Everyone Wants to Share their Top 26 Books

Alex Smith’s Top 26 Books

Blank. On Sunday afternoon, I left the book fair briefly to do an interview at SAfm with Karebo Kgoleng. I’ve never done a live radio interview before. Karabo was great, all went fine (I hope, although I’ll never actually hear it to know for sure), except when I went blank over the most elementary question. What books have influenced you? Karabo asked. I knew there were many, but in my mind the walls, normally filled with pictures of what I’m thinking, they went completely white (actually a shade of mellange gray). I looked up in my head and could find nothing. Somehow I managed to cobble together an answer. Then as if the god of books was trying to make a point, this morning on facebook I found a message in my Inbox – Amanda’s Book Club wanted to know: What 26 books have influenced you most? Your all time 26 books? People had listed their favourites in an A-Z.

I’m really going to have to get this down, in case anyone asks again. If I go to another interview, I’m taking this A-Z in my pocket (it’s a few more than 26, but I’m only party cheating). These are the books that have made me:

Aesop’s Fables (Aesop), The Art of War (Lao Tzu); Agamemnon (Aeschylus); Around the World in 80 Days (Jules Verne)

The Bible (Religion aside, it has some very dramatic tales filled with murder, miracles and wonders. I went to a church school, so I grew up listening to Bible stories — one every morning for twelve years is bound to have an influence).

City and the Pillar (Gore Vidal); A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)

Disgrace (JM Coetzee); The Death of Artemio Cruz (Carlos Fuentes)

Electra (Euripides); The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)

The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand); The BFG and everything else by Roald Dahl

Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift) ; Great Expectations (Charles Dickens); Grimm’s Fairytales

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams); Hamlet (Shakespeare)

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (Laurie Lee); Indaba My Children (Credo Mutwa)

The Jitterbug Perfume (Tom Robbins)

To Kill a Mocking Bird (Harper Lee)

Lust for Life (Irving Stone); Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez);

Macbeth (Shakespeare); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare)

Neuromancer (William Gibson); Nineteen Eighty Four (George Orwell)

The Outsider/The Stranger (Albert Camus)

Perfume (Patrick Susskind); Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen); Pygmalion (George Bernard Shaw); The Periodic Table (Primo Levi)

Queen Mab (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Romeo & Juliette (Shakespeare)

Silk (Alessandro Baricco); Straight is the Gate (Andre Gide); The Shipping News (Annie Proulx)

Alex Smith Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu); The Thousand Nights and One Nights (Annonymous – Persia)

Under the Net (Iris Murdoch)

Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare)

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (C.S.Lewis)

Zorba the Greek (Nikos Kazantzakis)

Alex Smith

Nqobile Nxumalo’s 26 All Time Top Books

To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee

Shackled Continent – Robert Guest

I write what I like – Steve Biko

Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela

Fit to Govern – Thabo Mbeki

Miss Kwa –Kwa – Steven Simms

What if everything you knew about Aids was a lie – David Ike

The Da Vinci code – Dan Brown

Romeo & Juliet – Shakespeare

Othello – Shakespeare

Macbeth – Shakespeare

Merchant of Venice – Shakespeare

Tales of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

Cry the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Things fall apart – Chinua Achebe

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

The Promise – Daniele Steel

The Bush Dynasty


Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn – Mark Twain

Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austin

Marketing in the Dust – Mdau

The God of small things – Arundhati Roy

Conversations with God – Inyala Vanzant

In the Meantime – Inyala Vanzant

Nqobile NxumaloNqobile Nxumalo’s is 23 years old, very ambitious and excited to be alive, I read anything I can put my hands and I always have a dictionary next to me, the first adult books I ever read were, Long walk to freedom at the age of seven and there after almost all of Daniel Steel books. Reading has always given me comfort in the hard world that I am living in. That is why currently I am writing my own book


More 26 Top Books

Isabella Morris selects her Top 26 Books

a.       The Blue Bedspread by Raj Kamal Jha

b.      The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

c.       The Reader by Bernard Schlink

d.      Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

e.       The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

f.     Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

g.      The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

h.      A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

i.        I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

j.        The Art of Fiction by John Gardner

k.      The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton

l.        The Right Questions by Debbie Ford

m.    The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi

n.      The Outsider by Albert Camus

o.     The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene

p.      I Remember by Denis Hirson

q.      The Book of Fred by Abby Bardi

r.       Beyond Culture by Edward T Hall

s.      White Oleander by Janet Fitch

t.        The Writer’s Brush edited by Donald Friedman

u.      The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

v.      The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

w.    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

x.     Atonement by Ian McEwan

y.      Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

z.       Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Isabella MorrisIsabella Morris has been published in various South African publications and is the 2007 winner of the POWA Writing Competition for Women. She has just completed a novel on Moroccan refugees. She is a freelance writer and editor and is researching her next novel. Her blog is at www.bellabelle.wordpress.com

Kurt Clare’s Top 26 (25? ) Books

A difficult task indeed. How do you measure a book againat another? These are but some that have had a profound impact on me, in no particular order.

1. At swim, two boys. Jamie O’Neil

2. The Lord of the Flies. William Golding.

3. The Monk. Matthew G. Lewis.

4. Olivier Twist. Charles Dickens.

5. Great Expectations. Charles Dickens.

6. Things Fall Apart. Chinua Achebe.

7. The Liar. Stephen Fry.

8. The Mayor of Casterbridge. Thomas Hardy.

9. The Colour Purple. Alice Walker.

10. The Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conrad.

11. The World According to Garp – John Irving

12. Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller

13. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Ken Kesey.

14. And the Band Played On. Randy Shilts.

15. Maurice. E.M. Foster

16. Passage to India. E.M. Foster

17. Room with a View. E.M. Foster.

18. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. C. S. Lewis.

19. Prince Caspian. C. S. Lewis.

20. Cry the Beloved Country. Alan Paton.

21. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Oscar Wilde

22. To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee.

23. In Cold Blood. Truman Capote.

24. 1984. George Orwell

25. The Return of the King. J. R. Tolkein

Steven R. Harbin from Newnan, Georgia, USA sent his 26 top list:

1. Sometimes a Great Notion, by Ken Kesey

2. Farewell, My Lovely, by Raymond Chandler

3. A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin

4. Death Angel’s Shadow, by Karl Edward Wagner

5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

6. First Blood, by David Morrell

7. The Hour of the Dragon, by Robert E. Howard

8. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

9. The Island of the Mighty, by Evangeline Walton

10. The Swords of Lankhmar, by Fritz Leiber

11. City of Glass, by Paul Auster

12. The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkein

13. Watership Down, by Richard Adams

14. The Long Ships, by Frans Gunner Bengtsson

15. Titus Groan, by Mervyn Peake

16. Stormbringer, by Michael Moorcock

17. The Dying Earth, by Jack Vance

18. The Fabulous Clipjoint, by Fredric Brown

19. The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick

20. The High Place, by James Branch Cabell

21. Devil in a Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley

22. A Search for the King, by Gore Vidal

23. The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss

24. Night’s Master, by Tanith Lee

25. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

26. Carry On, Jeeves, by P. G. Wodehouse

SteveSteve Harbin is a 53 year old educator in Ga. USA, been an avid reader of all kinds of books all my life, but especially history, biography, fantasy, science fiction, mystery historical fiction, and some sports writing. Married to a fellow book lover (although we like different authors and genres) and have two kids who are also book lovers.

Amanda’s 26 Top Books of All Time

Amanda PattersonThere are books you read and enjoy and books you just skim through. Sometimes you pick up a book and your eye-hand co-ordination isn’t fast enough to put it down without dropping it on the floor.

But then there are books like these 26 (and a few more…) that you treasure forever. Why 26?

Why not – after all there are 26 letters of the alphabet!

a. “A Man in Full” by Tom Wolfe
b. “The Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy
c. “The Old Man and The Sea” by Ernest Hemingway
d. “White Oleander” by Janet Fitch
e. “La Peste” by Albert Camus
f. “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley
g. “Black and Blue” by Ian Rankin
h. “Bright Lights, Big City” by Jay McInerny
i. “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” by Fannie Flagg
j. “A Widow for One Year” by John Irving
k. “The Poet” by Michael Connelly
l. “The Women’s History of the World” by Rosalind Miles
m. “A Sight for Sore Eyes” by Ruth Rendell
n. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
o. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
p. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell
q. “The Blue Nowhere” by Jeffrey Deaver
r. “The Stone Diaries” by Carol Shields
s. “High Five” by Janet Evanovich
t. “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil” by John Berendt
u. “Primary Colours” by Anonymous
v. “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory’ by Roald Dahl
w. “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela
x. “On Writing” by Stephen King
y. “Paint it Black” by Janet Fitch
z. “I know this much is true” by Wally Lamb