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Your Guide to ‘the Best Books of all Time’

With exams coming to an end, and Cumbria seeing weather upwards of 30°C, you may find that you want nothing more than to lay in the sun with a good book.

Maybe BookTok has inspired you, maybe you’ve always loved reading but just never had the time - we’ve compiled a list of 5 of the ‘best books ever’.

1. Shogun, by James Clavell.

If you read this book, you will spend the rest of your life trying to find another one like it;

you will fail’. -u/nmtbf08

If you’re into: war novellas, politics, history

Plot: Shōgun tells the story of English pilot John Blackthorne. Blackthorne is in charge of five Dutch ships whose purpose is to break the Portuguese monopoly on Japanese trade.

Instead, he becomes embroiled in Japanese politics as Lord Toranaga Yoshi employs him as his secret weapon.

2. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

‘THIS is the story that has all the Marquez trademarks people talk about. It's funny, it's endlessly sad, it speaks of people and time. Immediately grabs you and pulls you in’.

If you’re into: history, sob-your-heart-out romance films

Plot: Love in the Time of Cholera is a timeless novel that explores the power of love, and how it can withstand the test of time.

Set in Colombia, the novel follows the story of a love triangle between Florentino Ariza, Fermina Daza, and Dr. Juvenal Urbino, and how Florentino's love for Fermina endures over fifty years, even though they are separated for most of that time.

This novel is a moving and poetic masterpiece that will leave you captivated until the very end.

3. Catch 22, by Joseph Heller

‘It perfectly captures the absurdity of war and bureaucracy while managing to detail the lives of the most over-the-top, complex characters. It hits home in so many ways. Heller will drive you to tears, and I've never loved a book so much in my life.’ - u/skytram22

If you’re into: satire, political commentary, dark comedy

Plot: Catch-22 is a satirical novel that follows the story of Captain John Yossarian and his experiences during World War II. The novel is a commentary on the absurdity of war and bureaucracy, and how it can drive people to madness.

It explores the human condition and the insanity of war in a darkly humorous and thought-provoking way.

4. The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa

Reading this book, you’ll question your very existence and our place in this world - Fayyadh Jaafar

If you’re into: philosophy, poetry, introspection

Plot: The Book of Disquiet is a collection of fragments and musings by the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa, written under the pseudonym Bernardo Soares.

The book is a meditation on the human condition, exploring themes of loneliness, alienation, and the search for meaning. It is a haunting and poetic work that captures the essence of the human experience in a profound and beautiful way.

5. Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley

This, aside from Atonement, is my favourite book ever. It’s long, and tedious at times, but so incredibly written and thought-provoking. If you can get your hands on the original 1818 edition, it is so much more engaging (somehow) than the later edition.

I own six different copies. - Caysie

If you’re into: science, philosophy, science-fiction (Frankenstein is actually the first science fiction novel)

Plot: Based on a dream after losing her infant child, Mary Shelley tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, who tells his story to Robert Walton.

Told in three different perspectives, this story details nobility, societal hierarchies, and the dangers of trying to play God when one young scientist attempts to rid humanity of its greatest weakness: death.

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