This week’s top ten theme over at ThatArtsyReaderGirl is a freebie, and as I dealt with my allergies followed by now my poor teen who is home sick for the past couple of days, my blog took a back seat. While we are both still recovering, I finally gave this freebie a thought. I had a couple of drafts from earlier but somehow they seemed like too much work too, and when I realized that December 10th is Nobel Prize Day, I knew I had a theme I could work with! So here are ten (well, plus a couple more) wonderful books by Nobel Prize authors to read. I have read some of the authors while a few others have been on my mind for a while. As for the rest, I added them because I
think know I need to broaden my horizons some more.
Note: I selected one random book by each Nobel Prize winning author for the list below. The year in the bracket indicates the year they were awarded the prize. The link for the author’s name in the headings will take you to the author information page on the Nobel Prize website. Book links and author links within the text will either take you to Goodreads, online digital libraries which host the book (like archive.org), or to other posts on my blog about the author and their books. My own thoughts or comments about the author and their books are followed by the description of the selected read from other sources (in quotes).
Ten Wonderful Books by Nobel Prize Authors To Read
The Puck Books by Rudyard Kipling (1907)
Kipling is one of the authors on this list that I have read before. I enjoyed The Jungle Book and his Just So Stories. But I only recently learned about the Puck books, including Puck of Pook’s Hill, and Rewards and Fairies.
“Puck of Pook’s Hill is a fantasy book by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1906, containing a series of short stories set in different periods of English history.”
The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf (1909)
I have not read Lagerlof and picked her for this list because she was the first women to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. This book, according to the description in the digital edition, was written for use in schools as “supplementary reading,” and the story sounds interesting! You can read it here.
“Written at the request of Swedish school authorities and first published in 1906, it is the enchanting and remarkably original tale of Nils Holgersson, a mischievous boy of 14 who is changed by an elf into a tiny being able to understand the speech of birds and animals.”
Choker Bali by Rabindranath Tagore (1913)
Tagore is a beloved author from my childhood. I fell in love with his style when I first read Kabuliwala which was included in a Hindi textbook from elementary school. Over the years, I read other short stories as well; and of course, one of the first songs everyone memorizes growing up in India is the nation’s national anthem, in this case, Tagore’s beautifully penned Jana Gana Mana. However, I am yet to read his novels (for some reason) so I am starting with Chokher Bali.
“One of the most famous novels of Tagore and a timeless classic of Bengali literature. First published as a serial, a novel on love, family and sexuality in Bengal society.”
It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (1930)
I simply had to pick this read by this previously unread author (for me). Do you know of this book? If you have read it, do give me your thoughts on the same. I am looking forward to reading this book whose description is sure to tempt many readers.
“It Can’t Happen Here is a cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America. Written during the Great Depression when America was largely oblivious to Hitler’s aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a President who becomes a dictator to “save the nation.””
Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck (1938)
I read Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth ages ago, seems like on another timeline now! And more recently, I read a couple of her short stories including The Old Demon. While I never got around to reading the other two books in her House of Earth trilogy (to be honest, I did not know that The Good Earth was book 1), I decided to pick Pavilion of Women as my next Buck read.
“At forty, Madame Wu is beautiful and much respected as the wife of one of China’s oldest upper-class houses. Her birthday wish is to find a young concubine for her husband and to move to separate quarters, starting a new chapter of her life. When her wish is granted, she finds herself at leisure, no longer consumed by running a sixty-person household. Now she’s free to read books previously forbidden her, to learn English, and to discover her own mind. The family in the compound are shocked at the results, especially when she begins learning from a progressive, excommunicated Catholic priest.”
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot (1948)
I read Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which turned out to be a delightfully f(el)ine read, a few years ago. And while I had planned to read more by him, I never did, so now it is high time for me to do so.
Do you have any suggestions for me? As of now, I am considering The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
The Fall by Albert Camus (1957)
“Jean-Baptiste Clamence, a successful Parisian barrister, has come to recognize the deep-seated hypocrisy of his existence. His epigrammatic and, above all, discomforting monologue gradually saps, then undermines, the reader’s own complacency.”
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (1962)
It took me a long while to get to Steinbeck, long after I moved to his home state, just an hour’s drive away from his home town. Every time we drove down to Monterey and I walked along Cannery Row, I thought to myself, “I need to read the book.” And while I finally read Of Mice and Men as well as The Grapes of Wrath when my son was reading it for school, Cannery Row remained unread. So now is the time!
“Cannery Row is a book without much of a plot. Rather, it is an attempt to capture the feeling and people of a place, the cannery district of Monterey, California, which is populated by a mix of those down on their luck and those who choose for other reasons not to live “up the hill” in the more respectable area of town.”
I Explain a Few Things by Pablo Neruda (1971)
So I did read Neruda, or his Ode to My Socks a few years ago. Given my love of poetry, I do need to get to reading more of Neruda. Hence, I Explain a Few Things is my pick. But if you have other suggestions, please do let me know.
“This bilingual selection of more than fifty of Neruda’s best poems, edited and with an introduction by the distinguished Latin American scholar Ilan Stavans and brilliantly translated by an array of well-known poets, also includes some poems previously unavailable in English. I Explain a Few Things distills the poet’s brilliance to its most essential and illuminates Neruda’s commitment to using the pen as a calibrator for his age.”
The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz (1988)
I had not heard of Naguib Mahfouz until I went looking for the Nobel Prize winners list; and now I want to read his books. Have you read any books by him? All the books in the Cairo trilogy sounds like must-reads. I hope to get started with the first one titled Palace Walk early next year.
“Volume I of the masterful Cairo Trilogy. A national best-seller in both hardcover and paperback, it introduces the engrossing saga of a Muslim family in Cairo during Egypt’s occupation by British forces in the early 1900s.”
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1993)
I really hoped to read Toni Morrison by now, especially since my son had to read The Bluest Eye last year as part of his high school required reading. Maybe before my daughter gets to her senior year?!
“What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child’s yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Toni Morrisons’s most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.”
A House for Mr Biswas by Sir V.S. Naipaul (2001)
This book has been on my TBR for a long time. I added it to a TBR top ten a little over ten years ago here, and Naipaul remains unread. On the other hand, I have actually finished reading all the other books on this specific TBR (YAY!). But now, it is time for A House for Mr. Biswas.
“Mohun Biswas has spent his 46 years of life striving for independence. Shuttled from one residence to another after the drowning of his father, he yearns for a place he can call home. He marries into the Tulsi family, on whom he becomes dependent, but rebels and takes on a succession of occupations in a struggle to weaken their hold over him.”
Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: 13 Stories by Alice Munro (2013)
I am not sure if I have read any of Munro’s short stories. I might have, and now simply can’t recall it. Either ways, Munro has been an author I have been meaning to read for a long time as well. While I am not sure of which book I should start with, I randomly selected Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: 13 Stories.
“In the thirteen stories in her remarkable second collection, Alice Munro demonstrates the precise observation, straightforward prose style, and masterful technique that led no less a critic than John Updike to compare her to Chekhov. The sisters, mothers and daughters, aunts, grandmothers, and friends in these stories shimmer with hope and love, anger and reconciliation, as they contend with their histories and their present, and what they can see of the future.”
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (2017)
I watched the movie based on this book years ago and loved it. I did not realize then that it was based on a book else I would have looked for it at the time. Now that I know of it (only earlier this year), I am eagerly looking forward to reading the book first and then watching the movie once again. So here is to reading The Remains of the Day. (and I am yet to read Ishiguro!)
“In the summer of 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper.”
Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah (2021)
Finally, here is 2021’s Nobel Prize Laureate, Abdulrazak Gurnah. He was unknown to me before this, unfortunately for me. So another attempt to broaden my reading is his Gravel Heart.
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, which of these books by Nobel Prize authors have you read? Do you have any other suggestions for books by Nobel Prize authors? Any thoughts about any of the books/authors? I would love to hear any and all comments, suggestions, and thoughts in general!