Books are magical. In these classic books, authors share journeys with us and we accompany them into magical tales, legends and take us to places we have never been to before. Books are personal, and there is nothing better in winter than cozying up with a brilliant novel or learning something new with non-fiction. It’s also the perfect antidote to pandemic blues. After all, you can only binge watch so much. Beyond the classics, there are some books so good that everyone must read them, at least once.
- Still Life With Woodpecker and anything else by Tom Robbins. First published almost four decades ago, it’s a kind of love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes. A tale of an environmentalist princess who falls in love with an outlaw. It also shares the purpose of the moon, looks at the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism and it’s all packaged in a wonderfully crafted, often hilariously descriptive, novel that’s bound to become a classic. Robbins is also responsible for some other, immaculately written, often sardonic and highly entertaining books like Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Jitterbug Perfume and Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas amongst others.
- 1984 by George Orwell. Along with Animal Farm, it’s a classic. And curiously prophetic. So was Animal Farm. While not the easiest read, take it slow and drink in Winston Smith’s life in a totataliarian world of control, lies and fear where free will, love and individuality are outlawed. Read a copy of Animal Farm while you’re at it. Both books feel like they scarily foreshadow a future which at any point feels like we are living through parts of it, right now.
- Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. It’s famously a trilogy in five parts. But you can buy in in a single compendium. Life, The Universe and Everything, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and So Long, and Thanks for All The Fish and Mostly Harmless complete the series. What started off as a BBC comedy series in 1978 turned into some of the most popular contemporary science fiction humour series of all time. In these funny, well written stories we meet Arthur Dent who travels the universe after the destruction of earth along with the alien travel writer Ford Prefecr and the two-headed galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox. There’s a permanently depressed robot named Marvin, some hyper intelligent mice and astrophysicist Trillian. Oh, and we learn that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. You’ll also want to embroider your towels with the words ‘Don’t Panic’ after reading these brilliant novels.
- Fear and Loathing On The Campaign Trail in 72 by Hunter S Thompson. This is gonzo journalism at its very best. Here Thompson recounts being a journalist on US President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972. It’s a serialised version of articles published in Rolling Stone magazine during the same year, Thompson covers the campaign, with significant focus on the splits and manoeuvres of the Democrats, in minute detail, with exceptional writing and sardonic humour. Other must reads by Thompson include Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the Rum Diary.
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginedes. This Pulitzer winning book is the second incredible narrative by the author. His debut, The Virgin Suicides, also a must read. Middlesex was published almost two decades ago but is more relevant now than ever. It tells the story of Cal, or Calliope Stephanides. ““I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license…records my first name simply as Cal.” When she uncovers why she is not like other girls, she uncovers a family secret and their genetic history that turned Callie into Cal. The novel is set in Michigan, Detroit also a transformative background in a beautifully narrated, gripping and thrilling, bucket-list novel.