A book I would recommend to an aspiring doctor. It is the best portrayal of sickness and suffering I have ever read — minutely observed, difficult and still true a century and a quarter later.
The best new work of fiction I have read this year was Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant. I am more enthralled than I have been by a book in a long time. Profound meditation on memory.
I was still too young to drive a car when I read James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room.” The concept of a devastating and doomed love story — one that was also modern — hadn’t occurred to me. I thought nothing would ever compare to “Romeo and Juliet,” but Baldwin’s story of “the night that is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life” became the saddest love story I know.
This is the best love story I’ve ever read. I love virtually everything Carey writes. His books are full of eccentrics and cranks and a distinctively Australian mythology and humor. The story — he is an English clergyman, she is the Australian owner of a glassworks, and they are both secretly inveterate gamblers — is beautifully strange and tender, even though they are doomed. Carey provides some of the best evidence I know that it is possible to be both serious and funny.
A sequel to his amazing novel Blindness. Saramago is not easy to read. He punctuates mostly with commas, doesn’t paragraph often, doesn’t set off conversation in quotes; mannerisms I wouldn’t endure in a lesser writer; but Saramago is worth it. More than worth it. Transcendently worth it. Blindness scared me to death when I started it, but it rises wonderfully out of darkness into the light. Seeing goes the other way and is a very frightening book.
One of the best novels I’ve read in a long while.
Within the computer field, there are classical books I still find impressive, like Snow Crash. That was really ten years ahead of its time. It kind of anticipated what’s going to happen, and I find that really interesting.
My favourite novel? The classic one I always give is Lord of the Rings. If you want something a little more intellectual, it’s probably The Master and Margarita where the devil shows up in Stalinist Russia, and succeeds, and gives everybody what they want, and everything goes haywire. It’s hard, because no one believes he’s real.