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Books to read before you're 21
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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:28 pm    Post subject: Books to read before you're 21  Reply with quote

A friend tells me that the Books Programme on Sky Arts asks each of its guests to nominate a book they think everyone should read by 21. I don't know about "everyone": not everyone has literary tastes or inclinations, after all, and it makes little sense to recommend for "everyone". But it's an intriguing question: what book do you think an intelligent and literate 21-year old should have read?

Here are the choices so far:

http://thebookshow.skyarts.co.uk/...ooks_to_read_before_youre_21.html

Some very interesting choices in there. (I particularly like Linda Grant's assumption that everyone has read Paradise Lost: what circles does she socialise in, I wonder?)

So, if you were a guest on this show, what would you receommend? I have to go away and think about this a bit.



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Apple



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh this is a no brainer for me - what immediately springs to my mind would be Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain.  A truly astonishing story of one woman at a time when women were second class citizens, how she witnessed the slaughter and suffering of the first world war first hand and how she went on to university when women were not expected to do such things. Its is an inspirational story for all young women - and men.


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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
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Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Goodbye to all that by Robert Graves. It's very accessible and gives a good insight into WWI and the huge social, technological and economic transitions that made our world what it is.

If it has to be a novel, Brave New World would be a good place to start. I think it could be argued that Nineteen Eighty-Four is a little less important since the decline of Bolshevism, whereas Huxley's book tangles with a lot of issues that are still highly relevant.



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Freyda



Joined: 04 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I could not seem to find the list from that Link, Himadri, it just went round in a loop of two pages without telling me anything.

I would nominate Orwell's 1984.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Freyda, it looks like they have removed that page. It may just be a temporary glitch.

As for my choice, I think it would be The Brothers Karamazov. This is one of a handful of books that certainly blew me away when I was a teenager, and made me realise that literature was far, far more than merely a means of whiling away a few idle hours. As I became older, I started having some doubts about this novel, but my most recent reading (last year: it was my third reading) confirmed that whatever doubts I may still entertain, it still has the power to blow me away.

I think the reasons I would recommend this to a bright young reader are as follows:

1. It demonstrates that works of literature can transcend differences of time and of culture, and that, with a little expenditure of imagination on the part of the reader, the past need not be a foreign country. (And, indeed, foreign countries need not be foreign countries either, for that matter!)

2. It demonstrates how vitally important literature can be: this novel addresses directly some of the most vital issues concerning human existence. At my first reading, it opened up for me new intellectual horizons.

3. It is tremendously dramatic and exciting. Indeed, it presents ideas as dramatic and exciting. Once again, going back to my first reading, it demonstrated for me that intellectual enquiry need not be dull or dry. Quite the opposite.

4. It is difficult. At a time when English classes in schools seem to be fobbing off even the brightest kids with books that are easy to read (and, hence, easy to teach) this book provides evidence that there is a profound enjoyment to be had from grappling with difficulty rather than avoiding it. Once a bright teenager has thrilled to The Brothers Karamazov, she or he will be unlikely to be put off other books merely on the grounds that they are "heavy going".

5. It is a book of such immediacy and vividness, it will stay with you for the rest of your life.



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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
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Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The link worked OK for me yesterday, and is still working for me now...

My choice would be Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.

It's a novel about how things don't always work out for the best - a good lesson to learn early on - I read this when I was just 17, and it knocked me sideways, and life was never the same after that - but it was a lesson worth learning.

Also, Hardy's compassion for humanity shines through every page.  These two ideas taken in tandem set people up for a realistic but compassionate view of life.

It also shows just how beautiful the English language is, and what a skilful manipulator of that language can achieve - the prose is stunning, and it is a book that is as vivid to me now as when I first read it 30 years ago.


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Freyda



Joined: 04 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikeAlx wrote:
Goodbye to all that by Robert Graves. It's very accessible and gives a good insight into WWI and the huge social, technological and economic transitions that made our world what it is.

If it has to be a novel, Brave New World would be a good place to start. I think it could be argued that Nineteen Eighty-Four is a little less important since the decline of Bolshevism, whereas Huxley's book tangles with a lot of issues that are still highly relevant.


Somehow I didn't spot Mike's second paragraph! And I meant 'Animal Farm' anyway. How silly of me!!  Embarassed

Where is the emoticon for "brain going funny"??

Though I think the ideas of Newspeak and the Ministry of Truth in '1984' are still amazingly pertinent in our modern world.


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Evie
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Animal Farm is a great choice...I did read it before I was 21 (we read it at school), and it has influenced my thinking ever since.  I read it again a couple of years ago, having not read it in the intervening years, and it blew me away all over again - fabulous book.  The re-read showed me just what a brilliant novel it is.


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Chibiabos83
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perish the thought that I should be considered even remotely approximate to a toad like Simon Heffer, but I think his choices of Orwell, Waugh and the King James Bible are pretty good. But Lionel Shriver: "everyone who is interested in literature and loves to read should, by the time they’re 21, have read War and Peace." Way to make me feel inadequate... I suppose there's no point reading it after 21, is there? Wink

If we're just choosing one, I think I'd predictably go for Great Expectations - read superficially, it's a gripping and enthralling story capable of making the reader laugh and cry, but it is a multi-faceted book that keeps revealing more as one peels back the layers. I can easily imagine it fostering a love of books in any number of child readers - which is presumably what it has done for the past 150 years.


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Melony



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are these things we are supposed to read anyway (from college bound lists, etc.) or things we would suggest in addition to all that?  I would suggest Demian, Siddhartha, and possibly Magister Ludi - I don't think those are normally on reading lists for your people, but are books young people should read.



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