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TheBookchemist

The Bookchemist

Literary Booktuber releasing book reviews, literary tops & charts and a variety of literary extravaganza. Especially fond of contemporary American fiction (read Infinite Jest, people!)

The Sense of an Ending [VideoReview]

The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes

Old people telling the story of their lives are rarely so skilled and interesting. An awesome read if you don't mind that it takes itself uber-seriously.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJ4InL1Lg-0

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon

An amazingly entertaining novel whose majestic architecture, believable characters and supreme atmosphere make the book's flaws that more annoying.
Still, an incredible achievement, and a must-read for everyone who enjoys novels that defy the boundaries of genres. Or comic books. Or great historical contextualizing. Just read the thing, ok?

Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest is a wonderfully circular, majestically fragmented, wildly ambitious literary triumph. It's the most astonishing expression of maximalism to be found in form of novel, with its vivid, neurotic, higly-energetic style, its nervous humor and absurd descriptions. It's an addictive book, an incredible story of self-liberation and self-imprisoning. Massively entertaining and rewarding and sad and beautiful, it is by far the best book I've ever read.

Video-Review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snnvbKyPrzQ

On the Beach - Nevil Shute

Every major world leader should keep this book beneath his pillow. A splendid triumph of lyrical sadness, possibly the most delicate take on nuclear war ever written. Able to discuss complex matters of geopolitics and history with a very natural, very quiet honesty, it is one of the most disturbing books you'll ever read - and basically features no disturbing scene whatsoever.

Featured in my Top 7 Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic Novels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFZjpbhDAGw
Featured in my Top 5 Disturbing Novels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE3O_YaI3gQ

Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon

As massively bleak, confusing, tricky, hostile and disgusting as it is, Gravity's Rainbow stands out as one of the most complete, majestic and ambitious books ever written, a masterpiece of narrative architecture, a feast of literary extravaganza, a black philosophical declaration on humankind and history. Had nuclear war actually broken out in the 70's, this would have been the perfect epitaph for our race.

Featured in my Top 5 Disturbing Novels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE3O_YaI3gQ

Zeno's Conscience - Italo Svevo, William Weaver A few other books can talk about the Modern man, about human life in the 20th century - and way beyond that - with such masterful balance between plot and reflection, story and history, personal and global. Since that wasn't enough, possibly the most beautiful Italian prose of the whole century.
The masterpiece of Italian Modernism.

Featured in my Top 5 20th Century Italian Novels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn6D59vg5aE
Survival in Auschwitz - Primo Levi, Stuart J. Woolf, Philip Roth

One of the strongest and most powerful books on the Holocaust, a priceless historical document, and a devastating book focused on a simple, terrible philosophical question. As the original title asks: Is this a man?

Featured in my Top 5 20th Century Italian Novels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn6D59vg5aE

The Day of the Owl - Anthony Oliver, George Scialabba, Archibald Colquhoun, Leonardo Sciascia

One of the first novels, and possibly the best ones, to loudly denounce the mentality and the social condition that keep the mafia strong in Southern Italy. So brutal it hurts, especially since its brutality sadly smells of true realism.

Featured in my Top 5 20th Century Italian Novels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn6D59vg5aE

The Late Mattia Pascal - Luigi Pirandello, William Weaver, Charles Simic

Pirandello's most famous book brilliantly exposes weaknesses and strenghts of the Modern Man through a brilliant, entertaining story whose surreal nature weirdly makes it more realistic.

Featured in my Top 5 20th Century Italian Novels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn6D59vg5aE

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck So deeply rooted in his historical background, immensely vivid and brutally strong, showing with unique lyricism and lucidity the hopes and reality of the West, and of the American Dream. The Grapes of Wrath is - more than any other book of the time, and maybe of any time - the actual Great American Novel.

Featured in my Top 10 High School Readings: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLggYQsUe0c
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger Salinger's masterpiece is the book I'd have loved to read when I was 16. A wonderfully natural prose that masks (/shows) the carachter's grief and sorrow before that great horror - growing up and facing the world.

Featured in my Top 10 High School Readings: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLggYQsUe0c
The Merchant of Venice - William Shakespeare Still incredibly interesting and relevant in today's world, The Merchant of Venice analyzes how quicly the role of the bad guy can shift in a conflict and how thin the line between "right" and "good" is. Also features some constructive, always appreciable lines on how Jews are people too.

Featured in my Top 5 Shakespearean Comedies : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8VombfcaD8
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams A wonderfully crazy and exquisitely British sci-fi novel whose influence on today's fiction, and humor in general, can't be denied. (Quite) inconsistent as it is, it's a must-read for all the fans of the genre.

Featured in my Top 5 Weird Science-Fiction Novels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZMHFbNY-Co
The Gods Themselves - Isaac Asimov

It's not that easy to create believable, vivid characters the reader can relate and sympathize with. Asimov achieves that despite the handicap that his characters are clouds of floating gas. One of his best novels.

Featured in my Top 5 Weird Science-Fiction Novels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZMHFbNY-Co

The Drowned World - J.G. Ballard Ballard's debut novel offers a ponentially interesting psychological take on a standard post-apocalyptic setting and hammers it non-stop throughout a boring, badly balanced and pretty racist book.

Video-review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN0MINybneU
Macbeth - William Shakespeare A wonderful play of contrasts, both personal and national, about a war fought on two fronts - the field and the mind.

Featured in my Top 5 Shakespearean Tragedies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX6rxhK4s2o