charles palliser :: the quincunx :: the fastest eight hundred pages you will ever read. this story of inheritance in all its forms, set in nineteenth century england is remarkable not just because it is such a compulsive read, but because palliser manages to fold so many mysteries into the story under the guise of just one. the first time i read it, i thought that i had everything figured out, but subsequent readings have revealed more, once i was able to divert my attention from the main storyline. don't be fooled when it seems the answers are very obvious. it's often a ploy to distract you from something else. dickens may have mastered the art of the orphan's tale, but palliser manages to make it just a little more compelling.
thomas pynchon :: the crying of lot 49 :: i don't usually say i have a favourite book, but a lot of people who know me will say this is my favourite book and i do have a tattoo related to it, so it's safe to say that it's pretty high up in the pantheon. pynchon's boundless imagination always makes for a staggering read, and he always makes it seem like there is something holding all the threads together just over the horizon, but this is probably the best example of his world operating at once on levels hilarious and sinister.
umberto eco :: foucault's pendulum :: when i read "the davinci code"i immediately dubbed it "foucault's pendulum for dummies". this is the real history buff's tale of hidden codes and secret societies- in fact it deals in depth with some of the issues dan brown glazes over. because so much of the novel is so dense, it's easy to miss that much of it is dryly humourous, but it's impossible to miss the perfect human-ness of the ending, which haunts me after many years.
franz kafka :: the trial :: truly, the only commentary here should be "duh". the prototype of all twentieth century angst- and paranoia-ridden classics. sure, someone probably forced you to read it in high school, but go back to it as an adult. it probably has more to share with you now.
and if this sort of literature tickles your fancy, might i humbly suggest that you peruse my own little tale- inspired by some of these classics- "a definable moment in time"? it is a work in progress, freshly updated [today!].