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

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Showing 1-25 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Jan 2013, 20:58:29 GMT
JayCee says:
Steinbeck, Hemingway, Barstow, Orwell, Harper Lee. When I was a teenager it seemed that nearly every book I read was a great reading experience. Now, am I old? Am I cynical? Are my tastes too exacting? Why do I have to read between eight to ten books before I find one that merits keeping on my bookshelves rather than being shipped down to Oxfam? For the record, the most recent great books I have read have been Atonement, Snow Falls on Cedars, Any Human Heart and Raymond Carver's short stories.

Posted on 8 Jan 2013, 21:17:23 GMT
William Trevor's Collected Stories.

Posted on 8 Jan 2013, 21:22:40 GMT
Alistair Reynolds, Revelation space. I'd read loads of sci-fi up until then and none if it compared. Hooked! Then went on to Stross, Banks and anything I could find a bit like it.

Posted on 8 Jan 2013, 22:32:16 GMT
Not sure if will be regarded as a great by the so called intellectuals, but i read snuff by Terry Prachett recently, and to be honest there are few books that compare to its wit. Great story telling that doesnt pretend to be anything else other than sheer wonderful entertainment.

Posted on 8 Jan 2013, 23:09:50 GMT
F Mundo says:
Two great books I've read recently, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Never Let Me Go, one American award winner and one UK Award winner. Be warned, however, this is not light reading. I've recommended both of these brilliant books to many people and very few seem to like them.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jan 2013, 23:35:09 GMT
Northerns says:
Try Air and Angels by Susan Hill

Posted on 8 Jan 2013, 23:36:17 GMT
bill g. says:
A book I,m near to finishing -- The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd. A book that uses the true story of the Ratcliffe Highway murders mixed in with piracy,slavery and the occult. Great vivid descriptions of old London.

Posted on 9 Jan 2013, 07:42:33 GMT
ginimags says:
shantaram by Gregory David Roberts!

Posted on 9 Jan 2013, 08:55:26 GMT
Ethereal says:
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle over a year ago, sad!

Posted on 9 Jan 2013, 09:12:06 GMT
Anita says:
The Earthsea Quartet: "A Wizard Of Earthsea"; "The Tombs of Atuan"; "The Farthest Shore"; "Tehanu" (Puffin Books)

(Minus the 4th one)

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013, 09:17:41 GMT
Ethereal says:
Is that because it wasn't good or not read yet?!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013, 09:18:42 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jan 2013, 09:25:44 GMT
Anita says:
Hated it, honestly

Edit: But then I should have added something else by Le Guin instead. Very different, very good:

The Left Hand Of Darkness

The Dispossessed

Posted on 9 Jan 2013, 09:41:51 GMT
Dan Fante says:
Dirty Work by Larry Brown.

Posted on 9 Jan 2013, 11:16:54 GMT
Roma says:
The Kite Runner

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

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

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, 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, 12:35:29 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, 12:36:52 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, 12:39:44 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

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, 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, 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.

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 :) )
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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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