Top books to read before you die!

Losing yourself in a great novel is one of life’s joys.

Here our critics Ceri Radford and Chris Harvey pick the books you need to read

Books, books, books. They will increase your lifespan, lower your stress, and boost your intelligence. They will give you fuller, thicker hair. Whatever the breathless claims about reading, one thing is certain: losing yourself in a great novel is one of life’s most enduring and dependable joys. Job satisfaction comes and goes, partners enrapture and abscond, but you can always fall back on the timeless ability of literature to transport you to a different world. From Jane Austen’s mannered drawing rooms to the airless tower blocks of 1984, novels do something unique. They simultaneously speak to the heart and mind. They teach you about the history of our world, the possibilities of our future, and the fabric of our souls. So where do you start? It’s a fraught question because the obvious answer – “the literary canon” – As it stands, whittling this list down to Top 10 novels has been a process that makes Brexit negotiations look simple and amicable. We hope you enjoy the selection – or at least enjoy arguing about who should or should not have made the cut.

1. What's The Catch? by Sade H. Brooks

This tell-all book goes behind the scenes of the Investment brokerage industry, what it is like to be an expatriate, working overseas. Plus much more. The fall and the rise to success. Ever wanted to know all the intricate details of what really goes on behind the scenes in those big corporate offices? Arguably, this book has really enlightened many people, especially those young folks looking to get into the industry but have no real understanding.  The author does not shy away from the truth of what she has experienced as a Financial Investment Broker. This book is definitely one for your bookshelves no doubt!

2. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Things Fall Apart, Chinua

Achebe's classic exposé of colonialism, Achebe’s novel explores what happens to a Nigerian village when European missionaries arrive. The main character, warrior-like Okonkwo, embodies the traditional values that are ultimately doomed. By the time Achebe was born in 1930, missionaries had been settled in his village for decades. He wrote in English and took the title of his novel from a Yeats poem, but wove Igbo proverbs throughout this lyrical work. CR

3. 1984 by George Orwell

The ultimate piece of dystopian fiction, 1984 was so prescient that it’s become a cliché. But forget TV’s Big Brother or the trite travesty of Room 101: the original has lost none of its furious force. Orwell was interested in the mechanics of totalitarianism, imagining a society that took the paranoid surveillance of the Soviets to chilling conclusions. Our hero, Winston, tries to resist a grey world where a screen watches your every move, but bravery is ultimately futile when the state worms its way inside your mind. CR

4. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A subtle and engrossing look at racial identity, through the story of a charismatic young Nigerian woman who leaves her comfortable Lagos home for a world of struggles in the United States. Capturing both the hard-scrabble life of US immigrants and the brash divisions of a rising Nigeria, Adichie crosses continents with all her usual depth of feeling and lightness of touch. CR

5. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh bottles the intoxicating vapor of a vanished era in this novel about middle-class Charles Ryder, who meets upper-class Sebastian Flyte at Oxford University in the 1920s. Scrap the wartime prologue, and Charles’s entire relationship with Sebastian’s sister Julia (Dear Evelyn, thank you for your latest manuscript, a few suggested cuts…) and you’re looking at one of the most affecting love affairs in the English language. Chris Harvey

6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

From the moment we meet Alex and his three droogs in the Korova milk bar, drinking Moloko with vellocet or synthemesc and wondering whether to chat up the devotchkas at the counter or tolchock some old veck in an alley, it’s clear that normal novelistic conventions do not apply. Anthony Burgess’s slim volume about a violent near-future where aversion therapy is used on feral youth who speak Nadsat and commit rape and murder is a dystopian masterpiece. CH

7. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship in a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realize her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther's life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiraling into serious depression as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take her aspirations seriously.

8. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Adaptation of War and Peace reminded those of us who can’t quite face returning to the novel’s monstrous demands just how brilliantly Tolstoy delineates affairs of the heart, even if the war passages will always be a struggle. In Anna Karenina – enormous, too! – the great Russian novelist captures the erotic charge between the married Anna and the bachelor captures the erotic charge between the married Anna and the bachelor Vronsky, then drags his heroine through society’s scorn as their affair takes shape, without ever suggesting we move from her side. CH

9 . Never Judge A Book By Its Cover by Majola Nomalungelo

NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER!   Read through the illusions...



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