My Ideal Bookshelf

Writing about books is hard. If nothing else, it becomes painfully apparent that you’re trying to use words to encapsulate a work of art whose author has already spent hour after hour choosing the exact right words. I have an incomplete Top 20 Books list sitting my hard drive I just can’t get right.

But what if I could only have 12 books? Forever? Much easier.

War and Peace (Tolstoy).

The Stand (King).

Infinite Jest (Wallace).

That’s months of reading right there. And they’re all great books!

The Secret History (Tartt) isn’t quite as long, and The Short History of Nearly Everything (Bryson) needs to lose the “short” and the “nearly,” but they both make the list.

A Pratchett book (Men at Arms, perhaps?), Slaughterhouse Five (Vonnegut) and A Confederacy of Dunces (Toole) provide some much-needed wit.

I need some fantasy. I’ve never been a Tolkein fan so I’ll pick Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy and now I’m left with only one slot remaining.

It is has to be one of my favourites, surely? It’s a close race between On The Road (Kerouac) and two-thirds of it – Cormac McCarthy’s compelling The Road, which I think just pips Kerouac at the post.

5 thoughts on “My Ideal Bookshelf

  1. My shelf would include Shantaram, The Alchemist, Alice in wonderland and through the looking glass, and The power of one.

    Its well written, but dont think ill ever read The Road again. If this was the desert island list i would swap it for The Chrysalids.

    Confederacy is a great choice.

  2. Man, The Chrysalids is great, good choice – I really need to read more Wyndham. I haven’t heard of either Shantaram or The Alchemist – authors? The Road is definitely not an easy read – I suppose if you were in a situation when you were down to only 12 books you probably don’t want something so depressing! There is a significant kernel of hope in the book, though, even if it only shines through occasionally.

  3. I’ve wanted to add a Book section to my blog but for some reason books seem harder to review. Nice list though! War and Peace is amazing, pretty much covers everything there is in life – took awhile to read but I was blown away! Hear great things about Infinite Jest too and I need to check that out.

    On the Road is one of those great, influential and important books which didn’t really appeal to me. I think it’s more a relic of its time and I’m not a huge fan of Kerouac’s style. The Road is one of the most upsetting and brilliant things I’ve ever read. Definitely check out No Country for Old Men if you haven’t already too.

    • Books are definitely much harder to write about than film/television, I agree. For me, i think it’s because you’re trying to summarise words …with words, and it becomes a very difficult proposition, especially when you’re talking about a novel by a superlative writer.

      On the Road I love because of how it makes me feel as much as the writing. It taps into that escapist, fuck-it-all mentality that ebbs and flows within me – and I read it at a peak of escapism, so it resonated with me. I’ve only read three McCarthy novels, but No Country for Old Men (also one of my favourite films) was one of them – definitely a great read, I’d agree. 🙂

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