Saturday, 18 April 2009

Top 5 Books

Could do top 10... probably won't. There's enough words as it is.

5. The Just So Stories - Rudyard Kipling

Intended to explain the questions children ask such as 'How the Camel Got His Hump' and 'How the Leopard Got His Spots', these beautifully written short stories are a very memorable piece of my childhood. They're appealing to children especially because of the rhythm of the words: anyone who's read them will be able to recite the 'great grey-green greasy limpopo river (all set about with fever trees)'. You'll remember them, because they're fantastic. Every child should have these stories read to them. They mean even more to me now than they did when I first heard them. Click here to read them for yourself.

4. Trainspotting - Irving Welsh

I've yet to see the film (rubbish I know) but the book, I can tell you, is bloody magnificent. It was described by Rebel Inc as "The best book ever written by man or woman". It's written in a Scottish dialect, so it takes a bit of getting used to, but it's completely worth it, and once you're over the shock of reading something that doesn't conform to spelling and grammar you can clearly see why Irving Welsh wrote it like that, and why the man should be considered a genius of language.

3. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

This book is a must-read for everyone during their teens. I'm going to force my children to read it on their 13th birthday. It's a definite coming of age book, but it resonates to all ages. I have a different opinion of Holden Caufield every time I read it, so I think I'll try it again and see what I think this time. Read it. Read it. Read it... read it, motherfuckers.

2. High Fidelity - Nick Hornby

All-time top-five favourite things about High Fidelity? 5. The awesome film, which completely does the book justice (but could have been a little more true to the book). 4. The difference of the characters, which let you know that even though you're being told everything from the narrator's perspective, he's actually a bit of an idiot. 3. The completely human aspect of the narrator - I believe this man is real, or at least, that I'm reading Nick Hornby's diary. 2. The constant music references, and piss-taking of music snobbery. 1. The lists. How I love them.

1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

(That especially includes Through the Looking-glass!) I honestly think that without this book, and in fact most books on this list, that I wouldn't be doing an English Literature degree. Literature would be so much poorer without this book, and so would our culture. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland beautifully epitomises everything that is eccentrically English. I love this book beyond words. Everyone knows the story, or most of it, but if you haven't read it I really would urge you to because there's so much you can miss out on that isn't well known. The poems alone are just fantastic.

"Then fill up the glasses as quick as you can,
And sprinkle the table with buttons and bran:
Put cats in the coffee, and mice in the tea-
And welcome Queen Alice
with thirty-times-three!


Then fill up the glasses with treacle and inc,
Or anything else that is pleasant to drink;
Mix sand with the cider, and wool with the wine-
And welcome Queen Alice
with ninety-times-nine!"

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