What are the greatest books you've ever read ?
Gone - a 7 book series by Michael Grant
It's a teen fiction book that is really well written. The words just capture you and the characters are really well thought out. The plot is great as well.
A Monster calls - Patrick Ness
Beautifully sad and dark story. Well written and really gets you attached the the characters. I love the psychological side to it, can really show people that kids have more complex minds than meets the eye.
A Natural History of Dragons - Marie Brennan
Different style of story. Very interesting writing style and the story is good. Written in the style of Memoires in a world where dragons exist. It's a great fantasy book.
I like a lot more books as well but these are my top choices.
If my wife were answering this there would be three classic and highly respected novels listed. Alas I don't have her class.
I'm voting based on books that impacted by life. It doesn't necessarily mean they're the best written or that they're genius.
1) Future Shock, Alvin Toffler - I read this as a teen and had never considered different perspectives on time based on differing cultures, professions, age ranges, etc. I credit it with launcing my education toward studies in sociology, and with giving me part of the idea on which I wrote my communications masters thesis in grad school.
2) The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan - Expose's on the food industry go way back (ie The Jungle, Upton Sinclair) but this book lead a modern trend to revisit that and look deeper and it's quite the stunning revelation on how sick the modern USA agricultural practices and policies have become. You'll change your diet, at least for a while, if you read this.
3) Color: A Natural Hitory of the Palette, Victoria Finlay - This would only appeal to you if you're into history and ever attempted a go at fine art painting and drawing. This launched an appreciation for pigments and their history which heralded a 7 year stretch of my life when I drew and painted over 500 projects. Even years later, after not making art for a while, I find little stories from this book pop up relevant when I'm talking to friends or coworkers about toxicities from lead, mercury, cadmium, or how emerald green paint may have contributed to deaths of major figures of history.
Yes, these are all nonfiction. I've read fiction, too, but they just don't seem to move me as much as practical information about the world around me.
Thanks for that list Grenache your wife has class 👌
I read future shock a long time ado and loved it , The omnivores Dilemma I've never read but it sounds fascinating I remember reading Sinclair jungle and the impact it had on me .
I've read color a great book , I work full time as an artist nowadays mainly in watercolour and show my work in several galleries over here so this book was a must .
Well, I'll keep the list short for now.
Journey through Genius; The Great Theorems of mathematics
It's fully accessible to anyone who understands upto basic high school maths. The author tells about some of the important theorems and their histories.
Logicomix; In the search for truth
This is the story of Bertrand Russell, a central figure in founding of analytic philosophy and one of the greatest logicians (also, an atheist).
On Writing (by Stephen King)
More than just a writing manual, it's like the collection of the author's personal memoirs on the topic. A great book for anyone interested on the topic.
Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
I believe it can go without an introduction.
The Man who was Thursday
As a novel, it was very well-written. I'd like to tell about the storyline, but I won't consider it as complete enough without including the major climax, and that might spoil the fun should you decide to read it.
Those are, so far, the only books I've given a 5-star rating. (I also like many of the mangas, though.)
Of those I'm reading right now, Trump; Art of the Deal is worth a 4-star. He is pretty good at negotiations, and you'll find him refreshing if you feel bored by those like the chimp making inflated claims for their skills.
Great list Jatin , journey through Theorems Ive not read but I may as i find the subject fascinating , I read a book a couple of years ago on the solving of Fermats last theorem utterly fascinating read .
Have you read .....
The Man Who Knew Infinity : Life of the Genius Ramanujan
In 1913 an Indian clerk wrote a letter to G H Hardy, begging the pre-eminent English mathematician's opinion on several ideas he had about numbers. Realising the letter was the work of a genius, Hardy arranged for Srinivasa Ramanujan to come to England. Thus began one of the most improbable and productive collaborations ever chronicled. With a passion for rich and evocative detail, Robert Kanigel takes us from the temples and slums of Madras to the courts and chapels of Cambridge University, where the devout Hindu Ramanujan, 'the Prince of Intuition,' tested his brilliant theories alongside the sophisticated and eccentric Hardy, 'the Apostle of Proof'. In time, Ramanujan's creative intensity took its toll: he died at the age of thirty-two and left behind a magical and inspired legacy that is still being plumbed for its secrets today.
Looks interesting I like graphic books I've read a fair bit on Russell a brilliant and original thinker
On writing by King i've not read , the gospel ... of course 👌
The man who was Thursday I read a long time ago I agree with your assessment .
I'm a manga fan also , Trump might be a bridge too far for me and maybe the chimp will supprise us with his choices 🙀
journey through Theorems Ive not read but I may as i find the subject fascinating ,
Also, proofs (forgot to mention there). It's rather accessible, though, even for anyone understanding middle school maths.
The Man Who Knew Infinity : Life of the Genius Ramanujan
It was supposed to be on my reading list... I guess I'd forgotten about it.
I'll be reading it later.
Looks interesting I like graphic books I've read a fair bit on Russell a brilliant and original thinker
I'm also reading Action Philosophers! right now, but it'll probably end up with 4-stars from me. Many good books fall short of being great, apparently.
Trump might be a bridge too far for me
I don't think so... The book is rather accessible (though I wouldn't have minded much if it wasn't). He's a persuasive man with something between a twisted honour code and a marginal intellect - the perfect combination to have become the president.
maybe the chimp will supprise us with his choices
If, at this level of activity, he stays similarly idiotic for about 1-2 more weeks, it'd be established beyond reasonable doubt (and under some generic premises) that he isn't putting up an act.
So, with that, you can check whether him surprising us is probable enough to take into account.
Hmm... "greatest" is quite open-ended and I like that.
Arguably a book is "great" if it stands the test of time, if it lingers in the memory, if it's well-written, if it's strikingly original, if it's a very long, involved and complicated work, if it sets a precedent for other books in the genre, etc.
Unfortunately whilst I have read a lot of books in my life and loved most of them, I don't think they meet the criteria for greatness.
The books I've listed below are great in my opinion.
A Song of Ice and Fire - A complicated and compelling fantasy landscape of political schemes interwoven with intriguing and amoral characters. I think it should be considered an Iliad-style epic for the modern age. It's extremely long (some of its books span over 1,000 pages) but it never lets up on its fantastic world building and distinct characterisation. It has also led the way for many more modern fantasy novels, which are beginning to move away from the tropes of dark forces and focusing on civilisation and political struggle.
Around the World in Eighty Days - This is one of my favourite "classic" novels. Despite the fact it was written 150 years ago, and the world of Verne is so different from the modern day, it's surprisingly easy to use the prose to step back into a bygone age of Victorian colonisation. Some of it jars a little with the modern reader, especially the British imperial view of other cultures, but I do think it's great literature. What's more, the character of Phileas Fogg has lived on in popular culture (and was even used as a brand in a line of British snacks... but whether or not that makes the book great is another matter!)
The Little Prince - Can such a short book count as great? I think so. It's simplistic and childlike in nature but is evocative and original. It defies genre, which I love, and despite people seeing it as a children's book, it isn't. In a way, it's more of a fable.
His Dark Materials - People see this one as a children's book too, but it's deeper than that. Philosophy, religion and sexual awakening are all themes explored within the series, so whilst a child will enjoy it, an adult will too. It's one of those books I read when I was young and revisited as an adult, and it's amazing to see how much extra you get out of it on a second reading. The world is richly imagined, and whilst I think the series falters after the first book it goes on to produce a satisfying conclusion.
Good choice! That's my favourite too. I do love His Dark Materials for the escapism, but I think Around the World in Eighty Days is the better written novel.
I would also have put Journey to the Centre of the Earth on the list but whilst I love the story, I think it's stood the test of time less well. It's fantastical, but Verne aims to be as convincing as possible. Yet the more analytic part of me kept picking holes in it because of the nineteenth century scientific ideas. It's still one of my favourite books, but I don't think it deserves to make the list.
Also, Verne travelled. It's what makes Around the World in Eighty Days so interesting; while he never went to all these places, it feels like he did, and it's fascinating seeing the world through fresh Victorian eyes.
I would recommend A Song of Ice and Fire although it takes a fair amount of commitment to get through it and it's a little gratuitous with regards to the amount of sex, violence and swearing. It's certainly not romanticised fantasy like Lord of the Rings sometimes appears to be.
My top three books ..........
I've read this book several times it's a riveting read and describes the hellish life of the working classes in England in the 1900 's
The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
first published in 1914 after his death in 1911. An explicitly political work, it is widely regarded as a classic of working-class literature. It was placed seventy-second in the 2003 The Big Read survey conducted by the BBC.
Clearly frustrated at the refusal of his contemporaries to recognise the inequity and iniquity of society, Tressell's cast of hypocritical Christians, exploitative capitalists and corrupt councillors provide a backdrop for his main target — the workers who think that a better life is "not for the likes of them". Hence the title of the book; Tressell paints the workers as "philanthropists" who throw themselves into back-breaking work for poverty wages in order to generate profit for their masters.
The hero of the book, Frank Owen, is a socialist who believes that the capitalist system is the real source of the poverty he sees all around him. In vain he tries to convince his fellow workers of his world view, but finds that their education has trained them to distrust their own thoughts and to rely on those of their "betters". Much of the book consists of conversations between Owen and the others, or more often of lectures by Owen in the face of their jeering; this was presumably based on Tressell's own experiences.
The discoverie of withchcraft .... by Reginald Scot ....written 1584
As a former magician / mentalist and psychic this book is fascinating as it is the first expose of the simple tricks used by witches , charlatans and chancers in ancient times and still used to this day .
I read this in my teens and it set me on my path of scepticism regarding claims made by mystics , God men and psychic fraudsters .
In 1584, Reginald Scot – a country gentleman and MP from Kent – published The discoverie of witchcraft, a sceptical treatise recording and debunking popular and scholarly beliefs about witchcraft, magic and other superstitions. Scot argued that belief in magic was both irrational and un-Christian. He suggested non-magical reasons and causes for both magical phenomena and accusations of witchcraft. These included psychological and sociological causes. For example, Scot argued that the social tension and guilt felt by those who denied charity to poor women sometimes led the deniers to accuse these women of witchcraft. Scot maintained that those who had been accused and executed for witchcraft were innocent and blamed the Catholic Church for encouraging these superstitious beliefs.
The discoverie of witchcraft was very widely read in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It was a central text in witchcraft debates and there were numerous challenges to Scot’s beliefs (not least from King James VI and I in his own book on witchcraft, Daemonologie) as well as a smaller number of defences. Because of the comprehensiveness of The discoverie of witchcraft, it was a useful source of information on supernatural beliefs and practices, regardless of whether the reader agreed with Scot’s scepticism or not. However, it is also important to note that Scot was not a folklorist researching and accurately recording popular beliefs for posterity; he was using these stories to support his own agenda of persuading the reader against belief in the supernatural.
Another brilliantly entertaining book and again demonstrates the nonsense people fall for to this day and how easily deceived people are , the book is called ,
Sorcerer's Apprentice....by Tahir Shah
As a child, Tahir Shah first learned the secrets of illusion from an Indian magician. Two decades later, he sets out in search of this man. Sorcerer's Apprentice is the story of his apprenticeship to one of India's master conjurors and his initiation into the brotherhood of godmen. Learning to unmask illusion as well as practice it, he goes on a journey across the subcontinent, seeking out its miraculous and bizarre underbelly, traveling from Calcutta to Madras, from Bangalore to Bombay, meeting sadhus, sages, sorcerers, hypnotists, and humbugs. His quest is utterly unforgettable.
-- An extraordinary account of how illusion works and an astonishing portrait of a great illusionist.
I highly enjoyed the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown. It's set in the future and has an amazing story with very poignant social and political commentaries. It's set in first person so that was a little hard for me to get past but I really liked it once I got into it.
I'm reading one now that's called The Orphan Tsunami of 1700
is the link but it's a pretty fascinating account based off research and historical records about an earthquake that occurred off the Pacific Coast.
If you want books for a sci fi entertainment I would recommend Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (I am not sure I got their names right).... it's an oldie but goody.
I'm on and off with reading a book called The History of God by Karen Armstrong. It's pretty interesting, a bit dry for me but I like reading it, especially at night. ;D It is a good book though.
OH and of course, Pride and Prejudice. I mean come on....it's a classic. So good too.
I know it is a play and not a book, but Shakespeare's King Lear is a must read. It is an amazing play. Its an amazing story about three daughters competing for their fathers love. Sadly tragedy takes its hold as they each kill each other for their fathers affection. It will fill you with many emotions. You will not regret it if you enjoy a good story.
The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. As a matter of fact, I created a site devoted just to that-
Hokey Poky with Elmo.
Get it now on Amazon ;)