It's Day Six of the Indie Block Party and today's post is, "What Are Your Top Five Books?"
No surprise, most of them are mystery/suspense, with two classics thrown in. Here's a little overview about why each book was given entrée into my Top Five of all time:
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
I first read this as a senior back in high school. My high school curriculum was similar to college, in that you got to pick what courses you wanted to take, rather than be shoehorned into what the administration wanted you to take. So instead of taking the same English Lit class as the other 600-odd students in your class, each year, you could choose what track you wanted to take: World Lit, American Lit, Women's Lit, etc.
I don't remember exactly what English Lit track I was taking senior year, but it happened to be the lone Lit class in my entire school reading "Catcher in the Rye" (among the other books we read in class that year were "The Great Gatsby," "Ethan Fromme," and "Their Eyes Were Watching God.").
Being a senior in high school, I was likely in an extremely cynical state of mind, which was probably why I cottoned to "Catcher in the Rye" the way I did. I mean, after all, aren't we all a bunch of big fat phonies? To me, Holden Caulfield was funny, caustic and a keen observer of the silliness of life (and yes, I realize some people find him pretentious, whiny and more than a little unhinged.) I thought he was a riot.
I re-read it again after college and found I loved it even more. Subsequent readings over the years have only deepened my admiration for it. I read "Nine Stories," but didn't care for it (in general, I'm not really a fan of short stories) and just couldn't get into "Franny and Zooey." It's just as well. "Catcher in the Rye" will always be the penultimate.
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
I read this after graduating college and sopped it up like gravy on a biscuit. Like Rob, I am prone to Top Five lists and measuring my life in terms of songs. It is chick-lit told from the male perspective, which gave me new insight into the opposite sex. It was sharp, witty, angst-y and just a terrific read. I also give props to the movie starring John Cusack (filmed in Chicago AND gave us Jack Black? I mean, what else do you need but the popcorn and the wine?)
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
I don't typically read detective stories. For me, they tend to be formulaic. I was initially reluctant to read "Case Histories" because it featured a private detective. However, this book had such rave reviews, I thought I would give it a whirl.
I'm so glad I did.
Everything about this book just spoke to me. From the mysterious cold cases at the heart of the story, to the cynical Jackson Brodie (the aforementioned detective), to Atkinson's stunning characterizations, I could not put this book down if my life depended on it. It wasn't the typical "PI-on-the-case" type of story, which I appreciated. Atkinson is an amazing writer and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Well, what can I say about this book that hasn't already been said? Unnerving. Stunning. Explosive. I toted the hardcover around during a business trip to San Diego last summer and was reading in between meetings. Of course, if I had this on my Kindle, I probably could have read it DURING the meetings. Mental note for next time.
Like "Catcher in the Rye," "Gone Girl" is polarizing. Perhaps that's why I love it. If you haven't read it, download it and decide for yourself.
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
This is almost like watching a scary movie. You know the doom about to befall the characters and you want to scream at them, "Don't open that door!"
I read this in college for a Women's Lit course and it wasn't long before I was completely submerged in the story. It has only gotten better as time has gone on.
This is an absorbing and at times, frightening, character study about a woman who is her own worst enemy and ultimately, the undoing of those around her. Searing and unforgettable.
Make sure to click around to what my neighbors Top Five books are!