BY MATTHEW CAHILL
7:48 AM EDT, October 28, 2008
1. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe -- Thomas Wolfe's poetic sense and mastery of English are almost unparalleled in modern American literature. What's interesting is that in this book, originally titled O Lost, Wolfe describes his autobiographical escapades in the Virginia Tidewater, visiting Norfolk and Lee Hall in Newport News, as well as working in the construction of the "Hampton flying field," now Langley Air Force Base.
2. 1984 by George Orwell -- Many of Orwell's predictions of postmodern life have come true, though some are a couple of decades late. Still, this book gives reasonable warnings about how technology could dehumanize us. Do you already feel as though you are being watched?
3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley -- It helps to know where some of those classic movie monsters come from. Shelley's Frankensten, Or, The Modern Prometheus is a three-fold examination of human myths, psychology, and of course, horror.
4. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare -- A hilarious read, this is one of the most light-hearted of Shakespeare's plays. Taming of the Shrew lacks the tragedy, murder, intrigue, and severe family problems that characterize most of Shakespeare's plays.
5. Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron -- Styron was a Newport News native. His Lie Down in Darkness is immortalized by the Port Warwick development named after his fictional city, a square bearing his name and Loftis Boulevard, named after the novel's main character. Styron also wrote Sophie's Choice, popularized by a movie starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline.
6. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust -- Also called the continuous novel, it is made of several hefty volumes. Have you ever wanted to get completely lost in a book (or series of books)? This would be it. This work can be consuming, as Proust died before he could finish writing it.
7. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells -- Talk about a Halloween scare. Orson Wells' Oct. 30, 1938 radio broadcast of this work sent thousands of people into a frenzied panic. Despite older movie versions, this one made it back into Hollywood recently in a 2005 remake starring Tom Cruise.
8. The Odyssey by Homer -- We owe a lot to Homer. It is through his epic poems that many became familiar with classical Greek myths, such as sirens and the Cyclops. This story was retold excellently in O Brother, Where Art Thou? produced in 2000.
9. Light in August by William Faulkner -- Faulkner is a staple of American literature. His stories carry philosophical weight and natural themes that often speak to the slow, simple way of life in rural areas of the South.
10. Candide by Voltaire -- Satire at its best. It may take a dry sense of humor and a sense of historical context, but reading Voltaire's Candide can leave you in stitches.
Matt Cahill's Daily Top 10 comes out every weekday. Coming Wednesday: Top 10 breakfast foods.
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