Now They Are Coming For Your Books!

The second of my questions on Twitter attracted fewer responses but they were more interesting as they named specific books. Of course I’m going to have to read all those on this list that I haven’t read before.

  1. The Upanishads
  2. Fernando Pessoa – The Book of Disquiet (2 mentions)
  3. Virginia Woolf – Orlando
  4. The Mahabharata
  5. Hans Christian Andersen stories
  6. Grove Centenary Beckett containing the Trilogy
  7. Marguerite Young – Miss Macintosh, My Darling
  8. Hannah Arendt – Thinking, Judging, Freedom
  9. John Fante – The Bandini Quartet
  10. Ralph Ellison – Invisible Man
  11. Julio Cortázar – 62 Modelo para armar
  12. Lars Iyers – Spurious trilogy
  13. JM Coetzee – Scenes from Provincial Life
  14. Wallace Stevens – Collected Poetry and Prose
  15. Walter Benjamin – Illuminations
  16. Thomas Pynchon – Gravity’s Rainbow
  17. Vladimir Nabokov – Pale Fire
  18. Borges – The Collected Fictions
  19. John McGahern – Collected Stories
  20. Vladimir Nabokov – Ada, or Ardor
  21. Dostoevsky – The Brothers Karamazov

WordPress’s poll option is a bit pathetic so if you want to contribute to this list please do so in Comments.

15 thoughts on “Now They Are Coming For Your Books!

  1. I’m really enjoying following these discussions on Twitter although I’m far too indecisive to reply promptly. I end up tying myself up in knots over the choices as it feels like it is not just the case of picking my favourite author or book, but choosing an author/book I could live with for the rest of my days. While liking the author/book is key, it also feels to me like I’d need to have enough to read (and ideally a degree of variety within) to keep me interested and not to sour me on my choice. So, I need to get the balance right between quality and sheer volume.

    Which is probably just a long-winded way of saying this has been a thought-provoking and fun exercise, but a really difficult one. For authors, I think I’ve narrowed it down to Primo Levi or Charles Schulz. For a book, I’m tempted by the King James Bible. I’m not mega-religious, but I think it would give me enough to think about over the years. Failing that, Hemingway’s short stories.

    • Let’s hope it never becomes necessary to have to make these choices.

      Any of the canonical religious books would be eminently sensible choices, such rich narratives.

      • I think that the religious aspect is why I didn’t respond; there’s something so thinly devotional about suggesting that aesthetic and moral food for life could be found in a single book. The idea alarms me, probably because of my Bible-reading adolescence.

  2. I would probably go with the complete novels of Flann O’Brien (ideally including his Myles na gCopaleen work too), since if They have taken to confiscating books, it’s probably best to have somebody who spent an entire life eviscerating Them. Also, at that stage there’d be enough to cry about, so some laughter wouldn’t go astray.

  3. I think I’d go for a collection of Shakespeare’s dramas. Prose/novels and theoretical books I generally don’t read more than once anyway, so it wouldn’t be such a loss.

    Another question; You will be struck by a sudden amnesia and entirely and irreversible forget about one (and only one) authorship (which you may neither read again later on), however you may before choose one author to be safe from this happening, which would you save then?
    Here Dostoevsky might get my vote

    And alternative to this; All the world (including you) is struck by this sudden amnesia…
    Here I’m thinking what would happen if everyone would forget about Plato. If the life and death of Socrates would be forgotten I think it would be a serious loss. But perhaps the life and death of Socrates may be allowed to be remembered anyway, as it’s not merely told by Plato.
    Another candidate: I really wouldn’t want Pierre Bourdieu go away, as I think he’s an important intellectual of our times.

    • Good question, difficult too. I think I would save Dante. Never knowing the Divine Comedy feels unbearable.

      Your other question is also fiendish. How differently would we view Socrates if we had only Xenophon’s account? Would he still be considered the founding father of philosophy? I wouldn’t want to be without Plato.

  4. ONE is so so so very difficult!
    The Museum of Eterna’s Novel by Macedonio Fernandez probably. Or Musil’s Man W/o Qualities. Or Collected Borges (but ficions or non-fictions?). Or Shakespeare? Or the Grove Collected Beckett. Or The Blanchot Reader? Or Kafka Collected Stories? Or Lispector’s Discovering the Word. Or Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet? Or Rilke’s Diary of a Poet? Or Van Gogh’s Letters? Or Don Quixote? Homer?
    I’ll mull and torment and try to pick as if the gun were in my face (or the faces of my family).

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