I’ve been taking a break from Top Ten Tuesday, in part because I haven’t been blogging, but also because the topics haven’t felt right for me or my blog. At times, the topics are very ya focused and I don’t read a lot of ya so these topics don’t speak that much to me. However, this Tuesday the theme is authors who deserve more recognition and I love that. I like being giving the opportunity to praise authors whom I love but nobody else does (it’s a bit silly since I can praise them every day on this blog but nevermind. Today is the day.) As always, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Joyce Carol Oates. I know Joyce Carol Oates might seem like a odd choice but for some reason, it seems to me that she is not regarded as highly as her (male) colleagues John Updike, Philip Roth and others. I don’t know if this is in any way gender related and I’m not going to claim that’s why but I do think it’s wrong that she’s not mentioned when people talk about the Nobel prize for instance – like Roth is every year. I’m not saying Roth doesn’t deserve the praise – he blows me away when I read him – but I love Oates and she deserves just as much praise and as many accolades.
Georges Perec. I’ve only read Life – a User’s Manual by Perec and it’s a strange novel, detailing the lives of the people living in an apartment building in Paris. I loved it so much. Perec has both written a novel without using the letter ‘e’ and a novel where ‘e’ is the only vowel used. I really want to read more by him because he’s is such a strange and fascinating author and I definitely think he deserves a lot more recognition while at the same time I admit that he’s not for everyone.
Mark Helprin. Maybe I am speaking more for the recognition of the novel Winter’s Tale than Mark Helprin. Winter’s Tale is just such an amazingly wonderful and lyrical novel that is simply an experience I would hate to have been without. I don’t know much about Mark Helprin otherwise – I think maybe he’s a Republican Governor or something but this is not felt in his work. And I appreciate that. Too much politic can ruin a novel. I found this book unread in a secondhand bookstore and I had never heard of the book or author before that so I want to encourage everyone to read this one.
Félix J. Palma. For a wild ride, Palma is your guy. Light sci fi elements, fictional and real characters co-mingling, great story telling. The Map of Time lived completely up to my expectations and was just such a great thrilling ride. I can’t wait to read the follow up novel, The Map of the Sky.
Donna Tartt. Donna Tartt is a very slow writer who have only published two books so far (the third one coming out later this year). I’ve read both The Secret History and The Little Friend and really enjoyed them both. I’m really looking forward to her next novel and hopes that it is as great as the first two. So please try her out.
Jack Vance. I see a lot of readers and bloggers enjoying retelling of fairy tales and for people who enjoys these, Vance’s Lyonesse series is one not to miss. It’s a wonderful wonderful series of three novels with princes and princesses, lost lovers, lost children, fairies, wars, intrigue and everything a fairy tale lover enjoys. It’s really a beautiful book, all three volumes of it, and I loved it. Vance is also a sci fi writer and I really want to explore these as well.
Steven Hall. Hall is the author of one novel, I think, The Raw Shark Texts which is an incredibly imaginative novel about a man who has lost his memory but keeps receiving letters from himself. A man on the run from a mysterious word shark – who even appears on the pages. A book that plays with both the story and the way it’s told in ways which resembles the ways Jonathan Safran Foer plays. Highly, highly recommended.
So that was 7 authors you should give some love. Finally, three authors I need to read more. Authors, that for some reason or other I don’t read enough.
Gabriel García Márquez. I loved Love in the Time of Cholera and have bought One Hundred Years of Solitude. But I haven’t read any else. And I can’t explain why. So he’s on my list of authors I need to dedicate more time too.
Margaret Atwood. I have read and loved two of Atwood’s books, Alias Graceand The Handmaid’s Tale. But for some reason, even though the blurbs to her books always sound fascinating, I never get around to actually reading more by her. I really, really need to do so!
José Saramago. I looooved Blindness. I really really did. It was such a great novel. Since I have been keeping an eye out for Saramago, adding titles to my wish list – but I haven’t bought or read another novel by him. I need to fix that too!
So that was my Top Ten for this week. Have I convinced you to read any of them? Do you agree with me about the authors I need to pay more attention to? (Don’t worry – the list doesn’t stop there…!)
Fourth week in a row participating in the Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! I’m having so much fun with these Top Ten lists still so even though I found this week’s theme a hard one, I’m still game. Apparently, books don’t make me think. At least not when I’m put on the spot and told to come up with a list of 10 who did. So this has actually taken a bit of effort to come up with 10.
Well, I could have taken the easy way out and just written a list of books I read when I studied for my Master’s Degree in Philosophy, but to me that felt like cheating. I mean, of course reading Locke, Heidegger, Sartre, Plato will make you think! But to me, the challenge lies in coming up with 10 novels that made you think. Non-fiction, all non-fiction, tend to make you ponder it’s subject but not all fiction do – so here’s ten novels, that has made me think.
Here’s my list:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun. This novel taught me about a country and a war I had never heard of: Biafra and the Nigeria-Biafra war 1967-70. This is a book about what life is like when you live in war times – how life in some ways are just the same and in other ways, very very different. I think books about war often make you think because it often shows what it means to be human, both good and bad, and you question what you would do if you were put in the same situations and had to struggle for your survival.
Agatha Christie: And Then There Was None. This is crime fiction and I guess the nature of crime fiction is to make it’s reader think when we try to figure out who the killer is. I know who the killer is in this one – it’s my favorite Agatha Christie novel and I’ve read it several times so now, when I read it, I try to figure out what clues she drops along the way and if it’s possible to figure out who kills them all. Especially, since every person on the island end up dead…
Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections. This was one of these books that just hit close to home. It’s a book about an elderly couple, Alfred and Enid. Alfred is suffering from beginning Alzheimer’s and Enid is struggling to get their children to come home for one last christmas. For me, this really made me think about my own family, my father having been ill for most of my life and my mother struggling to keep everyone happy and keeping up appearances. My review here.
Georges Perec: Life, a User’s Manual. This is a strange book. It’s about all the people who live in an apartment building and how their lives overlap, how the thing uniting them all is this building. It’s about what makes life life. It’s not a book for everyone – but I love it. It made me think just to be able to get it – and it made me think about how our lives are made up of tiny details as well as huge events. I read it 5 years ago – I really need to read it again!
Jodi Picoult: My Sister’s Keeper. Well, this is what Picoult does, isn’t it? She writes novels that makes you think. This one really grasps at the heart strings of any parent. How far would you go to save your child if she’s sick? Would you have another child and use her to get the things your first child need to survive?
Kurt Vonnegut: Slaugherhouse-Five. It’s been 4 years since I read this and I really liked it. I saw it as a discussion of free will v. determinism – among other things – and that always fascinates me.
Will Self: How the Dead Live. This book made me think because I just didn’t get it. I felt it was really difficult to follow and really understand what it was that Will Self wanted with it – but even though it’s been 4 years since I read it, I keep thinking about it from time to time. I’ve since read that Self doesn’t write books for readers and I can believe that! Still, Self is on a quest to find and write the truth and he doesn’t believe that it can be found in conventional linear structure. I don’t necessarily get what he intends – but it makes me think. I need to read more of his novels!
Steven Hall: The Raw Shark Texts. Say the title out loud and you get the first clue that this is a special book. This is a book which toys with the idea of what a book can do. This is a book where the protagonist keeps finding letters written by his former self, trying to explain why he’s been chased by a word shark and almost drowning in his living room… This is a highly original book! And it really makes you think about what makes a book and stop fearing about the future of books!
The same can be said about Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. An amazing book about how a young boy deals with loosing his father in the 9-11 attacks. Foer does things in this novel that I at least haven’t seen before. My review here.
John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath. I loved this book! It’s just such an amazing book, although very depressing. The Grapes of Wrath is sadly becoming very current at the moment with the economical crisis. Both then and now, people borrowed money from the bank and lost their homes. This is a story of one of those families and how much they have to endure to try and find a way to survive. But it’s also a book about how people sometimes help each other when they are struggling and sometimes do even more than can be expected. Again, it’s a book about what it means to be a human being.
I thought this would be a hard list to make but actually, doesn’t most books make you think in one way or other? Isn’t that why we read? To learn about the world, to know more about how other people think and feel and live. When I look at the books I’ve read, a lot of them could be put on this list. I’ve chosen mostly books from before I started blogging to give them their due, both well-known and lesser known books. And I could have made the list much longer. These ten made me think, yes, but they are not necessarily the ten who made me think the most. Because how do you determine that? Almost every book makes you think – that’s the wonder and beauty of books.