Here’s a list of Big Great Books for your current state of mind:
The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu. Likely the first novel, written by a woman around 980 BCE in Japan about the courtlife of a man (clearly in contrast with the women) who is not perfect and in fact very flawed by his inheritance and his decisions. The poetry that carries the attendance to nature along is intriguing. Recommended by R – I’m in the midst now, this is my 3rd time getting back into it, it’s stylistically calming.
The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha – Miguel de Cervantes. You know you’ve always wanted the time to read this Spanish modern marvel written in the early 17thc. It might be the perfect panacea since it is broken into ‘stories’ that carry you along a pilgrimage for purpose and placement in the world. Recommended by J – It’s classicly long on every level but it’s worth the effort.
Kristin Lavransdatter – Sigrid Undset. Written in the ’20’s but set in the Middle Ages in Norway, this story is for those who love the sweeping adventures of following a single character’s full life (based on ethnographic accounts of the area and written in modern realism). The beauty is that it is a woman’s perspective of a woman’s sense of morality and community. Undset won the Nobel. Recommended by R – Make sure to get the Nunnally translation. When I first read this, I read it as a historical novel but I see that it’s so much more now.
Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon. Outside the box but still a relatively straight forward narrative. Idiosyncratic & postmodern writing about rockets, WWII, free will, sexuality, paranoia. If it clears anything up for you – comic artist Frank Miller did one of the covers, Devo (Whip It) and Laurie Anderson wrote songs inspired by it, and Fred Tomaselli created a monumental art work. Considered one of the 20thc greatest works. Recommended by J – It’s a big crazy novel with 400 main characters and it’s funny without being comical.
Or finally pick up:
J’s Quick Big Book Recommendations:Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, Underworld by Don DeLillo, Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow
R’s Quick Big Book Recommendations: Some Sing, Some Cry by Ifa Bayeza/Ntozake Shange, Dune by Frank Herbert, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie, Watership Down by Richard Adams
Not a novel fan (how are we friends? ha!) – Try Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the U.S., William Least Heat-Moon’s Roads to Quoz, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, or Alan Moore’s From Hell, or the Beastie Boys Book…
Tuck in and tune in…