I recently finished reading two Charles Dickens novels and liked one of them so much that I thought to myself, “you know, this is easily in my top five favorite novels of all time”. That thought prompted the question of what exactly are my top five favorite works of fiction and the answer came so easily that it seemed significant enough to get on record. I like to do this sort of thing because it’s a given that preferences will change over time and it’s neat to look back years later and see what my tastes were at a particular phase of my life.
I’ve been an avid reader through most of my adult life but have always underestimated the value of fiction, being more concerned with history and fact and how the world works and why things are the way they are. You can go a long way towards that with non-fiction, assuming you do your homework and always try to get the background on the author’s motivation and agenda and what factors are involved with their particular point of view. Everyone is bullshitting you to some extent, just as you bullshit others and yourself to some degree. We can’t help it. But we can consider information that is presented to us with that in mind. The importance of this cannot be understated if you are truly interested in gaining an accurate view of the world.
But anyway…I’ve generally neglected fiction because I’ve been interested in learning about reality and practical things that I can apply in my own life. It’s only been over the last few years that I have ventured off into the wide, wonderful world of novels. And in doing so I’ve come to realize you can learn a tremendous amount from them also. Instead of facts and figures you learn about the human condition and the limitless scope of human creativity and imagination. Non-fiction can make you smart but fiction can make you wise. Personally I have come to value wisdom over intelligence.
So without any further ado here are my top five favorite fiction works (in order):
1. Jitterbug Perfume – Tom Robbins
2. Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
3. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
4. Island – Aldous Huxley
5. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkien
This, of course, is subject to change and the number five was totally arbitrary.
Maybe next time I’ll do top ten.