Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Top 10 books of all time

I hate lists of all kinds. I am one of those persons who goes grocery shopping without a list and always forgets the garlic/tomatoes/coriander (and ends up coming home with a horseradish). I am the one who forgets the toothbrush on the weekend away because she didn't make a list. In my final year exam in law school, I forgot to bring the Criminal Procedure Code and realized too late that I should have made a list the night before of all the things to take into the exam hall (one of the lecturers had an extra copy, no doubt in anticipation of nuts like myself).

I know people who make major decisions in life by sitting down and drawing a line marking Pros and Cons on a paper or computer. They are able to make life altering decisions based on such a list. I envy the method and precision that goes into such a task because it is something that eludes me. Most of the biggest decisions I make are ones that remain a congealed mess in my mind until I just decide.

I tried to do it once. I wanted to follow the rational and sensible path. Should I make the big career change that I wanted? A list will get me there, I thought. But as I drew the dividing line with a black marker on a fresh paper, I knew deep down that what I wanted would not be the most sensible thing to do. To leave a well paying job with all the prospects for the great unknown? I didn't know if what I wanted would make me happy or if it was right or where things would head after that. In all probability making a list would urge me to do otherwise. But in the hinterland of my heart, I knew what I wanted. I threw the piece of paper away.

I am a resolute non-list maker married to an assiduous one. The ever methodical M has lists for everything including a master list for travel which is filed according to event-weekend away, annual trip, short trips. I am kind of used to it though-I grew up with a whole load of Virgoans who made lists for everything under the sun.

It didn't daunt me then when Sharon Bakar put her loyal readers (me! me!) to task with the Star challenge for their Top 10 favourite books of all time. Here's mine:

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Possession by A.S.Byatt
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

There are a few must haves on the list like Old Man, Lolita, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Anna Karenina. Beyond that, Catcher in the Rye may be a bit esoteric but if it has touched so many young people and continues to do so, surely it must feature? Midnight's Children because it changed the feel, sound and soul of English as a language.

Portrait of the Artist was tossed around with other stream of consciousness novels notably To the Lighthouse but I chose this simply because it is my personal favourite. The Unbearable Lightness of Being had to be mentioned, being a paean to post-modernism. Possession because of its mastery and expanse. And the one book that leads me into the heart of nobility and restraint -The Remains of the Day.

6 comments:

30in2005 said...

I am so a lists person. Love em as I need the order to get on with anything - without lists I would just stay in bed and ponder!

Loved your book list - it was so nice and classic. Favourite book list is something I don't really have and would be hard pressed to come up with. Yours, my dear sunshine, is inspirational!

Jane Sunshine said...

30in2005: Welcome back. U've been missed. How much I envy you, the list-maker. Can I urge you to make a list of favourite books as well? I would love to have a look at yours!!!

QueenB said...

I'm terrible at listing, maybe cos I'm too fickle; but I like reading lists posted by other people
keep it up!

Jane Sunshine said...

Queenb: We should start a club for all the non-listers like us. Like you, I am fickle as well and it probably boils down to that.

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

Gosh! I am glad I am not alone in this.,
I love so many books that I cannot begin to list them.

And I love the ones on yours. Havent read a couple of them, though...

Jane Sunshine said...

Nuraina: It was really hard coming up with a list though. But I had fun. Try it if you like.