Inspired by this article:
I began to think what book I would give away as a gift. Obviously if you are buying for someone, you tend to try to tailor to his or her tastes. Hence, why my Dad has had books on the Second World War since I was about 16.
However, the spirit of the article is more about what would you give so to enlighten, entertain or educate. Kind of, foist my literary tastes on everyone else whether or not they would actually like it.
I have given it some thought, albeit brief, and have come up with a shortlist of three. These are not books that “made me” or anything as profound as that. These are simply books that I enjoyed and would recommend. If you go out, buy them, and hate every single word then it really is not my fault.
Firstly, I would say Hey Nostradamus by Douglas Coupland.
I do not think I will give a synopsis of the novel suffice to say that it is about the aftermath of a school shooting told from various points of view.
It was the first Coupland novel I read and as soon as I finished I had to buy the majority of his others. Coupland describes the culture in which we live so perfectly and with such precision it is, I think, impossible not to be drawn it. However, what lifts this novel above the mundane are two things. First, the focus is not on the killers but on the victims, this Coupland says was because “Killers get too much press already” (The Observer, 2001). Because he focuses on the aftermath and the consequences of violence, the act is never glamorised. It has several of the trademark Coupland Post-Modernist touches, such as the first chapter being written after the characters death.
Secondly, the last chapter; it changes everything and was really effecting. It makes you think about the whole novel and people’s motivations and why people are the way, they are. I could go on but I fear I would ruin it. This is, coincidently, my favourite book.
Secondly, Milan Kundra’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
This is, I am afraid, one of those books that a lot of people will claim to have read or would have bought sometime and intended to read similar to “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
The novel takes place during the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in the 1950’s. It explores themes of sex, love and national crises. It is also wonderfully written (well, the translation) and with a philosophical underpinning. The value of love to us as a species is expressed through both a married couple and a faithful dog.
Finally and completely self-knowingly pretentious (oh, aren’t I erudite) is Albert Camus The Outsider
A relatively short book, so that would appeal to those wanting to give presents, it is no less packed with ideas and wonderfully evocative prose. The main question posed (if I read it right) is what would happen to a man who refused to conform to society? Camus’ narrator, Meursault, shows no emotion and refuses – or is unable – to connect with society. This is manifested with his inability to cry at his mother’s funeral.
When I read this a few years ago, I really enjoyed it.
These are some books I would consider sending on, obviously not my own copies. They are other books I would recommend but I still would tailor the books to the recipients. That’s just common sense.