arts culture

Ten books worth reading

From Capote and Wallace to Sepulveda and Roth, ten great books by famous writers for your spare time

Home Life Lifestyle arts culture Ten books worth reading

Here is a selection of readings to spend your time at home. These books received universal recognition and are well worth their place on your bookshelf. We will list them in alphabetical order, according to the author's last name.

Truman Capote's “The Grass Harp” tells about the childhood of orphan boy Collin who was raised by two spinster sisters with opposite characters, Verena and Dolly Talbo. The grass harp is the wind rushing through the grass that, as Dolly explains, is always telling a story: "It knows the stories of all the people on the hill, of all the people who ever lived, and when we are dead it will tell ours too." It's a portrait of the writer's childhood and a choral tale at the same time.

"Exhalation" by Ted Chiang is the second collection of short stories by the award-winning Chinese-American writer who became famous to the general public in 2016 when one of his stories was the inspiration for Denis Villeneuve's film Arrival, featuring Amy Adams, among others. The nine science fiction stories, set in different alternate dimensions, inevitably lead us to ponder about our times.

"The second sex" was written in 1949 by Simone De Beauvoir. Married to Jean-Paul Sartre, she asserted herself to the world not as the wife of the famous Parisian philosopher but rather for having been the first to deal with the women's right issues that would become topical in the Sixties. "The history of women was written by men" she muses on her pages, reviewing the biological, psychoanalytical, historical and anthropological knowledge about women of her time.

"Girl, Woman, Other" by Bernardine Evaristo is the book with which the Anglo-Nigerian writer shared the Booker Prize 2019 with Margaret Atwood (The Testaments). The writer, who is the first woman of colour to have received the prestigious literary award, tells the story of twelve, mostly black, women, whose destinies intertwine, touching on themes of feminism and racism.

"The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared" by Jonas Jonasson. It was the bestseller in Sweden in 2009 and has been translated worldwide. The book tells the story of Allan Karlsson, an elderly guest in a nursing home, who instead of attending his 100th birthday party, jumps out the window and sets off on a journey. The daring tale is a hymn to life.

"Sabbath's Theater" by Philip Roth tells the decadent parable of Mickey Sabbath, a former puppeteer, who retraces the stages of his life, studded with abandonment by all the women important to him: his mother, his wife and his girlfriend. "I still campaign against American Pastoral, but when I finally got around to reading Sabbath's Theater its fearlessness and ferocity became an inspiration," wrote Jonathan Franzen about the book.

“Quichotte” by Salman Rushdie is a modern reinterpretation of Miguel De Cervantes' story, where the knight in shining armour is an aged, failed writer who, after having lost his job as a pharmaceutical salesman, sets off on a journey with an imaginary son whom he renamed Sancho. His ambition is to win the love of a young TV personality, that he has never met, to whom he sends love letters signed Quichotte. The result is a picaresque trip across contemporary America and a critique of trash culture.

"The Old Man Who Read Love Stories" by Luis Sepulveda is a book that teaches how to love nature, through the eyes of the aged Antonio Josè Bolivar and his encounter with a mysterious animal. Living on the edge of the Amazon forest, Antonio Josè lives his life reading the same love novels over and over, reminiscing about his wife, when he is given a task. Thanks to his great knowledge of the forest, he is called to hunt down and kill a tiger that only wants to take revenge on mankind.

"The Door" by Magda Szabò tells about the relationship between a writer, with the same name as the author, and her maid, Emerenc. High recommended and previously in the service of a few selected families, the woman demonstrates dedication and ability in the employment for which she is hired but demands deep respect and secrecy about her intimate life, concealed behind a closed door, from Magda and her husband.

David Foster Wallace's "The Broom of the System" is a book in continuous movement with time jumps from one chapter to another, in which direct speech alternates with indirect speech, constantly switching the point of view and adding digressions. It all revolves around the world of Lenore, a young woman who sets out in search of her grandmother, Wittgenstein's pupil, who has escaped from a nursing home. Written in 1987, it is the work that revealed the talent of the then 24-year-old American writer to the world.