- Books, Literature, and Writing
The Best Fiction Novels and Series of the Modern Era
Anyone who has read previous hubs from me will know that I am quite the film fanatic. However, films are essentially stories in a visual medium. So I would challenge the assumption and claim that I am actually a fan of stories. Most great stories originate on paper, and reading is something I have loved since I was a tiny child. I have read hundreds of books in my lifetime, and what I would like to share is a list of some of my favourite books written relatively recently. I hope that some of you have read some of these and I also hope that some of you go out and read them soon!
The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
The Historian is a book that is very dear to me and I have often told myself that it is my favourite novel of all time. I picked up The Historian at the airport many years ago in what I like to refer to as a “Blind Buy”, having no prior knowledge of the book and basically being attracted to the blurb and the cover art. It worked out well for me, as what followed was a tale of horror, romance, tragedy, lost innocence and adventure. The story involves a young girl who finds a book that leads her on a desperate hunt to locate her father, who is chasing after the legendary Vlad the Impaler, a figure we know as Dracula. The book has an aura and atmosphere that drags you in and even as a person who is entirely not melodramatic, I class the story as magical. It kept me up for many late nights and I definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone who loves a good story of any genre. I immediately began imagining the movie I would love to make out of this, and Sony has purchased the rights to the film already, so expect that before too long. If it is half as good as the novel expect great things.
The Camel Club Series – David Baldacci
Beginning with the first novel “The Camel Club” this series has been one that is about as enjoyable and exciting as any I have ever read. Having recently read the sixth instalment, “Hell’s Corner”, it is clear that Baldacci hasn’t lost a step when it comes to this series. In the genre of political thriller, the story is about a man who was a former government assassin that now resides in Washington as a protestor with a fake name. He gathers a group of friends and together they end up caught in various webs of government conspiracy and his dark past is always catching up with him. The style is one that I can only describe as presenting very complex storylines and ideas in very simple and exciting prose, with short but very sweet chapters that force you to turn the pages at a rapid pace and never put the book down. If you want a fast paced thrill ride, with great characters and personality then this is a series you definitely want to check out.
The Dark Tower Series – Stephen King
Despite being an avid reader, for whatever reason I had never touched a Stephen King novel until recently reading “Under the Dome” (also worth of a mention!). Having read this and loved it, I was looking for more Stephen King books to read. A friend suggested starting with “The Gunslinger,” part one of an epic masterpiece consisting of seven massive stories. I was immediately blown away by the dark, twisted mix of western, science fiction, horror and dark fantasy that The Gunslinger provided. Having read the rest, it is clear that as the series went on more and more emotion, background and real feelings are injected into the story. The series is full of such magical imagination and complexity that is woven with relative ease by King, that you can’t help but become completely immersed in it. Don’t be put off by the fact that Stephen King is mostly known for his horror offerings. This is a story that can be enjoyed by anyone. Start now. It’s a long journey!
The Millennium Trilogy – Stieg Larsson
The last book I finished, actually yesterday afternoon, was the third and final book in this series “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”. I had heard rave reviews about “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and was very curious to know what it was all about. The idea of the book didn’t really appeal to me, but eventually I found myself with nothing else to read and this being the only unread book in my collection. It took me a few chapters to get acclimatized to the Swedish names and the strange writing style, but once I was into it I became hooked on a world of Swedish business, police corruption and family feuds, mixed with dark pasts, murder and sexual abuse. Be warned, you will be introduced to some of the darkest and most graphic and disturbing material ever presented in a novel, but if you have the stomach for it you will be amazed at how strong your feelings become for the strange but strong heroine, Lisbeth Salander. Already a Swedish film trilogy, the American film adaptation is being directed by David Fincher and should be a dark and brutal masterpiece.
The Shadow of the Wind/The Angels Game/The Prisoner of Heaven – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Now many of the novels and series on this list are likely well known to many of you. This little set however, may not be. Written by the best selling Spanish author in history and translated into English, these three books are part of a four part series. However, the interesting thing here is that they are not direct sequels and can be read in any order. There are currently three with "The Prisoner of Heaven" being released this year. "Shadow" was the first released, followed by "The Angels Game." I read “Shadow of the Wind” on another blind buy, and was blown away. It challenged the already mentioned Historian as my favorite ever. Zafon is quite possible the greatest pure teller of stories of the modern era. He weaves his tale in such a magical way that anyone from age 12 to age 85 can appreciate and love it. I rarely remember feeling so much emotion towards a piece of fiction. Having read “The Angels Game” soon after I found out that the magic was even greater that I thought.. The series being based around a place called The Cemetery of Forgotten Books and its effect on those who visit, all books in the series are set in different times and ages, but have subtle connections to each other that you can see as you discover their secrets. These small, but revealing connections just add to the magic, and seem no less magical no matter which order you read them. This is a truly unique and special effort that I hope all fans of a good story are able to read.
Sigma Force Series – James Rollins
Another long series that I consider one of the best out there is the Sigma Force series, beginning with the thrilling “Sandstorm” and currently up to the recent offering “The Devil Colony” which I myself am yet to read. The series is one that may not be for everybody. However, what it is, is completely and utterly exciting and thrilling. What Rollins does in each novel is take a serious religious issue or mystery, mix it together with cutting edge science and technology which is true to real life but more advanced that its sometimes purely theoretical real life counterpart. Combining this with a group of special force military agents known as Sigma Force, you get fast paced action mixed with interesting and complex science and religion, that while sometimes far fetched, is always fun. I consider this series a guilty pleasure of mine, and I suggest you make it one of yours too!
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