18 October, 2015

The Best Book I've Ever Read

Photo from Wikipedia.
The other day I saw a quotation from The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Straight away I thought to myself, That was the best book I ever read. This startled me. Had you asked me what the best book I've ever read was, I would've told you that it was impossible to choose. And yet my subconcious appears to have made a decision to nominate the 1989 Booker Prize Winner on its own.

If we had discussed this topic without my subconcious getting involved, I probably would've mentioned lots of books which I admire greatly. There would've been the well-deserved classics (A Tale of Two Cities, Emma, 1984, The Grapes of Wrath), the modern sensations (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Room, One Day, Gone Girl) and the books that have caught my imagination at various ages (The Secret Garden, The Stand, The Eyre Affair). I might even mention books by authors like Agatha Christie, who is most emphatically NOT the best author I've ever read, but who I adore anyway. None of them, however, would be THE best book I've ever read. I'm not even sure what that means. What do you think?

Do you have one book you consider the best book you've ever read? What would make you give a book that accolade? Here are some suggestions of criteria, please add your own!

  • a book that changed your outlook on life
  • a book that made you actively do something
  • a book that made you cry
  • a book you remember vividly years after reading it
  • a book you re-read time and again
  • a book that you share with all your friends

The Remains of the Day doesn't fit any of these criteria for me - except perhaps remembering it well, although it's only a couple of years since I read it. I was just blown away by the simplicity, the tragic beauty of the story. Have you read it?

This whole train of thought reminded me of a series I did on the blog once, where guest authors wrote about a book that meant something special to them. Among the authors mentioned were Enid Blyton, CS Lewis and Geore RR Martin. I'd love to do some more blog posts in this series, so please let me know if you'd be willing to contribute. The title would be 'The Book...' and you can finish it any way you like ('... I couldn't put down' / '... I'll pass on to my children' / '... that got me through tough times' etc.) You can check out this one by Roanna Price as an example.

In the meantime, I'd love to know what you think the best book you've ever read is!


  1. Remains of the Day is certainly up there for me. It's so subtle - hardly anything 'happens' yet it's such a powerful story. I know it's a boringly predictable answer, but Lord of the Rings remains my favourite. For me it was more like going on a magical journey/adventure than reading a book. What I can appreciate now but couldn't when I first read it was that Tolkein was almost single-handedly creating (recreating?) an English mythology to compensate for that void in our culture when compared to Celts and others.

    And I'd love to contribute to your new series!

  2. At the end of the day, Remains of the Day remains one of the best books I've read to date.


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