Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books from the Last Three Years

Since I haven’t participated in a Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish for awhile, and I’ve been staring blankly at my reviews in draft for the last few days, I thought it might stir the literary juices to participate in this Tuesday’s topic.  My favourite books from the last three years were, surprisingly, not hard to choose.  Well, yes they were, because there were so many of them.  So without further ado ……

1.  Paradise Lost

2.  Homer’s The Iliad (translated by Richard Lattimore)

3.  The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri (translated by John Ciardi)

4.  War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude)

5.  Confessions – Saint Augustine (translated by Garry Wills)

6.  Beowulf (translated by Seamus Heaney)

7.  Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

8.  The Three Theban Plays (Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus & Antigone) – Sophocles (translated by David Green & Richard Lattimore)

9.  The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton

10.  To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf

Honorable Mentions:

The Odyssey – Homer (translated by Richard Lattimore)

The Song of Roland (translated by Dorothy Sayers)

I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Oliver Sacks

33 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books from the Last Three Years

  1. Wow, I knew you enjoyed Paradise Lost but didn't think to such a large degree. Have you read anything else by Milton?

    I am so happy see To the Lighthouse make your top 10. That just made my day. 🙂

  2. Paradise Lost is probably my favourite of all-time so far. I have his Paradise Regained, although I've heard that it's not nearly as good (of course), so I've delayed reading it. I also have Samson Agonistes filed in my brain and I'd like to read some of his poetry.

    To the Lighthouse just squeaked in. I should have included The Odyssey in the top 10, but I figured I'd already given Homer mention and another author should be showcased. But I'm glad to be able to put some brightness and happiness in your otherwise cold day! 😉

  3. Now why am I not surprised? Among all the books I have read, you have listed practically all my favorites, including Paradise Lost, The Iliad and The Odyssey, Pride and Prejudice, House of Mirth, I Capture the Castle and War and Peace (I so do love reading about Tolstoy's Russia)…awesome picks! I have to read The Divine Comedy and Beowulf!

  4. Your extensive posts on Paradise Lost deserve the utmost adoration. The amount of effort you put into them is truly remarkable, it is sure to be helpful to others like myself when tackling this incredibly elaborate poem that can be very challenging to newcomers. I encountered many problems with it the first time and it doesn't hurt to be accompanied with additional material or reading guides to aid the process. That's where your writings come in.

    I remember you read Mrs. Dalloway but didn't know you read To The Lighthouse as well — there was no review. Any chance we'll be seeing one in the not too distant future? 😛

  5. Aw, thanks for your uplifting words! Although I'm a mere amateur compared to you when it comes to analyzing poetry, I love character development and Milton does an stupendous job with Satan. After I finished the poem, I also read C.S. Lewis' lectures on it (A Preface to Paradise Lost) which rounded out a fantastic read and helped me to appreciate it even more. As you see, it was quite a deep reading of the text.

    I liked To The Lighthouse so much that I read it twice in a row. Can you believe it?! No review yet because it was too long ago and with that book, one's initial impressions while reading is what would make a review interesting. I do plan to read it again, so hopefully eventually you'll see something.

  6. Ah ha, soul sister! I'm not surprised either. If you ever read Beowulf, let me know and I'd be happy to read it together. Actually I think Cat (Tell Me A Story) and I were planning to read it this year sometime, if you want to join in. I think I've read it about 5 times now and I love it just as much each time.

  7. Yes, I'm weird, I know. Or perhaps I should say, "unique". I love the cast of characters of The Iliad, I love the deeper look into Greek culture, I love the weaknesses and failings, the struggles, the honour and glory, the helplessness in the hands of fate ……… it is so much like life or part of life, and the insights into it were astounding. Such a "human" book. And when I finished I felt like I knew everyone ….. as if they were old friends (although I haven't quite figured out their genealogy!). My favourite character (well, after Hector) is Sarpedon, so that tells you just how much I got into it.

    I loved The Odyssey too (I probably would have put it at #9 if Homer hadn't already taken a spot). Odysseus is certainly a fascinating character. One never knows quite what to think of him. Yet the poem just didn't resonate with me as much as The Iliad.

    Why do people generally prefer The Odyssey to The Iliad? I take it many people don't like The Iliad because of the battle scenes, so I surmise that's part of the reason. I also think, that with both of these poems, you really need a basic understanding of Greek culture of that time, to really understand the poems, otherwise the actions of characters can be presumed to mean something different than what they actually do. So perhaps a lack of knowledge in this area tips the scales towards one poem instead of the other? What do you think?

  8. Yay Paradise Lost! You've got some book that I find very intimidating on your list, but I love that you've read them and they've made such an impression on you.

  9. I've been meaning to read through all the great classics and this topic was beneficial because it made me realize that I've been reading a number of wonderful classics. They seem "heavyweight" at the time, but after you familiarize yourself with them, they don't seem as intimidating. I hope you're doing well with your classics list!

  10. It's late and but just enough time to look at one of the many posts you've written in the last weeks. I get so wrapped up in my own reading I forget to browse the blogs. This is a ' high octane' list of books! I've read 2 and would only put 1 on my TBR list. You've read some top-notch classics over the years and I offer you my humble compliments.

  11. I like a lot of these books as well. I like the editions of a few of them, too. I have Paradise Lost but not with the Dore illustrations. I do have Dante's trilogy with his illustrations.
    I also have the Seamus Heaney translation of Beowolf. Mine has the photos of artifacts and Nordic scenes.

  12. I'm now curious as to the 2 you've read and the 1 on the TBR. I was actually surprised myself at the depth I've covered over the last few years. I hope to keep it up!

  13. I love Dore but I don't have editions with his illustrations, sadly. I'll have to keep an eye out for them. I think I have the engravings separately in a compilation of Dore's illustrations.

    Oh my! I have two Heaney Beowulf's but not the edition with photos. Yikes, I may have to splurge and get one, even though I don't really need it. Thanks for the inadvertent temptation, Sharon! 😉

  14. I've been thinking about getting some books by Oliver Sacks for my 15yr olds science reading. Would you recommend this one?
    Uncle Tungsten is another but I haven't read either.

  15. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat would be an excellent choice. Sacks combines a knowledge of medicine, yet a willingness to step outside of the box to look at more unusual treatments. He also advocates a whole person treatment instead of the specialization that breaks someone up into body parts (my words, not his). I also love the caring spirit with which he treats his patients. Apparently he is dying of cancer right now, so I'd like to read some more of his works as a tribute to him. Other than this book I've read Hallucinations, which I wasn't that thrilled with but I've heard Awakenings is great and Musicophilia interests me.

    On another scientific note, your son might enjoy, The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean. It contained many different anecdotal stories based on science and was quite a fun read!

  16. Great list! Some of these I love, and some I'm planning on re-reading because of your previous posts. And the ones I haven't read I'll have to read soon 🙂 I'm looking forward to The Song of Roland, but I'm still quite scared of Sophocles!

    I keep seeing I Capture the Castle and I always say "I must re-read that soon". But I must! Soon! 😀

  17. @Ruth

    On a completely unrelated note, do you know your blog has been acting funny. When I went to look at it the other day it wanted me to sign-in with my google email account before I could even view it. When I tried to view it today, it lets me view your posts fine, but when I click on the comments of a specific post it does the same thing (wanting me to sign-in to my Google email account).

  18. I think it's easier to relate to a quest about going home and the different episodes make for more variety, whereas the Iliad I felt can get bogged down in repetitive battle scenes that are too similar to each other. I suspect this might be why people might prefer the Odyssey to the Iliad, although this just may be why I prefer the Odyssey to the Iliad.

    I've noticed I have trouble with long back-and-forth battles. So not only the Iliad, but I also had trouble keeping engaged with works like All Quiet on the Western Front.

  19. Most of the books in this list intimidate me,as I'm more into modern classics.Didn't you have any problem dealing with the verses in Beowulf,Illiad and The Odyssey? And what exactly makes them some of your favourite books?

    I will definitely read War&Peace in the near future.I guess I will go through Tolstoy's tales first.And I'm glad you included The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.I'm sad that he's got less than 9 months to live.

    – Kainzow

  20. I like the Top Ten Tuesday meme too–and it's been awhile for me as well. I also really liked Richard Lattimore's translations of the Homer epics. A translation can make or break the enjoyment of a work and his are so accessible but still feel authentic.

    I loved House of Mirth too–Wharton is becoming one of my favorite American authors. I haven't read anything by her yet that I didn't really like.

    Was that your first reading of P&P?

    I confess that I struggle with Virginia Woolf–I listened to To the Lighthouse because I find my mind wanders when I try to read her, but I still struggled to really enjoy the book.

    Great list–I enjoyed seeing what made your list!

  21. Great list. Milton's Paradise Lost is one I have been putting off for years, but need to get to it. I know I won't regret it and will wonder why it took me so long. Also I've been wanting to read I Capture the Castle. I know that is going to be a delight. Thanks as always for sharing your magnificent book knowledge!

  22. Don't be scared of Sophocles! I think you'll find him quite easy to read with some fascinating themes. He's just chock full of ideas.

    I love reading I Capture the Castle in summer. I may try for a re-read then.

  23. I didn't have problems with the verses but I also read much of them aloud. I try to do that with all poetry and drama as it gives a better understanding. There's a great audio book of Beowulf read by Seamus Heaney (it's abridged, but I just paused and read the missing parts myself). I loved The Iliad because it really gave a good look into Greek culture. It resonated with both the strengths and weakens of man and it was quite poignant. Beowulf gave unusual insight into a character that perhaps begins a whole new cultural mindset. Beowulf's actions are often counter-culture and it was interesting to see this. The Odyssey is usually everyone's favourite but I still enjoy The Iliad more. However Odysseus' journey home and the people he meets is a fun romp through the world of ancient Greece.

  24. Hi Jane and welcome! Sorry it's take me awhile to respond. I'm a firm Lattimore fan too. His translations communicate the grandeur of the poems so well.

    And we are in sync with The House of Mirth too!? Excellent!

    I'm reading P&P again this coming month and I think it will be my fifth reading. It's my favourite Austen novel.

    I loved To The Lighthouse. Perhaps it was its setting or somehow I just connected with the characters …….? I still haven't pinpointed exactly why I loved it. I wonder because much of the other Woolf novels I've read have left me kind of "meh!" I'm going to read The Voyage Out soon and we'll see what comes of it.

    Thanks for stopping by! I'll be checking out your blog!

  25. My guess is that you'd love Paradise Lost, Carol. I'm even anticipating your post on it! 🙂 And I Capture the Castle is so delightful! And so unique. I can't think of a book that compares to it.

    You're so welcome. I feel that we all learn from each other. All of you are always filling in gaps in my literary knowledge as well, and inspiring me. You've made me want to pick up some of Tolstoy's religious writings …… I've always suspected that he's a law unto himself, which I think translates as a religion unto himself …. I'd like to find out!

  26. Love to re-read my comments about this 'high-octane' list! Still only read 2 of the books…reading House of Mirth (as we speak), Confessions is on the table next to Thebean plays. It is a long summer and I want to read more books on this list. (except Dodie Smith 🙁

  27. Oh fun, and what a great idea to take another's list and read it! I absolutely loved the writing in The House of Mirth! One of my favourites!

    Confessions is difficult. It really needs a number of reads to really grasp, especially the last part. I encourage you to simply take what you can get out of it the first time 'round. So much depth there.

    Happy reading!

  28. Started Wharton's House of Mirth…already impressed "captured dryad, wild-wood grace, streak of sylvan freedom." Wharton is a class apart, what a talent! Re-read is not in my vocabualary so I will do as suggested and glean what I can out of Confessions. I'll start Theban plays after I finish 'The Secret life of Plays". Must get back to reading..!

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you and have you join in the discussion!