1984, alice's adventures in wonderland, books, c.s. lewis, chuck palahniuk, douglas adams, george orwell, high fidelity, invisible monsters, lewis carroll, nick hornby, rob gordon, stephen king, the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, the lion the witch and the wardrobe, the shining, the ultimate hitchhikers guide, through the looking-glass and what alice found there, top 5
I read a lot of publishers’ newsletters, and I notice that a certain question pops up quite often during author interviews: “What is your favorite book?”
I’ve never much been one to play favorites with anyone or anything — my tastes are pretty varied, so it’s hard for me to just pick one thing and have it represent everything I like. But recently, it struck me: As a loud and proud Literophiliac, shouldn’t I have some sort of favorites list when it comes to books?
I sat down and really thought about it, and I decided to take a cue from one of Nick Hornby‘s more well-known characters, Rob Gordon. So here we are: my desert island, all-time top 5 favorite books. For now.
1. The Shining by Stephen King:; Everyone is familiar with the movie: Kubrik directed, Nichloson starred — does it get any better? In my opinion, YES, it most certainly does. I admit; I ruined the movie for myself. I watched it immediately after finishing the book, and the inconsistencies just destroyed it for me. But the book… oh, the book. I’m not Stephen King’s biggest fan, but this is definitely one of the best-written books I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning. The imagery is astounding: you can easily get wrapped up and picture yourself there at The Outlook Hotel, surrounded by nothing but snow and silence for miles and miles in every direction. You feel yourself roaming the halls with Jack — seeing what he sees, feeling what he feels: the terror, the insanity, the rage. It’s like going to the best haunted house ever without leaving the comfort of your own bed. Can it get much better than that? If you haven’t read this book, or even if you haven’t read it lately, definitely pick up a copy: because after all, All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy.
2. 1984 by George Orwell:; I first read 1984 over the summer of 2006 with my boyfriend and best friend. We had all decided that we wanted to read the same books over the summer so we could, for once, have someone to discuss books with. We went through some fantastic works over those scorching hot months: Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, my boyfriend even tackled a Dostoevsky or two. But absolutely nothing compared to Orwell’s haunting tale of Big Brother. Our shared and never-ending enthusiasm for the book eventually got some of our friends curious, and by the end of the summer we’d lent our copies out to at least half a dozen others — many of whom insist that they “don’t normally read.” To me, getting one of those people to read you love a book is like getting extra sprinkles on your ice cream cone.
3. The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide (which contains all 5 novels in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series) by Douglas Adams:; OK.. so you might call this cheating, since it’s 5 books in 1. That’s how I read it, though, so it counts to me! I first read this book when I was in middle school. My mom had this big, shiny, leather-bound copy, and I carried it around with me for weeks. Like most people who have read The Guide, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the insanely quirky characters. Douglas Adams was simply a geek genius. Since middle school, I’ve reread the book once or twice, but it’s always been a part of my life somehow: every computer I’ve ever owned has been named Trillian, for one of the characters in the book; “DON’T PANIC” has definitely become one of my mantras; I’m proud to know that the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is indeed 42; and you may find me quietly carrying around a towel on May 25th of every year, which is National Towel Day. I’ve also seen the movie (meh) and the old TV show which was broadcast on BBC (so awful and kitsch that it’s actually wonderful), but nothing can ever compare to the books. If you’re going to read just one book from my Top 5, this is it.
4. Alice‘s Adventures in Wonderland & Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll:; I had to take my own picture of this book, as I’ve never been able to find a picture of this specific cover on the Internet. This is the oldest book in my collection — at least, it’s the one I’ve owned the longest. On the first page where it says, “This book belongs to,” my name and the phone number of the first house I ever lived in are scrawled in very young handwriting. The title page says that it was printed in London by the Chancellor Press in 1987, when I would have been 2 years old. That alone should tell you how much I love this book — it has survived being packed up and moved 9 times, and it continues to travel with me wherever I go. Alice’s adventures have always been a huge inspiration to me, and I’ll never get tired of reading this book (especially with the gorgeous color illustration pages tucked inside my print).
5. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk:; Number five, with a bullet (and quite appropriately so), welcome. Chuck Palahniuk has been a favorite author of mine for quite a while. His books just absolutely grab me like nothing else has ever been able to. Even the books that he’s written that I would say I hate; I still, somehow, kind of love them. Invisible Monsters, however, is a book that I truly love. The main characters are of the usual caliber you can expect from Palahniuk: tragic, despicable, warped — enthralling. Then, pepper in a disfiguring accident or two; some vapid, vanity-obsessed models; a transsexual grifter and his gaggle of Fairy God Gays; makeup; pills; a final shoot-out inside a mansion that is rapidly burning to the ground… and, of course, Palahniuk’s other trademark: the Shyamalan-esque twist ending that leaves you floored. I don’t think I could really ask for much more from a book. And if that’s really not enough, scene queens Panic! At The Disco made a disgustingly catchy song about the book called “Time To Dance.”
…And one runner-up, because I couldn’t leave this one out:
Alternate: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis:; Another book from my childhood that has stayed with me (although, I’m not sure my actual physical copy has — it may or may not be buried somewhere at my mother’s house across the state). I first read the entire series when I was very young and learning to read at night with my mother. I can remember vividly that the day I learned to tie my shoes, my imaginary friend Lucy was there — named for the youngest daughter in the Pevensie family (creepy, huh?). But the first book in the series (technically the second, if you’re going in chronological order) seemed to stay with me the most, as it was re-read far more than the others. I couldn’t really tell you why, but I think I just liked the kids in the book as kids. And while I’m not completely thrilled with Hollywood’s interpretation of the series, it’s nice to see the stories being offered up to a new generation.
Now it’s your turn, my little Literophiliacs — what are your Top 5? Who are your favorite authors? What are your guilty pleasures? Let me know in the comments!