It is difficult to make a top ten of these, because the list has to be personal. If you think of the top 10 most read books then The Bible and the Qu’ran have to be at the top of the list. However this list is purely about works of fiction.
1. Homer’s Odyssey
This epic poem has been the starting point for so many Hollywood films, and has interested people for centuries. If you haven’t read it then get a modern translation and see the “truth” behind the Hollywood blockbusters.
2. Dante’s The Divine Comedy
This is one of the best books to come out of the Renaissance, and is a remarkable work. You go through Hell and the inferno to reach Paradise and encounter characters from mythology and Homer on the way.
3. Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment
This is a superb tale of guilt and the need to find redemption which was the starting point for one of Woody Allen’s films, “Match Point.” If you loved the film, but haven’t read this then you should as it is much better than Allen’s film at delving into the recesses of a murder’s mind and his struggle to be punished.
4. Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”
Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” will take you into the world of the minor gentry of England in the 18th century and displays the values of the time with a wit and incisiveness that has not been matched by many authors. Jane Austen wittily writes about the morals of her time and her characters come to life on the page. If you enjoyed the films of the book, do yourself a favour and read the original work as so much of the humour is lost on the screen.
5. Norman Mailer “The Naked and The Dead”
This novel is a mixture of fact and fiction and one of the best to have come out of the Second World War. It is an honest account of a soldier’s feelings and portrays the horror and futility of war extremely well. Many people disliked Mailer because of his personal life, but his novels are well worth reading.