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My Top Ten Unforgettable Books

Updated on December 3, 2016
Gloriousconfusion profile image

I've always been a keen reader and have so many books that I couldn't hope to read them all in my lifetime. I love being surrounded by them

My Ten Unforgettable Books are not necessarily enjoyable but they might give you ideas for presents

Unforgettable Books by definition have an enduring quality - you remember them years later, and keep harking back to them in your mind.

Matthias Stomer (1600 - 1650): Young Man Reading by Candlelight

As I Said, My Ten Unforgettable Books are not necessarily enjoyable, but they contained something which moved me - a strong story, good writing, and characters

Several of the books are translations and a few are written in English by foreign authors - the stories spread across the world, and show what we already know: that good stories are found everywhere.

I used to think that reading a book in translation would detract from the quality and nuances of the language it was originally written in, but I have not found this to be the case with any of the translations of these books, and I must acknowledge that I have been very impressed with the powerful writing of the translators, with their obvious love of language.

Well, Here They Are - My List of Unforgettable Books

Any Surprises?

  • Snow - Orhan Pamuk
  • The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
  • Crime and Punishment - Dostoievesky
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khalid Hosseini
  • Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
  • A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka
  • And Quiet Flows the Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Tess of the D'Urbevilles - Thomas Hardy
  • Reach for the Sky - Paul Brickhill
  • The Remains of the Day - Kashuo Ishiguru
  • The Seven Pillars of Wisdom - T E Lawrence

Here Follows More Detail About My Unforgettable Books - Spot the Deliberate Mistake -

I'm afraid there are actually 11 because I couldn't decide on eliminating any of them, they were all so good!

Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Snow - Orhan Pamuk

Orhan Pamuk was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006

A journalist arrives in the remote city of Kars on the Turkish border. Kars is a troubled place - there's a suicide epidemic among its young women, Islamists are poised to win the local elections, and the head of the intelligence service is viciously effective. When a growing blizzard cuts off the outside world, the stage is set for a terrible and desperate act . . . Orhan Pamuk's evokes the spiritual fragility of the non-Western world, its ambivalence about the godless West, and its fury.

Orhan Pamuk won the International IMPAC Award for My Name is Red, in 2003 and in 2004 Faber published the translation of his novel Snow, described as 'a novel of profound relevance to the present moment'. .

I have two First Editions of 'Snow', one of which is signed by Orhan Pamuk. If you are interested in buying, the details are:

Orhan Pamuk "Snow" Signed First Edition, First Printing -

Published 2004 by Faber

Condition: Fine; With Dustjacket:

£170, Plus Postage within UK £2.79 - pay using Paypal

or contact me via my Bio if you are outside the UK.

Orhan Pamuk "Snow" First Edition:

Published by Faber & Faber 2004 1st Edition.

Paper back Mint condition, with dustjacket -

£50 Plus Postage within UK £2.79 - pay using Paypal

or contact me via my Bio if you are outside the UK.

You can find more detail about this writer, and the book, on my web page "Snow" - by Orhan Pamuk, and about the birth of modern Turkey and Ataturk it's founder on Ataturk, Founder of Modern Turkey

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

Shocking and controversial when it was first published in 1939, Steinbeck's Pulitzer prize-winning epic remains his undisputed masterpiece. Set against the background of dust bowl Oklahoma and Californian migrant life, it tells of the Joad family, who, like thousands of others, are forced to travel West in search of the promised land. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and broken dreams, yet out of their suffering Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human, yet majestic in its scale and moral vision; an eloquent tribute to the endurance and dignity of the human spirit.


The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath

Paperback book

(You can also get this on DVD - I've seen the film, starring Henry Fonda, and it was brilliant. It will also help you to understand what it was like in the 1929 Depression)

 

Crime and Punishment - Dostoyevsky

One of the greatest Russian Classics with a moral dilemma

Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law.

But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption.

Dostoyevsky's style was a bit like Dickens - great attention to detailed characterisation, and a fine observation of life in Russia in the mid 19th Century, leading the reader to consider the moral question of how blameworthy the protaganist actually was.


Crime and Punishment by Dostoievsky

Source

Crime and Punishment - Dostoyevsky

Crime and Punishment (Penguin Classics)
Crime and Punishment (Penguin Classics)

Paperback.

Translated from the Russian into English

You can also get this story on DVD - very atmospheric

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini

An intensely disturbing, beautifully crafted story giving a real insight into the suffering of women in Afghanistan. Khaled Husseini weaves a masterful story around the intertwined lives of two women brought together in adversity by marriage to a vicious brute of a man.

This book has left an indelible effect on my mind.

You can read more about the book and the author on my web page A Thousand Splendid Suns - by Khaled Hosseini


A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns Illustrated Edition
A Thousand Splendid Suns Illustrated Edition

De Luxe hardback illustrated book.

It gives you a flavor of what Afghanistan is really like, and how so many women are treated with contempt and brutality

You can also get this in Paperback and as a talking book

 

Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

Published in 1837

The story of an orphan, Oliver, who runs away from the workhouse only to be taken in by a den of thieves, shocked readers when it was first published. Dickens' tale of childhood innocence beset by evil depicts the dark criminal underworld of a London peopled by vivid and memorable characters; the villain Fagin, the artful Dodger, the menacing Bill Sikes and a prostitute Nancy who is kind to Oliver, but is ultimately murdered. Combining elements of Gothic Romance and popular melodrama, in Oliver Twist Dickens created an entirely new kind of fiction, scathing in its indictment of a cruel society, and pervaded by an unforgettable sense of threat and mystery.

I read this at school, and of course have since seen the film and the Musical.

I am selling a very old leather-bound copy and other leather bound Dickens books - contact me via my Bio - You will be able to pay by Paypal.

If you are interested in Antiquarian Books, you will like this illustrated version which was published in about 1850.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka

Very funny

'Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamourous blonde Ukrainian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.'


A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka

And Quiet Flows the Don - Mikhail Sholokhov

Another Russian classic

Sholokhov's book And Quiet Flows the Don showed the destruction of the Cossacks and the birth of a new society, with the suffering of the Russian people after the Russian Revolution. The book is poetic and has the wonderful detail and depth of characterisation that made this book one of my favourites.


And Quiet Flows the Don - Mikhail Sholokhov

Tess of the D'Urbevilles - Thomas Hardy

When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D'Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her 'cousin' Alec brings about her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future. With its sensitive depiction of the wronged Tess and powerful criticism of social convention, Tess of the D'Urbervilles is one of the most moving and poetic of Hardy's novels.

I particularly enjoyed the humorously painful but very memorable scenes with Tess's alcoholic father at the beginning of the book.


Tess of the D'Urbevilles - Thomas Hardy

The Remains of the Day - Kashuo Ishiguru

The novel's narrator, Stevens, is a perfect English butler

He tries to give his narrow existence form and meaning through the self-effacing, almost mystical practice of his profession. In a career that spans the second world war, Stevens is oblivious of the real life that goes on around him - oblivious, for instance, of the fact that his aristocrat employer is a Nazi sympathizer. Still, there are even larger matters at stake in this heartbreaking, beautifully crafted novel-- namely, Stevens' own ability to allow some bit of life-affirming love into his tightly repressed existence.

This book was a pleasure to read - I wanted it to go on and on.


The Remains of the Day - Kashuo Ishiguru

The Remains of the Day (Contemporary Classics Series)
The Remains of the Day (Contemporary Classics Series)

Or you can get the DVD Film with

Anthony Hopkins, Hugh Grant &

Emma Thompson and Christopher Reeve

 

Reach for the Sky : The Story of Douglas Bader D.S.O., D.F.C.

by Paul Brickhill

In 1931, at the age of 21, Douglas Bader was the golden boy of the RAF. Excelling in everything he did he represented the Royal Air Force in aerobatics displays, played rugby for Harlequins, and was tipped to be the next England fly half. But one afternoon in December all his ambitions came to an abrupt end when he crashed his plane doing a particularly difficult and illegal aerobatic trick. His injuries were so bad that both his legs were amputated. Douglas Bader did not fly again until the outbreak of the Second World War, when his undoubted skill in the air was enough to convince a desperate air force to give him his own squadron. Flying Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain he led his squadron, keeping them all going with his unstoppable banter. Shot down in occupied France, his German captors had to confiscate his tin legs in order to stop him trying to escape.


Bader faced disability, leadership and capture, with the same charm, charisma and determination that was an inspiration to all around him.

Sometimes when I feel I can't do something, I think about the achievements of this unstoppable man, and it gives me the inspiration and strength to try harder.

New Amazon

Reach for the Sky: The Story of Douglas Bader, Legless Ace of the Battle of Britain (Bluejacket Books)
Reach for the Sky: The Story of Douglas Bader, Legless Ace of the Battle of Britain (Bluejacket Books)

Illustrated Paperback Book

Or you can get the Amazon Instant Video, starring Kenneth Moore

 

Seven Pillars of Wisdom - T E Lawrence

Although 'continually and bitterly ashamed' that the Arabs had risen in revolt against the Turks as a result of fraudulent British promises of self-rule, Lawrence led them in a triumphant campaign which revolutionized the art of war.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom recreates epic events with extraordinary vividness.


In the words of E. M. Forster, 'Round this tent-pole of a military chronicle, T. E. has hung an unexampled fabric of portraits, descriptions, philosophies, emotions, adventures, dreams'.

Another beautifully written book, which gripped me from beginning to end.

New Amazon

Lawrence Of Arabia
Lawrence Of Arabia

Amazon Instant Video - David Lean's Film wth Peter O'Toole

 

How Do You Choose What Book to Read Next? - Take this poll

Compare yourself with others (even though incomparable in your own right).

Some people only read what they are required by their school or college to read and others don't read books at all.

I doubt whether this would be you because reluctant readers would be unlikely to be reading this web page!

How do You Decide Which Book to Read Next - Your Main Method?

See results

Do you agree with my selection of top 10 Unforgettable Books (or did you find them entirely forgettable)? - What Are Your Top Ten Unforgettable Books?

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    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      What wonderful books, and i could feel your enjoyment through your mini reviews! this was lovely to read

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 6 years ago

      I haven't heard of most of these books. Thanks for all of the reviews!

    • profile image

      Sanja94 4 years ago

      I'm so happy to see that you put "And Quiet Flows the Don" and "Crime and Punishment" on your list. Great lens, thanks.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Beautifully created page of your top 10 unforgettable books

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 4 years ago

      I got about halfway through Tess but I found it too depressing. I'll try some of the others!

    • sharonbellis profile image

      Sharon Bellissimo 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Great selection, with a few I must read! Thanks.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      very good selection... I will probably add one more:"Doctor Zhivago" by Boris Pasternak, but I am 100% agree with your choices.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      You've named some fantastic books! Some I've read... others I put on my TBR list. Thanks for the recommendations!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Linda BookLady: I'm so glad you found them all worth reading!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Michey LM: I did try to read Dr. Zhivago but gave up before the end!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @OhMe: I hope it influences your opinion to read some of them, if you haven't already

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 3 years ago from France

      I've read some of these, heard of others but many are new - a great reading list already sorted for me!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 3 years ago

      My husband and I were just talking about the Grapes of Wrath and I don't remember ever reading it. I have it on my list of books to read this summer! I might work through your list if I have more time!

    • chi kung profile image

      chi kung 3 years ago

      I have read a lot of books at uni - nowadays I choose topics that are connected to spirituality

    • profile image

      MaggiePowell 3 years ago

      I read anything and everything with words... the stacks around the house are high, but I manage to get through them. LOVE books.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 3 years ago

      I have a new reading list now. I want to read all of the books you suggested - pinned to my board "Books Worth Reading."

    • profile image

      burntchestnut 3 years ago

      I've read Oliver Twist in school (and saw the movie later) and know the story of Grapes of Wrath. I might read Tess of the D'Urbevilles some day, but the others don't interest me. I know I need to expand my reading subjects, but I lean toward cozy mysteries and certain romances.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Gypzeerose: That is so satisfying - to know my suggestions will be taken up!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      @MaggiePowell: Me too - I've had to stop myself buying more books, and still people give them to me and I can't refuse!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      @chi kung: Yes, they can be good to read, and put you in a peaceful frame of mind

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Paul Ward: Poor old Tess!

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 3 years ago from France

      The books that you have chosen that I've read I love. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is on my 'to read' shelf now so I'm looking forward to that. The rest of your list I'll be ordering asap. Thanks so much for these great read ideas.

    • profile image

      Susie05 3 years ago

      Thanks for the list of unforgettable books! I can't wait to read some of them!!

    • Digory LM profile image

      Digory LM 3 years ago

      Very worthy list. I'd like to do my version of this lens.

    • scrapquilter profile image

      Myreda Johnson 2 years ago from Ohio USA

      A very interesting lens that taught me about several interesting books of which I was unaware.

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