Before getting into the details of ‘5 of the most amazing works of fiction in history,’ I would like to point out that making a choice like this isn’t easy. There are hundreds of great books out there so making a list of ‘top 100 books’ or ‘top 50 books’ is a lot easier than filtering the list further and choosing 5 titles out of the world’s best 100 books.
Writing a touching novel is not the same as writing an ennobling one: the latter takes you away from your surroundings for a while and shows you a different world. The world you see is going to stay in your mind for the rest of your life. A touching novel on the other hand, gets forgotten when you read the next good work of fiction.
However, works of fiction that inspired you remain unchanged, securing a special place in your heart. It comes into your mind each time you want to quote someone, make important decisions in life or on a pleasant, lazy day when you were not planning to think about anything serious!
Writing an inspiring book isn’t that easy: unlike cinema and music, your most important sensory organs – eyes and ears – can’t create an image for you. Of course, you use your eyes to read but eyes act as a medium to transfer information to your brain, but do very less in entertaining you. It is your brain that takes you through the paths the author wanted you to walk and show the world the way he (the author) wanted you to see.
If your textbooks make you feel sleepy, an inspiring novel keeps you stimulated, helping you to skip a few hours of sleep so that you can finish reading it. It is the author’s talent that takes you to this wonderful journey of imagination, empowerment, sinewy emotional conflicts and entertainment.
#1: The Brothers Karamazov aka The Karamazov Brothers
In a recent Guardian article, it was mentioned that Dostoevsky’s best work in fiction was mistitled for over 130 years. They say it should be pronounced ‘Karamazov Brothers’ not ‘Brothers Karamazov.’ There is hardly any literature classic list without Karamazov Brothers, which indeed makes perfect sense to this book. There are not many books that scrutinized human psychology as the Karamazov Brothers did.
The story of Dmitri – the eldest and half brother of Ivan and Alexei deals with love, atheism and the many conflicts our mind encounter in unusual situations. Human psychology was never assessed this deeply in any work of fiction. While the structure and language of Brothers Karamazov can be a little irksome, this is one of those books that you MUST READ.
#2: Infinte Jest
Many reviewers are reluctant to include Infinite Jest into a list of ‘best books ever written’ probably because David Foster Wallace was a young author and the book was published in 1996. However, this young author’s work is fascinating at many levels. Even for avid readers, reading over 20-25 pages a day was quite daunting, not to mention getting lost in the process. Whenever the reader feels like lost in Wallace’s complex world, re-reading the first 3 pages will bring back your senses and give you an insight on what’s happening.
Infinite Jest is not one of those books that are complex for the sake of it. This is arguably one of the best books that you will read in your lifetime so don’t let its age fool you. Infinite Jest is definitely one of those rare books that you can’t read, finish and then move on. This book will change you for the rest of your life and redefine your ideas about novels. This book deserves a special place of its own, which it gets in its readers’ heart.
#3: The Great Gatsby
Great Gatsby is considered as one of the best books ever written. This makes perfect sense to the reader once you read the book. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book is an extraordinary example of literary skills because there are not many authors that can convey human emotions so effectively through words. This is why Great Gatsby could attract so many readers despite its shallow characters. Great Gatsby is not just another book with fancy words every now and then.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ability to set perfect scene is a skill mastered by just a handful so a book like Gatsby may never come to your bookstore’s shelf in your lifetime! There are not many books that can make you sweat when a summer scene is narrated. When your eyes go through the Jazz scene of the book, it is perfectly natural to hear deep, sensual and powerful music played around you.
Great Gasby tells us the passionate story of a man that is determined to walk extra miles to get the love of his life. The challenges, uncertainties and hardships in his journey can’t stop him from looking for what he wants the most in his life. If you feel strongly for the protagonist, it’s not your mistake because F. Scott Fitzgerald has the capability of sending his readers to a trans-state when reading his books.
Great Gatsby is probably the only classic book that made to the ‘Best of’ or ‘Top XX’ lists with a compact size. Most classic books put off readers due to their sheer size and hard to digest words. Great Gatsby on the other hand is a simple read but its characters, dialogues and scene setting is going to stay in your heart for a very, very long time.
#4: Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
Beautiful wit, detached irony and the magnificence of two different worlds – Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert is a must-read for every book enthusiast. The story throws light on a woman that is caught between two entirely different worlds (a dull country life with her husband and a life of high romance with her lover. The book is capable of drawing the reader’s affection for its central character, Madame Bovary, who thought that she would get into a life of passion and luxury after marriage that she reads in highly dramatic women’s magazines and novels.
Unfortunately, she gets married to a dull country doctor who is very indifferent when it comes to romance and passion. Gustave Flaubert has carefully maintained equilibrium between the realistic world as it is and the world that Madame Bovary would wish it could be. This particular French novel is one of the best in European literature and does a brilliant job for its realistic portrayal of French countryside of that time. This particular novel has become an influential standpoint for shaping the future work of modernism and realism in the 20th century.
When the novel was first published in 1857 it standardized its readers and still remains incomparable in its realism of character as well as a society. Flaubert has carefully used irony to criticize romanticism and penetrate deep into the relation of fate to free will and beauty to corruption. The central character embarks a journey that leads to moral and financial disaster over the course of the entire novel. The novel has certainly brought out different ways in the life of women in the 19th century where circumstances -instead of free will-dictates the position of women in society.
#5: Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
Hamlet tells the story of a son (Prince of Denmark) who comes to know that his uncle, Claudius killed his father, his own brother, to take over the throne of Denmark and marry his widowed mother. Hamlet as a son is drawn between the great despair of his father’s death and his mother’s infidelity.
Hamlet has fascinated readers around the world for centuries and the first thing that everybody notices about him is his enigmatic nature. There is always more to him than just the character of the play, and even the cleverest and careful readers have admitted that they are still to uncover everything about the central character. Hamlet is a University student who was interrupted by his father’s death and is overcome by a son’s quest for avenging his father’s murder. The whole drama narrated in the novel draws the reader into an intimate engagement with its indispensable elements of the story.
The above 5 books are great works of fiction that is a must read for every book enthusiasts. What’s more? A new research done by New School for Social Research in New York has proved that reading fiction book increases the ability to understand and identify other people’s emotion, which is a crucial skill for surviving complex social relationships. If you have ever felt like reading a book that would help you to connect with your social circle better, the above five works of fiction can to a great extent help you do so.
Question of the Day:
What works of fiction do you think everyone must read?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below!