Readersforum's Blog

September 23, 2014

50 best cult books

Albert Camus, Joseph Heller, JD Salinger and Thomas Pynchon are among the authors chosen by our critics for the 50 best cult books

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

By Telegraph Reporters

A cult book may be hard to define but one thing is for sure: you know a cult book when you see one.

Cult books are somehow, intangibly, different from simple bestsellers – though many of them are that. And people have passionate feelings on both sides:

Our critics present a selection of the most notable cult writing from the past two centuries. Some is classic. Some is catastrophic. All of it had the power to inspire . . .

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April 29, 2013

What Was the First Book that Made You Love Books? PW Staff Picks

 

night Every now and then, PWxyz likes to let the staff around here talk about books, because that’s all we secretly want to do. Previously, the PW staff has Fixed the Modern Library 100 Novels List, named some favorite short stories, and picked the best books read in 2011 and 2012. Here, we asked: What’s the first book you read that really made you love books?

 

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March 8, 2013

10 Classic Books You Read in High School You Should Reread

PracticalBy Kevin Smokler

In Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School, Kevin Smokler takes you on a trip down high school memory lane, when you couldn’t stand reading As I Lay Dying or Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Or maybe you could, you bookworm. Either way, Smokler gives us 10 books and 10 compelling reasons why you should revisit them.

It’s all too easy to look at the novels assigned to us as high school students as monuments or mist, to be worshiped or abandoned as we did our outfit to the junior prom. That either/or narrative matches both how we encounter these “great books” in education (as non-negotiable requirements) and an educator’s hope for our response (that their “greatness” changes our lives). That may be a whole lot no-shades-of-gray thinking on my part. As proof, I’ll accept a “meh” opinion on Moby-Dick or The Scarlet Letter from anyone assigned to write an essay on it as a teenager.

Is there a third way? I hope so. I spent the last year rereading the books my high school teachers assigned to me. My thinking: It isn’t enough to give a classic another look just because “it’s a classic.” A classic is also so because of its resonance and usefulness throughout time, JST as Shakespeare’s Henry V was a patriotic salvo when Laurence Oliver adopted it at the beginning of the Cold War and a warning about the cost of empire when Kenneth Brannagh did at the end of it.

Below are 10 high school classics where I found that useful thing I missed the first time around.

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January 4, 2013

Albert Camus, The First Man

Albert Camus   (1913 - 1960)

Albert Camus
(1913 – 1960)

On this day in 1960 Albert Camus was killed in a car crash outside Paris, at the age of forty-seven. The incomplete manuscript of The First Man, the autobiographical novel that Camus was working on at his death, was found in the mud at the accident site and published by his daughter in 1995. Camus hoped that it would be his masterpiece and some critics think it is, even unfinished.

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January 4, 2012

Albert Camus, The First Man

Filed under: Today in Literature — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:59 am

Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)

On this day in 1960 Albert Camus was killed in a car crash outside Paris, at the age of forty-seven. The incomplete manuscript of The First Man, the autobiographical novel that Camus was working on at his death, was found in the mud at the accident site and published by his daughter in 1995. Camus hoped that it would be his masterpiece and some critics think it is, even unfinished.

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November 18, 2011

Literature Is Not Created Equal

Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus.

Defending The Classical, Introspective Literature of Camus Against The Invasion Of the Pop-Entertainment Canon Of Rowling

By Wayne Schutsky

One of the most common misconceptions within our culture is that all reading is created equal. Increasingly, parents, teachers and individuals are satisfied as long as their children, students or selves are reading anything, regardless of the content and its value.

Too often, our forms of storytelling fall into several separate levels of intellectuality. Reading reigns supreme at the top of the hierarchy, followed by film, television and then video games (the spoken tradition is all but forgotten today).

This division lumps all reading — from Dante to Chaucer to J.K. Rowling — into the same category.

I would contend that this generalization degrades the value of certain literature while elevating the value of other, lesser works.

In defending the genre, I am actually defending works across a range of genres. I am defending classics and contemporary works alike that, unlike the smattering of generic and one-dimensional novels that pepper today’s literature, challenge our beliefs as a culture and force readers to examine the world around them.

Specifically, in this piece, I am defending Albert Camus’ The Stranger. As a novel that deals principally with the conceptual ideas of good and evil, The Stranger has plenty of company in modern literature.

From every generic mystery novel to the Harry Potter franchise, the past decade is rife with books pitting good characters against evil ones and giving readers a look at that struggle.

However, in today’s pop literature good and evil are too often completely polarized in such a way that the question of what constitutes either is hardly a question at all.

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August 7, 2011

Albert Camus might have been killed by the KGB for criticising the Soviet Union, claims newspaper

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:04 am

Car crash in which French literary giant was killed in 1960 was no accident, claims new theory.

By Kim Willsher

Albert Camus died instantly when the car he was travelling in spun off the road in icy conditions and hit a tree. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

When the French philosopher, author and inveterate womaniser Albert Camus died in a car accident in 1960 just two years after winning the Nobel prize for literature, France’s intellectual beau monde mourned what seemed an almost freakish tragedy.

In Camus’s pocket was an unused return train ticket from his home in Provence to Paris. The 46-year-old writer had intended to travel back after the Christmas holidays by train with his wife Francine and their teenage twins Catherine and Jean. Instead, his friend and publisher Michel Gallimard offered to drive him.

Camus was killed instantly when Gallimard’s powerful Facel Vega car left the icy road and ploughed into a tree. Gallimard died a few days later. As well as the train ticket, police found 144 pages of handwritten manuscript in the wreckage entitled The First Man, an unfinished novel based on Camus’s childhood in Algeria and which he had predicted would be his finest work. The tragedy shocked and saddened France. But no one imagined that the crash had been anything other than an accident.

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has now suggested that Soviet spies might have been behind the crash. The theory is based on remarks by Giovanni Catelli, an Italian academic and poet, who noted that a passage in a diary written by the celebrated Czech poet and translator Jan Zábrana, and published as a book entitled Celý život, was missing from the Italian translation.

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