Friday, July 10, 2015

Books I Want to Re-Read (Part I)

When one has been a reader for several years, there are inevitably some books that become beloved treasures -- because of the characters, plot, and writing. In this post, I'd like to mention some of my favorites that I would like to revisit. 

So here's a list of great books that I definitely want to dive into again, for the pure pleasure of doing so!

To find out more about these, just click on the titles at the end of this post, and you will be able to access the information at each book's Goodreads page, in a separate tab. Hope you all enjoy!

I read this great SF novel in my early twenties, and it has definitely left a lasting impression on me! The story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human boy born and raised on Mars, who then comes to Earth to teach people how to 'grok' each other, is an immensely appealing one! I should make some time for this one soon! 

I really don't remember much about the plot of this novel, except that one of the characters, Joe Christmas, did make an unforgettable impression on me. I felt so sorry for the poor guy, especially after the horrible things that happened to him. This novel is considered one of the most important ones written by Faulkner, as well as one of the most important of the 20th century. As far as I can remember, it was a rather depressing read, but I'd still like to experience it again, just for the writing and characterizations.

This is another novel I read in my early twenties, when I was reading more adult books, as well as  serious literature. It's a fascinating combination of things: travelogue, lessons on motorcycle maintenance, plus various and sundry Zen-based philosophical ruminations made by the narrator, Phaedrus, as he travels across the country (US) with his young son, and a married couple. I don't remember much about the philosophical aspect of this autobiographical novel, but I do remember that the author discussed the concept of Quality throughout the book. I am very eager to go back and reacquaint myself with this intellectual masterpiece!

I remember reading this novel in high school, as it was an assignment for my Literature class. Even though the topic is a very depressing one, I loved it, and would definitely like to revisit it. At the time, I thought it very unfair that Hester Prynne was singled out for punishment. This novel is therefore a strong indictment of the religious hypocrisy of the society of the time. Hawthorne is a master  at creating memorable characters, and his writing style superb. 

The haunting story of this literary masterpiece has stayed with me for years, and I am really yearning to read it again! Atticus Finch is an admirable man, someone who calmly and firmly holds on to his principles. His daughter, nicknamed "Scout", is the friend I wish I had had as I was growing up. This novel is a combination social justice manifesto, coming-of-age story, and magical tale of human relationships, all rolled into one. I'd love to get to it again before I plunge into Lee's prequel, Go Set A Watchman!

This is such a luminous, beautiful novel, dealing with the struggle of every artist -- how to remain true to one's art, in the midst of social or even religious opposition. Asher Lev is an enormously gifted young Jewish man, and his vocation is opposed by his Orthodox parents. This is a tale of great emotional drama and profound philosophical truths, as well as of the truths to be found in great art. 

Here's the stunning Alan Lee edition of The Lord of the Rings, slipcased in three volumes. Yes, I do own this treasure! And I want to re-read these wonderful books, immersing myself once more in the magical adventures of Frodo, Aragorn, Gandalf, and the rest of the Fellowship of the Ring! I want to cross the portals of these books into the mystical, wonderful land of Middle-Earth once more. Perhaps this time, I'll be able to stay there forever!

The only book I've ever read by Joseph Conrad is this one, and I don't remember much of the plot, except for the fact that I recognized it as a masterpiece when I first read it, several years ago. I do remember that it's a love story full of psychological insights, and the writing was just luscious! I would like to immerse myself in this novel again, especially since there appear to be some mental and emotional issues involved. Axel Heyst, the male protagonist, is trying to remain detached from people, while the young English girl he loves tries to break the spell of his solitude. They live on an island, too, which is another reason I want to re-read this novel! And I want this particular edition, as I don't know what happened to the one I used to own....

I saw the movie adaptation of this great novel on Netflix some time back, and it was not as satisfying as the book. Hollywood doesn't always get things right, and, in this case, they totally changed the character of Marcellus, the main protagonist. This novel is a richly-imagined tale of the last day in the life of Jesus, and how it affects a worldly, wealthy, young Roman. Fictional characters are interspersed with Biblical ones, and there's a very vividly described psychological/emotional conflict, as well. The author, Lloyd C. Douglas, was a Christian minister, and this novel is an absolute masterpiece!

I can't believe I was able to read this very moving novel, since it involves book-burning.....but read it I did, and was carried away with Bradbury's lyrical, elegant prose style, as well as the vividly-drawn characters and very realistic dystopian world. This novel is a must-read for everyone who loves and treasures books. It's about what books represent and contain -- the very best of the human mind and spirit. It's about the sacredness of these living objects. It's about how books must be allowed to effect their transformative magic unimpeded by petty political objectives. It's about so many more profound things, and a re-read is just around the corner for me!

To me, this is the greatest novel ever written by Charles Dickens. The characters are masterfully drawn, as well as unforgettable. Charles Darnay, Sidney Carton, and Lucy Manette are helpsess  pawns in one of the bloodiest periods of French -- and world -- history. Their story is poignant, tragic, and vivid, one that I would like to revisit in spite of its strong emotions, because Dickens has made me empathize with these fictional people who embody the highest spiritual qualities!

According to the synopsis for one of the editions featured on the bookworm website Goodreads, this is one of the greatest novels ever written. I fully agree! Although it's about a murderer who ends up meeting a prostitute later on in the book, it's also so much more..... This is a psychological tour-de-force, a compassionate look at the brilliant mind of a young man who, in committing this horrible crime, must pay for it with endless recriminations and guilt, aided by a young woman with an equally troubled past. I truly believe this is Dostoevsky at his very best!

Goodreads Pages

Robert Heinlein

William Faulkner

The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Harper Lee

Chaim Potok

J.R.R. Tolkien

Joseph Conrad

Lloyd C. Douglas

Ray Bradbury

A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens

Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Dostoevsky


Have you read any of these books?
If so, what did you think 
of it/them?
If not, would you like to 
read any of them?
Why or why not?


Brian Joseph said...

As you mentioned I see that you added some books to your post Maria.

I have not read Crime and Punishment either. I want to. I have read both The Brothers Karamazov and the Devils by Dostoyevsky. He is a brilliant writer in a class by himself. I do find him a little alien. It is not the fact that he had a religious mindset that I find alien. It is what seems like an intensity to his beliefs that seems that I have trouble relating to.

Happy Reading!

Maria Behar said...

Hey, Brian!

Interesting comment! Yes, Dostoyevsky is definitely in a class by himself -- just like Hesse. They are both absolutely brilliant!

As to this 'alien' quality that you mention, perhaps that's due to his Russian temperament. From what I've read about them, Russians are very emotional, very religious people. I guess they're much like the Italians and the Irish, in this respect. Since I read this novel many years ago, I don't remember this aspect of it, so thanks for bringing it up! That's another good reason to re-read this novel!

Thanks for the great comment!! : )

Parrish Lantern said...

Haven't read any Dostoyevsky in years & loved 451. Remembering Zen & the art of, made me think of an old friend who I lent the book to years ago & based on it decided he could fix anything. Took apart his music system because of a minor issue & it remained apart.

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Gary!

(I know your name from seeing it in the comments section of Brian's blog.)

Actually, "Crime and Punishment" is the only Dostoyevsky novel I've read, but it sure made an indelible impression on me! That novel is one of the world's great masterpieces, for sure!

As for "Fahrenheit 451", it's another of those masterpieces that gives you chills, but in a good way. At least, that's how it makes me feel.... Bradfury is a consummate prose stylist, and his vivid descriptions totally magical. He's one of my favorite writers, in any genre.

That story about "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" made me chuckle. Of course, the whole thing was metaphorical. Lol.

I will be compiling Part II of this list pretty soon. Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting!! : )