Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My Personal Canon: Books I Love & Made Most Impact

painter: Louise Catherine Breslau
Today is Indonesian National Book Day, and to celebrate it, I want to do this new meme I have seen in the book-blogosphere lately. I found it in o’s and Jillian’s, and decided to publish mine. My Personal Canon means books that I love, and/or books that made biggest impact in my life.

Émile Zola
If you are my followers or have known me long enough, you’d certainly know that this French author is my most favorite author, ever. An author whose works I am eager to read all without exception. So far, I have never been disappointed by his books. Okay, there are two or three that are not as good as the others, but overall, I admire his genius, his powerful stories, his passion in details, and his beautiful narrative.

Germinal – this is my all time favorite! The one book in which I found every elements I love of reading.
Le Bête Humaine – loved the narrative so much, and the human psychology side is very interesting.
L’Assommoir – it’s distressing but very powerful. Maybe it’s the ‘blow’ that actually made me loving it!
The Debacle – I think this is the best war themed historical fiction I’ve ever read!

Charles Dickens
How can one not love Dickens? His legendary characters, his sense of humor, even his own life… I don’t think Victorian era would be that interesting without Dickens! ;)
A Christmas Carol – how can you imagine Christmas without remembering some characters or scenes in this book; Tiny Tim’s “God bless us, everyone” at least?
David Copperfield – still the best Dickens I have read so far.
Our Mutual Friend – a loving and warming book everybody will love!
The Great ExpectationsI think it’s Dickens best-in-writing. Not too much, not too mellow, not too dark. J

Agatha Christie
Dame Agatha Christie is one author that had great impact on me as a teenager. From her books I learned about good and evil; that everyone can be evil (even a murderer); that it’s all about choice. Christie’s are my first adult books, and through her my fondness of justice and crime themes grew.
Curtain – the one mystery book that have ever made me cry!
Murder of Roger Ackroyd – her best in terms of plot-and-psychology-building.

John Grisham
After Christie, came Grisham. Still about justice, and I became fascinated with court scenes. I read and liked almost all his books, but my favorites remain these two…
The Chamber – this book taught me that there are many faces of racism and death penalty; and…
The Testament – loved the beautiful and peaceful scenes; soothing and touching.

Alexandre Dumas
Dumas is always the champion for poignant and intricate stories. And his books are usually long but full of action, thus offers long enjoyable moments of reading (just what you’ll need to spend long holidays).
Twenty Years After – this is the sequel of The Three Musketeers. Although less famous, I loved this book more because the friendship of D’Artagnan, Porthos, Athos, and Aramis was growing more mature and deeper here.
The Count of Monte Cristo – need to reread this! *note to self

Random Classic Novels
To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee – used to be my fave numero uno… until Zola stole it! ^_^
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerlad – always love Fitzi’s beautiful prose and his interesting symbols in this novel. And I always have interest in the jazz age…  

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton – I named Wharton as the female Zola after reading this (do you agree?) And she became instantly my most favorite female author.  
Lord of the Flies by William Golding – the morality struggle (and triumph) in this book is what I loved most… and the thriller of course.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville – what an epic!  
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – my latest favorite
Winnetou  by Karl May – I always have a soft spot for the Indians; and Winnetou is the perfect book to teach youngster about diversity. The story is set on the Wild West—so it’s full of action!—and the main characters are a German and an Indian. Their friendship is full of love, trust, and respect.

Play – the only one…
Julius Cesar by William Shakespeare – the only play that gets here… maybe because it’s about Ancient Rome. Always love everything about it!

History and Historical Fictions
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – a history that tasted like fiction. A painful reflection of injustice suffered by minorities; touching, and at once, inspiring.
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – loved the intricate story and the knowledge about building cathedral. I always like to read about people who have passion on some artwork.
Cicero Trilogy by Robert Harris – again… the Ancient Rome effect. Plus, I have great respect for Cicero.
The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone – similar to Pillars of the Earth, and Stone brought me to get inside Michelangelo’s mind and emotion, superb!
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier – loved the painful love story!
Désirée by Annemarie Selinko – this one about Napoleon; loved the romance and a glimpse of one of the biggest generals in the world.

The Adventure of Tintin by Hergé – my childhood books that took me to different countries, getting to know different people and cultures, thanks to the realistic-pictures by Hergé. In short, I grew up with Tintin; I learned many things through it—as I remember I once asked my dad while reading Tintin in Tibet: "How can yelling trigger snow avalanche?" (remember Captain Haddock scene?) Plus it always makes me laugh!
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – I remember… one day years ago, I leisurely opened to see what books they’re recommending. In the top ten are both Harry Potter & the Sorcerer Stone (no. 1 for weeks) and Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secret; with a boy with a glass and lightning scar mounted on a broom in the cover. What is this?? I read the synopsis and got quite intrigued. But at that time I have never bought books online, so I soon forgot about that. But few months later, I saw the same book (the translation of course) displayed in front of my favorite bookstore, and I thought Ah…this is the book that made a lot of fuss the other day! So without further thinking, I bought both copies, read it, and instantly fell in love with Harry Potter. Now I think some magic must have got into me that day, because I’m not used to buy books beyond my comfort zone without much consideration (asking friends about it, read reviews, feel the book in my hand, return it to the shelf—and if I leave the store with regret, that means I REALLY want to buy it—then come back to the store next time to finally buy it!). So, yeah…Harry Potter has its place in my heart, and if you ask me now: Do you still love to read Harry Potter, after all these years? My reply will be: ALWAYS!

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Super-Exciting Project: The Great Gatsby Readalong

Sorry for having been silent for a few weeks. I have a delayed review of Zola’s The Earth for #Zoladdiction2017; which I have read, have been quit shocked by its brutality, but nonetheless have liked it; but still could not squeeze enough time and focus to write a proper review. Maybe in one of these days…

Meanwhile, I have been longing to post about this coming event:

The Great Gatsby has been one of my favorite novels, and I have planned to reread it this year. My first schedule was July. But knowing that Hamlette of The Edge of Precipice was planning to host a readalong on June, I was super excited that I changed my schedule to adjust with it.

Besides Gatsby itself, I have planned to read two companion books: So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures by Maureen Corrigan and Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of The Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell. Considering that I might be moving to a new apartment during June, I doubt if I would be able to finish all, but I’ll just try.

Can't wait to get through this book!

My copy is still on its way from the bookstore, hopefully it'll arrive just on time!

Have you read The Great Gatsby? Care to read (or reread) it along with me, Hamlette, and (I believe) a bunch of other super-excited readers?