As what should be a requisite for all avid readers, I am now doing my very first Top 10 Must-Reads. I'm sure that it will not be my last. But for 2009, I must say that these are my favorites:
1.The Sherlock Holmes Series: the brightest, smartest, most brilliant, incredible detective of all time is Sherlock Holmes. If your mother asks why you are reading it in the middle of the week, just tell her that it is a wonderful logic course. I have found my unreasonable mind actually trying to observe and deduce. Amazing. I just finished the second volume (not a happy moment) and am very sad that all those wonderful mysteries are solved. If only Conan Doyle hadn't wasted so much time on other matters. This has become one book that I really could not live without. (Note: I was about to consider petitioning Sir Conan Doyle to resurrect Mr. Holmes yet again when I realized that--well--he's dead so it would be rather useless.)
2. A Tale of Two Cities: by Charles Dickens. Though this book starts out slowly, the supreme sacrifice and love in the end is worth anything. I am putting an excerpt here from the ending because it can certainly speak for itself. The setting is in a cart headed for the guillotine, the speakers are a young woman and a man.
"It cannot be, my child; there is no Time there [in Heaven], and no trouble there."
"You comfort me so much! I am so ignorant. Am I to kiss you now? Is the moment come?"
She kisses his lips; he kisses hers; and they solemnly bless each other... She goes next before him--is gone; the knitting women count Twenty-Two.
"I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
...it swells forward in a mass, like one great heave of water, all flashes away. Twenty-Three.
Yes, this is a must-read.
3. David Copperfield: Arguably one of Charles Dickens' best novels, David Copperfield is loosely based on the author's own life. After surviving an abusive boyhood, David Copperfield narrates his journey to manhood, with many loves, losses and lessons .The plot is stellar and each character has a memorable personality--for good or bad.
4. Ivanhoe: is the well-known historical fiction novel by Sir Walter Scott. Set in the time of Richard Couer de Leon, this book paints a remarkable and exciting picture of life during the Middle Ages. With many memorable heroes and heroines, a dilemma between reputation and unrequited love, and many rousing fight sequences, this book ranks high.
5. Watership Down:Though a visceral reaction to this tale by Richard Adams might be "it's about...rabbits???" it really is a book that no library of the brain ought to be without. It is the tale of the journey of a band of dauntless rabbits who leave the safety of their home warren at the seeming whim of a young one who predicts tragedy. They make the harrowing journey to a paradise for rabbits. For more, please read my review.
6. The Mystery of Edwin Drood: a murder mystery written by Charles Dickens--up to the twenty-second chapter. It was sadly interrupted by the poorly-timed death of the author (after all, we'll never know how it was really supposed to end). It has been concluded many times but my favorite one (and dare I say the only one I've read) is by Leon Garfield. The ending is very startling yet--I'm just going to shut up now.
7. Mere Christianity: a book written by C.S Lewis--not a novel, yet a gripping read. It is written so well and so down-to-earth that you can almost hear Lewis' kindly English accent talking to you. It explores the many different facets of the Christian life, bringing new insights to dilemmas and discussing commonplace topics that everyone knows but doesn't give much intelligent thought to.
8. Around the World In 80 Days: the classic written by Jules Verne, Around the World in 80 Days will ring in your memory for many a year. It follows the extremely punctual (if not slightly eccentric) Englishman, Phileas Fogg on an impromptu journey round the world--with a return date exactly 80 days from departure. The book details the culture and geography of many countries in the world.
9. The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, The Lantern Bearers: these three books are a series written by Rosemary Sutcliff. Starting with the Eagle of the Ninth, which is about a young Roman centurion, the books covers the history of Ancient Britain from the height of the Roman Empire's power over Britain to its fall and the rise of the real king Arthur. These books really fascinated me with the history of England, especially her Ancient times.
10. The Scarlet Pimpernel: This book by Baroness Orczy tells the tale of an Englishman who takes condemned Frenchmen from under the guillotine's shadow during the French Revolution. The rebel government employs an Englishwoman living in the center of London society to search out and reveal this man. A fascinating story, it has quite a lot of the flavor of A Tale of Two Cities and a dash of the mysterious content of Sherlock Holmes.
I hope that you've enjoyed this post, and I hope that it has inspired you to want to read these books.
I am also advertising for people who also have read and truly enjoyed these books...I would LOVE to discuss them!