All-Time Favourite Books &nbsp (UPDATED)

Author Comments: 

In very approximate order.
The dates shown are the dates first read.
Most recent updates in blue text.

Most Recent addition(s) : These two have deservedly gone right up near the top.

The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck &nbsp (finished 01-Feb). &nbsp Excellent. &nbsp Rating: 5 out of 5.
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy &nbsp (finished 30-March). &nbsp Excellent. &nbsp Rating: 5 out of 5.

By the same authors above I have also read:

- Homer's The Iliad
- a dozen (or more) Hermann Hesse novels
- a dozen (or more) Robert Silverberg novels
- a half dozen Robert Heinlein novels
- the complete Gormenghast trilogy (though only the second book makes this list)

plus two or three each of:

- Arthur C. Clarke
- Thomas M. Disch
- William Hope Hodgson
- Theodore Sturgeon
- James Herbert

but again only the above make the list.

Honourable mentions also for a few others:

Robert Silverberg - Those Who Watch
George R. Stewart - Earth Abides
Mark Twain (Sam Clemens) - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Marion Zimmer Bradley - The Mists Of Avalon
Frank Herbert - Dune
J.R.R. Tolkien - Lord Of The Rings

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I watched the (magical) movie of 'The Outsiders' on satellite TV yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, which includes a cameo performance by the author S. E. Hinton - one of my favourite movies as well as one of my favourite books.

Added 'Lord Valentine's Castle' by Robert Silverberg - a favourite author of mine.

Kudos for the inclusion of Bester's The Stars My Destination, a book which I have long maintained is the blueprint for almost all scifi-outer-space-dark-hero movies. Also, it pains me Dorian Gray is so often overlooked in best-of lists.

Btw, why Gormenghast rather than Titus Groan?

I read Bester's The Stars My Destination last year for the first time - excellent, fast paced.

I always suspect that some people are homophobic about Wilde, but I'm probably wrong.

Gormenghast because of Steerpike.

If you like a dark-hero, then I can recommend &nbsp The Star Rover by Jack London &nbsp (not outer space sci-fi). London is better known for novels such as 'White Fang', 'Call Of The Wild', and 'The Sea Wolf', this is a
sci-fi/fantasy story first published in 1915. &nbsp The narrator tells his story of a harrowing time in a prison cell, suffering continual torture, awating the death penalty, he only survives through an emotive and amazingly described journey through time and space.

Note that none of my top seven are sci-fi or fantasy, this I list in eighth position.

Thanks for the recommendation. I've added it to my To be Read list.

Oh, I see you liked 'Gormenghast'. I plan to read it next. What is it about?

The &nbsp Gormenghast &nbsp on my list is the second book in the Gormenghast trilogy, but you MUST start with the first book (Titus Groan) which is also excellent, although the third (Titus Alone) is a little disappointing and can be missed (as did the TV show - see below). Click on the links to find a cross section of reviews and comments by readers which I could not improve upon.

Mervyn Peake has been likened to Tolkien and Dickens. The books are gothic fantasy. Gormenghast is a castle ruled by an Earl, and Titus is its heir. The story is OK but the storytelling of Peake is captivating and magical. Kitchen-boy Steerpike is a triumph, mostly prominent in the second book, one of &nbsp my all-time favourite literary characters, and why I list the second book amongst my favourites.

The &nbsp BBC made a serial &nbsp based on the (first two) books, and whilst the TV shows captured the wierdness of the characters, it did not (could not) reproduce Peake's mastery of the written word (IMHO).

I have now finished The Catcher in the Rye. Truly amazing!

Amazing is exactly the word I used also.

I don't recall - was it you that added 'The Outsiders' to your list to read ?

No, that's wasn't me. :)

The author (S. E. Hinton) wrote 'The Outsiders' when she was just 17.
It was made into a great film with the most amazing cast and directed by Francis Ford Copola.
She also wrote:

'Rumble Fish' - made into a film starring Matt Dillon (and Mickey Rourke) and directed by Copola,
'Tex' - made into a film starring Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez and Meg Tilley, and
'That Was Then, This Is Now' - made into a film starring Emilio Estevez.

OK, I think I'll have a closer look at it, as soon as possible. Thanks.

I missed out why I mentioned The Outsiders - because it has been likened to Catcher In The Rye by some. I don't see any similarities myself, except that I loved both.

Me too! Lastly, I read it in one shot, 8 hours in a row, until 4:00AM! The psychology of the main character is so well developped, her little sister too (even if she has a short part). It's my second favorite book of all-time (The Little Prince is still first, I know I'm kitsch). I read the french translated version, but I like so much that one day I will try to read the original.

For the list, I've only "The Catcher In The Rye" and "Dune". I will probably read soon "The Picture of Dorian Gray", because I've read "The Nightingale and the Rose" from Wilde and I like it.

Any fan of Catcher In The Rye might like to consider
Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke.
See my review.

I didn't even knew Ethan Hawke write a book!
I've read your review and the Amazon plot.
It pricks my curiosity...

Don't take just my word for it - read also the other Amazon reviewer's comments. Consider it perhaps as a sequel to CITR.
Add your name here.

The text of the book online: &nbsp The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde .
Save it and savour it.

You are the only person I know who claims to have read Hodgeson's The Night Land. I gave it a hearty try once, but it didn't appeal - although the synopsis of it I read first made it sound spookily attractive. I have read H's much shorter novel The House on the Borderland, which I can recommend.

I most certainly have read it and it is the most magnificent story. Some of the reviewers (in my link) complain that whilst it is a great book it is also poorly written and repetitive, but I prefer to call it a very stylised writing, no more difficult to read than Shakespeare or the verse of Chaucer or Homer. And of course you must suspend disbelief before reading any fantasy or horror (and many fiction) novels. The version I have is a single-volume edition printed by Sphere in the UK in 1979, 419 pages. I was turned onto Hodgson by the fact that H.P.Lovecraft quoted him as an influence, and I have to say that Hodgson is at least equally as good. (I have also read a couple of works from Lord Dunsany, another Lovecraft influence). The story of The Night Land will never leave you.

I later read The House on the Borderland which was particularly haunting. Later still I read &nbsp Carnacki - The Ghost Finder, and whilst also excellent it was not as good as The Night Land or The House on the Borderland.

You may note from the above that I preferred The Night Land to The Lord of the Rings. The Night Land could easily have been even higher on my list than it is (perhaps above Gormenghast).

For any budding film-makers out there (and I know there are some), The Night Land could make a fabulous film (although perhaps 'Pitch Black' already stole the idea).

Something else occurred to me about The Night Land. The real meat of the story starts in the fifth chapter ('Into The Night Land') after he leaves the pyramid, so it is possible that you gave up too soon.

Recently I read something very interesting about The Catcher in the Rye:
Opening Lines of The Catcher in the Rye:
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

Opening line of David Copperfield:
I was born with a caul...

Did you know that?

P.S.: 2 other interesting facts about this great novel:
- After having written the book, J.D. Salinger had similar problems with his son as Holden's parents have with Holden.
- Till today nobody knows under which circumstances this book was written. Some say that Salinger wrote it during the Second World War on the back seat of an Army Jeep.

The opening lines to The Catcher in the Rye are certainly very memorable. I didn't know about his son, but I did know that he was a very private man and wouldn't talk about his work.