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Top 5's: Literature

25/09/2013 11:29 BST | Updated 24/11/2013 10:12 GMT

Top 5 unexposed, lesser-known reads:

1)Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse, 1929 - An engaging novel recommended to me by a friend. It chronicles the day to day life and thoughts of the protagonist, Harry Haller. Continually denouncing the bourgeois society, this book is an existentialist whirlwind of split minds and unresolvable demise.

2)Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar, 1963 - With two separate ways to read this book, it epitomises the Latin American labyrinth structure of both their writing and their history. A true counter-novel, written by another of Paris' 1920's bohemian wanderers with an unequivocal contempt for society.

3) The Savage Detectives by Robert Bolaño, 1998 - A frenetic novel, always on the move and always beautifully written. The book is scattered with different writers, artists, and unspecified characters, all relevant in untying this fast-paced bohemian work of art. Often referred to as the novel Borges would have written.

4)The interrogation by J.M.G. Le Clézio, 1963 - Another great novel working on the stream-of-conciousness ideas and the strong reality of solitary living. Its protagonist, Adam Pollo, lives a bare existence, alone and with no money. Consequently his mind works overtime and the result, a magnificent feat by Le Clézio, a captivating tunnel of self-examination.

5) An Area of Darkness by V.S. Naipaul, 1964 - A novel that blurs the lines between exile and disrespect for your ancestral land. This is the the true contradiction of negative beauty. Illuminating a deep contempt on his first visit back to India, this beautiful, descriptive travelogue has sparked controversy nationwide in India.

Top 5 essential reads:

1) In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, 1966 - A quintessential American novel. The perfect fusion of journalism and creative writing. The story of a Kansas murder is depicted in this long journey of investigative journalism and inflamed passion. Capote's scrupulous writing, meticulous detail and sympathy he expresses for the two culprits are just a couple of reasons why this book is an all time favourite of mine.

2)One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, 1967 - A magical realism masterpiece. A complex insight into the political background of Latin America. Márquez's ability to merge fantasy with reality permeates this profound novel that takes us through seven generations of family life in Macondo, a fictional microcosm of Colombia. The language is rich in inventive fluidity and encompasses all of García Márquez's themes into one book. A Latin American classic.

3)Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, 1971 - Another great blend of journalistic observation and inventive writing. As the subtitle indicates, this book takes us on a savage journey to the heart of the American dream. Hunter's wild sense of drug-fuelled adventure, along with his ability to form cohesive, emotive sentences, manages to dissect America of all its values. A pioneer of Gonzo Journalism, this book searches for justice and sanity.

4)The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre, 1945 - An existentialist tour de force, Sartre finds meaning through his seemingly apathetic protagonist, Mathieu, and the other ordinary characters portrayed in the book. The lack of exciting plot leaves focus on the thoughts of everyday people and the troubles they come across. A though-provoking book.

5)The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, 1951 - A genius in descriptive simplicity, Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea is a novella focusing on the protagonist's, Santiago, long-enduring battle with an indefatigable marlin. Additionally, it centres on his relationship with Manolin, a young, loyal apprentice who has every faith that Santiago can defy the odds by catching a fish. A remarkable and understated book.