Oh man, have I been procrastinating today or what? I've not long finished reading High Fidelity and it led me to start compiling an all time top ten. I couldn't do it, so it turned into twelves.
The first list was Books. Easy? Sort of. What criteria do you use? The books that are important or the ones that mean something to you, even if everyone else thinks they're not the finest examples of English literature?
I plumbed for something down the middle. So this is my list of books that all mean something pretty significant to me, some of which are generally considered great.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
- Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
- The Tax Inspector – Peter Carey
- Slapstick or Lonesome No More – Kurt Vonnegut
- Romeo of the Underworld – Venero Armanno
- If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller – Italo Calvino
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
- Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Jean-Dominique Bauby
- Disgrace – JM Coetzee
I can safely say that, without Hitchhiker's and Slapstick, I wouldn't be a writer at all. Those books hit me at just the right age and at my most susceptible to the idea that I could imitate these guys.
Ditto The Tax Inspector, which is why it only just slightly knocked The Fat Man In History out.
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those books I can pick up from any page and orient myself within a sentence or two. I've lost count how many times I've read it now.
Some of the classics in the list are pretty self-explanatory. The Diving Bell is one I didn't discover until I was half way through my first novel, which explores some of the same territory. I was bummed until I read it. I'm surprised I was able to keep going with mine.
Disgrace made it to the list, despite the fact I only finished first reading it six weeks ago. It's that good. I have no idea how he did that. I'll rot in hell before I see the movie, same goes for the Diving Bell.