– by Wendy Morley –
If you enjoy reading novels, you will find that a few are painful and plenty of them are enjoyable but easily forgotten. Some, however, are eternal. The characters become almost as real to you as your friends, the stories become part of your inner workings, and the events set in your memory almost as if they had happened to you.
Many books have remained within me, but two stand out. Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro, was the first book I had ever read where the author seemed to honestly understand the world I lived in, despite the fact that it took place many years before I lived in that world. A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth, on the other hand, was far removed, except that the man who had been my husband for many years was Indian, and from my perspective it captured the collective Indian psyche extraordinarily well. In fact, I remember telling a friend of mine “if you want to understand Indians, read A Suitable Boy.” Meanwhile his girlfriend, who was of Indian descent, had been told by her grandmother: “If you want to understand India, read A Suitable Boy,” so I guess I was right.
Here are some more of what I like to call “Books That Remain,” from some people who like to read.
Lynn Broughton: So many! But God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, came at me again yesterday during a memorial. “And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these only the Small Things are ever said. The Big Things lurk unsaid inside.”
Michael J Ritchie: The Humans, by Matt Haig. It’s basically about an alien coming to Earth to integrate himself as a human, and how he discovers we’re actually not all that bad. Very moving and explains a lot about humanity from the position of an outsider.
We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver, because it was compelling, disturbing and very, very real.
Brendan Reid: Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood. I’ve never been more attached to a protagonist, even one as miserable as the one in this story. The universe itself is equal parts hilarious and terrifying, all the while being strangely plausible. I’ve probably read it about six times and it still gets me.
Irina Souiki: Perfume, the Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind. The novel managed to bring scents to life through words, a feat that no other book has come close to. Enthralling story, original and daring. A must-read. The cinematographic adaptation was also very good, a rare occurrence.
Another favorite is Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. This book combined the medical with the magical.
Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech
A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
Dolores Claiborne, by Stephen King. I think I like novels with strong female protagonists!
Of particular note because they were mentioned by multiple people: The Red Tent, The Poisonwood Bible, Three Day Road, The Orenda and A Fine Balance.