Jolabokaflod

Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

Classics

Please visit our Book Bulletin 2018 crowdfunding project at CrowdPatch to buy recommendations for our Winter 2018 catalogue and to volunteer your skills, experience and contacts. All funds raised will support not-for-profit Jolabokaflod CIC’s forthcoming programme of events.

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
(UK: Penguin Classics, @classicpenguins, 2003; USA: Penguin Classics, @PenguinClassics, 2002)

When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

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Recommended by:
Morgane Meistermann, Beta Publishing

The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov
(UK: Vintage Classics, @vintagebooks, 2010; USA: Vintage Books, @VintageAnchor, 1996)

The devil makes a personal appearance in Moscow accompanied by various demons, including a naked girl and a huge black cat. When he leaves, the asylums are full and the forces of law and order in disarray. Only the Master, a man devoted to truth, and Margarita, the woman he loves, can resist the devil’s onslaught.

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Recommended by:
Kylie Shore-Oliver, Australia-UK

Great Expectations
Charles Dickens
(UK: Penguin Classics, @classicpenguins, 2004; USA: Penguin Classics, @PenguinClassics, 2002)

A terrifying encounter with an escaped convict in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decaying Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor – these form a series of events that change the orphaned Pip’s life forever, and he eagerly abandons his humble origins to begin a new life as a gentleman. Dickens’s haunting late novel depicts Pip’s education and development through adversity as he discovers the true nature of his ‘great expectations’.

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Recommended by:
xxx at JBF Gala

Trilby
George du Maurier
(UK: Oxford World Classics, @OWC_Oxford, 2009; USA: Oxford World Classics, @OWC_Oxford, 2009)

Trilby O’Ferrall, an artist’s model in Paris, falls under the spell of the compelling Svengali, a musician who trains her voice through hypnosis and turns her into a singing star. The pair travel throughout Europe on successful concert tours: Trilby as La Svengali, the famous singer, and Svengali as the accompanying orchestra conductor – but broken relationships have consequences. The story of Trilby’s total subjugation to Svengali has passed into the realm of popular mythology.

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Recommended by:
Craig Dudley, actor

The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas
(UK: Everyman’s Library, @EverymansLib, 2009; USA: Penguin Classics, @PenguinClassics, 2003)

On the day of his wedding, Edmond Dantes, master mariner, is arrested in Marseille on trumped-up charges and spirited away to the cellars of the Chateau d’If, an impregnable sea fortress in which he is imprisoned indefinitely. Escaping from the chateau by a series of daring manoeuvres, he unearths a great treasure on the island of Monte Cristo, buried there by a former fellow prisoner who bequeaths to him the secret of its whereabouts. Thus armed with unimaginable wealth and embittered by his long imprisonment, he resolves to devote his life to tracking down and punishing those responsible.

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Recommended by:
Anita Maguire

The Great Gatsby
F Scott Fitzgerald
(UK: Wisehouse Classics, @WisehousePub, 2016; USA: Scribner, @ScribnerBooks, 2003)

This novel follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion and obsession for the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan.

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Recommended by:
Rob Hastings

New Grub Street
George Gissing
(UK: Oxford World Classics, @OWC_Oxford, 2016; USA: Oxford World Classics, @OWC_Oxford, 2016)

Scholarly, anxious Edwin Reardon had achieved a precarious career as the writer of serious fiction. On the strength of critical acclaim for his fourth novel, he has married the refined Amy Yule. But the brilliant future Amy expected has evaded her husband. The catastrophe of the Reardon’s failing marriage is set among the rising and falling fortunes of novelists, journalists, and scholars who labour ‘in the valley of the shadow of books’.

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Recommended by:
Craig Dudley, actor

Catch-22
Joseph Heller
(UK: Vintage Classics, @vintagebooks, 2011; USA: Simon & Schuster, @simonschuster, 2011)

Set in the closing months of World War II, this is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. His real problem is not the enemy – it is his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. If Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions then he is caught in ‘Catch-22’: if he flies he is crazy, and doesn’t have to; but if he doesn’t want to he must be sane, and has to do so. That’s some catch …

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Recommended by:
David Stark

Lady Chatterley’s Lover
D H Lawrence
(UK: Wordsworth Classics, @WordsworthEd, 2005; USA: Bantam Classics, @ModernLibrary, 1983)

This is the story of how the wife of Sir Clifford Chatterley responds when her husband returns from the war paralysed from the waist down, namely by developing a tender love for her husband’s gamekeeper.

This complex novel, famously replete with four-letter words and explicit descriptions of sexual intercourse, is open to a variety of conflicting interpretations.

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Recommended by:
David Wardrop

To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
(UK: Arrow, @arrowpublishing, 2010; USA: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, @HarperPerennial, 2005)

‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

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Recommended by:
Carl Christopher-Ansari, Director, Ten Foot Giant >content and event producton,advertising agency > carl@tenfootgiant.com

xxxx

Julie Farquhar, Folio Book Society

xxxx

Myles McMorrow

xxx, Tech Circus

Neil Ruckman

xxx

Of Human Bondage
W Somerset Maugham
(UK: Vintage Classics, @vintagebooks, 2000; USA: CreateSpace, @CreateSpace, 2015)

This is the story of Philip Carey, an orphan eager for life, love and adventure. After a few months studying in Heidelberg, and a brief spell in Paris as would-be artist, Philip settles in London to train as a doctor. There he meets Mildred, a loud but irresistible waitress with whom he plunges into a formative, tortured and masochistic affair that nearly ruins him.

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Recommended by:
Andrew Southern, author

Lolita
Vladimir Nabokov
(UK: Penguin Classics, @classicpenguins, 2000; USA: Vintage Books, @VintageAnchor, 1989)

Poet and pervert, Humbert Humbert becomes obsessed by twelve-year-old Lolita and seeks to possess her, first carnally and then artistically, out of love, ‘to fix once for all the perilous magic of nymphets’. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is he all of these?

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Recommended by:
David Stark

Nineteen Eighty-Four (UK) | 1984 (USA)
George Orwell
(UK: Penguin Modern Classics, @classicpenguins, 2004; USA: Signet Classics, @SignetBooks, 1961)

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.

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Recommended by:
Ali Chemi, xxx> cernali@yahoo.co.uk

Requiem for a Wren
Nevile Shute
(UK: Vintage Classics, @vintagebooks, 2009; USA: Vintage Classics, @vintagebooks, 2009)

Alan Duncan returns to his family home in Australia after the war and several years of study in England. But his homecoming is marred by the mysterious suicide of his parents’ quiet and reliable parlour-maid. A search through her belongings in search of clues leads to heartbreaking revelations about the woman’s identity, the death of Alan’s brother Bill, and, above all, the disappearance of his brother’s fiancée, Janet.

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Recommended by:
Dan Calladine, Head of Media Futures, Carat Global Management | Founder, London Pop-ups
Dan says: ‘A pacy love story/mystery about a man searching for the love of his life during and after World War II.’

Dan Calladine is a media industry maven who tracks online and offline media trends and the effectiveness of media strategy for Carat, a media agency within the Dentsu Aegis Network. He is an expert commentator on media, having been interviewed by BBC Radio 4, the Financial Times, Campaign and the Guardian, among other channels and publications. Dan is an expert on social media, including and social media tracking: he is a keen user, being active on YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest. Dan also heads and runs London Pop-ups, a online listings hub for pop-up events in the capital city.

War and Peace
Leo Tolstoy
(UK: Oxford World Classics, @OWC_Oxford, 2010; USA: Vintage Classics, @vintagebooks, 2008)

Tolstoy’s epic masterpiece intertwines the lives of private and public individuals during the time of the Napoleonic wars and the French invasion of Russia. The fortunes of the Rostovs and the Bolkonskys – of Pierre, Natasha and Andrei – are intimately connected with the national history that is played out in parallel with their lives. Balls and soirées alternate with councils of war and the machinations of statesmen and generals, scenes of violent battles with everyday human passions in a work whose extraordinary imaginative power has never been surpassed. The prodigious cast of characters, both great and small, seem to act and move as if connected by threads of destiny as the novel relentlessly questions ideas of free will, fate, and providence. Yet Tolstoy’s portrayal of marital relations and scenes of domesticity is as truthful and poignant as the grand themes that underlie them.

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Recommended by:
Leena Normington, vlogger

Orlando
Virginia Woolf
(UK: Vintage Classics, @vintagebooks, 2016; USA: Mariner Books, @HMHbooks, 1973)

As his tale begins, Orlando is a passionate young nobleman whose days are spent in rowdy revelry, filled with the colourful delights of Queen Elizabeth I’s court. By the close, he will have transformed into a modern, 36-year-old woman and three centuries will have passed. Orlando will not only witness the making of history from its edge, but will find that his unique position as a woman who knows what it is to be a man will give him insight into matters of the heart

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Recommended by:
Christine Grant, Folio Book Society

Germinal
Émile Zola
(UK: Oxford World Classics, @OWC_Oxford, 2008; USA: Oxford World Classics, @OWC_Oxford, 2008)

Zola’s masterpiece of working life, Germinal (1885), exposes the inhuman conditions of miners in northern France in the 1860s. By Zola’s death in 1902 it had come to symbolise the call for freedom from oppression so forcefully that the crowd which gathered at his State funeral chanted ‘Germinal! Germinal!’

The central figure, Etienne Lantier, is an outsider who enters the community and eventually leads his fellow miners in a strike protesting against pay-cuts – a strike which becomes a losing battle against starvation, repression, and sabotage. Yet despite all the violence and disillusion which rock the mining community to its foundations, Lantier retains his belief in the ultimate germination of a new society, leading to a better world.

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Recommended by:
xxx at JBF Gala

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