Author Topic: Five Books... that's all you've got.  (Read 22096 times)

Offline The 92A

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Five Books... that's all you've got.
« on: June 5, 2011, 09:14:40 PM »
Just been dipping in the 'last book you read' thread and realised with a busy life, bringing up kids etc, I have neglected my reading these past few years. As with anything you stop doing the world moves on and you're not just left standing still, you're left behind.
 
If you were giving recommendations to someone like me eager to get back into reading, what are the five books you would start with and why would you recommend them? I suppose most of them would have been written in the last twenty or thirty years but wouldn't rule out anything just because it doesn't meet that criteria.
 
Hopefully the thread won't just be of use to me directly but will stimulate a bit of debate on the best books of the past few years which will be of use to us all.
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Offline Anything Will Do

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #1 on: June 5, 2011, 09:21:16 PM »
You read the Harry Potter's?

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #2 on: June 5, 2011, 09:30:06 PM »
My favourite current 5 books are

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

Took me 10 times picking this up and putting it down again before I finally got 'into' it, but it's probably the book I've derived most satisfaction.

Johnny Got His Gun - Dalton Trumbo

Still amazes me how you can get so many words from a situation were the protagonist has no arms, legs and can't speak.

Pimp (The Story of My Life) - Iceberg Slim

You might have to keep going to the glossary to get the meaning of some sentences, as the dialogue is in 70s jive, gives the book so much character though.

The Great and Secret Show - Clive Barker

I've never read a book that's had as many layers of plot. It's like the literary equivalent of pot holing, if that makes any sense.

Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami

Not a big fan of love stories either but this is just so beautiful and sad.

Great Apes - Will Self

I know you said 5 but couldn't decide which one to leave out. An artist goes out, gets tanked up and snorts a few lines. Wakes up the next morning as an Ape, in a land of Apes. A bit of a mixture of planet of the apes crossed with Metamorphasis and a dash of the 1980s PG Tips adverts. The dialogue is written through chimp gesticulation, which is very clever cos as we all know monkeys can't talk.
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Offline The 92A

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #3 on: June 5, 2011, 10:03:54 PM »
You read the Harry Potter's?

Seen the films with the kids, but don't think I would fancy the books. I've read little apart from the odd holiday novel and sports stuff. Read the odd book here and there but literally don't know where to start hence the thread.
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Offline Alan_X

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #4 on: June 5, 2011, 10:05:13 PM »
Pushing through the market square...
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Offline The 92A

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #5 on: June 5, 2011, 10:06:18 PM »
« Last Edit: June 5, 2011, 10:09:35 PM by The 92A »
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Offline El Diablos

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #6 on: June 5, 2011, 10:09:51 PM »
Pushing through the market square...

Very good... ;D

Offline Driver 8

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #7 on: June 5, 2011, 10:33:08 PM »
Not sure if you mean just fiction or if you want non-fiction too, but I'll limit myself to the former. Also, would add say that these are of the top of my head, just some personal faves, and taste being subjective and all that, some will not like them:

The Road (2006, US) by Cormac McCarthy. IMHO, the best novel of the past decade. Post-apocalyptic wasteland stuff, gripping story, very easy to read and could be finished in one sitting.

Netherland (2008, US/Ireland) by Joseph O'Neill. Beautifully written account of a wealthy Dutch investor living in post-9/11 NY, who starts hanging out with small-time Chuck Ramkissoon, a possible gangster who dreams of making cricket big in the US. I hate cricket and I loved this novel. Probably doubly recommended for anyone who actually likes that sport.

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (1981-2005, Japan) by Haruki Murakami. Second shout for Murakami, great writer. Personally prefer his short stories to his novels, (and of his novels I like A Wild Sheep Chase better than his more famous ones such as Norwegian Wood  and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) but anything by him is good, really.

Neuromancer (1984, US/Canada) by William Gibson. Anyone who's into movies like Blade Runner and The Matrix has to read this. Gibson meshes a hard-boiled detective vibe with virtual reality and cyber-argot. Seminal in SF.

One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967, Colombia) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Going back a bit further, Marquez' novel is a sprawling magic realist epic which reimagines the turbulent history of Colombia as the story of the Buendia family. And of bananas. Very famous opening line: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

Most overrated novel of recent times: White Teeth, Zadie Smith.

And after those, I've had no room for Don DeLillo, John Banville, JM Coetzee, Salman Rushdie, Philip Roth, Douglas Coupland, Jonathan Franzen, Irvine Welsh (though I think he went way downhill after Trainspotting), VS Naipaul, Doris Lessing, JG Ballard, Thomas Pynchon, Nadine Gordimer, Margaret Atwood, Roberto Bolano and Michael Ondaatje, to name just a few from the last thirty years or so who are all highly acclaimed. There are far too many good places to start.
« Last Edit: June 5, 2011, 10:36:21 PM by Driver 8 »

Offline ClaireW

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #8 on: June 5, 2011, 10:36:43 PM »
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

Took me 10 times picking this up and putting it down again before I finally got 'into' it, but it's probably the book I've derived most satisfaction.


I have started this four, maybe five times as I know I should read it and I know I will love it, but just cannot get into it.  You have inspired me to try again - at least five more times!

Offline The 92A

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #9 on: June 5, 2011, 10:40:30 PM »
White teeth was one of the handful I have read and I agree thought it was weak, very disappointed, thanks for your recommendations
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Offline scatman

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #10 on: June 5, 2011, 10:44:04 PM »
Le Comte de Monte-Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

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Offline Filler.

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #11 on: June 5, 2011, 10:46:24 PM »
Chaucer

Ballard

Bukowski

Burroughs

And someone with breasts. With pictures.

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #12 on: June 5, 2011, 10:54:59 PM »
The name of the Rose Umberto Eco
Persian Fire Tom Holland
Around Ireland with a fridge Tony Hawkes
Gibbon - Decline and fall
Five go to Smugglers Top (for when I was 6 and it was the greatest book I had ever read)
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Offline FlashingBlade

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #13 on: June 5, 2011, 11:19:20 PM »
walk into Waterstones...walk around the A-Z author section and pick a book from a cover you like ...and take it from there...you'll get so many recomendations here.... leave it to the romanace of chance...

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #14 on: June 5, 2011, 11:23:57 PM »
walk into Waterstones...walk around the A-Z author section and pick a book from a cover you like ...and take it from there...you'll get so many recomendations here.... leave it to the romanace of chance...

Is that a subliminal trick to get him to read The Diceman
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Offline FlashingBlade

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #15 on: June 5, 2011, 11:26:59 PM »
Is that a subliminal trick to get him to read The Diceman

well spotted , no, but maybe subliminal on my part...just as I pressed post I did think...Luke Rhinehart...scary!...there ya go The 92A....great start...'The Diceman by Luke Rhineheart'...and buy a set of die!

92A the book is about taking chances...take it!
« Last Edit: June 5, 2011, 11:29:34 PM by FlashingBlade »

Offline El Diablos

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #16 on: June 5, 2011, 11:32:31 PM »
Some top picks here already

I was thinking of selecting Catch-22, The Name of the Rose, The Road, 100 Years of Solitude

So to those i'll add

To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
Under the Volcano - Malcom Lowry
True History of the Kelly Gang - Peter Carey

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #17 on: June 5, 2011, 11:39:37 PM »
Virginia Wolf.....tried to read one of hers once and it was inpenetrable. ... Maybe I was only 15 so a bit young...what's so good about To the lighthouse?
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Offline CarraIsBoss

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #18 on: June 5, 2011, 11:58:26 PM »
Take your pick of five from Hemmingway and Steinbeck's work.
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Offline El Diablos

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #19 on: June 6, 2011, 12:15:06 AM »
Virginia Wolf.....tried to read one of hers once and it was inpenetrable. ... Maybe I was only 15 so a bit young...what's so good about To the lighthouse?

Its beautifully written for a start. Its a very enigmatic book that kind of occupies that space between thought and feeling as it weaves through the subjective experiences of its characters. The overwhelming sensation is of things lost, things remembered but with some sort of feeling of pervasive dread of an uncertain future unfolding. The characters converse about many issues of the day, from science, to religion and art and so i guess thematically, on one level at least, it can be seen to be communicating the sense of uncertainty following the pre first world war Edwardian times, to the new world with all of its existential complexities that resulted after the war. On a other level it mirrors the similar shift into Modernism. The short section in the middle charting the passage of time is one of my favourite parts of any book i've read, its beautiful and poignant and moving.

Ive always thought Terence Malick would be the one to make a film adaptation. I've not reread it in over a decade though but i think i'll take it off the bookshelf now you've prompted me to think about it.

Offline El Diablos

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #20 on: June 6, 2011, 12:15:48 AM »
Take your pick of five from Hemmingway and Steinbeck's work.

I love The Grapes of Wrath.

Offline jerseyhoya

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #21 on: June 6, 2011, 05:40:41 AM »
I don't like reading books that make me think too hard. Do enough of that in school.

The Lion's Game by Nelson DeMille

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Patriot Games by Tom Clancy

Harry Potter series

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Offline Alan_X

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #23 on: June 6, 2011, 08:24:40 PM »
Off the top of my head

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist by Rober Tressell - should be compulsory for all schools
Paul McGraths autobiography - very honest and no happy ending
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Catch 22 - read it yonks ago and have downloaded the ebook as it can be difficult to get into
Great Apes - Will Self

I liked Dune by Frank Herbert but mentioned it to my Dad and he got me all the books in the series from Broadgreen market and put me off !

Offline DanFromMars

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #24 on: June 6, 2011, 08:25:27 PM »
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

Took me 10 times picking this up and putting it down again before I finally got 'into' it, but it's probably the book I've derived most satisfaction.

The trick is audio booking it when going for long walks or on long journeys!  The fella reading it was awesome too, really brought out the humour... You've got flies in your eyes!!
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Offline Acaustiq

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #25 on: June 6, 2011, 11:20:38 PM »
The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon.
Inherent Vice - Thomas Pynchon.
White Noise - Don DeLillo.
The Information - Martin Amis (yeah he's a massive fascist, but it's a good book).
Portnoy's Complaint - Phillip Roth.
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Offline litliper

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #26 on: June 6, 2011, 11:26:44 PM »
Brave new world
1984
The Road
The Stand
Independent people (By Halldór Laxness)
"My country is the world, and my religion to do good." (Thomas Paine)

Offline El Diablos

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #27 on: June 6, 2011, 11:52:14 PM »
Another random 5 of good books

Beloved - Toni Morrison
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
One Flew over the cuckoo's nest - Ken Kesey
The French Lieurenant's Woman  - John Fowles
Slaughter House 5 - Kurt Vonnegut

Offline Alonso_The_Assassin

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #28 on: June 7, 2011, 12:55:17 AM »
Irvine Welsh - Glue
Haruki Murakami - The Windup Bird Chronichle
Hunter S. Thompson - Hell's Angels
Jack Keroauc - The Road
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Beautiful and the Damned

Ellroy and Heller unlucky to miss out.

Offline flashman

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #29 on: June 7, 2011, 03:30:48 AM »
This thread was useful as there are a few family birthdays coming up along with fathers day and I had decided to buy books from amazon as i am outside the uk and the delivery is good.

Anyway chose
Norwegian wood
Great apes
Into the wild
Touching the void
History of efc (for brother in law)

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #30 on: June 7, 2011, 04:50:53 AM »
The adventures of Tom Sawyer and Hucklberry Finn
Anything from Tolkien
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Offline Citizen Kane

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #31 on: June 7, 2011, 11:15:28 AM »
My favourite current 5 books are

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

Took me 10 times picking this up and putting it down again before I finally got 'into' it, but it's probably the book I've derived most satisfaction.

Definitely top of my list. It is thought provoking, and genuinely funny at times. At one point I was laughing uncontrollably at the sheer madness of what was unfolding. One of my favourite books ever.

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #32 on: June 7, 2011, 11:55:18 AM »
Last 30 Years...

Yankee Classics:
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
White Noise - Don DeLillo
The Plot Against America - Philip Roth
Generation X - Douglas Coupland
Beloved - Toni Morrison

Best of British:
Any Human Heart - William Boyd
Atonement - Ian McEwan
Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh
Last Orders - Graham Swift
Awaydays - Kevin Sampson (Liverpool bias coming through)

International Velvet:
Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
Atomised - Houllebecq
Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Marukami
Disgrace - JM Coetzee
Love in the time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Essential Non-Fiction:
A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking
The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins
No Logo - Naomi Klein
The Age of Consent - George Monbiot
The Emperors New Mind - Sir Roger Penrose

I think I have rather abused the format but what the hell, get thee to the library before the c*nts close it down

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Offline MichaelA

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #33 on: June 7, 2011, 11:59:11 AM »
Fuck me that's a great version.

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Offline MichaelA

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #34 on: June 7, 2011, 12:03:09 PM »
Kazuo Ishiguro - The Remains Of The Day
Iain Banks - The Wasp Factory
Dougas Adams - The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy
Ian McEwan - Atonement
Martin Amis - Money


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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #35 on: June 7, 2011, 12:07:11 PM »
Lord Foul's Bane - Stephen Donaldson

Lord of the Rings - Tolkein

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist - Robert Tressel

Animal farm - George Orwell

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams



(And, as picking 5 is ludicrous): some mentions to: Don Quixote, War and Peace - Tolstoy, 1984 - George Orwell, Brave New World - Aldues Huxley, The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Crime and Punishment - Dostoevsky, The New York Trilogy - Paul Auster, The Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Arabian Nights (Anon), The Trial (Kafka), Frankenstein - Mary Shelly, Dracula - Bram Stoker,

And Anything by ; William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Raymond E. Feist, Steven King, Stephen Donaldson, Steven Baxter, Bill Bryson, Douglas Adams, HG Wells, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austin, Emily Bronte, Daniel Defoe, William Gibson


And I could probably add another 2,000 books you should take a look at.
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Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #36 on: June 7, 2011, 12:10:51 PM »
Reading Andy's list I was put in mind of Endless Art by A House
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Offline deadlybuzz

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #37 on: June 7, 2011, 12:18:49 PM »
The last few books I read which I enjoyed were:

1984 - George Orwell
Shadow of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón
World War Z, The Zombie World War - Max Brooks
We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
Carlos the Bewitched - John Nada
Ahh, pressing refresh and waiting for news... just like the bad old days.

Liverpool porn, this.

anyone who's negative can fuck off

Offline Andy @ Allerton

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #38 on: June 7, 2011, 12:20:34 PM »
The last few books I read which I enjoyed were:

1984 - George Orwell
Shadow of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón
World War Z, The Zombie World War - Max Brooks
We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
Carlos the Bewitched - John Nada

Want to get that World War Z - but I have about 100 books at the moment (In paper form) that I keep threatening to read and another 10,000 (Ebook) that I haven't got round to yet.
Brexit. As stupid as you can imagine.

The poor voting to make themselves worse off and their masters richer.

Offline Skuzzlebutt

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Re: Five Books... that's all you've got.
« Reply #39 on: June 7, 2011, 12:56:48 PM »
I just bought my summer reading:

1984 ~ George Orwell
For whom the bell tolls ~ Ernest Hemmingway
The Portrait of Dorian Gray ~ Oscar Wilde
Of Mice and Men ~ John Steinbeck
The old man and the Sea ~ Ernest Hemmingway
We're gonna win the league-omiter

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V5. 2013 edition.  Optimism levels rusted solid.  We're givin' her all she's got Captain!!!