Wednesday, February 20, 2008


As an adult, I didn’t have a television until after September 11, 2001. The events of that day convinced me that sometimes radio just isn’t enough, and the internet is too slow to update for certain newsworthy events, so I broke down and bought a TV. With the television came the obligatory DVD player, TiVo, and cable (which had the unintended consequence of giving me high-speed internet). With the cable came my “shows,” and with the internet and my shows, I filled significant chunks of my evenings.

Before 2001, I read for pleasure a lot more than I do now. I had numerous magazine subscriptions, as well as a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I used to tell people that my personality could best be described by the three magazines that I read religiously at the time: the Economist, Harper's, and Playboy. That about summed it up. I also read a book a week, on average – everything from cheesy sci-fi to the Classics. I was a regular at the used book store and my queue of books to read was as impressive as the list of books I had read.

So, when Bonnie asked me for a list of books, and I noticed that Andi had started a new blog devoted exclusively to lists, I couldn’t help but oblige with the following list of five books that I’ve read numerous times – to the point that if I had to rattle off a “favorite” list, I’d hit y’all with this one, and a very brief summary of why:

  1. 1984, by George Orwell. The man was a prophet. Unfortunately, I think this book may be more relevant today than ever before; unfortunately few people seem to care. As an aside, Winston’s conversations with Julia about sex and the correlation between political orthodoxy and sexual repression is one of my classic “go-to” discussions when I’m trying to close an intellectual chick.
  2. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Beautiful, beautiful book. See entry here.
  3. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. One of the few books that has made me cry every time I have read it. Pip’s feelings for Estella, and his climactic outburst to her may be among the greatest paeans to unrequited love ever written:
    Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since - on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!
  4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I still read Gatsby at least once a year. It is the one book that I read in high school, in college, and as a “grown up” that has spoken to me with equal poignancy each time, but for very different reasons.
  5. Ernest Hemingway. Collected works. As trite and clichéd as it may sound, Papa changed my life.


Andi said...

Hey, Jack, thanks for the mention! I love the list. You've talked about Love in the Time of Cholera before and I thought I should read it then. Now I know for sure I need to read it!

Anonymous said...

I see you're a romantic...

bonnie said...

Thanks for your list of faves, Jack. It's a very eclectic list. I've read all of them, except perhaps whatever particular Hemmingway you're inspired by. I have a t.v. but I don't watch shows (except the Wire which is ending this week). I just watch movies from Netflix.

Anonymous said...

Let's see. A pantie raider with a fondness for sushi of all varieties, well read, and obviously verbose.

JG, I'll make you a deal...if I can guess a top ten book of yours (not on your included list, of course!), then I get to post whatever I want without getting whacked.


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