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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

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The first two novels of my trilogy, The Talismans, are not available as e-books at present, but I expect to get them back online shortly. However, I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

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The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

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The Cloak of Challiver

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Friday, 16 January 2009

100 Books everyone should read

Smurched from Bibliobibuli

100 Novels Everyone Should Read ... But Sez Who??

The Telegraph has a list of 100 novels 'everyone should read'. It seems to be in reversed order of importance - but according to whose opinion, I wonder?

But anyway, when we see a list of books we have to play the game, right? The ones I've read are bolded.

100 The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein

99 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

98 The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore

97 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

96 One Thousand and One Nights Anon

95 The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

94 Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

93 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré

92 Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (Saw the movie - does that count?)

91 The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki

90 Under the Net by Iris Murdoch

89 The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

88 Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

87 On the Road by Jack Kerouac

86 Old Goriot by Honoré de Balzac

85 The Red and the Black by Stendhal

84 The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

83 Germinal by Emile Zola

82 The Stranger by Albert Camus (Well, I read excerpts in French...)

81The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

80 Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

79 Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

78 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

77 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

76 The Trial by Franz Kafka

75 Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

74 Waiting for the Mahatma by RK Narayan

73 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque

72 Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

71 The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin

70 The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

69 If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

68 Crash by JG Ballard

67 A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul

66 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

65 Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

64 The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz

63 The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

62 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

61 My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

60 One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

59 London Fields by Martin Amis

58 The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

57 The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse

56 The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

55 Austerlitz by WG Sebald

54 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

53 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

52 The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

51 Underworld by Don DeLillo

50 Beloved by Toni Morrison

49 The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

48 Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin

47 The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

46 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

45 The Voyeur by Alain Robbe-Grillet

44 Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

43 The Rabbit books by John Updike

42 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

41 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

40 The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

39 Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

38 The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

37 The Warden by Anthony Trollope

36 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

35 Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

34 The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

33 Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

32 A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell

31 Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky

30 Atonement by Ian McEwan (Saw the film!)

29 Life: a User’s Manual by Georges Perec

28 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

27 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

26 Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

25 The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

24 Ulysses by James Joyce

23 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

22 A Passage to India by EM Forster

21 1984 by George Orwell (Saw the film...)

20 Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

19 The War of the Worlds by HG Wells

18 Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

17 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

16 Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

15 The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse

14 Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

13 David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

12 Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

11 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

10 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

9 Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

8 Disgrace by JM Coetzee

7 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

6 In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

5 Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

4 The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

3 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

2 Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

1 Middlemarch by George Eliot

Hmm - barely 30% - and to be honest I only read most of those because they were set texts for something-or-another! There are several others there that I tried to read and couldn't get farther than halfway, at best. And I have no desire to re-read any of the ones I finished, except maybe Pride and Prejudice and Bertie Wooster. And, of course, Hitchhiker's Guide!

I fear my taste in books is as plebeian as my taste in music:-)

18 comments:

Laura E. Goodin said...

Hm. I've read fewer than 25%. I confess literary novels are not my favorite pool to swim in, and there were sadly way too few genre novels on that list for MY taste, but still -- can I really be as uneducated as all that, after over 40 years of CEASELESS reading?

I find these lists depressing. No -- no, I don't. I hereby abjure and repudiate their power over me. Away, foolish lists, away! If I sail the more obscure lanes of the literary sea, the more brave, I!

Satima Flavell said...

Besides, they are put together by journos who haven't read ANY of the books on them:-)

Danny said...

Moby Dick? Reading anything by Melville is like reading ANYTHING by Tolstoy - why would you bother? You read them and realise that you've just lost hours out of your life that you'll never be able to reclaim. I've actually read around 75% of that list and to be honest I'd recommend very few of them. Orwell, absolutely. Same with Huxley (who doesn't make that list, which shows me that whoever put it together is an idiot) - 1984, Animal Farm and Brave New World are as important and vital today as they ever were - even more so actually, considering the climate of the day. Those books I always say people need to read, so off you go, I think Angus & Robbos have them out for around $2 each these days. But Jane Eyre? Please! It's crap! I hope this does offend people, but really, Bronte and Austin were just the Barbara Cartland of their era.

Heart Of Darkness, yes, and a few others, but that list looks like it was assembled by committee to impress someone. "Oh, see at how intellectual I can appear if I name drop Nabokov!" Well, dropping that name didn't do Sting any favours did it? "Pretentious wanker," we all cried at the time, "you've ruined a perfectly good song with your dickheaded lyrics pal. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da my arse! Gives us another Message In A Bottle!" And it certainly doesn't impress the girls, or boys, or sheep - whatever the preference.

Am curious, no Stephen King? You may chuckle Satima, but The Stand is an impressive book no matter how you slice it and his early period, books such as Salem's Lot and The Shining are as good as anything I've read for structure and content. Oh, hang on, he's popular and not dead. Poop!

No bloody C.S. Lewis?!? I guess they've never seen The Screwtape Letters or the modern retelling of the gospel, cleverly titled The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, or they didn't have the required page count to be counted. As we all know, the more pages the better the book (hey, I've actually read War & Peace, read it in year 12, and I wish I hadn't. Thankfully I can't remember it. It never impressed anyone though). No Bram Stoker? *coughbullshitcough*

Steinbeck? Well, yep, although Grapes of Wrath is a book in dire need of an editor. Great imagery, but it does kind of get tiresome after a while. "Fascinatingly boring," was how I described it in a book report in year 11, causing my English teacher to spit his tea onto his desk during class, to much amusement.

Nah, seriously, I abhor lists like these, especially when they're not credited to any one person, and could spend the day pulling it apart. But then that's why I predominately read non-fiction these days. And most print journo's only read their own articles, or they pore over obscure magazines in search of material to steal.

And even my mental case of a cat Klerqy knows that the only good Wuthering Heights was written by that great 20th century poet laureate, K Bush. "Heathcliff, it's me, it's Cathy and I'm caaallling oooohhhh, wooah woooah woooooaaahhh"

Satima Flavell said...

Heh heh - even better was a send up of the song and the novel that kept cropping up in a comedy show on TV in the seventies (might've been Dave Allen, but don't count on it) which depicted Heathcliffe and Cathy chasing each other about the Yorkshire Moors, never quite catching up and getting into scrapes every time.

Yup, litrachure is, if nothing else, fertile ground for comment and comedy!

Jo said...

We could make our own lists of 100 which would be equally impressive and erudite, but someone else wouldn't agree with a lot of the choices. I think its all a matter of personal preference. I guess I didn't do very well with this list although I too had seen some of the movies.

Graham Clements said...

I've read ten of them, some of them by choice. Only one Australian on the list (Peter Carey), or did I miss someone?

I have always wondered what the fuss about 100 years of solitude was. I have read many better fantasy novels. It reminded me of a film I watched late one night at uni (whether I was stoned or drunk, I can't remember) where the leader of a popular revolution, lets call him Georgio Bushio, installs himself as absolute dictator. He is overthrown by Tonio Blario who then declares himself absolute dictator and is subsequently overthrown by Johnnie Hunt. Maybe it was an adapted film version of a 100 years. For me, the novel had the not too subtle message that ignorate people are doomed to repeat their mistakes. Especially people who sit it corners refusing to speak to anyone. So what was the fuss about.

The same goes for the Great Gatsby. But I read that when I was about twelve in high school so I probably missed any messages or themes. I might read it again, after I've finished the 600 or so novels sitting in my bookshelves that are unread.

Interestingly, I watched a doco on the writer of 100 years and he said that when he decided to become a writer he went and read as many of the classics as he could, and learnt very little. He said he learnt more from reading what was current. I wonder if he or the people who gave him the nobel prize had ever read any fantasy before hand.

Graham.

Satima Flavell said...

If you call fantasy "magical realism" and have it shelved in the shops as "literature" it might well win awards and gain fame and fortune for its writer. However, since such stuff is often written by pretentious twits who refuse to read real fantasy, most fantasy fans will see through the ruse at once and classify it as "bad fantasy":-) I think you're right, Jo: it all gets a bit precious and one person's list is as good as another's, when all's said and done.

Marilyn Z. Tomlins said...

Satima --

Glad to see they've got Dr. Zhivago there!

Marilyn

Juliet said...

Did the covering article say why we should read these in particular?

I've read quite a few of them (including the Stendhal in French, which should get me lots of points, but probably doesn't count because it was for uni.) I wonder if it's meant to be a broadly representative list of literary fiction (is Hitchhiker's Guide literary fiction?) rather than a 'best' list. If we're going to be literary, I'd have to add Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and just about anything by Jose Saramago, probably the deceptively titled The History of the Siege of Lisbon.

I much prefer personal lists. This one seems a bit like 'reading because it's good for you, like a cold shower' rather than 'reading because you love to read.'

Satima Flavell said...

You know, Marilyn, I think some of those books made better movies than reading matter. And I agree, Juliet; all very Good for You, like cod-liver oil, but you wouldn't take CLO for fun, would you?

Hey guys, how about we do a blog chain one day, each listing our fave books? Mind you, I've tried before and it was tha same with books as it was with music - too many favourites and too many authors and genres to list in any meaningful way.

Jo said...

Don't think I could select 100 favourites, I have so many I love. As mentioned on Glenda's site, I still have all my Georgette Heyer romances which, whilst light reading, are among my most favourites. My nomination for one of the best books of the 20th Century was Shogun by James Clavell. But there are lots and lots and lots of others. As Laura said after (in my case) over 50 years of CEASLESS reading there's a lot of stuff I have covered.

Gabriele C. said...

I read about 80% of those and liked most of them. But my reading tastes have always been very eclectic, and my shelves puzzle most visitors. :)

Satima Flavell said...

Eighty per cent, Gabriele? Wow! If there were prizes you'd have won one, for sure:-) You're a better reader than I am. Gabri-din!

Jo, I regret to say that I haven't read any GH for years, but I did enjoy her when I was younger, I loved Shogun as well - or was it another one by Clavell, about a man in Japan who somehow got stuck there because when he tried to leave they burnt his ship. Anyway, it was a ripping read:-) After 62 years of reading (no kidding!) I have trouble sorting Adams from Zelazny and everyone in between!

Jo said...

Yes that was Shogun where they burned his ship. The story was actually based on fact and the pilot in question was a man from where we used to live in Kent. There is a memorial there. His name was Will Adams. I have read the book several times, I think it is such a great story and well written.

62 years, I guess I can claim 65 I know I was reading at 5, possibly before.

Annette Lyon said...

Interesting list. I would have expected a lot of different ones to be on it that weren't. I've read roughly the same number you have (although probably half are different). Liked some. Hated some. Adored others. Just the other day my daughter asked me to name my top 3 favorite books. Could't do it!

Satima Flavell said...

If you're like me, Annette, your favourites probably change year to year, or at least decade by decade. Even so, I'm hard put to name a top ten at any given time!

Jo, you and I are are old enough to have read a huge variety of books and to have seen styles change dramatically over the years. Stuff I loved as a child would not get published now - the old omnicient, head-hopping, intrusive-author style drives me nuts when I read it today. But OTOH, stuff that's being written now would not have been acceptable back then, either. Especially the amount of sex that you find now, even in YA books. Autre temps, autres mores.

Thanks for clearing ne up on Shogun. I shall have to read it again.

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