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!
I haven’t heard of a few of these, but they sound interesting. And I totally forgotten that I in fact had wanted to read Raw Shark Texts, so thanks for the reminder!
Oh you really should read Raw Shark Texts! It’s a great book! As are all of these. in fact.
You’re so right – I loved Heidi! Sad that she gets a little forgotten, actually. At one point in my childhood I tried to convince my parents to rename me Klara, and my sister, Heidi!
Heidi is such a great book isn’t it? I love that you tried to get your parents to rename you and your sister – but I’m a bit surprised that you wanted to be Heidi. I would definitely have chosen to be Heidi…
A Dutch author on your list! Yay! I’m Dutch, that’s why I’m happy! lol. And I agree his writing is awesome.
Is it bad that I haven’t read all of the other books on your list?
J’adore Happy Endings
Yes, it’s bad! 😉 I guess that’s exactly why I put these on my list – because they are great books and hardly anyone has read any of them. I have only read The Discovery of Heaven – I also own The Assault. Can you recommend any other of his books?
Out of these books, I was only familiar with Heidi. I’m quite intrigued about Life, a User’s Manual now.
It’s a strange but wonderful book. Different. If you’re into books without much plot and without much character development, this is a good one. I really need to read more of Perec’s books. I’m just not sure that a book written in French with no e’s in it, can be translated … and I can’t read it in French …
I’d heard of the book without any e’s, but I’d never realized it was written in French. It does seem like that would be hard to translate properly!
I haven’t read any of these books.. I actually haven’t heard of many of them. I’m ashamed, haha.
My TTT @thedailyprophecy
You have time to fix this. Go read! Seriously, these are great books and it definitely seems that this top ten list came right on time as apparently, really not many know about these books.
Um wow, these all look great and I haven’t heard of any of them. Off to goodreads! I’m especially looking forward to the last one!
Mark Helprin’s book is wonderful. I loved every page of it.
Heidi. Sigh. Thanks for reminding me how much I loved that book as a kid. My edition had amazing watercolor illustrations, and I loved all the goats.
My TTT: http://shelversanon.blogspot.com/2012/10/top-10-tuesday-top-ten-older-books-you.html
You’re right – I had indeed forgotten about Heidi yet I loved it as a child. From the adult lit world, there is a book whose title has endured far longer than the book itself – Corridors of Power by C P Snow. It dates from the mid sixties and was part of his Strangers and Brothers series. I managed to find old Penguin editions of them years ago though I have yet to get through them…..
I’ve never heard of C P Snow, this book or the series so had to google them. They do sound interesting.
Heidi I will always remember. I was given it as a Christmas present from my aunt and uncle who were celebrating Christmas Eve at our house. I sat down in a corner on the floor, and let the grownups carry on with their talk. Two hours later I was dragged out of the mountains to go to bed, but early next morning I crept back into Heidi’s world. I was about nine, and that story had simply struck the right chord at the right time. That was in the thirties; I have passed the book on to my grandchild, and in a few years I expect she will discover the treasure waiting on her shelf all by herself.
What a great story! Heidi is just such a great book and I’m surprised by how many seem to have forgotten about it yet remember it very fondly when reminded of it.