Monday, August 6, 2012
My Favorite Books of Fiction
1. Macau by Daniel Carney
It was illegal to import gold into Hong Kong; so the "snake boat man" did. One of the characters, Udo, is my all time favorite character in any novel. The hero, however, is very heroic.
I find it hard to express my opinion of this novel in words, its not written particularly well, its not a dramatic adventure, etc. but despite that it is without a doubt my favorite novel.
I think its out of print.
2. Taiko by Eiji Yoshikawa
3. Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa
At one time I thought that James Clavell's Asian Saga where very good novels of the far east. Taiko and Musashi blow that saga away. These are Japanese novels written by a Japanese man, as opposed to James Clavell's books.
Taiko and Musashi are historical fiction. That means that they are fictionalized versions of true stories with invented stories filling in the parts that are unknown to history.
If you want to read one I suggest Musashi because it is more of a story than Taiko. Taiko is a story but many people might find it slow to read because of the strategy used to conquer Japan. The dust jacket says Musashi is the "gone with the wind of the far east." I once even heard that the Japanese kamikaze pilots in WWII read Musashi prior to flying to improve their spirit before heading into battle.
Musashi is about one of Japan's greatest swordsmen and his life until one of his most important battles. It was even turned into several movies, this version stares Toshiro Mifune and is good but I hear that another version is better.
Taiko is about one of the 5 men regarded as Japan's greatest. He rose from obscurity to rule all of Japan. He also made my list of personnel heroes.
They are big books, but once you start reading then they are not long enough.
The Heike Story, by the same author, is good but I don't think it compares to either of the other two.
5. Jian by Eric van Lustbader
Jian is yet another novel that takes place in the far east. Jian is about the person who would have been one of the most important in Chinese history, were this not a novel, and his son.
One of the things that appears in all of Eric van Lustbader's books, that I have read is that they all have at least two story lines, which are mixed together. The first part of a chapter may take place in the present with one character, the next part may be about another character 40 years ago, then the first character 10 years ago, etc. It sounds confusing, but I'd often get to the end of one part and then want to read more about that story, and when I get to the end of the next part I'd want to read more of that story instead, and so on. It is a very interesting style and it is very well done. I learn more about the story each time that I read it.
The main character becomes something like the number 2 to Chairman Mao, and this guy directs the course of China by helping to turn it communist so that it will unify, and then move it towards the freedom and success of Hong Kong. And this character passes off his control to his son.
It is a very interesting story, well written, and almost gets better every time I read it. Even were I to open it to a random page I would be fascinated and want to continue and re read it again.
6. Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett
This is one of those throwaway junk novels, but fir whatever reason I really like the story and writing.
It is historical fiction and takes place in England during WWII. Some English historians get drafted to hunt down a German spy who has critical war information.
7. Shan by Eric van Lustbader
8. Black Heart by Eric van Lustbader
9. The Miko by Eric van Lustbader
These books, and others, by this author have good stories, writing, and are very exiting, but I like Jian a whole lot more.
These all take place in the far east. Shan is a squeal to Jian. There is also a series following the main character Nicolas Linnear. The series starts with The Ninja, The Miko, White Ninja, and apparently some newer books that I was unaware of, but I will read shortly.
These are all good books; a bit above the junk paperbacks that you get anywhere.
10. Emma by Jane Austen
This is one of the novels written by Jane Austen, who was famous for writing Pride and Prejudice. These sorts of books aren't really my thing, but I can really appreciate why someone would like Jane Austen. I needed to try quite hard at first to continue reading, but I got into it after a while.
Her books are among the few classics that I have actually liked; along with Robinson Crusoe, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories about Sherlock Holmes.
I would say that Pride and Prejudice and Emma are Austen's best works, but all are at least okay. It could be that I prefer Emma only because I like "Emma" better than the main characters in her other books.