Huxley's Brave New World. Richer and more multilayered than Orwell's 1984 I reckon.
TS Eliot - The Wasteland
Another vote here for Cannery Row.
And then there's The Secret History, probably the best book I've ever read.
I'd also put in a mention for Robert Graves
Goodbye to all That - his account of WW1 which is apt in 2014 and I Claudius - a book i picked up only because I'd read everything else on the bookshelf. It's not like your reading about ancient Rome you are quite simply there, a stunning book.
Dracula - an astonishing book and nothing like the 400000000 movies made based on the original story.
Lots of fantastic suggestions above but here are some of my favourites:
Vladimir Nabukov - Lolita
The subject matter is obviously a challenge but as an exploration of someone struggling with their sexual nature it's almost perfect. An uncomfortable read at times but incredibly compelling.
Virginia Woolf - Mrs Dalloway
A hard read but only because its structure is so innovative. Once you get used to it it's an amazing snapshot of a world in which characters move and exist rather than the world being shaped around them. A bit like an impressionist painting or a complex jazz record, you have to commit to exploring it to get the most out of it.
Phillip Roth - American Pastoral
My favourite novel - exploring the relationships between classes, generations and cultures in the 1960-70s. I read it in about 48 hours then went back to the start and read it again.
Joris Karl Huysmans - A Rebours
The most cynically comic novel I know of, tearing into the intellectualism and affectation of its era but still relevant to our own fabs and fashions and still very funny.
Ernest Hemmingway - For Whom the Bell Tolls
Pretty much a perfect book, not really sure what to say about it really.
+1 for Consider the Lilies
The Magic Mountain - Thomas Mann
Nothing really happens, but Mann makes every other novel you've read seem like it was put together by a 10 year old. Incredibly rich in ideas.
Very much enjoying 1984 at the moment, in my version all the party members are wearing Rapha Jerseys.
Many very good recommendations - but a few authors worth adding to the list
Had one of the great 19th French Realists but I don't think we have had the other two, Balzac, The Old Goriot being a good starting point and, for Zola, Thérèse Raquin.
And no list of great classics would be complete without Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment would be the first one to read.
Glad the most cliched and overrated book in English Literature has been avoided so far. How long can we go.....
Normally #1 on any classics list so good that STW has greater critical faculties!!
Glad the most cliched and overrated book in English Literature has been avoided so far
Ulysses? Certainly the most overrated. Not sure about cliched.
The 39 steps...... "of it's time" but good fun
I tried to read some of his other stuff and it is horribly dated.
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
The Great Game - Peter Hopkins
Dune - Frank Herbert
All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
+1 One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch
Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K...
Kafka is a special writer with such a strong voice that he seems to occupy his own space in the classics.
Another singular writer from the twentieth century is Borges - although he never wrote a novel, all short stories. Huge influence on the form and v fun and readable - the original magical realist (but don't blame him for that).
Some classic Russian stuff mentioned - another one from the 20th century is The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov - brilliantly written satire on Stalin, was samizdat literature in the soviet union for years [underground books distributed by hand]. Source of the immortal line 'Didn't you know that manuscripts don't burn?'
Dracula, very scary,
Well worth a read
Thanks for all your suggestions, I've bought Cannery Row to read next off the back of several endorsements but will refer back to this thread for future reads v shortly as plenty of them look well worth a read!!!
Talking about Russian themed books, one that I'm going to read again, now that you mention it, is one of the first books I read all on my lonesome after I left school. I was never a big reader till I read this book. But The Fixer by Bernard Malamud. Remember it as a cracking book, very dark.
Think I'll re-read The Trail again actually aswell since you mention Kafka. Reckon I'll get alot more out of that now I'm older, should still have it kicking about somewhere.
+1 for Catch 22
Is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy old enough to be a classic
Reading Kafka's 'collected novels' (The Trial, Amerika and The Castle) at the moment, The Castle by far my favourite but might go back and re-read the Trial when I've finished it as the last few chapters flew by.
+1 for Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov is great as well.
Only read Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck but think there is a copy of Cannery Row in the house.
My reading list grows exponentially...
5elefant - you appear to be typing with authority and knowledge you don't possess. Zen predated LILA by many years. Zen stands alone as a fine read.
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