Some things are soooooooooo hard to narrow down . . .
Welcome to my first blog post. I should warn everyone ahead of time: I AM NOT a journaler nor am I a blogger by nature. However, this one should be fairly easy. While I can NEVER hope to catch up to some of my friends like Brad or Kerry, I do have an opinion when it comes to the best books ever written and the ones that - dare I admit it - must be read for the average person to understand western literature. So here they go in no specific order of opinion
“Words are easy, like the wind; faithful friends are hard to find.”
- William Shakespeare; The Passionate Pilgrim
1) Okay . . . okay! I know that I said these were in no specific order but: Tale of Two Cities is BY FAR the best book ever written. Sorry to those who hold another opinion, but it is. This is Dicken's best work and is such a wonderful novel that it has to lead any real list of western literature.
2) The Bible. Outdated as it may seem in today's culture, there are so many parts of modern language, law, and custom that are drawn from this book that there is no way a serious reader can ignore it. Whether or not you abide by its creed of faith, you must include it any list of Western literature. Don't be scared or intimidated if you've never cracked its cover. Start at the beginning: Genesis. If you love reading you will find the root of more allusions than anywhere else just in this first book of the bible.
3) Speaking of allusions: no one beats Shakespeare. And I must say that I am no poet, but his plays are masterful and timeless. Once you get past the Elizabethan language, the stories are valid for every generation. My wife and I disagree as to his greatest play. She insists upon Macbeth. Yet she has to do the laundry so she loves to quote: "Out! Out! Damned spot!" I, on the other hand, am partial to Hamlet. Though so much of Shakespeare has to be heard (and heard correctly) for it to make the most sense. So I would recommend Mel Gibson's Hamlet. It truly is the best rendition out there.
4) The Books of Narnia. I fell in love with them as a child. I still love them as an adult. I return to them at least every year or two. C.S. Lewis wrote them for his grandchildren, but they are appropriate for an adult audience as well. This is one that I would pass on the movies and go straight for the books. Disney did a wonderful adaptation of the books, but the imagination that is stirred from those pages far exceeds anything the silver screen can conjure up.
5) The Lord of The Rings Trilogy. You can't speak of C.S. Lewis without talking of his friend and mentor: Tolkien. As a child, I thought that these novels were too wordy. As an adult, I have grown to love them. It is especially amazing when you think about the fact that Tolkien wrote them to seem as if they were an ancient and forgotten history. Read the books: he succeeded. And again, while Hollywood did a marvelous job adapting the books, nothing beats going to Middle Earth through the written word.
6) This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti both scared and inspired me as a young teen. Along with Piercing the Darkness, Peretti introduced the conservative Christian world to paranormal fiction. It is a wonderful blending of two seemingly opposing worldviews that not only affected the way I write, but the way I look at the world as a whole. If you have never read these books, I would suggest them. They will challenge the way you view your role in the world, especially the today's world.
7) The Black Angel by John Connolly is masterfully done. I think it is one of his best novels. All of his Charlie Parker detective novels are fabulous. But this one stands as his best work, if you ask my humble opinion. And since you are reading my blog, then I guess you are! 😂 I would highly recommend any of his Charlie Parker novels.
8) The Lord's of Discipline by Pat Conroy. This is an incredible book. All of his are. Yet for some reason, I am drawn to this one the most. I love how he uses the imagery of the seasons in Charleston to parallel the boys as they are coming of age. Pat Conroy is the quintessential, living Southern writer and must be read.
9) And if we are talking military genre (which you kind of have to stretch to put the Conroy in that group), then we have to talk about the novel that kicked it off: The Hunt For Red October. Again, Hollywood did a good job getting this one right. But even the silver screen couldn't match the "edge of your seat" tension that Clancy captured in that novel. And it is amazing to think that he did all of his research in the early, early days of the internet!
10) Finally we are back to Dickens. Start with the best, end with the best. A Christmas Carol has got to be the undefeated champion of Christmas time stories. It possesses all of Dickens' quirky characters, dark themes, and finishes with the ray of light hailed by Tiny Tim himself.