Khaled Hosseini's Ten Favorite Books
by Arundhati Roy
A hypnotic novel about damaged people and forbidden love. The writing is as lush as the landscape, the imagery rich (see the opening page), and the array of characters unforgettable. The use of language -- such as the children's lingo, which runs throughout the narrative, or the use of nouns as verbs and adjectives as nouns -- was brilliant, and the metaphors will always stay with me: A man's muscular stomach is a slab of chocolate; a bitter, divorced woman gazes at her wedding picture and thinks that applying her makeup that day had been "like polishing firewood."
by Mary Shelley
With daily news about our rapidly advancing biomedical technology and reports of humans already cloned, I lately find myself thinking of this great novel (which I first read in high school), and the questions it raises on the perils of unattended scientific creation and the manipulation of nature.
by George Orwell
I have always loved this fable-like, allegorical little novel, written about what happened in Russia in the early 20th century but still so relevant in today's world, where still far too many totalitarian regimes oppress people while claiming benevolent intentions.
The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck
This story of the Joad clan and the hardships suffered by oppressed migrant laborers in the 1930s still resonates with me today as much as it did when I first read it in high school. The theme of the exploitation and oppression of dispossessed people appeals to me, and I think the final scene of selfless sacrifice -- Rose of Sharon breastfeeding the dying man in the barn -- is the most haunting final scene I have ever read.
I Know This Much Is True
by Wally Lamb
Troubled love between brothers, regret, overpowering fathers, and the human need for redemption and freedom from the burden of one's own past are themes that I also felt compelled to explore in The Kite Runner, and it is no wonder that I admire this daunting (at 900-plus pages) but enthralling novel by Wally Lamb.
by Vladimir Nabokov
This book can be as highbrow as it can be vulgar and obscene. I love books with marginal characters as protagonists, as Nabokov gets us to, if not like, at least empathize with Humbert.
Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
Destined to be a classic. From the very beginning -- including the so-called Author's Note -- to the conclusion, nothing is what it seems in this book. Or is it? An astounding statement on the nature of faith and how far we will go to find it.
by Jeffrey Eugenides
This is an enchanting novel about, among many other things, the meaning of identity. It took Eugenides nine years to write this book, and every minute was worth it. This is the kind of book that brings other writers dangerously close to simply giving up.
by Jim Crace
Two dead bodies on a beach make for an unforgettable and unsentimental look at death. One of the bravest premises ever for a novel.
The Rubbayiat of Omar Khayyam
I used to memorize his irresistible quatrains as a child:
Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies; One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies; The Flower that once has blown forever dies.