and amazing that it’s hard to believe, yet it makes perfect sense in the book. Peter Lake is guarded by a huge, beautiful white horse called Athansor. Every scene featuring Athansor is beautiful, heartbreaking and touching. The book has so much to offer, not only gorgeous writing but also it looks at things like free will and determinism and the question of time. It’s just a gorgeous novel!