Here's a list that gladdens. What Youth and "7 books you will psyche on and should totally read."
I often bemoan the fact that good writing is a dying art. It ain't necessarily true but it sometimes feels that way. The yoof, it always seemed to me, could buy a Canikon for a couple hunge, flood the 'net with images, and call 'emselves artists - easy! But unlike photography there's no shortcut to good writing: no autofocus, no colour correcting software - it's hard fucken work. And the first step toward it is to read lots and lots of great writers. So yeah, glad to see the yoof - What Yoof! - spruiking seven good books. Bit limited in scope and style but a good list nonetheless.
Here's my seven in no particular order.One flew over the cuckoo's nest.[Ken Kesey].Silas Marner.[George Eliot.]Aday in the life of Ivan Denisovich.[Solzenitsyn].Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy.[Douglas Adams].Animal farm.[George Orwell].Catch 22.[Joseph Heller].Schindler's Arc.[Thomas Keneally]
Some good reads there TR.
I could go on for ages but a few books that have stuck with me over the years:-
The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men: Steinbeck, Kane and Abel: Jeffrey Archer, The Stand: Stephen King, Black Sunday: Thomas Harris, 1984: George Orwell, Watership Down: Richard Adams, Tess of the D'Urbervilles: Thomas Hardy, White Swans: Jun Chang, Siddartha: Herman Hesse, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Roald Dahl, The Godfather: Mario Puzo and on and on and on.....
Another good page turner and an insight into regime change, British and US imperialism and generally why the world is fucked up over oil, read 'All the Shah's Men' by Stephen Kinzer. Great book.
Catcher in the Rye is always rated as a classic, it was ok for me but far from the most enjoyable book I've ever read.
Sorry, but just can't rate anything by Dan Brown and Bryce Courtenay. The Da Vinci Code and Power of One bored the shit out of me.
Anything by John Grisham is pretty cool.
Wow, rambled on a bit there.
Final recommendation, Christopher Moore is an American author and has put out some hilarious books. One in particular 'Fool' is gold. It's a bastardisation of King Lear and is seriously laugh out loud funny.
Anything by him is a seriously enjoyable read.
No apologies are ever needed for rambling on about books, movies, music, or surfing. The more rambling the better. I thought about doing a list after the intial post but figured it was too hard. Now a list is in order (although it's in no particular order):
Hells Angels - Hunter S. Thompson
His most coherent work, and a masterpiece in longform journalism.
Kafka on the Shore - Murakami
Could've chosen from a few of Murakami's back catalogue. Off-the-wall imagination: Fish fall from the sky, cats talk, the laws of physics are constantly defied. All rendered perfectly normal.
Siddharta - Herman Hesse
The White Earth - Andrew McGahan
Massively underrated Australian author. With one foot placed in a spirit world it lacks the matter-of-factness that defines many 'Aussie' novels. But it's inspired by the Mabo decision so addresses some of Australia's Big Questions.
Thus Spake Zarathustra - Fred Nietzsche
Fritz' prose is terrible and it's hard to stay engaged, but the reward is well worth it.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Pirsig
Animal Farm - Orwell
Could've been 1984. Flip of the coin really.
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Love dystopian novels, and judging by the overwhelming amount of disaster films coming out of Hollywood dystopia defines the cultural moment. Written on the back of the Utopian experiments of the early-20th century Brave New World has proven to be more prescient than Orwell's work. Humans are more easily ruled by pleasure than by fear.
I forgot an obvious one, Shogun: James Clavell. It's a huge read and provides an outsider looking in as to why Japan is what it is to this day.
I haven't read many aussie authors but in fairness Clavell was born in Australia, raised as a pom and became an American.
I too lament the fact that kids don't read these days and I fucking H8 SMS speak. I thank my parents who encouraged me to read. To this day they are both never without a good book (or bad book).
The sad thing about lists like these though is I realise how many great books I haven't read.
Thanks Stu for putting this up.
Anything by Tim Winton, the guy is a genius, The Turning, Breath, Open Swimmer, the list goes on and on.
Anything Peter Temple, I'm not much of a crime reader but once I read 'The Broken Shore' I was hooked, the guy just has it, awesome, I've nearly read them all now, The Jack irish series included.
For some old old old school stuff, borrow 'Kings in Grass castles', and Moorehead's 'Coopers Creek' I read it recently and it really gives you an understanding of the hardships the early pioneers experienced, as well as makes you realise just how fuckin good we have it now.
As far as surf relarted books go as dicussed on a previous thread a couple of years back, I recommed, Breath by Tim Winton, Dogs Of winter and Caught Inside but I cant remember the authors of the last two, google them.
Always kinda marvelled how Winton is held in high esteem by polite society, yet many of his books are dark and seamy. Even Cloudstreet, the book that broke him, had it's ugly moments. His latest book, Eyrie, which I didn't really enjoy, is a graphic study of a falling/failed man. It ain't pretty.
A Fortunate Life by A. B. Facey.
"Amasing" book about early Australia and the struggles people had to go through back then.
goofyfoot wrote: A Fortunate Life by A. B. Facey
I got to the end of the book and thought, 'Fuck, he brought a lot of those troubles on himself.'
Lacked a bit of foresight, did old Albert. Sanctimonious twat at times too.
Good honest memoir, but...
Copped a couple good floggings for his troubles too
I've always been meaning to read that book guys.
Another goodun'- 'The Mother Tongue': Bill Bryson.
A thoroughly well researched and presented book about the origins of the English language. One of those books that you can open at any page and learn something interesting.
The chapter on the origins of swear words is particularly interesting.
Stu I agree with you on Eyrie, it wasn't his best in my eyes. It is still very Tim Winton, but the story just doesnt grab me like most of his other books do (a bit like 'The Riders') maybe due to the fact the whole 'ocean/sea' thing is not there. I believe that is where Winton excels, his understanding of the ocean and therefore his discriptions of it are just....sublime.
I loved 'A Fortunate Life' when I was a kid, as well as 'Half days and patched pants', and the 'Shirallee'.
If you want to feel like you are in the WW1, deep in the trenches on the western front read 'Birdsong' you will feel like the bombs are raining down,while you are deep under ground in clostrophobic tunnels, scary stuff.
Some classics in here, and some great suggestions.
I don't wanna bring the thread down a notch but has anyone ever read a good surfing book? Maybe in the style of Heart of Darkness?
I'll read anything by Bryson. Fella picks up the popular subjects but gives them thorough treatment. Intelligent without being intellectual. Was copy editor at the London Times for years so knows how to throw a good sentence together.
There are a couple of passages in 'Walkabout' that are memorable. Discovering cricket on the radio while driving across the Hay plains, and getting chased by a dog in suburban Sydney ("I can see tomorrow's newspaper headline 'Police find writer's torso; head still missing.'")
Haven't seen Mother Tongue, might chase it down - cheers.
carpetman wrote: Some classics in here, and some great suggestions. I don't wanna bring the thread down a notch but has anyone ever read a good surfing book? Maybe in the style of Heart of Darkness?
Far as I know it hasn't been done. But then I haven't read any of the Kem Nunn books, nor any of his ilk.
Ken Nunn wrote 'Dogs of Winter' I reckon, I really like it. Still got my copy and read it after the last thread on surfing books a while ago.
My top-of-mind must-reads are:
1. The Bible (AKJV) - fiction but there's no more magisterial example of the King's English.
2. The Quiet American - a brilliant portrait of the folly and personal cost of blind nationalism
3. Bleak House - why probate lawyers cannot be trusted and other good stuff from a master of plot, character AND dialogue.
4. Midnight's Children - probably best to leave your copy on the plane when you disembark at Karachi, but a startlingly good read about The Partition.
5. Master and Commander: Patrick O'Brien: an Irishman writing the best historical fiction about the BE in its heyday? Beyond great. In fact, read the whole 24 or so book series.
6. The Postman Always Rings Twice: James M Cain - not a word outta place; the book that started me on the whole crime fiction oeuvre
7. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold: John Le Carre - ditto for spy fiction
8. Foucault's Pendulum: Umberto Eco - The Da Vinci Code but 100 times better. Make that 1000. Ah, fuggit, a mil. And I'm not exaggerating.
9. The Secret History: Donna Tartt - made me weep. Not the book itself, just that someone could write this well in her first attempt. Cured me of all writing pretensions.
10. Vernon God Little: DBC Pierre - ditto, but also the funniest read about a shooting you'll ever pick up.
Of course! Vernon God Little! Those damn Meskins...
Dunno if you read DBC's follow up, Ludmilla's Broken English, but it was terrible. Broken plot, broken character development, broken story.
A great list, Whaaaat.
Of course! Vernon God Little! Those damn Meskins...
Dunno if you read DBC's follow up, Ludmilla's Broken English, but it was terrible. Broken plot, broken character development, broken story.
Yep, did, wish I hadn't. Awful. Hate to say it but it looks like DCBP is the classic one book wonder. Still, better a great one than none or, worse, many lousy crapsters.
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace.
Against The Day and/or Mason Dixon - Thomas Pynchon
The Outsider - Albert Camus
Crime And Punishment - Fyodor Doestoevsky
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy
Falconer - John Cheever
Gullivers Travels - Jonathan Swift
These are the books that I keep coming back to. Some fairly dense reading required so if you want something a bit more straightforward try Return Of The King - William Dalrymple. It's an account of the first British Invasion of Afghanistan, a great story of terrifying incompetence that proves the old adage that those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it.
Glad someone mentioned Cormac McCarthy, I could feel Peter Bowes working himself into a quivering rage. You can settle now PB.
And I'm gonna add Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole to my list. A laugh-out-loud book with superb characters that juxtapose against the author's life story. Toole wrote CoD in his twenties, tried to get it published, was continually rejected. Suffering depression he killed himself at 31. His mother kept shopping the manuscript around till it was finally picked up by a publisher. Went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Did anybody read Colin Thiele as a kid?
I remember three in particular- Blue Fin, Stormboy and February Dragon.
That fella knew how to paint pictures in my mind. I loved his writing and it was so uniquely Australian.
Thiele's Sun On The Stubble was prescribed reading in, I think, Grade 6. Meaty stuff for 12 year olds.
Crime and Punishment was prescribed reading in, I think, Form 5 English. Its title expresses everything I thought (and still think) about THAT choice.
Ha Stu I reread Confederacy Of Dunces a few weeks ago for the first time in a couple of decades and it was just as funny as I remembered but there was a fierceness I had forgotten. Some of the character portraits were devastating.
Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle's middle chapters; the Stalin depiction......is just some of the most powerful writing ever committed to print.
Thats the one he got the Nobel for and it's far superior to A day in the Life or the Gulag Archipelago.
Camus Selected Essays and Notebooks is a great read. Far lighter than his fiction and more illuminating.
Michel Houllebecq's Lanzarote is the best surfing book ever written in the same way that Apocalypse Now is the best surf movie.
Raymond Chandler for impeccable style.
Bit of Les Norton for some old school aussie butcher flavour.
February Dragon was a doozy. If you want dark, give anything by Irvine Welsh a run. Hunter Thompson is the go though, Hells Angels is ok, as is the Rum Diary. My favourite is The Proud Highway. If you haven't read it yet, get ya mits on a copy.
I only average about one book a year, funny thing is once i do start reading one, i get totally obsessed with it and finish it pretty quick, the last few books I've read are all the Bali/Scharpelle/kerabokan prison ones, other than that always autobiographies artist or band members or about bands.
I did see a book that caught my eye only yesterday..so this might be my book for 2014 http://baliraw.blogspot.com.au/p/my-book-bali-raw-expose-of-underbelly.html
Horry the war dog is a ripper too
Pretty damn impressed by the calibre of lit that's getting discussed here. For a long time reader and very occasional poster it's very enlightening to see the literary influences that underpin the styles of the regular contributors and forum stalwarts.
For mine, I can't go past the following:
Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian, The Road or the Border Trilogy. Mastery of huge scenic depictions and character development, with a cold hearted streak of savagery running throughout. It's hard to pick a modern author who is so prolific and so consistent.
Ernest Hemingway: Fashionable again, particularly with the hipster crowd, but old Ernie has few peers in his ability to strip the fluff from the fiction, and tell the story of men, when they were men. The Old Man and the Sea was, and remains, one of my favourite "go to" books for a lazy afternoon.
Antoine St Exupery: The Little Prince may be a kids book, but the simplicity and beauty of the story still inspires my questioning mind. For a follow up try "wind, sun and stars", which is almost the adult version of this; a distillation of his journey after a plane crash in the Sahara.
Hermann Melville: Moby Dick always seemed a gargantuan read, imposing and perhaps cliched. I read it over Xmas and found it both rewarding and challenging. There's plenty of scuttlebutt on this site about the rights and wrongs of whaling and whalers, but you can't really help but wonder at the sheer balls out spectacle of man vs animal depicted in this book, and the deeper discussion of the nature of man.
Clive James: Unreliable Memoirs and Falling Toward England both had me in stitches numerous times. Wry, self-deprecating and honest. There was a great interview with Clive on 60 minutes recently. For an old ex-pat who grew up in the Shire he's just got an amazing classical mind.
Bruce Chatwin: there's a treasure trove in this back catalogue. For starters I'd recommend Songlines or What Am I doing Here. Songlines changed the way I perceived indigenous Australia. What Am I Doing Here is just a great collection of essays and short stories. Chatwin is this classically educated English bloke with an eye for detail, an enviable turn of phrase and a sense of adventure.
I'm seconding previous nominations for Orwell, Huxley, Greene and Heller. It's useful context for a world in which the concept of Big Brother has been franchised and sold so most people associate the term with feckless fuckwits in bunny ears. Sad.
The two in my list that haven't been mentioned are:
- Catcher in the Rye
- Of Mice and Men
Sorry, Zen mentioned them. All mine have already been mentioned then. Thumbs up guys and gals.
I am lazy so I am putting only putting two books up here.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov- Satan hears that the soviets don't believe in him anymore so he and his mates head to Moscow to wreak some havoc.
Murphy by Samuel Beckett - I can't summarise this. You have to endure it yourself, naked, tied to a rocking chair.
Great post Stu for sure, plenty of stuff Ive read and plenty now to add to my list of things to read. Im glad someone included Umberto Eco, perhaps one of the true great writers of our time IMO, so Ill have to add 'In The Name of the Rose' and his recent book 'The Prague Cemetery', an exploration of all things conspiracy, freemasons, jesuits, you name it all tied in to a glorious tale as he does.
I love the humour of Ben Elton and also Tom Robbins, 'Another Roadside Attraction' and 'Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates' if you want to treat yourself to a piss funny ride.
Im reading 'Pemulwuy', by Eric Willmot atm on recommendation from another swellnet thread and 'A Bright Spot in the Yard' by Jerome Washington. I love his writing, very gritty and personal, similar to 'Soledad Brother', the prison letters of George Jackson another great read.
Ill finish with another genre that I love - the beat/gonzo writers. Ive read most of the standards by Burrows, Kerouac, Hunter.S etc but for me I really enjoy Charles Bukowski, he seems to have crystalised this style of writing, 'Ham on Rye' and 'Hot Water Music' being a couple of my favourites.
hey Zen ....
i once was handed " Kane & Abel ; Jeffrey Archer " whilst up the Bluff ....
27 hours later " straight " , done and dusted " ... the second day was even surfable @ 4ft ...
but couldn't put it down . pretty much only stopped to eat twice , and the toilet perhaps twice ....
apologies for not contributing to the whole " 7 list " , but i don't want to let this book be judged by its cover ....
its amazing like etarip said , that you could almost pidgeon hole regular contributors to certain books .
It seems women don't write ;) lots of old white bloke in those lists
Sylvia Plath: Bell Jar
Virginia Woolf: The waves
Arundhati Roy: God of small things
The Slave Girl: Buchi Emecheta
Dreaming in Cuban: Cristina Garcia
Half of a Yellow Sun: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Sister Outsider: essays and speeches.: Audrey Lorde
All awesome. Bows down.
But some beauties. Love any Kafka & Camus!
To understand China read Liao Yiwu's The Corpse Walker
Brilliant Aussie (like him more than Winton haha): Elliot Perlman's The Street Sweeper. Simply = WOW
Clif- Harper Lee 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. A notable omission.
Southey, 'A Twist in the Tale' is a collection of short stories by Jeffrey Archer. You'll smash each one in about 30 minutes to an hour. A great book to take on a plane or surf trip.
I was the same with Kane and Abel, read it years ago and couldn't put it down.
I read treasure island three times to my kids and loved it. Tom Sawyer also great.
Anyone read fraction of the whole by an Aussie author? - short listed for a man booker I think. Side splitting.
Anyone read Ulysses ? I haven't but it usually makes these lists
I have read it a few times pensky. It is a great book but it is also hard work. I would have included it in my list in years past but I haven't looked at it in the last decade so I left it off. Try Dubliners or A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man before Ulysses, they are more straight forward.
'Ulysses'? Yep, read it. And I want those three weeks of my life back. Although it did cure my insomnia. Up there with 'Crime and Punishment', 'Eat, Pray, Love', 'Battlelines', and any book with Twilight or Grey in its title or Greer, Brown or Clancy in its byline as one to be avoided like Rubella.
You read 'Eat, Pray, Love'???
That's the funniest thing I've read all week! And you list it next to Crime and Punishment? What were you expecting it to be?
Wholly agree with you on Ulysses. It's the book that Serious Readers are supposed to like, and I gave it a few good shots too. Even, ahem, bought a reader to help me along. Couldn't do it.
I know now that Ulysses is more about the 'literary tradition' than about the literature inside.
I pride myself on being a democratic reader. Your slurs are my badges of honour, Mr Nettle.
A couple of history books I have really enjoyed, sometimes put me to sleep but interesting all the same
Salt: how salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning
Cod: How the discovery of the cod fishery in the atlantic changed the world, from the Vikings and the basques through to the collapse of the fishery
Simon Winchesters books;
Surgeon of crowthorne : History of the Oxford dictionary
Krakatoa: On the massive explosion that changed the world
The Map That Changed The World: About English geologist William Smith and his great achievement, the first geological map of England and Wales
Atlantic: History of the ocean and civilisation around it
A Crack At The Edge Of The World: on the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake that leveled a city.
Longitude: 18th-century clockmaker who created the first clock (chronometer) sufficiently accurate to be used to determine longitude at sea
I will stick up for Ulysses Stu. One of the problems people have with it is that more than any other book I know it is completely of its time and place. If you don't know Irish history, have an ear for the Dublin accent or know much about Catholic ritual, it can quickly become incomprehensible. I had a head start as my mother had tribes of relatives in Dublin so I understood a lot of the cultural references straight away.
Once you penetrate that world though it is a sensational take down of religious hypocrisy, racism, sexism and that appalling over stated Irish emotionalism. This was a book that not only mocked the Catholic mass, but seriously took the piss out of the whole religion. It then not only pilloried the prevailing sanctimonious attitudes but drew unflattering but recognisable portraits of influential Dublin characters. He then finished off with a stream of consciousness sequence of a woman mastrurbating. Ulysses is a cultural inflection point. The 20th Century would not have been the same place without it. So a difficult read but a great book!
Ulysses!??? That's going out on a vine!
'Eh give me some more vino! Yesterday my cousin Ulysses killed a lizard out the back, the fucking thing was eating the fuckin' dolmathes.'
'Eh, Nikko, have a vino with me... did you hear about Gino's cousin Ulysses , he killed a fucking lizard 10 foot long yesterday! No bullshit! It was eating his fucking goat, Tony saw it!'
'Eh, Georgy, lets have a vino... shit yesterday Gino's cousin Ulysses killed 3 fucking lizards, the fuckers were fucking 20 foot long!!!'
'Eh Homer, drink my friend! Eh, did you hear about Gino's cousin Ulysses, yesterday he fucking killed 3 fucking dragons. They were the Polopolous brothers fucking pets, and they were so pissed, they came to fuckin' kill him... 50 of the fuckers so he killed them too... Tony and Georgy seen it!'
'Eh, my little Anastasi, and don't you ever forget this my little Anastasi, here, let your uncle Homer tell you a story about your cousin Ulysses! Don't fuck with Ulysses! Iren'e! Bring some more fucking vino!'
"Jonathan Livingston Seagull", written by Richard Bach.
"This Game of Ghosts" by Joe Simpson, Alpine climbing adventures, the sequel to "Touching the Void."
"Mind Power" by John Kehoe.
"Surfing the Himalayas : A Spiritual Adventure" by Frederick Lenz.
You're a natural Joycean uplift....pure stream of consciousness!
Yeh well, I've done some of my most important work on the dunny blindboy.
Since I last posted here I read a book that should be included on my list...maybe. I'll have to think about it more.
I've read a bit of Charles Bukowski, odd bits of poetry, the novel Post Office, and watched the doco 'Born Into This'. Good, yeah, sort of, but I never could get a grasp of what people were seeing in him. I put it down to the general want of undergraduates and angst-filled twenty-somethings to align with the underdog and the downtrodden. Was quite prepared to never read any more of his work.
But I recently bought Ham On Rye at a bake sale in Austinmer and, shit, now I've gotta reasses my viewpoint. It's bleak, unsentimental, unquestioning and utterly compelling. Amazing writing and it sits so well in the canon of American writing - literature that fits the culture. LA to be exact, where the best of America and the worst of America are on show.
Bukowski intimately documents 'the worst' and now I'm gonna have to read more of his work...