Culture

The 20+ books you need to read before you die

by Geoffrey Ross Image by: by Geoffrey Ross Author: Elle Canada

Culture

The 20+ books you need to read before you die

All titles available at Indigo Books & Music.

“My favourite book right now is, without a doubt, Karen Joy Fowler’s brilliant, funny and heartbreaking novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. The narrator, Rosemary Cooke, is the daughter of a behavioural psychologist and, along with her sister, Fern, is an unwitting part of her father’s cognitive science experiment. The heartbreaking hitch is that Fern is a chimpanzee. Fowler is a masterful storyteller with a droll, pitch-perfect ear.”
-Ruth Ozeki
, author of A Tale for the Time Being

READ IT: Helen Fielding's fresh take on Bridget Jones

“I read Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind when I was 13 and used to act out dialogue as both Rhett and Scarlett (which is probably why I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 15). The first time I read it, I thought, ‘Wow, she created a whole world out of words!’ And then I thought, ‘I could do that.’ It was really the first time I entertained the idea of writing as a real career, so it was a pretty transformative book!”
-Jodi Picoult
, author of My Sister’s Keeper

“Flaubert’s Madame Bovary always moves me.”
-Carrie Tiffany
, author of Mateship With Birds

“There are many books that move us and stay with us over time. Though I read The Wayfinders by Wade Davis only fairly recently, I know I will want to come back to it. This slender book is permeated with hope, despite the profound losses Davis documents: both the loss of an ancient intimacy with the natural world and the wisdom contained in languages that are rapidly disappearing. He has a formidable gratitude for life and for human ingenuity, and one cannot help but be moved by his perceptions.”
-Anne Michaels
, author of Fugitive Pieces


BEAUTY 101: The best overnight beauty products

 

Ready to curl up with more amazing reads? Click to the next page...

21authorsub.jpg“It was Virginia Woolf’s The Waves—which I read for the first time at 21—that taught me not to merely enjoy but actually believe in the power of literature. The book’s freedom from preconceived categories seems tied to its ability to conjure from language the pure magic of perception. I felt like a small child reading it for the first (and then for the second and third) time—leaning in, in the way that children do, hanging onto every word.”
-Johanna Skibsrud, author of The Sentimentalists

“When it comes to books, I’m like an old-school Mormon and his wives: I understand the danger of speaking out loud the name of my greatest love. I can’t say my wife’s novel Babylon Rolling for fear of it sounding horribly nepotistic (love you, darling!), and so I choose Tracks by Louise Erdrich. This magical tale of hardship and love and loss and redemption made me truly realize for the first time what happens when gorgeous language and a thrilling narrative tie the knot.”
-Joseph Boyden, author of The Orenda

Meet Bret Easton Ellis, a.k.a Mr. American Pyscho

Anna Karenina is a book that has mattered to me for 15 years. Like all truly great novels, it changes for its readers over time, and with each read I find new meaning. Tolstoy understands that it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, young or old—we all share an essential centre.”
-Esi Edugyan, author of Half-Blood Blues

Learn how to work with your hair texture

“There are many restless men in books, but I’d never met a restless woman before. Then along came Sylvie, Ruth’s itinerant aunt in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. I’ve never gotten over it. Indeed, it’s allowed me to be still.”
-Marjorie Celona, author of Y

“Homer’s Odyssey is the book I’ve read most—as a fun story and a very old model in terms of movement, adventure and the nonsense that storytellers can sometimes get away with.”
-Colin McAdam, author of A Beautiful Truth

 

Click to the next page for even more life-changing stories...

21Littleprince.jpg“My favourite book, the one that I reread at least once a decade and that I find something new in at every rereading, is Jane Eyre. The last time I read it, I was in my mid-40s and in the drawnout throes of trying to leave an essentially good but deeply lonely and frustrating marriage. Jane’s unswerving adherence to her own internal compass inspired and moved me more deeply than it ever had before. Charlotte Brontë seemed to be reminding me of an internal strength that I’d lost track of for a very long time.”
-Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man

“My favourite coming-of-age book—and the summer is the best time to come of age—is Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. I think it’s the truest coming-of-age book I’ve ever read and remains, I think, Winterson’s best book to this day.”
-Wayne Johnston, author of The Custodian of Paradise

FROM A-Z: The top 25 Spring 2014 fashion trends

“I reread Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann every decade or so. I was first drawn to it because I had read a lot of rags-to-riches narratives and this is a reversal of that storyline. It’s about the decline, over several generations, of a prosperous, well-established family in northern Germany in the 19th century. To say what it’s about, however, does not begin to convey the richness, complexity and fascination of the world Mann created in this novel, the varied pleasures of inhabiting it. Each time I read it, I experience it in a different way, but it’s always a feast for the mind and senses, and I’m always sorry to reach the end and have to emerge from it again.”
-Nancy Richler, author of The Imposter Bride

INTERVIEW: Lily Collins on being Hollywood royalty 

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has delighted me since childhood. Now, when I reread it, I’m taken aback by how moving, profound and confounding it is— it’s entirely mesmerizing.”
-Ania Szado, author of Studio Saint-Ex

 

Find out if any of your favourite titles been mentioned...

21strachan.jpg“I discovered Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet quartet (The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, Casting Off) when I was in my 20s, and it’s a reading experience I expect to repeat every decade of my life. These are wise and generous books that grow with you. Every time I am drawn back to the Cazalet family—their secrets, their dreams, their mistakes and their sorrows, the way they love one another, save one another, fail one another—I am astounded by how fathomless their humanity is, and I come away feeling a little bit wiser.”
-Diane Setterfield, author of Bellman & Black

“Choosing a favourite book is nearly impossible for me, but my go-to comfort read is Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s charming and elaborately imagined, and its whimsy never skews twee.”
-Leigh Bardugo, author of Shadow and Bone

Mind games: How to better control your life

“As a graphic novelist, I love books that play with visual storytelling. My favourite has to be the lengthily titled Important Artifacts and Personal Property From the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton. This novel takes the form of an auctioneer’s catalogue consisting of lot numbers and descriptions of objects. However, it tells the story of a relationship through the objects left behind. The book has a beautifully melancholic feel as the reader is left to weave together these objects, like a detective, to make sense of the story. Truly wonderful!”
-Karrie Fransman, author of The House That Groaned

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler. It’s about a family of three kids, Cody, Ezra and Jenny, whose father walked out on them when they were small and whose mother isn’t the greatest. She does her best, but she’s overstretched trying to keep the family fed and clothed and doesn’t have much time or patience with the kids. What I love most about the story is the characters of those children. You watch them grow and develop over the years, and the feuds between them grow and develop too, and you just can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen to them in the end. It is all so believable that you end up feeling as if you’ve known them all your life.”
-Mary Lawson, author of Crow Lake

FASHION INSIDER: The top Canadian fashion designers

 

Click to the last page for even more page-turners...

21gulliver.jpgThe Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge is a book from my childhood that opened a fictional world to me: a country estate in 19th-century England that is entered through a tunnel and has evil in its dark forest but the estranged family learns redemption through love. It’s a mythic story in a magic-realist setting that delighted me as a child and, later, inspired me to focus upon houses and the landscape and the presence of magic in the historical past.”
-Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl

“One of my favourite books—one that I have read a few times—is the play Caligula by Albert Camus. It is a profound, intimate and revealing look into the mind of a dictator, a man of absolute power. It is frightening as well as deeply tragic. The loneliness, the arrogance, the despair and the greed of a man who believes he has nothing to lose and therefore wants the world to be his.”
-Sahar Delijani, author of Children of the Jacaranda Tree

Relationships: The power of the introvert


“I still remember the thrill I felt at discovering Gulliver’s Travels at the age of 15. Something miraculous happened as I read that novel. I understood for the first time that I was in the presence of not only a great story but a great mind. Until then, books and novels had simply existed, unauthored. Now I saw beauty in the act of creation, not just the creation itself. In that way, you could probably say Jonathan Swift changed my life. I’d take a knee and kiss his ring if I could.”
-Dennis Bock, author of Going Home Again

“The late Robert B. Parker’s seventh Spenser novel, Early Autumn, published in 1981, is a short, elegantly simple crime novel I reread often not for cleverness of plot but for heart. What’s at stake is not diamonds or some Maltese falcon but the soul of a lost, disaffected teenage boy.”
-Linwood Barclay, author of A Tap on the Window

 

Read more:
Scarlett Johansson talks love and film
Isabel Marant for H&M: A blockbust fashion collab
The top Fall 2013 fashion trends
How to wear this season's runway looks to the office

 

Comments
Share X
Culture

The 20+ books you need to read before you die