Friday, July 06, 2007

". . . brittle with sorrows, as tart as curds, and shrill enough to grate meat from a coconut."

Not too long ago the discussion of favorite books came up while myself and a couple of friends of mine waited along a busy 4/5 subway platform. In between sticking our heads out over the tracks to see if the train was coming, we traded our favorites and defended why they belonged on our top list. Some had a list of 10 books. Ten! Clearly I was not the literary girl I thought I was.

After an easy choice of four books (sort of), I struggled to fill out the list. There were clearly some good reads to chose from, but what about the chest thumping, profoundly good reads? The sort of writing that makes me drink up and covet every last word? I racked my brains easily coming up with 10 favorite albums before I could 10 novels.

And then I read The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and I immediately felt like the most inadequate writer in all the English speaking world. Even though I sulked at the realization, I knew the book would have a place in my top 10, which is:

1. Atonement by Ian McEwan

I finished the book with a tear and a gasp.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I have a soft spot for stories about the corruption of good people.

3. The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Good God, can this woman write? Her attention detail and her use of description had me savoring every adjective and metaphor.

4. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Deliciously dirty as if Dickens had written a very long letter to Penthouse Forum -- except if Dickens had been a modern day Lesbian. Since I have the attention span of a gnat, it's worth mentioning that this book had me up all night to finish it.

5. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

A 1,000 plus page manifesto disguised as a novel? While I'm not a fan of her politics, you can't fault Ayn Rand for writing an epic of a novel that floored me when I (finally) finished it.

6. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

Despite starting out as a children series and despite language that pales in comparison to some of the other writers on this list, Rowling can write a pretty good fucking story that has managed to keep millions reading for 10 years -- including this woman. So sad that the series will finally end in only a couple of weeks.

Other books rounding out the list? The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan; Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides; The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver; and Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert.


EnnuiHerself said...

I'm sorry, but unless you moved Atlas Shrugged to number 1 right this instant, we are no longer friends.

Greatest.Book.Ever. And I will fight anyone who says otherwise!

Gabby said...

Please please tell me you've seen the BBC series of Tipping the Velvet. Fucking amazing. I actually read the book AFTER seeing it, and I still thought the series did it amazing justice.

Grumpy Yet Amusing said...

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Read it. Now.