Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
This week’s Top Ten is 10 books written before I was born – either that you have read or on your TBR. I have decided to list 10 books that I have read. I was born in 1972 so I started with the sixties and worked backwards. I tried to make it a varied list – both in time and in genre. I could easily have picked 10 science fiction books. Writing this list has made me want to read some of these again.
- Little Women – Louisa May Alcott (1868) I first read this when I was about twelve. My mam gave me her copy from when she was a child and it always felt a bit special to be reading it. Jo is still one of my favourite literary characters and was a huge influence on me as a young tomboy.
- The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov. (1967) I first read this in the early nineties. It was one of the first books I read at university. Bulgakov rewrites Faust and the story of Judas as well as accurately depicting Russian life in the 1930s. This is my favourite novel which surprises me every time I reread it.
- The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892) I read this at university as well. It’s a disturbing tale which describes the mental breakdown of the narrator when she is forced to rest and not allowed to write or work. Her mental state deteriorates and she becomes obsessed with the wallpaper in the room where is staying. One of the first feminist classics I read.
- Diary of a Madman and other stories – Nikolai Gogol (1835) The best stories in this collection are probably the title story which highlights the mental disintegration of a petty official who is struggling for the attention of the woman he loves and The Nose where a colonel wakes one morning without his nose. Later, he finds that his nose has achieved higher rank than him. Excellent satire.
- The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith (1955) This was quite a recent read – it had been on my TBR list for quite a long time. A very enjoyable thriller although it was impossible not to imagine Jude Law and Matt Damon as the two leads.
- A Single Man – Christopher Isherwood (1964) This is my favourite Isherwood novel. A very moving story about a gay man, George, trying to come to terms with the death of his partner. The action takes place over the course of a single day and we get to see George’s emotional struggles.
- Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes (1959) This is a surprisingly emotional read considering it is essentially science fiction. Charlie, a mentally disabled young man, and Algernon, a mouse are given a operation that allows them to become extremely intelligent. This allows Charlie to see exactly how badly people treated him before. Then Algernon’s intelligence starts to deteriorate and we see the tragedy of Charlie doing the same.
- The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger (1951) This is another of my favourite books. I’ve read it a couple of times and I’ve taught it as a GCSE text to very nonplussed teenagers. I could reread this book over and over and not get bored.
- Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut (1969) Another science fiction classic here. Also quite an emotional read. Vonnegut takes us from the bombing of Dresden to the story of Billy Pilgrim who has come unstuck in time. Funny, satirical and anti-war, this is an excellent read.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde (1890) One of the best of the gothic novels that I’ve read. Another rewriting of the Faust legend, Dorian wishes for eternal youth, while his portrait grows old and ugly. A beautifully written moral tale.