Susan, Hespeler | March 1, 2017
Following a family dinner a few weeks ago, the conversation turned towards one of our favourite (and least-controversial) topics: books. If we had to pick one book, or series, which one has been most influential, most memorable, or the one that we can read over and over again and still be entertained?
I had a hard time narrowing my choice to just one book, but all the millennials at the table (and there were five of them), chose the Harry Potter series as the hands-down winner. As children and teens, they had devoured the books as they were published, counting the days until the next installment, and I remember summer vacations planned around the next publication date. What made it so life-changing for them? The plot, the characters, and the magic, all combined to make this the must-read series for anyone born in the late 80s and early 90s.
Other notable favourites were the Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett, with its satisfying combination of witty moral comedy and fantasy, Tolkien’s classic trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, and the iconic Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. You might have discerned a theme here — the fantasy/science fiction genre produced some of the most influential novels during the second half of the twentieth century. Their superb storytelling allows the reader to discover the new world, step-by-step as they read, and become immersed in a world where everything is possible, and unpredictability is the order of the day.
In fact, only one “real-world” novel resonated with my sample population – The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, where betrayal and the possibility of redemption combine to make an unforgettable read.
And what about my all-time favourites? They would have to include A Tale of Two Cities, The Name of the Rose, and A Fine Balance. They’re all historical and realistic, but they share many qualities with good fantasy — a world that’s different to our own, a certain injustice, and characters that never leave you, even decades after you read about them.
What are your all-time favourite reads? Tell us in the comments below.