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When did you last read a truly great book and what was it?

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Posted on 19 Feb 2013 23:45:44 GMT
Chris says:
Not sure if these qualify as great literature because I'm not sure what that is, but they're great to me because they gripped me from cover to cover, and also left me a little stunned for twenty minutes or so after they ended, as if I didn't want to move on straight away. For some reason they're all a bit morbid.
The Bell Jar, The Judas Tree (AJ Cronin), Atonement, and The Finger of Saturn.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Feb 2013 23:01:30 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Feb 2013 23:12:41 GMT
Chris says:
I love Discworld, but haven't been able to get through Unseen Academicals, I Shall Wear Midnight, and Snuff. Normally Terry's beginnings are fantastic, but these last few just haven't been grabbing me.
Tell me I'm wrong, and should go back and persevere. I didn't make it past the opening chapter or so of Snuff. Does it develop into a great tale?
I don't really want to return to Unseen because I got about half way through and thought it was lacking. The new characters seemed like warmed-over versions of old ones, and the old characters just weren't themselves. The wizards' conversations were dull, and that's never been the case in previous books.
What about I Shall Wear Midnight? Is there any humour and wondrousness in it, or is the whole thing like the opening?

Posted on 19 Feb 2013 21:54:26 GMT
r p bradley says:
I know what the original poster is talking about.
Every time I sample a new author recently I'm under whelmed.
However I have just been blown by this unexpected gem.

Straw Houses

I was in two minds as to whether or not to buy this one, knowing nothing of it, or the author, and to be honest, if it weren't for the 5* user review I probably wouldn't have bothered.

Glad I did though, as this booked really blew me away. It usually takes me a week or two to get through a novel, but I finished "Straw Houses" in two days.

It's the deceptively simple tale of a bored young man, a bit of a wall flower I guess, who befriends a charismatic loner in a bar one night, and gets drawn into a conspiracy involving a corrupt politician and a snuff movie.

The prose is snappy and playful, the lead character's truly three-dimensional, and even now a week later details and moments keep creeping up into my mind.
I might even read it again, which is virtually unheard of for me.

Couldn't find anything else about the author though, so any help in that department would be greatly appreciated.

Posted on 13 Jan 2013 19:48:30 GMT
DPL says:
Hereward by James Wilde

Posted on 13 Jan 2013 10:35:31 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Jan 2013 11:24:14 GMT
Looks like someone's not feeling the love for William Trevor...

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2013 21:16:30 GMT
I Readalot says:
So many new Latin American and Spanish names appearing now. I received a proof of the new one by Marias and have started reading that. I was discussing his with the rep last time he was over, the fact that he is a great writer and as yet virtually unknown in the UK. As well as writing his own novels he has translated the likes of Joseph Conrad and Laurence Sterne.

Posted on 10 Jan 2013 20:31:46 GMT
Booktigger says:
Three that spring to mind from last year are both Andrew Kaufmans books, and The Time Child by Lexi Revellion

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2013 15:19:26 GMT
Dan Holloway says:
I was having a conversation with one of the booksellers at Blackwell's a couple of days ago about what an exciting time it is for the availability of Latin American fiction, and how much Bolano's been responsible for showing the reaidng public's interest. He introduced me to the new Alejandro Zambra book Ways of Going Home. I read Bonsai last year and loved it.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2013 10:03:54 GMT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jan 2013 12:26:33 GMT
Anita says:
To be honest I don't imagine Hopscotch and 62 without one another, the latter - in a way - being an "expanded version" of chapter 62 of the former

Edit: it actually comes to the personal taste, but I prefer 62 over Hopscotch - perhaps

Posted on 10 Jan 2013 09:36:34 GMT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jan 2013 14:20:42 GMT
Greatness is subjective, surely? My greatest read is not necessarily going to be great to anyone else.

Anyway, I think the last truly great read for me was Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde in 2011. Nothing I read last year really compared, although the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness came close.

Posted on 10 Jan 2013 09:23:26 GMT
monica says:
Many many thanks, Anita. I've read and liked v. much other Cortazar books but I'd never heard of that one. Straight to the wish list.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 17:36:50 GMT
Anita says:

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 17:20:45 GMT
Err. Topic failed. F. Sit down, Stella.

*hangs head in shame*

Posted on 9 Jan 2013 17:09:54 GMT
Anita says:
Skipping the "when" part (I'm very bad about dates), trying to *not* veer to science fiction :) and (inevitably) repeating some books mentioned elsewhere - some, in my opinion, truly great books:

The Sheltering Sky (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Penguin Modern Classics)
62: A Model Kit (New Directions Classics)
As I Lay Dying
The Magic Mountain
"Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov - can't insert a link, as I have no idea which translation of several is the best

It's funny though how tastes can be different. Personally, I hate "Lolita".

For Stella with a smile - I think the OP asked for truly great books, not for bad books you happened to enjoy (and I mean Twilight, of course, not the other one). I did like sooo many not so great books :) (But mentioned them in "often re-read books" thread, or similar :) )

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 16:32:46 GMT
I Readalot says:
Glad to see Bolano get a mention here Dan, Savage Detectives is a great book, I am a bit of a fan though. It is really thanks to him that I have read a lot of Latin American authors lately.

Recently read a proof of 'Harvest; Jim Crace and both of the Javier Marias novels I have read qualify as great 'Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me' and 'A Heart So White' (both quotes from Shakespeare), basically I consider him to be a great writer.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 14:25:38 GMT
Dan Holloway says:
That's actually a very good illustration of the question. Banana Yoshimoto is my favourite author, and NP my favourite book, but I just couldn't get ino Amrita. I think the underlying themes of loneliness and loss, and the swirling dark waters beneath still surfaces arethe same, but what marks Yoshimoto out from others examining those themes is the elegant sparseness of her prose, the ability she has to create layer on layer of meaning in a single image, and that was missing from Amrita, which as a result felt somewhat flat and floundering - as though what had been seamless in her other works were suddenly exposed and we could see the process behind the beauty.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 14:00:28 GMT
Nurrie says:
You have common sense!!! You won't believe how many people think Lolita is a love story! They don't realise Humbert is an unreliable narrator who is trying to convince others ( and himself!!!!) that what he did was right.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 12:39:44 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jan 2013 13:07:32 GMT
Ethereal says:
Curious in general about why someone would love books by a particular author but be disappointed in one - I guess it points to the underlying theme an author is taken with at a given moment which may not appeal to their regular readers!

I'll add another I've remembered, also read about a year ago.
Goodbye Tsugumi

Posted on 9 Jan 2013 12:36:52 GMT
skatellites says:
Lolita by Nabokov - was terrified it was going to be too distressing, but it was actually really fun and beautifully written, all without at any point excusing Humbert's behaviour or making him a sympathetic character. I was so impressed! Will immediately go and read something else he's written.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 12:35:29 GMT
Anita says:
Sorry everybody - off topic

Ethereal - it's a bit complicated to make it short, let me just say it was written 20 or such years *after* the original trilogy, I have no idea why, as an afterthought, maybe? The first three books are full of... I daresay, wisdom, a lot of *very* important things, and, in my opinion, it's plain silly to call them "children's books". The third book, again, ends... perfectly. There's nothing to add to that.

So - adding ruins it all. Some feministic blabber instead of wisdom. I *do*know very very different opinions about Tehanu, but this is mine...

By the way - I was SO disappointed by it that I never read the fifth one, but hey... just ordered it, today :) Heard from multiple people that it is "back to where it was", so we shall see. A *yet* bigger disappointmrnt perhaps is impossible anyway.

Btw - you are just curious, or you have an opinion of your own?

Posted on 9 Jan 2013 12:19:11 GMT
I'm not ashamed to admit that I loved Twilight (Twilight Saga) immensely. It was the first series since my teenage years I well and truly got lost in. A romantic at heart as it seems. That was 2009.
And I loved/was fascinated by If On A Winter's Night A Traveller (Vintage classics). Read it 2011.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 12:12:40 GMT
Ethereal says:
It would be interesting to know why - did the author go off the boil, try something different which didn't work, you got fed up of same old or the end just dwindled out?

Posted on 9 Jan 2013 11:29:33 GMT
Dan Holloway says:
Recently finished Bolano's The Savage Detectives. Sprawling, shifting, captivating, enchanting and dazzling. Even better, as a whole, than 2666

Posted on 9 Jan 2013 11:19:10 GMT
Roma says:
The Kite Runner

Posted on 9 Jan 2013 11:16:54 GMT
Roma says:
The Kite Runner
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  23
Total posts:  38
Initial post:  8 Jan 2013
Latest post:  19 Feb 2013

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