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My Top Seven Books with Compelling and Timeless Themes.

Updated on September 23, 2014

Introduction

I believe that any regular reader can distinguish between mediocre, good, and truly great pieces of literature, at least on a subconscious level. You know when you have found a great novel when it can provoke thought and emotion in you. A good novel will keep you entertained and focused on the plot. However when you are reading a truly great piece of literature you can recognize it based on the wealth of emotion that follows its conclusion. A truly great piece of literature must engage you, emotionally affect you and teach you. This, is what I hoped to capture when compiling my list of my Top Seven Books with Compelling and Timeless themes for you all, Please enjoy!


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1. The Great Gatsby- By F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is renown for its ability to encapsulate an entire generation- that of the Jazz Age, as F. Scott Fitzgerald famously dubbed it. The novel reflects the hard-partying and careless mood of the era, when it tells the tragic tale of Jay Gatsby; a mysterious and charming newcomer, who is notorious for the epic parties that he throws in his colossal mansion on Long Island. However, what his hundreds of guests do not know is his burning desire for Daisy Buchanan- "the golden girl'- a stunning socialite, who he has longed after for five long years. What follows is Gatsby's desperate quest to secure the girl of his dreams, but at a dreadfully high cost. Once you have reached this novels tragic conclusion, you will be haunted by this novels compelling and timeless themes of unconditional love, corruption, class attitudes, the past, present, and future, and the pursuit of the elusive American Dream.

2. 1984- By George Orwell

Intended as a terrifying portrayal of the dangers of entrusting too much power in the hands of a few, the novel 1984 paints a picture of a totalitarian society, in which a political group called the Party exercises complete control over the citizens of Oceania. Told from the point of view of a middle-aged man named Winston, the novel follows his fight for independence; the independence to feel what is in his heart, and think what is in his mind. When we finally reach 1984's conclusion do we realize just how constricting a hold that the Party has over the citizens of Oceania. This novel illustrates how governments have the ability to control how we think, act, and speak, through the use of technology, propaganda, and lies. In this novel, Orwell shows exceptional skill in developing 1984's compelling and timeless themes. Such as; the limits of the human spirit, totalitarianism, propaganda, loyalty, technology, love, and freedom.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird- By Harper Lee

The novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" is regarded as an sensitive portrayal of racism, and general prejudice set in Maycomb County, Southern Alabama, in the early 1930s. The story is told from the point of view of Scout, who recounts the tale as an adult. When the narrative begins Scout is only six years old, and so she sees the events happening around her through a child's perspective. In the novel, Scout sees two examples of prejudice in her community; the first is of Boo Radley, who is ostracized from the community at a young age, and the second is Tom Robinson, a black man who is standing trial for a false charge of rape.Through the depiction of these different types of prejudice, Lee further explores for us various themes, such as; good and evil, education, social inequality, perspective, bravery, racism, and innocence.

4. Jane Eyre- By Charlotte Bronte

In this original coming-of-age story by Charlotte Bronte, we learn of a young woman named Jane Eyre's simple but profound tale of triumph over adversity. The novel follows the growth of Jane Eyre, from a small orphan- void of love and attention, and alone in this world- into an independent young woman who has learnt the importance of self. The novel can be likened as a physical and mental journey for Jane, in which she experiences cruelty, adversity, poverty, and love- through her relationship with the mysterious Mr. Rochester. Through Jane's maturation, Bronte explores the timeless themes of marriage, education, society, love, appearances, and independence, in a way that had never been done before.

5. Lolita- By Vladimir Nabokov

This dark and twisted novel, has been criticized for its dark subject matter, but praised for the beautiful and elaborate style in which it is written. The novel is told from the point of view of Humbert Humbert (H.H), who is a pedophile, murderer and a rapist. Although, Humbert is in his mid-thirties in the novel, he is obsessed with younger girls aged between nine and fourteen years old, which he refers to as "nymphets". In particular, he is absolutely infatuated with Lolita, a 12-year old girl. In the novel, Humbert narrates his sick desires, his absurd excuses, his doomed relationship with Lolita, and the destructive measures he goes to in order to keep her. In Humbert's disturbing memoir, Vladimir Nabokov thoroughly explores the themes of sex, right and wrong, youth, innocence, love, and the powerful and persuasive effect of language.

King Lear

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6. King Lear- By William Shakespeare

Although "King Lear" is not known as one of Shakespeare's most famous plays, considering its depth and complexity, it certainly should be. The story of King Lear is told through two plots; that of King Lear and the Earl of Gloucester. These two plots can be seen as a reflection of the other, as both Lear and Gloucester experience betrayal from their trusted children (Lear's daughters; Goneril and Regan, and Gloucester's son; Edmund) and are 'saved' and cared for by their children that they have previously rejected ( Lear's daughter; Cordelia, and Gloucester's son; Edmund). From the suffering that both Lear and Gloucester endure, as a result of their children's betrayal, they both learn the errors of their ways, and compensate for them. This powerful play strengthens and adds new knowledge to our understanding of the compelling and timeless themes of family, loyalty, honesty, forgiveness, society, power, justice, and learning through suffering.

7. Othello- By William Shakespeare

Another of Shakespeare's great tragedies, "Othello" is a tragic love story, twisted with lies, deceit, and jealousy. The play revolves around Othello, a African-American Venetian general, who is often referred to as "The Moor". As the play continues, we watch as Othello becomes gripped by the violent power of jealousy, after he suspects his serene and virtuous wife; Desdemona, of being unfaithful to him. The thought of betrayal is instilled in him by his 'Ancient' Iago. Iago manipulates Othello into believing that Desdemona is betraying him, in order to be promoted to lieutenant, and bring about the downfall of Othello. The love story of "Othello" differs from "Romeo and Juliet" in that Romeo and Juliet's destruction was partly caused by their characters, but largely because of their circumstances. In contrast, Othello and Desdemona's destruction was partly caused by Iago's manipulation, but largely because of the faults in their characters. Through this unique and tragic play, Shakespeare narrates a story rich with the timeless themes of; jealousy, deception, prejudice/ racism, and love.

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