Tuesday, May 11, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things

by Rachel

I always wonder if my personality reflects my choice in books, and last August, if you were following the DGLM blog, you’ll remember that everyone in the office put together their list of great books and made you—our readers—guess who had created them. Before working at DGLM, I actually read this series of Great Books posts and loved a lot of selections.

It’s difficult to say why I love a certain book and why I can’t get into another. I fell in love with reading Steinbeck novels when I was living in California, so I used to put my love for his writing down to geographical familiarity—Cannery Row and Salinas were places I knew about and so they came alive in his writing—but then I fell in love with Dostoevsky while living in the Midwest, and when I began reading his work there wasn’t anything familiar about his world, yet I couldn’t stop reading.

Anyway, seeing as I’m now part of the team here at DGLM, I think it’s time to give you my best books list. Scrutinize it as you will. I’m up for friendly banter on why you think my choices are terrible, mediocre or just plain brilliant.

John Steinbeck’s East of Eden
Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening
William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying
Katharine Susannah Prichard’s Coonardoo
J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace
Albert Camus’ The Stranger
Luke Davies’ Candy
Rawi Hage’s De Niro’s Game
Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov
Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway
Milan Kundera’s Identity
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs
Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

After reviewing my list, it makes me wonder why I enjoy certain books. I still don’t know what it is that draws me to a particular author, or why I get into one story and not another. Years ago I certainly didn’t think John Steinbeck would be my number one writer—reading about farming and migrant laborers?  Are you kidding me? I’m still trying to find out why I love his work so much.

Do you feel at all surprised by your favorite author, or love certain books you never thought you would?


  1. Thank you for the list, Rachel!

    Of the three on your list I have read, I like Bradbury, love Oscar Wilde, and absolutely hate Mrs. Dalloway (probably because I've had to study it extensively on my modernism course this year). I've just never been able to find Virginia Woolf interesting.

    I think one of the greatest books is Wuthering Heights. But I guess everyone has different tastes :)

  2. I, too, love the Awakening. I read it in college (around 2002) and then again a few years ago. In college, I thought it was brilliant. Reading it again, I see that it may not be the best novel ever written, but it certainly gets the point across in a poetic manner.

  3. I read "The Stranger" in high school, think I was the only one who loved it - my classmates had already threatened to outcast me for enjoying "The Scarlet Letter" and anything by Faulkner. I'm with Sangu on Virginia Woolf, I've tried, but...eh...just not for me. My fav book is "The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway - there was always something sorta simplistic and beautiful about that story to me - no big, flashy scenes, just this sort of quiet reflection.

  4. Definitely agree with the Steinbeck love. I'm not sure why I like him since what he writes about is completely different from my own experiences, but there's something gritty and real about his writing that keeps me interested.

    I started reading Murakami really wanting to hate him, but I couldn't. It's the simplicity of how he writes and how that reveals so many different aspects of life.

    Thanks for the list!

  5. Of the books on that list, the only one I'm really familiar with that I know I enjoy is The Picture of Dorian Gray. I really liked that one, especially the ending of it. It was quite clever.

    I had to read The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck when I was in high school, and I never really cared for the book, myself. The migrants plight was so heartbreaking, and the stillborn baby at the end of the book really upset me. I was hoping for a happier ending with all the hardship, even though I know it doesn't always happen like that in real life.

  6. Your list makes me feel as if I'm not well-read enough :-) I am glad Murakami made it on to your list. He is one of my favorite writers. I am not sure what draws me to him but I don't question it.

  7. I love The Grapes of Wrath, but East of Eden was too depressing for me. Yeah, I know. It's not like tGoW is all that cheery, but what can I say?

    I tend to love historical novels that bring a time period to life. Books like Roots, Centennial, Sho-gun and Aztec. Read them all multiple times.

  8. Steinbeck puts the words together better than most. He draws you in and hugs you. It is a feeling that goes to the core.


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