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  • Bill Chastain

Favorite Novels

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Though cliche, that’s the way I view the judging of novels–Subjective City and totally up to the individuals who take the time to read them–there is no right or wrong. Thus, I’m not saying these are the best novels. After all, who am to judge? Just saying these are my Top 10 favorite novels.

Person_reading_a_book1. Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy

I consider this literature, but it moves like a Gresham novel. I like Conroy’s other books, too, but this, in my opinion, is his best to date.

2. Summer of ’42, by Herman Raucher

The time when I first read a novel can impact how I feel about that novel. That’s certainly the case with Raucher’s masterpiece. I first read “The Summer of 42” in the summer of ’73 when I was experiencing much of what is going on in the lives of the young men in the story. Re-reading the book since, the story now resonates in a poignant, bittersweet way.

3. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The story is set in Barcelona in the 1950s and deals with a youngster who first became obsessed with an obscure novel at the age of 10. As the youngster grows older, his fascination with the author of the novel leads him in all directions. Those twists and turns in the plot, along with Zafon’s writing style, make this one of those books where I’m jealous of anybody I see reading it for the first time.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

I’ve loved this book since first reading and studying it in an English class at Plant High. The coming-of-age story is set in the South, and told through the eyes of Scout, a young girl, who gets to see her father fight prejudice in the courtroom. A compelling read.

5. Texasville, by Larry McMurtry

Funny how McMurtry changed protagonist in his series following “The Last Picture Show.” Most readers would have thought Sonny would continue to be the main character, but Duane became the guy. I could totally relate to his character on many fronts, which prompted me to read all of the books in the series.

6. Shane, by Jack Shaefer

Shane shows up to town looking to become a quiet man. But the capabilities that allowed him to exist in a dark past force him to confront the unsavory characters in the town where he sought solace. To me this is literature with a tragic western hero.

7. Rich Man, Poor Man, by Irwin Shaw

A sprawling saga about the Jordache family that spans World War II through Vietnam. Brothers travel different paths and their stories make one question the definition of success. Great characters.

8. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caulfield is a teenager and an angry young man. His voice rails against the conventional in a classic smart-ass tone. This one is considered a classic. I’d have to agree.

9. The Crystal Cave, Mary Stewart

Here’s another one that I enjoyed from the first time I was forced to read it in high school to the other times I’ve read it since. Merlin is a fabulous character who accomplishes things through common sense, magic, or both. I enjoyed this one so much that I have read, and re-read the entire series.

10. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

I always heard this was a novel I would never forget. Still, I never read the classic until three years ago because I’d seen the movie countless time. Like most books that are made into movies, “Gone with the Wind” the book trumps “Gone with the Wind” the movie. Particularly when getting inside the heads of Rhett and Scarlett. I still say Ashley Wilkes is a wimp.

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