A few weeks ago I attended an evening in London hosted by Penguin publishers. The aim of the night was to introduce bloggers to some of their authors and to highlight the new Penguin Essentials series. Several bloggers have already posted about the event, so if you’d like to know what we got up to take a look at their informative posts.
The Penguin Essentials are some of the twentieth-century’s most important books. When they were first published they changed the way we thought about literature and about life. And they have remained vital reading ever since.
The Penguin Essentials collection covers books published in the twentieth-century, but Penguin challenged the bloggers present to come up with a list of the most important books published in the last decade.
Here are the books I chose:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
This book brought the difficulties of autism to the attention of the general public for the first time. Its simplicity and charm will ensure that it remains one of the most important fictional books about autism.
Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi
Life as a parent is hard. Life as a single parent is even harder. This book is an powerful reminder that tragedy can occur if we do not do more to look after vulnerable members of our society. Those who have read it will not forget it.
The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell
This book will be remembered for its graphic depictions of the Holocaust, but it is also a stark reminder of how easily normal people can be persuaded to commit atrocities. It is hard to imagine a more comprehensive book on Holocaust perpetrators ever being written.
This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun
This book is proof that human beings can survive in almost unimaginable conditions. It will always be one of the definitive books about imprisonment.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
I really hope that this book dates quickly and becomes an intriguing insight into cultural differences at the beginning of the 21st century, but whether this happens or not, this book will always be a clever reminder that the way you see a story depends upon your preconceived ideas.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
The overbearing feeling of responsibility and fear that a parent feels is seldom mentioned, but the difficult relationship between a mother and child is exceptionally well described in this book. I think that mothers will connect with this story for many years to come.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
The Holocaust is so disturbing that many people avoid reading about it. This book tackles the subject in a simple, but effective way and allows the topic to be introduced to a younger generation.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Graphic novels have become increasingly popular recently and this is the finest example from the last decade. It gives a personal and political insight into life in Iran and I can only see it becoming more widely read as graphic novels become more mainstream.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Organ failure will become an increasing problem for the elderly as science finds a cure to many of the other diseases of old age. Never Let Me Go raises many of the issues that our society might face as it progresses and so I think it will become an increasingly important text.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The relationship between a father and son is rarely investigated in literature, but this book gives a moving insight into the strong bond that exists between the two. It is also shows how the human survival instinct remains strong even whilst battling the harshest of conditions.
I won the competition and was the lucky recipient of the entire Penguin Essentials series.
I hope to be able to let you know what some of them are like in the near future. Which book from the Essentials series would you like me to read first?
Which books published in the last decade do you think are the most important of the last decade?