Friday, August 6, 2010

50 Best Novels for Political Junkies

I was forwarded this link to a list of the 50 best novels for political junkies. It's a great list, and I should know, since I'm a list person :-) The only novel that stuck out as missing from this list is The Last Hurrah, but I’m pleased as punch that it’s been left off, since I abhorred that book when I had to read it in college for a government class.

Some comments on this list, because that’s one of the pleasures of my life:

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley: I read this one week during summer vacation before 10th grade. Or maybe it was 11th grade - I don't recall. I loved it, but don’t remember much more about it. There was also an excellent made-for-TV adaptation around the same time – 1996? – that I wish had been released on DVD. This novel is high up on my To Be Reread (TBRR) list.

1984 - George Orwell: See my “review” here

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury: I’ve never read this one, but I own a copy and hope to pick it up shortly after I finish my Modern Library project.

Blindness - Jose Saramago: I have long had Saramago’s The Double on my TBR list, which I have held off reading until I can get around to Dostoevsky’s novella of the same name. But perhaps I will have to pick up Blindless before then.

The Trial - Franz Kafka: One of the most awesome books ever. Kafka’s The Castle is on this list as well, which I have never read.

Animal Farm - George Orwell: I believe everyone in high school should be required to read, AND LIKE, Animal Farm. It feels like a rite of passage. Same goes for To Kill A Mockingbird, also on this list, which is definitely one of the best American books ever written, and likely in my top 5 of American books of the 20th century.

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand ooohhh oohhh! I have recently been chomping at the bit to read this, just so that I can more intelligently discuss its philosophical role in the recent economic disaster. It’s terrible to want to read such a thick book just to criticize it, but hell, that’s the type of person I am :-)

A Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood: As a female, this novel scared the crap out of me. The film adaptation was wonderful as well. Well, I don’t think wonderful is the right word to use.

Lord of the Flies - William Golding: Love it love it love it! Sucks to your assmar, Piggy.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: I have a copy of this novel that my mom gave me well over a decade ago, but it still sits on my shelf. In fact, I have a memory of sitting in middle school “industrial arts” class and trying to read it. I didn’t get very far. It’s been slowly making it’s way up the TBR pile, but it’s a big pile, and I can’t say when I’ll actually get around to reading it.

Darkness at Noon - Arthur Koestler: Definitely rivals the best of Orwell. Fabulous. I just picked up another novel by the author that looked like science fiction.

War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy: Someday.

It Can’t Happen Here - Sinclair Lewis: A science blogger I frequently read posted a quote from this novel a few months ago, and I found a used copy while out of town at a conference.

All the King’s Men - Robert Penn Warren: I thought this was a great novel. It also contains the most tender, believable love scene I have ever read.

The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne: I have to say, this was another instance of required reading in H.s. that I loved. I guess I’m just a nerd. So tragic, but an amazing love story.

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo I read this unabridged years ago. It was ok - I must say I enjoyed the musical much better. Hugo is very long winded, which I suppose is why it's so long.

The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick: I once owned this novel, long before I knew who Philip K. Dick was, or that I liked him. By the time I figured that out, I had lost the novel. I don’t know what happened to it.

The Plot Against America - Philip Roth: I just picked this one up at a used book sale.

I’m not going to touch the section on the Civil War, because frankly, I don’t care about the Civil War. I know many people do, and that’s part of the reason why I don’t care. Yes – I understand the sacrifice many made; in fact, a large number of the men in my family alive at that time fought for the North. But living within 2 hours of Gettsyburg, we get a lot of local Civil War nuts who probably borderline believe they are reincarnations of various famous fighters. This is all while ignoring our locally rich frontier/colonial history and the role our community played in the French & Indian War. People would rather see mock-fictional Civil War battles than learn about the Indian village and frontier fort that actually was located here. Ok – that’s my schpeal for the day, having nothing to do with this list ;-)

There were also a number of novels on this list that I am familiar – in some degree – with the film version, but was not aware they were based on novels. (Children of Men, Advise and Consent, Wag the Dog, Seven Days in May) I should have known, since Hollywood seems unable to develop original scripts these days. I have also added The Marrow of Tradition, and The Ghost to my ever-expanding TBR list.


SocrMom78 said...

Where is "Primary Colors"? That was a great political book.

SocrMom78 said...

Duh...I should have looked at the list first. It's there :)

Kristin said...

Yeah, I wasn't commenting on the entire list, since there were a lot I'd never read.

Aleks said...

The one thing I remember about Brave New World from high school is "soma."

Robby Virus said...

Ha! I have the same feeling about "Atlas Shrugged". I'm hoping to tackle that one this year. Or "War and Peace".

Red said...

Nice list! I recently re-read Brave New World and I still really liked it. I didn't read Animal Farm until recently either (I seemed to miss it in high school) but I'm glad I had the chance to read it now. I think everyone should re-read a lot of the books they had to read in high school. I think you miss a lot, or at least see things in a new way, when you're older.

Stopping by from the hop!