General Question

NostalgicChills's avatar

From this list of books, which one is the best to read?

Asked by NostalgicChills (2784points) July 13th, 2011

For my 11th grade summer work, I need to choose and read a novel from the following list:
Oryx and Crake
Possession
The Stranger
And Then There Were None
Invisible Man
Madame Bovary
A Passage to India
The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Siddhartha
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Remains of the Day
Heat and Dust
Sons and Lovers
Life of Pi
Atonement
The God of Small things
Dracula
The Fellowship of the Rings
The Picture of Dorian Gray
A Room of One’s own

Has anyone read one or more of these books? And would you suggest it for me to read?

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50 Answers

incendiary_dan's avatar

I’m torn between Oryx and Crake and The Fellowship of the Rings.

atlantis's avatar

In no particular order:
1. God of Small Things
2. Life of Pi
3. Passageway to India
4. Remains of the Day
5. Siddharta

NostalgicChills's avatar

@incendiary_dan What is “Oryx and Crake” about?

NostalgicChills's avatar

@atlantis
Life of Pi is not about math, is it?
xD

MissAusten's avatar

I’d suggest Oryx and Crake. Of the ones on that list I’ve read, it’s the most enjoyable read.

incendiary_dan's avatar

It’s a dystopian sci-fi novel set in what could easily be the very near future. Atwood is known for her very realistic “speculative fiction” that touches on present day issues. In particular, it tells the story of people living in a world where corporations run everything and genetic engineering runs amok as the massive worldwide extinction event unfolds. It’s also got a bit of a love story in there.

Blueroses's avatar

It really depends on your preferences. There’s a wide variety of genres and styles in that list. Check out the synopses in Google Books and see what grabs your interest.

Personally, I enjoyed Atonement, Madame Bovary and Passage to India most of the ones I’ve read of these.

atlantis's avatar

@NostalgicChills No it’s not :D But it’s a very deep text. I read it about 7 or 8 years ago. Changed my perspective on life.

DominicX's avatar

I have read And Then There Were None, Invisible Man, The Fellowship of the Ring, and Atonement. I liked them and all and would recommend them, but for different reasons. Do you have a favorite genre? Are you trying for something more quick and entertaining or are you okay with something longer and heavier?

janbb's avatar

I think Life of Pi is probably the most accessible; not about math at all. Picture of Dorian Gray is relatively short and interesting. Sons and Lovers is a great read..

kaywizard's avatar

I’ve read The Fellowship of the Rings and i recommend it as for The Picture of Dorian Gray I started watching the movie and it was pretty okay. If book to movie adaptation taught us any thing it’s the book is “ALWAYS” better.

NostalgicChills's avatar

@DominicX
I’d prefer something exciting, and not something that drags on and on. No particular genre though.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions! :D

Mamradpivo's avatar

I’ve read quite a few of these. If you’re looking for something easy to read and more modern, “Oryx and Crake” is a phenomenal novel. It’s the kind of book that makes you re-think the way you look at the world. Highly recommended.

That said, I don’t think you should be allowed to graduate high school without reading several of these, such as “The Stranger” and “Siddartha.” Within another decade “The God of Small Things” will be added to that list.

Jeruba's avatar

The Stranger is short but not easy. Far from it, in fact.
And Then There Were None is an entertaining mystery.
Invisible Man is vintage sci-fi.
Madame Bovary has everything a novel should have.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman annoyed me almost to the point of speechlessness.
Tess of the D’Urbervilles is darkly heartbreaking.
Siddhartha is short and thought-provoking.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is pulsing romantic drama.
Life of Pi is gripping, and mystical in its own way, with one LOL scene on religious differences.
The God of Small Things is a tough but memorable read, structurally unique.
Dracula is one you can sink your teeth into.
The Fellowship of the Rings is wonderful but not like reading a movie.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is, in my mind, in a class of its own and worth rereading.
A Room of One’s Own was good to read but didn’t stay with me.

I can’t comment on the rest.

zenvelo's avatar

@Jeruba nice pun on Dracula

Kardamom's avatar

My 3 favorite picks from this list are:

The French Lieutenant’s Woman

The God of Small Things

The Picture of Dorian Gray

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba I rspectfully submit that yu might be confusing The Invisible Man with Invisible Man.

lookingglassx3's avatar

I’d recommend The Hunchback of Notre Dame, it’s a great story.

Jeruba's avatar

Ah—you’re right, @janbb. Ralph Ellison’s culturally groundbreaking Invisible Man is a different order of business from H.G. Wells’s yarn. Ellison’s is probably what’s meant on this list.

Carly's avatar

whatever you do, I suggest not reading Possession (I’m assuming its the AS Byatt novel)
Lets just say I’m reading it this summer for required academic reading and I’m a Senior in college.

Jeruba's avatar

@Carly, why? I haven’t read it. Are you suggesting that, in my mother’s antiquated phrase, it’s too old for you?

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jeruba I agree that it’s probably Ellison’s version. I thought it was fantastic for whatever that’s worth.

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba I loved Possession but I also would not recommend it to most high schoolers as too dense.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Of those on your list I’ve read, these I’d actually read again for pleasure:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Dracula
The Fellowship of the Rings
The Picture of Dorian Gray
A Room of One’s own

Jeruba's avatar

If I didn’t like Atwood’s The Blind Assassin or The Robber Bride, and was kind of ho-hum about Cat’s Eye, but I did like The Handmaid’s Tale, is Oryx and Crake for me or should I skip it?

incendiary_dan's avatar

@Jeruba It’s definitely for you if you liked The Handmaid’s Tale.

Carly's avatar

@Jeruba no, I was just implying that it might be too hard to read while still in highschool. I don’t think I’d be able to comprehend it as much as Life of Pi when I was in 11th grade.

MissAusten's avatar

@Jeruba I felt the same about the Atwood novels you mentioned (actually wrote my senior thesis on The Handmaid’s Tale) and I really liked Oryx and Crake and also The Year of the Flood.

dappled_leaves's avatar

In no particular order…

These will give you the most to talk about, while seeming the least like work:
Life of Pi
Oryx and Crake

Short and rewarding:
The Picture of Dorian Gray
A Room of One’s own
Siddhartha
Dracula

Might be difficult to get through, but ultimately rewarding:
The Stranger (short but tough)
Invisible Man
Madame Bovary
A Passage to India
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Remains of the Day
Heat and Dust

At this stage, you could probably do without:
Possession
The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Sons and Lovers
Atonement
The God of Small things
The Fellowship of the Ring

So dated as to be pointless:
And Then There Were None

That being said, these are all good books, and as @Mamradpivo said, a lot of them should be required reading for, you know, life. And for goodness’ sake, flip through a few of them and see if you think you’ll enjoy the story. Don’t just take our word for it. Let us know how it goes!

Earthgirl's avatar

I’ve read Tess of the D’Urbervilles and liked it but for some reason, maybe because it was my first Thomas Hardy novel? I liked Return of the Native better. I read it in high school.

Sons and Lovers is one of my favorite books. It is very emotionally wrought in a way that I feel only D.H. Lawrence could be. He has a way of getting at interior thoughts, the elusive underpinnings of our lives and the disconnect between what we say think and do. I guess he is self-conscious in a way I like and others would hate and call narcissistic.

Madame Bovary is deservedly considered one of the great masterpieces of literature. I liked it and it stays with you. One of those books that is oft cited and once read always remembered.

Possession-I started to read it and couldn’t get into it.
Oryx and Crake on my short list for reading next. Atwood is great.Like others have said, some books are appealing and others not, depends on you. I liked Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace the best.

Schroedes13's avatar

The Picture of Dorian Gray is my favourite out of your list. I did not enjoy the life of Pi at all. I thought it was horrible.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks to those who answered my secondary question in this thread. “Oryx” is a gorgeous word, so reading a book in which it recurs should be a visual delight. I’m putting it on my list.

King_Pariah's avatar

The Stranger: Good read for me, short but it may be a tad difficult
And Then There Were None: Lovely mystery novel, the suspense gets good after a bit of a dry run and you just have to love the nursery rhyme… Ten little indians going out to dine…
Invisible Man: Pleasant read of how power corrupts
Siddhartha: Pleasant, a bit slow (short though), and definitely mind opening if you can grasp it. (Steppenwolf and Demian beat it out though in my opinion. You can never go wrong with Herman Hesse)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Your typical ugly goose in love with lovely swan tragedy.
Dracula: I think you’ve probably heard plenty about this one to know what it’s about, though Count Dracula is in a way a bit of a tragic character.
The Fellowship of the Rings: Long but definitely a fun read, if you enjoy fantasy, you’ll love this and I strongly recommend you complete the trilogy at the least.
The Picture of Dorian Gray: Another great depiction of how immortality isn’t necessarily a good thing and the corruption of the soul of a man.

Jeruba's avatar

@King_Pariah, which Invisible Man are you commenting on, Wells or Ellison?

Jeruba's avatar

@janbb made the point above that the title on this list is probably Ellison’s.

King_Pariah's avatar

Wait, you’re right Wells is “The Invisible Man” whereas Ellison is “Invisible Man” my bad

filmfann's avatar

I would have guessed it was Wells, not Ellisons, because of the presence of Dracula and Hunchback.
My favorite on the list (and I haven’t read half of them) would be Dorian Gray. I love Oscar Wilde.

yankeetooter's avatar

I really like Tolkien, but I’m going to have to say Tess of the D’urbervilles on this list…Thomas Hardy is one of my famous authors. It is not a real happy book though…

NostalgicChills's avatar

Great!
Thanks everyone!
For the assignment itself, I’ll go with Oryx and Crake, but I’ll keep in mind the other books you’re suggesting; to read in my spare time. :D

Jeruba's avatar

So, @NostalgicChills,. which is the Invisible Man author on your list?

I do too, @filmfann.

ejedlicka's avatar

I definitely would say “The Stranger” I read it last year as a senior and found it so interesting and a quick read. The book is as difficult as you make it out to be but it is very rewarding as the others have mentioned. There are a lot of metaphorical aspects of the story and one underlying message of this book. There are lots of repetitive aspects in this book, such as the role of light in the book and how it affects the main character’s actions. It is a book that, although a toughie when it comes to digging deep into the meaning, will lead to a great thesis paper/report that was for me an easy A.

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba and @filmfann Taht makes sense too in the context, but the titles are sllightly different. However, I quibble.

OpryLeigh's avatar

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is my all time favourite book so, even though I haven’t read many of the others, that would be my choice!

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

The Stranger. There’s a lot you can dish out about the meaning, and the ending is one of my favorite endings in a book. Ever.

That or Siddartha. But with Siddartha the meaning is more obvious.

Someone said The Stranger was tough. I didn’t think so at all. I knocked that baby out in one day and thought, “Wow, that was great” and kept thinking about it. It really all depends on your reading experience. Life of Pi is a third choice. Don’t do Fellowship of the Rings. It’s a great book but if you have to write about it, don’t. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is written like a history book. There’s not much characterization.

Jeruba's avatar

@ScottyMcGeester, I’m not an inexperienced reader. I have more than half a century of reading behind me, including a considerable quantity of solid literature across several centuries, plus a degree in English with a minor in philosophy. My first exposure to Camus was in the 1960s. I read The Stranger last year in the context of writing a paper on fiction as a vehicle for existentialist thought in the work of Camus, and I took a pretty close, careful look at it alongside three other works of Camus, both as fiction and as philosophy. I also read a good deal of commentary on it. From that point of view I say it’s tough.

And the reason it’s tough is primarily in the character of Meursault: Camus is at pains to show us a character who does not exhibit what we regard as normal human emotions, as we see in one situation after another in which other characters are puzzled by his reactions. To see inside his mind we have to stretch our own, as is, I believe, the author’s intention.

The words themselves are not difficult to understand and the plot is almost minimalist. From that point of view I guess you could say it isn’t tough.

kittykat219's avatar

Life of Pi is extremely weird but I actually enjoyed it! :D
Maybe you would too. But it all depends on the books you like to read. :)

Jeruba's avatar

[Three weeks later] On the strength of recommendations above, I am now halfway through Oryx and Crake and am finding it very much worth my while.

NostalgicChills's avatar

I am reading that now, and at first, I was extremely bored of it, and put it down after every page.
But now the plot is starting to pick up, and I find it very interesting.
But one thing I don’t get, that hopefully you could clarify:
Are “Snowman”, Oryx and Jimmy the same person?

If not, who is Snowman and Oryx?
And who the heck is Crake?
I apologize for my extremely insightful reading.

Jeruba's avatar

Snowman used to be Jimmy. Crake was a man and Oryx was a woman whom Snowman used to know and who have something major to do with the way things are now. What happened has not been explained yet (where I am in the book), but those two have a status like deities that seems to have been created by Snowman’s own stories.

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