Tuesday, March 01, 2005

favourite fiction books

in contrast to the best geek books listing, these are my favourite fiction titles. I acknowledge that these are nothing more than my humble opinions; feel free to send me your comments.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald this book is often praised for its description of 'the jazz age' even if you aren't interested in the historical setting, you can simply enjoy the style.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The Fountainhead is a great example of why I enjoy about Ayn Rand's novels. the dialogue is intelligent, the style is tight, and the philosophy is enmeshed in the plot. I'm not an objectivist but I respect the manner with which Rand used her novels as a vehicle for her belief system.

Dune by Frank Herbert
although I have been a Ray Bradbury fan since I can remember, I haven't read a great deal of science fiction. it wasn't until I read Dune that I appreciated the full potential of the genre. Dune is brilliant. for example, the level of detail that surrounds Herbert's imagined world is staggering. whether it's a quote from some fictional religious text, or a reference to a pearl of combat wisdom, Herbert never fails to deliver the most intricate detail required. this remarkable construction has come to be known as the "Byzantine tapestry" of Dune. I recommend this title to everybody - even if you aren't a fan of science fiction.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
this is a great book, and I'm not just writing that because it's over 1100 pages long. it's a perfect blend of technology and plot. I'm so impressed that I'll be reading another Stephenson book ASAP.

Whale Music by Paul Quarrington
this book is an absolute pleasure to read. the point of view is original and the way the story is revealed is intriguing. whale music is rumoured to be loosely based on the life of the beach boys' brian wilson.

personal trivia note: during my days as a lifeguard, I actually lifeguarded the filming of some scenes in the movie version of whale music. the best part was that they let me eat anything I wanted from the catering table. mmmmm pistachios...

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
wow, what a colossal undertaking. after finishing this book, I feel as though I've read one hundred short stories. as Marquez has acknowledged, this book stemmed from the stories that he was told by his grandmother, and the influence is obvious to the reader. this book is full of memorable tales that somehow seamlessly shift from fantasy to realism. some books are like chips from a paper bag, this book is a fine meal served on immaculate chinaware.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
this was the first Ayn Rand book that I read and I was thoroughly impressed. as I've already written, I don't share her point of view, but I greatly enjoy her writing.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
this is an excellent book. in fact, it actually holds up well to all of the hype that you hear about it these days. the book is written from the perspective of an autistic teenager. if you're at all interested in gaining an insight into the inner workings of an autistic mind, then you should read this short book.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
this is probably the funniest book I've ever read. I recommend the entire four part trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Exodus by Leon Uris

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
IMO, this book a classic for good reason. I found the first half of the book so intriguing that it was tough to put it down. the voice reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (or even Whale Music) because the reader gets a chance to experience the world through a different perspective.

The House of God : The Classic Novel of Life and Death in an American Hospital by Samuel Shem
the house of god is an irreverent insider's look at the life of medical interns. the book is gritty and it has been said that it does for health care what catch-22 did for the military.

A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Woman in Bronze by Antanas Sileika
I enjoyed this book by Lithuanian born, Canadian writer Antanas Sileika. it was an interesting tale set in places that I knew little about.

Rockbound by Frank Parker Day
this is an interesting book about life on an island off the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. the novel was originally published in 1928.

Shopgirl by Steve Martin
this novella was an interesting read. the movie is considerably different than the book. I guess they wanted to be able to bill the movie as a romantic comedy so they added a lot of gags.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
when people talk about this book, they seem to exclusively discuss the section of the book that takes place on a life boat; they don't mention that that part only begins about halfway through the novel. I found the first half to be mildly interesting (because biology interests me and there's a lot about animals), the section on the lifeboat was worth reading and the ending is excellent. it's probably worth reading, just to get the chance to think about the ending.

Others that I need to add to the list:

War and Peace
Poinsonwood Bible
The Picture of Dorian Grey
Moby Dick
Crime and Punishment
Pride and Prejudice
Of Mice and Men

young reader books:

The Chronicles of Narnia
Charlottes's Web
The Hobbit

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