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tranquilsea's avatar

What is the best book(s) you have ever read?

Asked by tranquilsea (17756points) April 8th, 2010

This question may have been asked before, if so, please accept my apologies.

I come from a big family of readers. We often share books and recommend authors.

So, in that vein: what is the best book you have ever read?

I have a top 5:

1. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (actually the whole series is great)
2. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
3. Love Story by Erich Segal
4. Wuthering Heights by Emile Bronte
5. An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde (ok it’s a play…but still very good)

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75 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Anything by Mark Twain :)

chels's avatar

The Perks of Being A Wallflower.

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Vunessuh's avatar

The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski.

janbb's avatar

To me, that’s like asking which child you love the best. Can’t choose….

davidbetterman's avatar

LOL…simone got modded…

I liked Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach
And Jonathon Livingston Seagull by same

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

These are in no particular order:
1. Master and Margarita By Mikhail Bulgakov
2. Anathem By Neil Stephenson
3. Syrup By Max Berry
4. Choke By Chuck Palahniuk
5. The Case of Kukotsky By Ludmila Ulitskaya
@davidbetterman – so did the other person which is all I wanted.

superjuicebox's avatar

anthem by Ann Rand

netgrrl's avatar

No particular order really. Some are on the list not bc they are the best examples of literature, but bc they were important to me.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig

Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein

The Shining – Stephen King

The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@netgrrl your first is one of my top 10!

wonderingwhy's avatar

Way too many to remember at the moment, but your #1 was great, and reminded me of The Golden Age by John C. Wright. I really enjoyed that. Also the first three Necroscope books by Brian Lumley. Anything by China Mieville. Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks… Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. The Terror by Dan Simmons was amazingly vivid. Greg Egan’s Incandescence… The Stand, Under the Dome, The Talisman, Salem’s Lot by Stephen King… I’ll stop here, I just keep thinking of more. oh my, I almost forgot Hyperion by Dan Simmons – fantastic book.

YoBob's avatar

“The Delicate Dependency” – Michael Talbot

netgrrl's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Zen is great. I learn something new everytime I read it.

Seek's avatar

That’s like asking which is my favourite body part.

There are books that really stand out for me, but I could never choose among them.

In no particular order, a small selection of books that are close to my heart:
The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley, Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt, Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, The Decameron – Giovanni Boccaccio, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 13th Century – Barbara Tuchman, The Phantom Tollbooth – A.A. Milne, A Light in the Attic – Shel Silverstein, A Spell for Chameleon – Piers Anthony, Elfshadow – Elaine Cunningham, Dune – Frank Herbert, Sister Mary Ignatious Explains It All For You – Christopher Durang, Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury, 1984 – George Orwell, Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne, The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran

gailcalled's avatar

I would take Joyce’s Ulysses with me to a desert island (If I were allowed Latin, Greek and German dictionaries).

davidbetterman's avatar

@superjuicebox Atlas Shrugged was really good too, as was The Fountainhead.

Mat74UK's avatar

The whole Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@netgrrl I’ve read it numerous times as well. I switched to Stephenson before getting to Lila but I’ll get there

sweetteaindahouse's avatar

I may be by myself on this one but I like The Series of Unfortunate Events. They are childrens books but they make you think and you can never figure out all of the secrets.

AstroChuck's avatar

I couldn’t possibly give just one. I’ll cop out and say just about anything written by Bill Bryson.

gailcalled's avatar

If you consider The Works of Shakespeare to be one work, that would top my list. And always Joyce’s Ulysses.

davidbetterman's avatar

Oh yeah, Zen reminds me, Siddhartha was a great read, too! By Hermann Hesse

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

In no particular order:

Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
The Stand – Stephen King
The Monkey Wrench Gang – Edward Abbey
Walden – Henry David Thoreau
Stranger In a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein

Seek's avatar

I still need to read “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” Anyone have a copy I can borrow? ^_^

Snarp's avatar

@davidbetterman Now I understand you so much better.

Seek's avatar

I read Anthem, numerous times, and frankly, I just don’t get why it’s so damned popular. I was absolutely amazed that a 115 page story could seem so repetitive in its message.

davidbetterman's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities Excellent list…Especially Catch 22 and Stranger in a Strange Land!

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I love The Stranger by Albert Camus

ucme's avatar

Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Okay, that multiply by 1000 pages and you’ll get Atlas Shrugged

Snarp's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Did you ever read the Sword of Truth series? It was all going along swimmingly until the author thought that the world needed a second rate Ayn Rand.

Seek's avatar

Ugh. @Simone_De_Beauvoir
Thanks for letting me know. I almost bought it just to see what it was like.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Snarp Ack, that’s scary
@Seek_Kolinahr trust me, you can spend better time on sleep

CMaz's avatar

“Sh-Boom! The Explosion of Rock ‘n’ Roll (1953–1968)”
– Clay Cole

semblance's avatar

It must be raining everywhere today because we are getting a plethora of literary questions and we are all buying into it. For me:

The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas

Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny

Tarzan at the Earth’s Core, by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Except for the first one – maybe – I don’t think anyone would think these are great icons of literature, but they immediately sprang to mind as my top three so there it is.

As for the OP’s Love Story, please, there is only so much sugary sweet tragedy one can take! LOL. (I kind of enjoyed it though.)

TogoldorMandar's avatar

De Aanslag van Harry Mulish. He is a Dutch writer.

GladysMensch's avatar

A Confederacy of Dunces is without a doubt the greatest book ever.

Berserker's avatar

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, The Book of Shadows by James Reece, The Black Castle by Les Daniels, The Book of the Mad by Tanith Lee, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Watership Down by Richard Adams.

I’m also a Stephen King fan, some of his books I loved are IT, Pet Semetary, Misery and the most classic short story ever…The Mangler.

filmfann's avatar

The Green Mile and the Stand by Stephen King.
Day of the Triffids
the Harry Potter series
Catcher in the Rye
The Dark Knight Returns
Memoirs of an Invisble Man
Anything by Raymond Chandler

Pseudonym's avatar

the Harry Potter series and a little Barry Trotter here and there
Borgel (when I was little)

…I don’t know, just some that I can think of off the top of my head…

Pseudonym's avatar

Oh, and Yiddish with Dick and Jane! An instant classic!

tranquilsea's avatar

@wonderingwhy “Also the first three Necroscope books by Brian Lumley.”

You are the first person I’ve “met” that has read those books. I loved them too. Last I checked they were out of print.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Memoirs of U. S. Grant.

Berserker's avatar

@tranquilsea Oh shit. I can’t believe I forgot those. Awesome. I only read the first two though…never found any of the others.

tranquilsea's avatar

@netgrrl The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

My son read these when he was 12 and loved them. They are quite funny. You may want to check out, “Mort” by Terry Pratchett. Very funny too.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr “I still need to read “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” Anyone have a copy I can borrow? ^_^”

I have it in my “Portable Nietzsche” lol

tranquilsea's avatar

For everyone who liked/loved, “The Stand” by Stephen King. You should try, Swan Song by Robert McCammon

netgrrl's avatar

I need a way to e-mail this whole exchange to myself! :) I love talking about books.

syzygy2600's avatar

I usually prefer non fiction.

The Killing of a President – book from the 70’s about the JFK assassination, lots of cool information and gory photos
Medical Oddities – book I have from the 1890’s, lots of interesting drawings and outdated terminology.
Invisible Darkness – about Canadian serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka
The Paranormal: An Illustrated Encyclopedia – exactly what it sounds like.

Too many more to list, I love cool books.

AstroChuck's avatar

@gailcalled- Although many find it almost sacrilege, Shakespeare is at the top of my list of overrated literary figures. However I do appreciate his contribution to the English language with all the words and phrases he invented, many that are still with us.

That is assuming he actually was the one who penned them.

gailcalled's avatar

I just deleted, by accident, a truly brilliant answer, Chuckie.

I’ll still stick with WS’s works for a desert island. They’d keep me busy, whereas anything by Ayn Rand I have hated since I first read half of The Fountainhead when I was 12.

kittybee's avatar

My two favorites are 1984 by George Orwell, and Sophies World by Jostein Gaarder,

tranquilsea's avatar

@Symbeline You can do what I do: hang around used book stores waiting for one to come in. (I’ve only found the 4th one that way and it isn’t very good).

absalom's avatar

Complete works of Shakespeare here as well, if I had to have one book only, or something.

But if the question is (which it is) the best book I’ve ever read, as in the book with which I was most impressed, then it would be Gravity’s Rainbow. If by “best” you mean instead most necessary, then probably Leaves of Grass.

davidbetterman's avatar

Oh yeah, anything and everything by Fyodor Dostoyevsky…

Rarebear's avatar

Watership Down by Richard Adams
Lord of the Rings by Tolkein
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The Future Happens Twice by our very own resident flutherite @mattbrowne.

Matt has done his homework in depicting a believable and accurate representation of our near and very possible future. He successfully mingles the hard facts of science, genetics, space travel and artificial intelligence with the varied hopes, dreams, ethics, and desires, both political and sensual, of numerous interconnected characters, and at the foundational level of human fragility.

Matt has created who I consider to be the perfect modern heroine. Dr. Debrya Handsen, a strikingly gifted linguist taxed with pitting her inner most morality against the cold reality of secret governmental programs of the highest apocalyptic concern.

Great job @mattbrowne!

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Ditto. I read it too, and enjoyed it immensely. I was amazed at how logical and believable the science in the book was, while still maintaining an air of science fiction. It’s one of the best science fiction books I’ve ever read.

PacificToast's avatar

~Capt. Hook by J.V. Hart
~Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddel
~Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
~Nightlight a Parody
~i hate this place by Jimmy and Gloria Fallon

Rarebear's avatar

@tranquilsea I’m deliberately leaving the Fire and Ice series off my list because Martin will never finish it. He’s two years overdue on Dances With Dragons, and if you follow his blog, he’s more interested in football and who is getting cast in the TV version than he is in finishing the damn series.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Rarebear I’m really hoping he finishes it. Now that HBO has picked up the books and is planning on doing one book a season….I hope he hurries up and publishes the next book. He should actually have nearly two done as he had to split up this last book into two…like two years ago. Book two of the series got pitched across the room, the only time I’ve ever done that. He is awesome at character development.

I had also followed Robert Jordan’s series from the beginning. Many of the books in that series were unnecessary and then he died before he finished it! I know someone who named their kids Rand and Perrin, after two of the main characters. I can’t imagine how he feels.

Rarebear's avatar

@tranquilsea Don’t hold your breath. I’ve given up on him.

julia999's avatar

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, or The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester are both great sci fis.

Try The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde :)

tranquilsea's avatar

Ender’s Game is on my list…has been for a while. Every time I’m in used book stores I look for it.

Berserker's avatar

@tranquilsea Yeah, that’s how I found most of my books, or attempt to find out of print sequels and shit. Unfortuntely I live in a small town now, and the one used book store there was closed. Oh well E-Bay it is haha.

tranquilsea's avatar

eBay may be easier. Although I could spend hours in a used book store.

Berserker's avatar

@tranquilsea Me too. It takes forever to look at even a quarter of what they have in a big used book store. I made my rounds every month with like 30 bucks and came home with a whole buncha books…but as I say that was in the big cities, I’m in this remote redneck town with no used book stores anymore. :(

superjuicebox's avatar


Yes, i really atlas shrugged also. I haven’t read the fountainhead though, not yet at least.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Symbeline I’m not a big fan of big cities, but that is one plus to living in one. I recently picked up a two volume “British Literature” from one. While reading it I found a hilarious author who was writing about 150 years before Shakespeare named John Skelton. His diddy, “The Tunning of Elinor Rumming” had me giggling for a long while.

I had never heard of him and I would loved to study him over Shakespeare, although I am going to give Shakespeare another try.

escapedone7's avatar

“East of Eden” – Steinbeck

I don’t understand Fluther’s guidelines. Isn’t this a poll question? So why are other poll questions moderated? I love poll questions. Wish more were allowed. But this is inconsistent, is it not?

Seek's avatar


This question, though kind of a poll, encourages discussion on the topic. Look at how many ”@soandsos” there are. People are discussing their favourite books, why they like or dislike them, and encouraging others to read (or bypass) them. That is why this is allowed

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