Let me warn you before moving any further that this list does not boast of books that have shaped the realms of fiction so as to be hailed as the greatest novels of all time. As I said, it’s a personal list and includes novels that touched my fantasies and moved me at a deeper level than that of mere intellect. For example, I know that Ulysses is a brilliant novel, maybe the best novel of the times but I am not including it on my list just so you may think highly of me. I am including Lolita, although it is too notorious because of its subject matter, because with it Nabokov left an impression so vivid that I turn to it whenever I have to write anything fictional.
That said, enjoy the list and spam the comments section with your own list-
#5- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-
“She had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy; but her manners were excellent.”
What is the true nature of Humanity? Are we really the savages that we seem to have evolved from or are we the end products of the exercise of civilization that our species has gone through? Or are we both? When Stevenson made us see the world through the eyes of Jekyll, we found an answer to this. We found that within us exists a duality that is, at all times, restless because of the conflict between its counterparts. And how did he do it? By weaving a plot that engages one into layers and layers of mystery culminating into a conclusion both horrific and agreeable.
#4- The Metamorphosis-
“One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug”?
What would your first reaction to a novella be, the first lines of which go as above? There are no life lessons or things to take home that this book offers. It simply tells you a story, a crude one, of how a man-turned-vermin becomes a burden on everyone. The best thing about this small piece is how much it makes you think about human nature and relations. You try to study them while you go about the story, you ponder over the motivations of the characters and you are bewildered at how things finally turn out.
#3- The old man and the sea-
“But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” –
The best thing about Hemingway’s masterpiece is the empathy it draws from the reader. When you read it, you really wish for the old man to nail that marlin and drag him to the shores. You, with all your heart, would sacrifice one victory of your life if that means a victory for him. You wish that you are the boy in the story and you want to never leave the old man’s side. Maybe these are the emotions that we read a book for.
#2- The Count of Monte Cristo-
“All human wisdom is contained in these two words – Wait and Hope”.
I read this one just when I needed to read this. The book is essentially a transition- from a boy to a man. It tells you of the things that make up a true man and his actions when faced with betrayal. I remember reading a line on the internet that actually made me to take up this book- “READ IT..IT WILL PUT HAIR ON YOUR CHEST”.
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta:”
Can there ever be an opening line as charismatic as this? If you have heard about this book and were put off by the subject matter, I urge you to give yourself a second thought. Nabokov’s Lolita is by far the most stylish and engaging piece of written work I have ever encountered. Each and every line of it, it seems, is filled with words that were supposedly brought to unison in a heavenly space. The sound of each word, murderous. With Lolita, prose left poetry behind in charming the reader with its music. You wish you could ever write even a single page as good as this one. Well, you can just wish.