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What are your "must read" books?

(117 Posts)
kunoichi Wed 30-Jan-13 11:41:06

Having read through the BBC and Guardian top 100 books lists, I must admit that I find some of them boring or difficult to read. Many seem to be books people feel should be read, rather than those we may want to read because they are so enjoyable.

This year I'm taking part in the 50 books challenge and I'd love to know which books Mumsnetters would most heartily recommend across all genres, both contemporary and historical.

Some of my own all-time favourites are:

Shadow of the Wind
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Time Travellers Wife
The Lovely Bones
A Little Princess

I'll probably read The Snow Child next, but would welcome any suggestions for what I should put on my Kindle to read this year!

CoteDAzur Tue 05-Feb-13 09:21:35

I'm asking because OP says "Many (must-read lists) seem to be books people feel should be read, rather than those we may want to read because they are so enjoyable."

So are we talking about books everyone should read or is this another thread about books we have enjoyed?

sooperdooper Tue 05-Feb-13 15:11:05

My all time favourite books...

Beloved, Toni Morrison
Alias Grace, Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
Wind Up bird Cronicles, Haruki Murakami
Life of Pit, Yann Martel (must see the film)
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

sooperdooper Tue 05-Feb-13 15:13:16

Lol, Pi - not Pit!?

anonymosity Wed 06-Feb-13 03:40:09

There is only one book that I genuinely feel I SHOULD read, to be honest. I've read excerpts / chapters for close study (years ago) but never the whole thing. Ullysses by Joyce.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Wed 06-Feb-13 04:34:01

Why do you feel you should read it, anonymosity?

I have heard that the best way to deal with that book is a) devote a whole day to it and read it in one sitting, and b) read it aloud to yourself. Personally couldn't think of anything worse

BlueyDragon Wed 06-Feb-13 04:44:49

Try Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. It's sci-fi, but beautifully written and the themes it deals with are universal.

The Last Battle, by CS Lewis. I love the end, I know it's a Christian allegory but I love the sheer joy in the writing.

ripsishere Wed 06-Feb-13 04:52:12

A fine Balance
We need to talk about Kevin
The kite runner
Time travelers wife
The woman in black
Down and out in London and Paris - in fact all Orwell.
Those I've disliked include
The lovely bones
The life of Pi
Wolf Hall. i tried three time very hard to read it and failed.

daddyorchipsdaddyorchips Thu 07-Feb-13 17:11:40

East of Eden - John Steinbeck (my all time favourite)
Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout (if you haven't read her, do!)
Wonder - RJ Palacio
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
The Hundred Year Old Man... - Jonas Jonasson
His Dark Materials Trilogy - Philip Pullman
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel

I could go on and on...

And I think that all children (and adults!) should read everything by Roald Dahl.

WhichIsBest Thu 07-Feb-13 17:15:44

I hated three of the books on your list of ones you liked OP, and haven't read the other two, so I won't recommend any for you!
We must be book-enemies. ;)

mailwoman Thu 07-Feb-13 17:18:59

The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill.

Strong theme and messes with your head about how you feel about the main character, I loved it.

ShirleyB25 Thu 07-Feb-13 20:51:54

So many fantastic books to read! I've enjoyed many already listed and would agree with reading anything by Rohinton Mistry who is an amazing author. I'd like to add:

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Kate Atkinson - Any books by her - superb thrillers

Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh

Mill on the Floss - George Eliot

Stepford Wives - Ira Levin

Patricia Highsmith - Great books of their time!

I'll keep an eye on this thread, as always looking for new authors/ ideas for which book to read next...

pointythings Thu 07-Feb-13 22:27:08

mailwoman -I love The Woodcutter. I think it's possibly one of Hill's best. I've read pretty much everything he's written, and on the whole I think that his Dalziel and Pascoe novels unfairly overshadow the rest of his work. I also love The Stranger House.

And I have to mention Minette Walters - she has written some great books. My favourites are The Dark Room (fabulous main character who doesn't take shit from anyone), Acid Row (which really should be dramatised for TV, the tension is incredible) and he Chameleon's Shadow.

TuftyFinch Thu 07-Feb-13 22:51:25

lots already mentioned but
Radcliffe Hall: The Well of Loneliness
Barry Hines: A Kestral for a Knave (Kes)
John Osborne: Look Back in Anger
Shelagh Delaney: A Taste of Honey
Kurt Vonnegut: Welcome to the Monkey House
and of course
Catcher in the Rye
Tess of the D'Ubervilles

anonymosity Fri 08-Feb-13 01:45:03

Tortoise - I feel like I should read it entirely because of the depth of artistry in its writing, the beauty of it all. Its phenomenally layered and poetic and clever. But it takes a lot out of me to read what I have read of it - and usually I opt for something a little easier. It doesn't have to be total schlock, but a bit easier is what I'd naturally go for.

mailwoman Fri 08-Feb-13 03:02:51

Pointythings The Woodcutter is fantastic. You're the first person I've known to have read it apart from DH, I gave it to him and then relived the book by making him tell me which part of the plot he'd got to!

Some really good suggestions for my next read in this thread

Snowfedup Fri 08-Feb-13 03:04:21

Oh good this just reminded me I read A discovery of witches and loved it then waited impatiently for the second book then promptly forgot all about it? Has anyone read it ? Hopeing it's as good as the first (it's the all souls trilogy)

Cooroo Fri 08-Feb-13 07:36:49

Oh my, no time to read through all these so will just add my ideas, off the top of my head:

Emma by Jane Austen
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushie
Cloud Atlas/anything by David Mitchell
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Anything by Mary Renault

Mentioned above that I loved:
Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Attwood
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Tales of the City - lovely to revisit these

and lots that I can't think of now.

minsmum Sat 16-Feb-13 23:08:21

My local independent book shop has managed to track down If this is a man by Primo Levi. It should be in store on Monday. So that's a result

TheSurgeonsMate Sat 16-Feb-13 23:22:36

I have some sympathy with Cote's question. If this is a list of hearty recommends, should we not be seeing

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

in about one third of posts? It must be the most consistently enjoyed and recommended book I have ever come across. When I was reading it, I was carrying it in to work with me in case I got any spare moments. Not my general habit.

I did very much enjoy two classics that I recently re-read because they were on lists of worthiness:

To Kill a Mockingbird
Catch 22

LeucanTheMopsis Sat 16-Feb-13 23:32:39

If not now, then when - another vote for Primo Levi
The Glass Bead Game - Herman Hesse
(slightly adolescent choice, but...) Hunger - Knut Hamsun
History of Danish Dreams - erm, erm, um, Hoeg, Peter, is it?
Morte D'Arthur - Malory
Cancer Ward - Solzenitzyn
anything at all by Balzac, but if pushed, Cousin Bette
In praise of idleness - Isaiah Berlin
The Histories - Herodotus - for being so fabulously stupid
A Rebours - Huysmans
Woodstock - Walter Scott

ooh ooh and Katherine Mansfield, and Turgenev and Marquez, and Saki and Wodehouse...

These are things I love. Things I should read, well I too have fallen asleep over Ulysses a few times. I will try again <when I'm fecking 90 and have nothing left to lose>. Not.

BitBewildered Sat 16-Feb-13 23:44:04

I tend to find a new author and read them obsessively for a while; I read the whole of the Discworld series, Wodehouse, Sherlock Holmes, Charles Dickens, and various others in blocks. I also really enjoy reading Alan Bennett, Peter Carey, David Lodge, A S Byatt and Agatha Christie books.

Someone mentioned Jean Webster's Daddy Long Legs. Have read tgat book approximately once every five years since I was about 13, I'm 35. It's just lovely.

currybaby Sun 17-Feb-13 11:44:14

oh that's good to know novia. I'm currently trying to get into wolf hall so that i can read bring up the bodies after but i'm finding it pretty dry so far. Will keep going though!

honeyrose Sun 17-Feb-13 18:30:52

Just read Learn Love in a Week by Andrew Clover. Hilarious observational comedy about relationships. Seriously recommend it if you feel like a light yet engaging read. It's not wishy washy chick lit but real feel good funny book.
PS just went into my local Waterstones to buy a copy for my sister and it was sold out due to rave review in daily mail this weekend!

VinoEsmeralda Sun 17-Feb-13 22:13:41

A few more to add that haven't been mentioned;

Das Parfum by Patrick Suskind
The island and The thread by Victoria Hislop
The vanishing by Tim Krabbe
Love live by Ray Kluun (don't be put of by the title)
The five people you meet in heaven- Mitch Albom ( or similar surname)
The century trilogy by Ken Follett
Books by Isabelle Allende

roselover Mon 18-Feb-13 20:58:09

I was given Diane Keaton's autobiography for Christmas - its soooo wonderful - so many interesting men in her life and a varied career from Annie Hall to The God Father (with liaisons with Al Pacino) - to kissing scenes with jack Nicolson that were life changing - plus like me she became a mother in later life - she adopted at 50 and 55 - its a story that is intertwined with that of her mother - I read it fast and then again slow - wonderful - other books that I loved were The THings They Carried - (who by?) - Brightness Falls by Jay Macinerny - all of his work I love - and Brother Of The More famous Jack by Barbra TRapido - Dorothy Parker Short Stories - always by my bedside JUlia Donalson (I have three year old twins) - I love her so much I kissed her when I nmet her last week at a signing!

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