My Top 30 Books

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”
Mark Twain, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World

On the topic of books, I never seem to have gotten over Albert Camus’ L’Étranger/The Stranger/The Outsider (1942). It was one of the first books that made me really think about what it means to be a human. The book was a compulsory read during those educating years at high school. All the signs were there to hate the book – all things mandatory made one automatically to be hesitant and mostly skeptical. But luckily there are exceptions to the rule.

Hanoi 2015. Photo: fiktiivinenstina
Hanoi. Photo: fictivestina

I read many a good novels and short stories in the 1990’s but most of them did not leave a particular mark on me, not because they were bad as such but they lacked something that intrigued me and haunted me in a good or strange sense. Most books tend to be forgotten in their lameness but some stick and one never forgets them.

With The Stranger, I know what it was that got me hooked. It was the empowering existentialism and the boundaries of the individual responsibility. Due to these features, it deserves a spot in the list. I evaded the fact of having to stove the individual items in a qualitative order, so I escaped this duty by ranking them in the order of publication date 🙂

Short posts will follow on each of the items on the list. I’m also thinking about listing my favorite Russian novels and short stories, now included in this list, since there are plenty of those. The background of each of the items differs since the reasoning for them being on the list also differs. Some are on the list for right and some for the wrong reasons. And there are many novels and short story collections that didn’t end up on the list, since one has to draw a line in the sand somewhere. But as they say, anything beyond 30 seems pointless, not just age-wise 🙂

Enjoy and maybe you’ll find a new book to read!

TOP 30 Books

  1. E.M. Forster: Howards End (1910)
  2. Scott F. Fitzgerald: The Beautiful and Damned (1922)
  3. Aldous Huxley: Antic Hay (1923)
  4. Erich Maria Remarque: Im Westen nichts Neues (1928)
  5. Alfred Döblin: Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929)
  6. Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky: Memories of the Future (1929)
  7. Erich Kästner: Fabian. Die Geschichte eines Moralisten (1931)
  8. Vladimir Nabokov: Laughter in the Dark (1932)
  9. Karel Čapek: War with the Newts (1935)
  10. Dalton Trumbo: Johnny Got His Gun (1939)
  11. Albert Camus: The Stranger (1942)
  12. George Orwell: Animal Farm (1945)
  13. George R. Stewart: Earth Abides (1949)
  14. Ray Bradbury: The Illustrated Man (1951)
  15. Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot (1952)
  16. Isaac Asimov: The End of Eternity (1955)
  17. John Christopher: The Death of Grass (1956)
  18. Joseph Heller: Catch-22 (1961)
  19. Christopher Isherwood: A Single Man (1964)
  20. Arkadi & Boris Strugatsky: Hard to Be a God (1964)
  21. Harry Harrison: Make Room! Make Room! (1966)
  22. Philip K. Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
  23. Stanisław Lem: His Master’s Voice (1968)
  24. J.G. Ballard: Crash (1973)
  25. Frederik Pohl: Gateway (1977)
  26. Graham Greene: The Human Factor (1978)
  27. Victor Pelevin: Omon Ra (1992)
  28. Ryszard Kapuściński: Imperium (1992)
  29. Oleg Pavlov: The Captain of the Steppe (1994)
  30. Bill Bryson: A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003)

PS. The funny thing about Mark Twain is that I absolutely love his famous and infamous quotes but none of his books ended up on my list. To be honest, I haven’t read many of his books at all but the quotes hit me hard. They seem to capture the essence of being and what this world is really all about, with all the necessary sense of humor needed.

#goodreads #books #novels #shortstories #top30


Author: fictivestina

Hey, I'm a native Helsinkian but a cosmopolitan at heart :) Outdoors, reading, writing and cultural attractions are my passion. Hiking in Lapland cannot be competed with!

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