Author: Ian Stewart
Read Time: 7-8 minutes, 910 words
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That’s right, I’m laying it all out there. This is the motherload, the list most sacred to the heart of every book lover across the globe, one which cannot and should not be undertaken lightly. Truthfully, I have never even contemplated this list, not even mentally, it’s not like all the other lists we share with friends, we’re not rating Star Wars films here, people. This shit matters, for those reading you will be getting a look behind the curtain, a wee peek at the spectre who rattles they keys of his laptop, this is deep, it’s personal, I’m excited to see what makes the Top 5. So, fuck it, here we go.
5 – American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Half of you have closed your browsers already. Easton Ellis? That obnoxious, misogynistic, punk can’t make anybody’s Top 5? Of course he can, and I won’t hear a word against him. To start this list, I had a think back to my teenage years and the novels that made an impact on my life, this was one that really developed my love of reading. As a teenager, I was all about horror, the things that shock, it didn’t matter to me if it was film, literature, art or music. This novel had everything I was looking for, a darkness, horrific scenes of violence, humour, most importantly it opened my eyes to a way writing can be done, it didn’t have to be endless pages of stale words, instead it could be endless pages littered with life, even if it’s pages full of words of a psychopath’s morning routine.
4 – VALIS by Philip K Dick
VALIS was another book that helped me grow into a lover of books, I remember reading it for an English class, this was during a time where education was a secondary thought for me, but I remember reading this novel and just thinking the word “awesome” over and over. I was completely drawn in and loved Horselover Fat as a character, his journey towards insanity, suicide themes and futuristic visions. There’s every chance that this book helped me to scrape by and finish Secondary school, who knows.
3 – Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
There are few writers who can invoke emotion within me the way that Murakami can. He is truly a literary genius who can go from wild fantasies to dark realism and this book is one of his finest with regards to the latter. We are taken on a journey to explore the past, a lifetime of wonder and regret. I’m a sucker for a nostalgia trip and I love Toru Watanabe as a character. This book left me feeling depressed in a wonderful way, (I’m not sure if that makes sense to most people, but it will to some) it’s a novel that left an emotional mark on me for days after reading, it took me a while to face it again because of how powerful the emotional toll was.
2 – Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson
There are few books in the world as perfectly written as this. It felt like it was written just for me, I can’t explain the elation I had when I picked this up, by the end of the first page I was thinking “There you are, I’ve found you at last, this is the book I’ve needed in my life.” It is a beautiful balance of realism mixed with ridiculousness, dark humour mixed with outright comedy, I can safely say it’s the best book involving Junkie’s I’ve ever read (Sorry, Trainspotting) If you’re looking for a collection of stories, as told by a character named “Fuckhead”, a junkie on a detox, then look no further. This book is always close to my side, sometimes I just need to read a few pages, or a single story and it’s enough, other times I read the whole thing front to back and I’m sure I will for the rest of my life. This book is my heroin.
1 – High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The top spot was never in doubt. Rob Fleming is a character who speaks to every down and out fantasist, every music elitist, every self-loathing male on the planet. Unfortunately, I fall into most, if not all the above categories. Rob is not a good person, I’m aware of that, yet he seems so relatable to me. The first time I watched the movie adaptation of this with my wife, she asked me if I had watched it in my youth and decided to base my entire life on Rob. I found myself filled with both pride and shame by this remark, which only seemed to back up her claim. The book eclipses the film for me, with it being set in the U.K I found it even more relatable, Rob’s music tastes do not resonate with me, but his passion and obsession very much does, the writing had me laughing out loud throughout, it’s my go to book whenever I feel like I need cheering up or simply want to unwind like I’m meeting an old friend. It is another book that never travels far from my side.
And that is my Top 5 All Time Favourite Books. To my own surprise, there is no Perks of Being A Wallflower, no Stephen King, no Cormac McCarthy, not even Charles Bukowski! I guess they may have made the Top 10.
Ian Stewart is on Twitter: @GutterKid101