A colleague is flying out from the USA to England tomorrow, and asked for recommendations of novels for the flight. Here’s what I suggested.
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (John Le Carre): hard-edged, fascinating, realistic. Sparse, sparkling prose. Justly rated a classic.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis): written for children, but still the most moving book I know.
The Silmarillion (J. R. R. Tolkien): brutally difficult, but so full of goodness. Absolutely fascinating. If you liked The Lord of the Rings and have the discipline to get through the first 20 pages of near-poetry, it’s endlessly rewarding.
Carry On, Jeeves (P. G. Wodehouse): absolutely frivolous, and utterly delightful
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen): a restrained, brittle comedy that’s consistently misinterpreted even by people who love it.
Ringworld (Larry Niven): a truly amazing amount of invention in such a slim SF story.
Rendezvous with Rama (Arthur C. Clarke): a completely different take on broadly similar SF premise. Very believable.
The Owl Service (Alan Garner): profound, bewildering, engaging, rewards re-reading but remains somewhat baffling even then.
Watchmen (Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons): fully deserving its reputation as the greatest superhero story ever told, and the only graphic novel to make the New York Times list of the top novels of the 20th Century.
The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (David Nobbs): a light comedy with disturbing undertones and perfectly drawn characters that live in the memory.
The Once and Future King (T. H. White): unbearably lovely and truly unique
The Man who was Thursday (G. K. Chesterton): the kind of book where you only figure out what it’s about as you’re reading it. Constantly surprising, forever delightful.
There are many more, but those are the ones I mentioned. The only conclusion I can draw from this list is that I really like books by authors who use initials instead of first names.