The following list details the favourite books of teachers! I’m sure that you’ll find something to interest you. I’ll add my favourites later.
Staff Members’ Favourite Books
Ms K. Allan
Vikram Seth: An Equal Music. Although it involves the life of two classical musicians, one doesn’t have to be a fan to appreciate the romance in this story.
William Boyd: The New Confessions. A great narrator. I also enjoyed Brazzaville Beach and The Blue Afternoon by the same author.
Tom Sharpe: Porterhouse Blue. A fabulous send-up of life in anEnglishUniversity college, very funny.
Bill Bryson: The Complete Notes (Notes from aSmallIsland; Notes from a Big Country). This is a compilation of two separate books aboutEngland and theUSA. The USA notes were written as a series of essays and are very short, amusing and good if you can only manage to read a couple of pages each night!
Ms R. Allen
The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood. Elements of mystery and an intriguing exploration of identity. Cleverly structured.
My favourite is
Tuesdays with Morrie – a true story of a university lecturer telling his life story to a student, great read.
Dr Bennett [always a good source of light bedtime reading]
You have no idea how much turmoil this request has induced. I could not produce less than what follows: (the order does not indicate a priority)
1. Immanuel Kant – Critique of Pure Reason
2. The Gospel According to John
3. Dostoyevsky – The Brothers Karamazov
4. Paul Tillich – The Eternal Now and/or Dynamics of Faith also Systematic Theology
5. Ludwig Wittgenstein – On Certainty
6. Chaim Potok – My Name is Asher Lev and/or The Chosen
7. Alexander Solzhenitsyn – The First Circle
8. The Book of Job
9. Rabinandrath Tagore – Gitanjali
10. Thomas Merton – The Inner Experience
11. Karl Rahner – Encounters with Silence
Can’t go past Foucault’s Pendulum: Umberto Ecco
The No1 Women’s Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
The Seeds of Time by John Wyndam
It caused me to reflect on my place in space and time.
1421, about the Chinese circumnavigation of the world in 1421, totally changes the western veiw of history
Mendelev’s Dream, about the development of Chemistry. Helps put today’s science in perpective
Portuguese Irregular Verbs, a funny account of academic life,
Sorry I can’t recall the authors, but the library has them.
Most of my faves already listed by others but some more are:
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: strangely prophetic and utterly disturbing.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding: I read this in Year 9 and was shocked at the way it exposed ‘the hearts of darkness’ beating within ‘civilized’ boys.
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler and another thought provoking one, Camus’ The Outsider (a must read )
Great Expectations by (Charles Dickens:) some side-splitting caricatures and great lessons on how to waste a life (or how to avoid doing so). Bitches abound too.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Strange exploration of a ‘what if’ scenario. Very disturbing and beautifully written.
Perfume by Patrick Suskind: Perverse, historical and with the most grotesque character I have ever met on pages.
Loved Illywacker as well by Peter Carey.
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. I couldn’t put them down.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is also fascinating.
Trinity – Leon Uris
QBVII – Leon Uris
Nazism, man’s treament of man & the legal system
Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy – DAdams
Because it’s fun
Potato Factory – Bryce Courtney
Australian history lives
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
1984 – George Orwell
A cultural necessity – the first Big Brother
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
Science Fiction – at its best.
A Man for All Seasons – R Bolt
Thought provoking – what is important?
Jonathon Livingston Seagull – R Bach
It’s important to dream
Tom Clancy – Action/ Adventure & relevance
Matthew Riley – Indiana Jones style action from a young Australian author
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Binding Chair by Kathryn Harrison (a few other books along the same lines, particularly when I was living in Singapore for a few years).
A Child Called It by David Pelzer and his others A Man Named Dave and The Lost Boy.
Dirt Music by Tim Winton
Audrey Niffenegger, The Time-Traveler’s Wife. This book made me cry.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind. Another moving and exciting story.
1. Moby Dick (Herman Melville)…let the rolling deck of a whaling ship be your Yale and Harvard
2. The Magus (John Fowles)…learn the meaning of the one, really, really important Greek word: eleutheria
3. Ulysses (James Joyce)…it’s a story all about you, you know.
Here are a few interesting reads that I have enjoyed in the last couple of years;
Time Without Clocks, Joan Lindsay. The author (‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’) and her husband, Daryl (a famous artist), lived at Mulberry Hill near Frankston (a National Trust Property). It is a wonderful account of life inMelbourne in the last century and centres around the artistic community inMelbourne.
Pompeii, Robert Harris. A rich historical drama that sweeps the reader through the events surrounding the eruption of Vesuvius. Having walked the streets ofHerculaneum I found this particularly enthralling.
The White Earth, Andrew McGahan. Another historical drama taking the reader deep into family relationships and set in early Australian colonial history.
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro. This novel is set inEngland and gently leads you through the lives of a group of young people. The storyline constantly raises questions and left me reflecting on the fragility of life.
Ms De Young
Two of my personal favourites that I can call to mind at the moment:
I Know this Much is True– Wally Lamb (A little psychological but good)
The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsoliver (gotta love a southern Baptist in the Congo) [Sure do]
1. Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby
2. Scientific Progress Goes “Boink” by Bill Watterson
3. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – he charts the miseries and ecstasies of an adolescent rebel, and deals out some of the most acidly humorous deadpan satire
6. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is the last book written by children’s author Dr. Seuss. A blueprint for living our lives!
7. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane “When Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus were kids, their fathers worked together at the Coleman Candy plant and carried the stench of warm chocolate….”
8. Round Ireland With a Fridge by Tony Hawks
11. Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) is a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa that chronicles the changes in Sicilian life and society during the Risorgimento. Published posthumously in 1958, it became the top-selling novel in Italian history and is considered one of the most important novels in Italian literature.
12. The Lovely Bones is a 2000 novel by Alice Sebold. It is the story of a teenage girl who, after being brutally raped and murdered, watches from heaven as her family and friends go on with their lives, while she herself comes to terms with her own death.
“These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections — sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent — that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous lifeless body had been my life.’
13. The Fixer is a 1966 novel by Bernard Malamud which is based on the true story of Menahem Mendel Beilis, an unjustly imprisoned Jew in Tsarist Russia. The notorious “Beilis trial” of 1913 caused an international uproar that forced Russia to back down in the face of world indignation. The trial is fictionalized using a very similar story line. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1967.
15. All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I, about the horrors of that war and also the deep detachment from German civilian life felt by many men returning from the front. The book was first published in German as Im Westen nichts Neues in January 1929.
16. The Secret River by Kate Grenville
Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and shortlisted for the 2006 MilesFranklin Award. Set in the early 19th century on theHawkesburyRiver inNew South Wales, it examines the clash of cultures between the indigenous Australians and the newly-arrived European settlers.
Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man, offers an elegy for a lost world of simple beauty and gentleness and Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, describes the barbarity of its destruction in 1914-18.
English Passengers, by Matthew Kneale, is a gently human story of human folly set against a background of genocide inTasmania.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, is a series of linked stories which describe our civilisation winding down.
The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien. It’s is a whimsical Irish story about academic obsession, a fable about crime and punishment, and, according to some, it is even a commentary on Einsteinian physics.
Grapes of Wrath– Steinbeck
World According to Garp– Irving
Birds Without Wings– de Berniere
Girl with a Pearl Earring– Chevalier
The Weather Makers– Flannery
Silent Spring– Carson
True History of the Kelly Gang– Carey
Most Helen Garner
The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The River God and The Seventh Scroll both by Wilbur Smith
The Bible, particularly the Gospels, particularly John. For me there’s no competition. It somehow meets me wherever I am and moves me to somewhere beyond words every time.
The Orestia by Aeschylus. A timeless myth that’s lives and breathes and spits the vengeance of today. It’s Bush’s America in Iraq. It is human fault, but somehow, somehow, it creates hope. [Also consider Tony Harrison’s translation of The Orestia if you want a warts and all version]
Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman. See above. Absolutely beautiful, overwhelmingly emotional adaptation of Ovid’s exploration of the potential for change. Stunning.
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaatje. Effectively fragmentary narrative on the necessary symbiosis between the predator (Pat Garrett) and his prey (the Kid).
The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway. Short stories about the seminal rites of passage of childhood. ‘The Last Good Country’ contains my favourite sentence ever [See if you can spot it].
Rope Burns by F.X. Toole. Penetrating writing based on Toole’s experience as a boxing trainer. Million $$$ Baby makes me cry every time.
Where I’m Calling From by Raymond Carver. Minimalism. Includes my favourite short story ever (Furious Seasons).
Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik. Sorry, but the first rule of Fight Club is do not talk about Fight Club.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Because he’s seriously under-represented in this list. [And because . . . well, to be honest I can’t think of another reason for reading Dickens –except that I’ve read the first two hundred pages of this novel four times and they’re great, no really, they are, it’s the rest that I struggle with. But, I do agree that it’s a dead-set ripper]
Underworld by Don Dellilo. Read it for the first 45 pages, the most gripping prologue ever.
Motel Chronicles by Sam Shepard. Short stories and poems, the source material for my favourite film, Paris, Texas.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Best satire ever. [Yeah, if you can figure out how you can go from The Bible to American Psycho in 12 simple books then you’re a genius too – mind you, he was a Haileybury School Captain]
The Bible –
Inspired and inspirational.
Paradise Lost, John Milton
Such fervour in a beautifully crafted narrative giving insight into the dark prince of this world and his origins. Both the poetry and the story are of another world. Once you get used to the rhythm of the language it’s quite hypnotic. [I’m actually finally convinced to giveMiltona go]
Le Petit Prince, Antoine Saint-Exupéry
Appeals to both children and adults. Cute story underpinned by profound philosophy. [either that or you just want to punch him]
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
Just such an engaging story with some of the most unforgettable characters; Miss Havisham, Estella, Magwitch, Pip, Jaggers….. So mysterious and vivid. [read comment above]
Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
The French Revolution is such a great backdrop for any story and here, Dickens is at his best. As usual his characters are so vibrant and varied.
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
The Red Room and the mad woman – two of the most striking images from all of literature. The wild and broodingRochesteris a bit of a mismatch for Jane but I was happy to step into her shoes as I read it.
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Anything that inspires Kate Bush has to be worth a good look. [I agree, Kate is mighty fine, and Emily is much better than her sister – much, much better]
The Great Gatsby, F.Scott Fitzgerald
I love the hot, dreamy atmosphere.
Suite Française, Irène Nemirovsky
A bit confusing for a while as it involves lots of different characters and stories but as they begin to meld together mysteriously it becomes very intriguing. Set inFranceduring the chaos of World War II, the character portraits are at once both appealing and disturbing.
The Perfume of Patrick Süskindit is a great thriller (story of a murderer) with a nail biting suspense and a sophisticated atmosphere. Powerful and dreadful! The story takes place in FRANCE (beautiful description of landscapes)!!!
Angela’s Ashes Frank McCourt
I loved that laughter could still be found even in the darkest of times.
It is such a moving story of a little boy’s incredible resilience to survive in the harshest environment. [Plus, the Irish drink more than any one in the history of the entire world]
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E Frankl, and it is the account of a doctor in a Nazi prison camp and his analysis of that experience and its connection with logotherapy.
Bernard Cronin Bracken
Geraldine Brooks The Year of Wonder
Tom Collins/Joseph Furphy Such is Life
Charles Dickens – anything
Ian McEwan Child in Time
Frank Hardy The Outcasts of Foolgarah
Spke Millign Puckoon
Barbara Tuchman 1914
Geoffrey Serle The Golden Age
Summer of ’42 by Herman Raucher. A fantastic coming of age book which is a hilarious look into the minds (and sex drives) of 15 year old boys. Set inAmerica in the early days of WW 11. l don’t think 15 year old boys have changed much in the past 50 or so years. It makes me laugh just thinking about it.
Anything by Jodi Piccoult but especially The Pact and My Sister’s Keeper amazing stories of tangled relationships beautifully written.
Lee Child’s anti-hero Jack Reacher, who features in all his books. Violent, full of red-herrings but very, very clever.
Last but definitely not least, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. Simple but heart-wrenching fable about two German boys embroiled in the turmoil and times ofAuschwitz.
This is a surprisingly difficult task – my first reaction is To Kill a Mockingbird – but given that’s a Haileybury text, the second one that comes to mind is The Women’s Room – which explores the personal impact of the women’s movement in the US in the 1960/70s – however – while it was life changing for me – would the boys think so? [Does it matter?]
My fav book is When in Rome (don’t know the author) which is very inspiring especially for travel.
Also, Legacy by Susan Kay about Elizabeth 1st.
Any novel by Phillipa Gregory.
Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
The smallest and most practical book on Life, the Universe and Everything.
Any book with stories by Mulla Nasrudin.
Oh, and yes, I am serious.
Paperweight – Stephen Fry. Ascerbic, but insightful and witty.
The Adventure of English – Melvin Bragg. A surprisingly entertaining and deep look at our favourite consciousness vehicle.
Momo by Michael Ende
Franny and Zooey – J. D. Salinger
Night of Milky Way Railroad – Kenji Miyazawa (Japanese writer)
would really like to be cool and say stuff like Mother Courage, The Leopard and Schindler’s Ark (my year 12 texts), however, it is hard to get a full appreciation for a book just reading the V.C.E. (it was the H.S.C. in ’85) study guides. I became a Science dork for good reason! [Yeah, I’m beginning to sense that – you stick to those illuminating editions of Science Illustrated and the excerpts from the Stephen Hawkings Diaries]
My favourite book is still the Lord of the Rings. Clichéd now, but very hip when I read it in ’93. [In fact, so hip that only Science students and medieval enthusiasts read them – oh, and me]
The Life of Pi, Yann Patel – brilliant tale of what coping mechanisms humans use to survive in the most desperate of times.
The Alchemist, Paul Coelho – A beautiful fable about how living is in the journey, not the destination.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. A tale of the challenges faced by a young Afghani boy and the story of his friendship with his servant’s son. Heartbreaking – the only book I have cried all the way through!
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss.
Reminds us of the importance of punctuation in making clear what we want to say.
Mr S. Hughes
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
I think this a great read for those seeking a path of self discovery
Mr T. Hughes
The following is a far from exhaustive list but contains just a few eclectic gems I didn’t see in other people’s recommendations.
The Pulitzer prize winning Godel, Escher Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas Hofstadter.
I read this at the end of my school days and have just read it again. It is a challenging and thought provoking read linking the maths/logic of Godel and his incompleteness theorem with the music of Bach and the Art of Escher while musing on the nature of consciousness/self. It is written in a unique style that intersperses the main discussion with sections of “surreal” dialogue, inspired by Plato and Lewis Carroll (between characters such as the Tortoise and Achilles). The situations in the dialogue are mainly used for the purposes of analogy to illuminate the central discussions in the book; a unique classic, but approach with caution. It requires quite some work/sophistication to get through.
Sophie’s World (Jostein Gaarder)
This is a mixture of novel and basic guide to philosophy. If you want to improve your knowledge of philosophy while being entertained by a rather bizarre and mysterious tale of a young, Norwegian, teenage girl, then this is for you. It is aimed at teenagers/young adults and so it is a much simpler read than the recommendation above. It is an intriguing read because of its original approach.
Any of the Discworld novels (Terry Pratchett)
If you have read fantasy novels then you are likely to have more appreciation for some of the humour in Pratchett’s novels, as it often has a dig at that genre. However, all the books contain subtle (and not so subtle) satire directed at various aspects of life in general such as sexism, racism, capitalism,Hollywood… Read them just for their humour (one of the few authors who can make me laugh out loud) and/or for their reflections on life in general. Set in a bizarre flat, disc shaped world moving through space on the back of four giant elephants that are standing on a tortoise. Death is a “real skeleton” with various social hang-ups and life in general follows narrative imperative rather than the usual laws of nature; a literally fantastic way to take a break from the everyday world.
Two books by Richard Feynman -Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character; What Do You Care What Other People Think?: Further Adventures of a Curious Character
These books contain humorous, quirky and sometimes moving insights into the life and mind of an original genius. Both are very short, easy reads by a Nobel Prize winning Physicist. Feynman played the bongos (Brazilian mardi-gras), the odds (picking up dates, challenging bookies and cracking safes) and all sorts of other “games”. These antics peppered a life that also involved: being part of the team to make the first atomic bomb, winning the Nobel Prize for physics, and unearthing the reasons for the Challenger shuttle disaster.
If after reading these books you are yearning for more about Feynman (you will be!), there is also a great book called “Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman” by James Gleick. In addition, for anyone planning to do Physics at university (or just interested in an accessible look at advanced topics in Physics) one of the most original approaches to undergraduate physics can be found in the Feynman Lectures – a set of three books containing notes from a series of undergraduate physics lectures presented by Feynman.
The Road to Reality (Roger Penrose)
For hardcore mathematician/physicists: If you want a good, very technical (yet intended for a lay audience) summary of the latest ideas in theoretical physics – in relation to a search for a “Theory of Everything” – THIS IS IT. It not only puts forward the latest physics ideas but attempts to explain the mathematics behind them. A hefty tome! But even if you skip some of the more mathematical bits it can be interesting.
It’s hard to come up with only a few!! But my favourites would have to be:
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne
The Diary of Anne Frank
Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt
Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi
Anything by Jodi Picoult, especially My Sister’s Keeper, Perfect Match and Nineteen Minutes
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Weird, wonderful, somewhat disturbing and impossible to categorise. His other novels are mighty fine too (writes sci-fi stuff under Iain M. Banks for those who like that sort of thing – which I have to confess, I don’t).
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Opened my eyes to a whole new way of writing the novel. If nothing else, it rates a mention for being able to condense an entire chapter into five words (you’ll have to read it to find out what five).
The Barrytown Trilogy (The Commitments, The Snapper, The Van) by Roddy Doyle
Three marvelous stories set inIrelandfocusing on different aspects of friendship, family, football (soccer) and rock and roll (and, I think, now all made into films).
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series by Douglas Adams:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Life, the Universe and Everything
So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish
Better than the Bible.
Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
A beautifully written, wonderfully embellished family history that proves we cannot escape our heritage. [Possibly my favourite]
Microserfs byDouglas Coupland
The first book for the Geek Generation, by the man who immortalised the X Generation (or, perhaps, they’re just the same thing).
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
A docu-novel that provides a thoroughly fascinating and compelling true crime story.
American Tabloid by James Ellroy
Tacky, trashy, rollicking good fun and a bit of history to boot. Finally makes the whole JFK thing interesting. In many ways, the complete opposite of the above.
And the Ass saw the Angel byNickCave.
Somewhere between allegory and fable. Not perfect, but it shows that a song writer can write something that lasts longer than five minutes. The Jesus story for sons of the soil.
The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey.
The first book that made me feel anything (anything at all) about colonialAustralia. Finally brought the whole thing to life in a way that no history teacher or text book had ever managed. [Sorry, Ms Perfect]
Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney.
This is language at it most brutal and beautiful. Rolls and rollicks and rocks with pure artistry. Savage and sublime. Mmmmm . . . . . I can still hear those “sinews splitting” and those “bone lappings bursting”.
Macbeth by Shakespeare
Teaching it again has reminded me just how much I love this text, stands up on the page just fine.
Trainspotting byIrvine Welsh
Better than the movie, did something fun and fresh and frenzied with the novel form.
Honourable mentions to:
Dirt Music by Tim Winton – not sure about the end, but you sure do ache to hear those songs played out loud in the earlier parts (also liked The Riders); To Kill a Mockingbird (you’ll enjoy it more when you don’t have to read it – and I agree with Mr. Wild, Atticus is pretty cool, but so is Scout. Point of interest: the Boo Radleys were a mighty fine English band of the Brit Pop era); Jane Austen is great, particularly Pride and Prejudice, but I also like Persuasion and Northanger Abbey; Zadie Smith’s White Teeth – the first half is almost good enough to make up for the end; Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina – caught me by complete surprise, never imagined I’d even finish it, let alone enjoy it – turned out I loved it; Conrad’s Heart of Darkness deserves a read (if only so you appreciate Apocalypse Now more); Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, a strange book by a little known 19th century author named James Hogg – apparently, if your name’s in The Book you can get away with anything (or can you?); interesting that no-one has mentioned The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – not my favourite, but it is good fun; The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler – not everyone’s first choice by her, but I have to confess it’s the only novel I’ve read by this fine writer; for short stories, I like Charles Bukowski (he’s also fun for poetry, though ‘fun’ might not be the right word); Shakespeare’s Richard III – has there ever been a more likeable villain?; Jayne Anne Phillips’ Machine Dreams, a really interesting American novel that traces a family history from the Depression to Vietnam – haven’t read anything by her since; Ragtime by E.L. Doctrow – studded with fictional references to famous people, from Houdini to Freud; Bliss by Peter Carey – probably (definitely) not his best, but there was something nice about it and it was the first novel of his that I read; If you have to read anything by the Brontes, please make it Wuthering Heights by Emily and not that other one by Charlotte; The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens – because it was the first Dickens novel I ever finished and the only one that he didn’t (and because Mr Frame reckons that Dickens has been short changed in this list); for sci-fi fans/fantasy the only series (apart from Hitchhikers’) I’ve ever liked is the Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony – how could you beat a series that personifies Death, War, Nature, Time and Fate and suggests that God lost interest long ago?); and lastly, The Stand by Stephen King – it can’t all be about the supposed ‘classics’, this is mighty good writing and it gave me a cold every time I read it (which was lots when I was a teenager – I think I kind of liked the idea of the end of civilization. Maybe I still do?). I should stop now, but first – I also agree with Mr. Pickersgill about Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential quartet and Tony Harrison’s poetry and plays. I’d also like to suggest that it should be compulsory for everyone to buy a copy of The Norton Anthology of Poetry and read a poem a day (especially Ms Kafka, and in particular, Coleridge’s Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner – bugger Wordsworth and his Daffodils, though I do secretly love these). [Not so secretly any more, is it?]
Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye. True impact of girls’ bitchiness. And by the same author, The Robber Bride – little bitches become big bitches!
Arthur Miller, The Crucible. John Proctor – sexiest man alive or dead! [Yeah, yeah]
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1920s excess in all of us.
Jessica Anderson, Taking Shelter. True love always begins with a one-night stand.
Tim Winton’s The Riders. Forget the Da Vinci Code, this is the real search for the Holy Grail!
Alice Walker, Possessing the Secret of Joy. An awe-inspiring, powerful tale of how tradition can enrich and devastate our lives.
[I reckon this could be longer – and see, no poetry! Shame, shame, shame.]
Ms Kavanagh’s favourite books
- ‘The Passion’ – Jennette Winterson
- ‘Birdsong’ – Sebastian Faulks
- ‘Perfume’ – Patrick Suskind
- ‘The Shipping News’ – Annie Proulx
- ‘Follow Your Heart’ – Susanna Tamaro (translated by Avril Bardoni)
- ‘Gabriel’s Gift’ – Hanif Kureishi
- ‘Where The Wild Thing Are’ – Maurice Sendak (Who could forget this wonderful children’s book where Max “made mischief of one kind and another”)
- ‘The little Prince’ – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Not Without My Daughter (is it embarrassing that I can’t remember the author at the moment!!) [Yes, yes it is.]
Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory. I’m a big fan of Graham Greene and this is my favourite.
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five. Vonnegut might not be for everyone but you should at least try him.
Earnest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea. Short and powerful.
And I couldn’t do without my Dictionary of World History, but I don’t think it belongs on this list! [Yeah, well, we’ll do you a favour and include it as it makes you seem academic – though, to be fair, your choice of novels does a reasonable job on its own]
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.
Great film but an even better book. Who’s really mad, the inmates of the asylum or their ‘carers’? [I reckon Mav should be able to do better than one measly book]
My Place by Sally Morgan – for the sheer intensity of living that it communicates – it made me laugh and cry, no matter where I was reading it.
Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment and Notes from Underground
Jane Austen – Sense and Sensibility
Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights
Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
Bottersnikes and Gumbles by S.A. Wakefield, 1967 , (Also wrote ‘The Silver Brumby’ think opposite for this one). Illustrated by Desmond Digby. About fictitious Australian creatures. Became a series of children’s books. The Bottersnikes are never happy and try to catch the Gumbles and shove them into Jam Jars. [Could not agree more with Mr Norton’s choice – it doesn’t get much better than this]
I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, Dr. Seuss, the classic road trip.
Animal Farm by George Orwell, The orignalCartoon, Britain’s first Feature Animation, (1954) captures blackness of original story.
Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally – The Historian in me just can’t resist this one! For those at all interested in the history of the Holocaust or World War Two this is a must.
Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin – what a book for a dancer and historian! Brilliant! Couldn’t put it down.
Kite Runner by Kahled Hosseini. An amazingly powerful read. Raw human experience. I couldn’t hold back the tears…
Oh yeah, and The Adventures of Super MYOB Kid – 10 steps to Capitalist IT World Domination! – just couldn’t put it down! Inspiring!!!! [As if she’s really read that]
Well where to start . . . ?
If you want classics that make you think and are a little different you can’t go past James Joyce or Albert Camus.
If crime fiction tickles you fancy try James Ellroy. American Tabloid is fantastic and what has become known as the LA Confidential quartet is absolutely compelling.
If you like comedy fiction with a social message, give anything by Ben Elton a go. He is very easy to read while traveling.
If you prefer semi-serious fiction then perhaps you should consider Salman Rushdie. Mr Pratt is on the mark with Midnight’s Children but I prefer Shalimar the Clown.
Finally – if you would like to extend your brain with some poetry try Yeats, T.S. Elliot, Seamus Heaney or my personal favorite Tony Harrison.
The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley
Perfume by Patrick Susskind
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories.
Frank Herbert’s Dune: A great science fiction book with a twist in the tail.
Shake Down The Thunder The story of the Sydney Swans Premiership [Sigh!]
The Lorax by Dr Seuss [A fine choice]
Gospel of Mark (it is actually the shortest Gospel)
Author Mark – NOT an apostle, but young man at time of Jesus’ ministry, befriended by Apostle Peter
Anne Tyler, A Patchwork Planet or Saint Maybe or pretty much anything she’s written. Reading Anne Tyler is like having a warm cup of coffee on a Sunday afternoon – comforting, delightful and secure.
1984 by George Orwell and The Outsider by Albert Camus for the very opposite reasons. They made me doubt everything I had been brought up to believe. And questioning your own values is very healthy, if not always pleasant.
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton. He’s fantastic. He’s also a surfie.
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy if you need reminding of how important it is to follow your dreams.
Lunch with the Generals by Derek Hansen.
Book was very interesting, couldn’t put it down. About a group of men who meet once a month for lunch, and they talk about their past. War, murder, mystery etc.
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
A love story and a thriller, set inBarcelonaand the Cemetary of Forgotten Books.
I loved it!
Three generations of women, one country undergoing massive social and political upheavals and one dictator… totally gripping and it is all true! No need for ‘reality’ tv.. it is all here!
Count of Monte Cristo
Because revenge really is a dish best served cold
Crime and Punishment
Read it and you will understand
Assuming you have all the regular/classics, must reads – I would add…
T.H .White The Once and Future King
J.M. Barrie Peter Pan (not the Disney version…)
Anne Holm, I am David
If I had to choose one it would be:
Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time.
The narrator is a 15 year old boy who has Asbergers syndrome.
“Fifteen year old Christopher has a photographic memory. He understands Maths. He understands Science. What he can’t understand are other human beings”.
A terrific insight.
Thompson The Cry and the Covenant
Lee To Kill a Mockingbird
Houston Ghost Fox
Gospel of Matthew [Well, he had to put at least one in, didn’t he? Especially after so many others have. I’m just surprised Rev couldn’t find room for a few more]
The Mabinogion – Welsh folk stories.
Saint Matthew’s Gospel 2 (The Nativity of Christ) The most beautiful words and the most beautiful story (the King James Bible of course!)
George Elliot’s Middlemarch. Wonderfully wise and beautiful book which helped me cope with the sadness of the world when I first read it.
Charles Dickens’ novels –love his humanity, his heavy-handed humour, his baroque sentences and his over-the-top characters.
Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Anna Karenina. A lost world to get lost in. Operatic scope.
Anything by the wonderful Margaret Attwood (especially Cat’s Eye – horrible little girls; a portrait of the artist as a young woman)
Peter Carey’s The True History of the Kelly Gang. A brilliant creation of an uneducated yet poetic voice. Had to have an Australian novel and this is a very clever one.
Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Great love story, beautiful setting (Prague) and thought-provoking philosophical bits (six pages discussing the absurdity of our attitudes to our own excrement!) [Yay!]
Anything by George Orwell (the most lucid and wonderful use of the English language). Especially his Collected Essays and ‘Homage toCatalonia’ about his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.
Carlos Vargas Llosa’s The Feast of the Goat – fascinating fictional exploration of a dictatorship in a Central American country.
On a lighter note:
Anything by David Lodge who writes funny (and sexy) novels set in British academia.
Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate (and the sequels). The English upper class in the thirties. Another lost world created with hilarity and warmth.
Gerald Durrell (brother of the more famous and serious Lawrenceof the Alexandria Quartet – one of Mr Watson’s choices) My family and Other Animals. Beautifully created setting –Corfu just before WW II but laugh-out–loud funny description of a boy’s obsession with wildlife and his attempts to cope with his eccentric family.
Anything by Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Kathy Reichs, Elizabeth George, Minette Waters, Elmore Leonard, or James Ellroy. (I love a good murder mystery especially if it’s also well written with memorable characters. I especially like Elmore Leonard’s funny dialogue.)
When I was six, I loved Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood. When I was in Year 10 I read J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and nearly got expelled from school for reading such a naughty book (admittedly it was under the desk in Geography class). Later I read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and imagined myself a member of the beat generation. At university I read James Joyce’s Ulysses and was blown away.
[And lastly, Ms Strachan would] like to add to the list a book that really changed the way I think. It’s by a Melbourneauthor, the poet Barry Hill. The book is called Broken Song: T.G.H.Strehlow and Aboriginal Possession. I can’t recommend it to students as it is long and not necessarily interesting for everybody. The book is a biography of the son of a Christian missionary who was brought up on the Hermannsburg mission nearAlice Springs with the Arrente people. He set out to translate the bible into the Arrente language. One of the things that interested me was the difficulty of translation. Some languages are untranslatable because the concepts behind the words are different in different cultures. Strehlow also collected many sacred and beautiful objects which are in a museum inAlice Springs. This also raises questions about aesthetics. Objects which may be beautiful to the Western eye may have a different kind of beauty in the culture from which they came. Buying and selling them (or similar artefacts) in the Western art market may be sacrilegious. [I don’t dare even comment on this list – I simply genuflect before it and make notes, and advise you all to do the same]
The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse. Cult fiction!
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. A coming of age story. Rebellious adolescent.
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. Terse and to the point!
[What a pitifully small list]
Julian Barnes — History of the World in 10 ½ chapters [It’s the only book he’s finished – that missing half a chapter really helped]
Dune Frank Herbert
Perfume Patrick Suskind
Moonheart Charles De Lint
Riftwar Saga Raymond Feist
Mars Trilogy Kim Stanley Robinson
Eon Greg Bear
Catch 22 Joseph Heller
1984 George Orwell
The Fountainhead Ayn Rand
Ladder of Years Anne Tyler
Enders Game Orson Scott Card
Schindler’s List Thomas Keneally
Freshwater Close by Ian Rankin.
The cussed Det Inspector Rebus fights for his notion of justice in the hard streets ofEdinburgh. Absorbing and real.
The No1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander Mc Call Smith.
Botswana’s only female detective employs a gentle warmth and instinct to resolve issues.
For those who like to luxuriate over their reading.
The Complete Memoirs of George Sherston by Siegfried Sasson.
Vividly tells the tragedy of World War I in and out of the trenches through the eyes of a British officer
Highways to a War by Christopher Koch
A sensitive Aussie photographer, the smells, colours and vibrancy of south-eastAsiaand the horrors of war seduced me totally.
Saturday by Ian McEwen
One unwitting decision can impact horrendously on a life.
A Passage to India – EM Forster; I wanted to kill some of the stuck up characters for their blindness and stupidity
July’s People – Nadine Gordimer; a post-apartheid South African nightmare, beautifully drawn
The Alexandria Quartet – Lawrence Durrell; self-indulgent but beautifully written (any one would do!)
The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald; wonderfully evocative depictions of Depression America
Waiting for the Barbarians – JM Coetzee; marvellous frontier novel
Tess of the Durbervilles – Thomas Hardy; swashbuckling fate-driven bodice ripping stuff!
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen; some dull bits but brilliantly started and finished; ironic masterpiece
The Tree of Man – Patrick White; stunning scope and sweep.
Day in the Life – Solzenitsyn (you spell it!); a completely different world
Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe; the first great black African novel – to be read together with
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad; the white man’s view ofAfrica
These are often fairly lengthy and tome-ish, but they are terrific reads for anyone keen on reading!
PS Maybe include Birdsong – Sebastian Foulkes (wonderful WW1 novel)
The English Patient – Michael Ondaatjie (and a great WW2 one)
Lies of Silence by Brian Moore – a fantastic thriller set inNorthern Ireland.
Bryce Courtney Jessica. Great Australian Story based on an actual person.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Atticus Finch is my hero.
Ms R. Williams
Regeneration Trilogy– Pat Barker
Birdsong– Sebastian Faulks (one of the most moving descriptions of theBattle of theSomme that I’ve ever read)
Out of Ireland & Higways to a War– Christopher Koch
The Inheritance of Loss– Kieran Dessai
Saturday – or anything written by Ian McEwan– he’s brilliant
Stasiland – Anna Funder
Greene on Capri – Shirley Hazzard
Cloudstreet – Tim Winton
The Kite Runner – Khalid Hosseini
The Carpet Wars – Christopher Kremmer
Anything written by Isabelle Allende, Nadine Gordimer, Amitav Gosh, Salinger, Dickens, Hemingway.
Have you looked at this page?
A very good directory of world literature, every one of the blue links on that page will take you to some very valuable sites. Have a look at it, it’s worthwhile.
Okay, so there it is. For those who are interested in which books and authors rated the most mentions, please read on:
Most popular book:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – nominated by five staff members
The Bible (or parts thereof) also nominated by five staff members, though with little agreement on which bits were best
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen with three nominations
The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini with three nominations
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks with three nominations
1984 by George Orwell with three nominations
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger with three nominations
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald with three nominations
The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey with three nominations
After that it gets kind of messy, but there were a few more with multiple nominations
American Tabloid by James Elroy
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Outsider by Albert Camus
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
QBVII by Leon Uris
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally
The most nominated authors were:
[Multiple nominations for the same author by the one staff member were counted as one]
Harper Lee (nominated by 5 staff members, but only for one book)
The following (with the exception of Hosseini) were nominated for various books
Tim Winton (6)
Margaret Atwood (5)
Charles Dickens (4)
Peter Carey (4)
Anne Tyler (3)
Jane Austen (3)
Michael Ondaatje (3)
Khalid Hosseini (3)
I’m fairly certain that most of my calculations here are dodgy, so feel free to double check them if you wish and let me know of any corrections that need to be made.
Thanks to everyone who contributed.