A book is more than paper and ink. Reading is like traveling without leaving home. A journey of the mind: this means literature to me. Despite this, it’s a pleasant way to enrich our lives and affect our vision of the world. Indeed, memorable books are tools for understanding society and its mechanism. Every book can leave a deep sign, in its own way.
It’s hard to tell which are the best books ever. As well as for what concerns movies or songs, the manner they touch our soul is very personal. So, here are listed 10 memorable books that every book lover should read once. Novels that had a strong impact, on me at least.
1. 1984 – George Orwell
Set in a despotic future society, the lives of characters are controlled by the tyrannical Big Brother party. It governs every aspect of life, both social and private. The book speaks about the rebellion of the protagonist with a group of dissenters, which will be repressed by the power itself. The latest pages are, perhaps, the most significant: after tortures and manipulation, he returns to love the Party.
A perfect tool for understanding our society, Orwell’s message is very actual and easily touchable with our hands. In fact, we experience everyday the phenomenon of news manipulation as a way for diverting public opinion’s attention from real problems. Definitely a must read!
2. The Mark on the Wall – Virginia Wolf
Among great novels, bold essays and short stories full of meanings, it was difficult choose just one above all the memorable books of this amazing writer. Considered one of the most important modernist author, I can say that Virginia Wolf is absolutely one of my favourite. As first approach, I highly recommend The Mark on the Wall. It’s a short story written in first person as an interior monologue. From seeing a mark on the wall, the narrator starts a journey in his mind from speculating on what the mark might be, to questioning himself about the meaning of life and the very nature of reality.
Written during the aftermath of the First World War, it’s a great example of introspective writing, able to touch and explore different as well as important themes. A short reading that will make you rethink about your perspective of what is real!
3. The Immoralist – André Gide
Reason for scandal when it first appeared, in this novel Gide narrates the confessional account of a man, Michel, who is seeking the truth of his own nature. During his honeymoon, he meets a boy who will sign his sexually as well as morally awakening. Audacious for the time as the majority of memorable books, it explores the theme of the homosexuality from the eyes of a repressed whose his natural inclinations are against societal conventions.
Under a Nietzschean light, The Immoralist will make you meditate upon social boundaries and the reasons why they exist. A challenge to morality and ethical concepts. Are you ready for that?
4. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Are human beings evil from nature or is a consequence of society? It’s exactly this the question that Golding explore in his most famous work. Allegorical novel which sees as protagonists a group of British children stranded on an inhabited island. The plot is focused on the dissolution of morality and disciplined behaviors of these young boys, who try to govern themselves far from the rule of a civilized society.
A pessimistic view of the inner nature and primordial instinct of human beings, it goes through various topics in a brutal and cruel manner. If you didn’t read it yet, you should absolutely add it to your wishlist of memorable books. Right now!
5. The Moon and the Bonfires – Cesare Pavese
Set in a small town in Piedmont, north-west of Italy, it’s the story of the protagonist who, after 20 years living in the United States, returns to his home town. Moving back and forth between past and present, this melancholic novel raise questions and touch different themes. An interior reflection about the sense of belonging to a place, full of metaphorical images.
Perhaps not so known, The Moon and the Bonfires is a good reading also for understanding the Italian scenario following the Second World War. Indeed, the author reflects about a dualistic vision of the world and its impossibility to clearly divide it between good and bad.
6. Man’s Fate – André Malraux
One of my favorite book ever, Man’s Fate narrates the fictional early days of the Chinese Revolution, masterly exploring profound meanings linked to revolution impulses of every character involved. Original title La Condition Humaine, which literally means “the human condition”, it deeply investigates subjects as free will, destiny, existential angst and death.
A masterpiece of the contemporary literature, its powerful language, rich of strong images and enhanced from a fantastic use of words, will strike you from the very first sentences. One of the most memorable books that everybody should read at least once. Or more!
7. Diary – Chuck Palahniuk
Better known for his bestseller Fight Club, Palahniuk offer his nihilistic vision of life and dark humor in this novel written as a diary. Misty, a once-promising young artist stuck in a miserable life, starts to write a diary when her husband is in come, after a suicide attempt. From here the plot reveals a mystery conspiracy against the protagonist.
A novel that investigates the fake surface of things, an homage to art and crazed reality. “Everything is a self-portrait. Everything is a diary” repeats constantly Misty. If you have loved this author, you should definitely check it out!
8. Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse
A classic that inspired and influenced generations of readers, it’s the spiritual journey of self-discovery of the protagonist. Hesse explores different ideologies and philosophy of Eastern religions, universal archetypes and Western individualism, emphasizing Siddhartha’s self-assertive individuality and his search for true meaning.
A memorable book which will be able to open your mind and raise in you existential questions. An amazing book that you need to read before you die!
9. Factotum – Charles Bukowski
Second novel of the arch-literary outsider Charles Bukowski, in which he masterly depicts the condition of being down-and-out. It’s the story of the outcast Henry Chinaski, his famous alter ago, aspiring writer who drifts around America from one-end job to another, from one women to another and, of course, from bottle to bottle.
Bitter wit and dark humour are constant elements throughout this memorable book. One of his best work, Factotum is a perfect way to start a journey in the fictional world of Bukowski.
10. The Human Stain – Philip Roth
Third of a trilogy in which Roth questions American morality and its effects, it’s the story of Coleman Silk, a teacher forced to retire after an accusation of racism. A charge based on a speculative interpretation of the use of a word, from which the real truth about the protagonist will be revealed. From the voice of his friend, Nathan Zuckerman, you will be taken into Coleman’s unspoken thoughts and his secret past.
A framing narrative which is able to deeply investigate Coleman’s tale. You will be capture from the mystery that pervades the story since its very beginning. On top of that, a movie adaptation, with a fantastic Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman, will follow and enrich your reading.