Thursday, December 1, 2011

What work of literature would you recommend to someone who doesn't like literature?

I’ve been a bit remiss with my appreciation of the ladies of The blue bookcase recently and now like some guilty schoolboy, I find myself sneaking back after a period of truancy, to one hell of a question.

What work of literature
would you recommend to someone
who doesn't like literature?
What speak to people that have no affection for the written word? Isn’t that called work? I mean what about the “ is it out on DVD yet” and other such questions that one faces when you speak to – Those That Do Not Read!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well recently I’ve recommended “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak, but I’m not sure it counts, as it comes with some YA hang up (although I loved it). So where does that leave me? hmmmmm

How about a book that I described as  “A proper Russian Novel” – “The Dream Life of Sukhanov” by Olga Grushin and the reason I described it as such was that the author had  invested in the character of Sukhanov, all the angst and pathos, all the weakness and hubris that I remember reading in all those great Russian novels. Sukhanov goes on an epic journey of rediscovery, he is constantly assailed by images from his past, haunted by all those ideals he repressed for the sake of a career in the USSR. Yet things change, and it’s in this change, Sukhanov is left to question his choices….  yet this is not a hard book to read - the tale flows, you follow the lines smiling over the way they roll and before you know, you’ve read more pages than are left & you try to slow down, to savour what remains.

Another possible book  to suggest would be “Strangers” by Taichi Yamada, This was one of the books that got me into Japanese Literature – This  book has moments of sheer beauty with an insidious, underlying fear. This book deals with subjects such as memory, loss & the need for human touch and again has a style that just makes you want to keep the pages turning.
Now this wouldn’t be The Parrish Lantern if I didn’t mention a poetry book, so I’ll recommend three, all from the Bloodaxe Publishers and all Edited by the fantastic Neil Astley
Staying Alive, Being Alive and Being Human, they have been described as distilling the heart as nothing else.


Unknown said...

I wouldn't - I'd go and find someone else to talk to...

Anonymous said...

I'd recommend The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

admin said...

I keep hesitating between "Nine Stories" (J.D. Salinger) and "Nostalgia" (Mircea Cărtărescu) - the first collection of stories might show him the truth of literature, the other the beauty.

Radu Vancu said...

I keep hesitating between "Nine Stories" (J.D. Salinger) and "Nostalgia" (Mircea Cărtărescu) - the first collection of stories might show him the truth of literature, the other the beauty of it. So, if the literaturophobic guy is a fan of exact sciences, I could recommend "Nine Stories"; if he/she is a rather artistic nature, I'd go with "Nostalgia". :)

LBC said...

There are some great suggestions in your comments and your post. Nine Stories and Little Prince are great and I hadn't thought of them. I still need to read the Book Thief, but I've heard all good things.

Guy Savage said...

The Dream Life of Sukhanov was fantastic--I'd recommend it (did in fact) but it would depend on the target audience.

Rebecca Chapman said...

If they didn't like reading at all then I wouldn't recommend anything. Everyone has different interests and that's fine with me.

If they just weren't into literary fiction, I actually think that The Book Thief would be a great choice! I know in America and maybe some other places it was published as YA but here in Australia (and he is Australian) it was adult literary fiction. If you liked it you should try The Messenger. It definitely is YA, but beautifully written.

Caroline said...

I think this is such a hard question.
I know I would choose a very short book.,, maybe a classic that is easily accesible.

Anonymous said...

Like Caroline, I'd resort to a classic. They have probably been read by more people than just the literary bunch - for instance, Steinbeck is a good choice (East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath).

The Book Thief is a good choice, as is The Help or The Book of Negroes (but I don't know if they count as literary).

Bellezza said...

What? You're not recommending Harry Potter?! ;)

I disliked The Book Thief, adored Strangers, and haven't read the wonderful Russian suggestion...but I'm up for it! I love Russian books!

Still, I wonder if the unwashed masses would appreciate these titles. They seem rather sophisticated for a nonreader, despite your good intentions. (On the other hand, maybe I'm just a grouch today.)

Christine Chioma said...

I loved the Book Thief. I think YA can be literature. To Kill a Mockingbird has been the most suggested title. And isn't it considered YA?

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I'm afraid I don't know Taichi Amada--one reason I like reading your blog so much is learning about authors I've never heard of.

Red said...

The Book Thief could work for Those That Do Not Read. Assuming that if they don't read they also probably don't know about the fact that it's a YA book.

Loni said...

I don't know if I would recommend a Russian book to someone who doesn't like literature. Russian novels are scary.

Megs said...

I haven't read ANY of these. The Book Thief is on my reading agenda for 2012...but what's this about it being a YA book? I had no idea! *Looks dubiously at the paperback*

*ೃ༄ Jillian said...

I've not heard of the books you suggested. I've been getting into Russian Literature recently but really must try a Japanese work. Thanks for sharing. :-)

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Tony, I think the premise was we couldn't, but then this is for me a weekly occurrence, someone at work will ask what I'm reading I'll enthuse, they'll glaze over & we part with bad tastes in our mouths, me swearing never to do it again, but the fool I am...........

Hi & Thanks for the recommendation, bookaroundthecorner

Hi Radu, have added "Nostalgia -Mircea Cărtărescu to my wishlist. thanks.

Hi Laura,much to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed the book thief, in fact my daughter's reading & thoroughly loving it as well.

Hello Guy, the reason I chose it was that my wife, although a reader, differentiates what I read as "not her sort of thing"
yet she loved The Dream Life of Sukhanov.

Hi Becky, That would be my default setting, have learned in the past, not everyone likes recommendations, as for the book thief, I loved it & will post on it soon.

Hi Caroline, that's why I chose Strangers, it's not to long & has a spooky edge that most would find appealing.

Hi Judith,my initial thought was a classic, possibly Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France, but went for more contemporary + obviously some poetry.

Ciao Bellezza, I would think you'd love The dream life, but then I would have thought the same of The Book thief, So hey what do I know.
As to my choices I kinda hoped that the tales would hook & then raise my readers to the heights of inspiration.

Hi Christine, Great point, I think that sometimes we see genre's not of our neighbourhood with a touch of suspicion.

Hi As the Crowe Flies and Reads , Try this or I haven't dreamed of flying for a while, I enjoyed both.

Hello Red, Great idea, con them into reading some lit, am loving the devilish touch.

Hi Loni, they don't deserve the reputation, yes some are scary, but some are funny, romantic,, strange etc. In fact this has reminded me of another one I could suggest Andrey Kurkov's "The Good Angel of Death".which is a strange, funny dreamy tale.

Hi Megs, yes it appears that in some territories this has been marketed in two formats, one being YA, but don't worry it's a really great read.

Hi Jillian, The Taichi Yamada, is a great introduction to Japanese Lit, in fact was one of my first.

Anonymous said...

I d recommend sebald or ondaatje sebald as in rings of saturn he jumpos around and its full of little facts to keep some one reading and ondaatje as lot people have seen english patient and not know it was a book ,all the best stu

Tom Cunliffe said...

Well, I'm not sure I'd start with "literature" as such. I'd give him Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith.

I have a friend who NEVER reads a book - has never read on since he left school. I find this quite incredible

@parridhlantern said...

I think Sebald although a great writer, may scare away as many as he would attract, The English Patient could work though.

Hi Tom, I know I have work colleagues the same,they are always surprised when I say that I spent the evening reading & not watching X factor etc.

edgar said...

I will chose The Little Prince and the English Patient.
Both with clear and seem simple but rich images.

DMS said...

I am not sure what I would recommend- I would be so baffled! I loved The Book Thief- so I think that would be a great book to recommend. I haven't read the other two books you mentioned, but I guess I should. I would recommend Pillars of the Earth- but if they don't like books, they would be too intimidated. The House of Sand and Fog or The Kite Runner might be good ones to suggest.


@parridhlantern said...

Hi Jess, liking your selections & I think the general consensus is to get the **&^%@~ to read something,to switch off the idiot box and open a book.