Here is my top ten list. I am more drawn to the classics in general, and I especially love Russian literature. The depth that they have captivates me in a way that most modern literature lacks, at least for me. I’d much rather read a book that takes a bit longer and has something really to say, rather than choosing quick reads for entertainment. Not to say, of course, that these books aren’t quite engaging as well.
Top Ten Novels for Luke:
1. The Brothers Karamazov
I love Russian literature and this is the crown jewel. Dostoyevsky tells a tale so full of humanity and life that 800 pages actually won’t seem enough.
2. Les Miserables
Another story filled with humanity. Forget the musical and read the book. It’s super long but even the extended rambling asides are really interesting.
3. East of Eden
The master’s masterpiece. Not as simple as the common “it’s a modern retelling of Cain and Abel,” it is a tale of good and evil, but as complex and engaging as they come.
Fathers and sons and beautiful language. The fictional letter that is Gilead says much about life in one man’s thoughts and how he sees the world.
5. The Brothers K
David James Duncan
America’s epic: baseball, family, Vietnam war, and a nod to my favorite book. Everyone I’ve recommended this book to loved it. It will make you laugh, and just might make you shed a manly tear or two.
6. The Idiot
Another Dostoyevsky on the list, probably his most complex and least accessible. Even if you don’t quite “get it,” you’ll close the book still somehow feeling that it was profound.
7. Cancer Ward
Perhaps one of the most depressing settings you can think of, Solzhenitsyn brings life to the characters wrestling with despair and hope. Not your feel-good read, but rewarding for delving into the heavy issues.
8. The Count of Monte Cristo
The most masterful enactment of revenge you’re ever going to read. Clever and thrilling throughout, the book goes into infinitely more detail than any movie you’ve seen about it, even in the abridged addition.
A novel about a 12th century English monastic hermit might not sound the most interesting, but it completely works. Buechner is a master of the English language and writes in gritty, earthy prose that is refreshing and unique.
10. For Whom the Bell Tolls
Hemingway’s writing is certainly unique, and this is Spanish war story is compelling and classic.