The Great Gatsby

Some of you know that The Great Gatsby is my favorite novel. I never fully explained why, and the truth is that I wanted to write this post for a long time, but I was reluctant because The Great Gatsby is so popular that some people will say they’ve loved it for that, the same way some will say they hated it because it’s cool to hate everything that’s popular. You know, it’s a common misconception that popular always means of lesser quality.

But this is just my opinion. Also, I’ll never say The Great Gatsby is the best novel ever written. I don’t think such a thing exists. Instead, I believe there are a few novels out there that are perfect.

My definition of perfect is the following: a story where a balance has been established. There’s nothing to be taken away, nothing to be added. I’d list a number of such stories, like The Turn of the Screw by Henry James and The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares.

Anyway, in the end it all comes down to personal taste. And culture, and education, and the type of books you enjoy reading, and a bunch of other stuff. Some people might hate The Great Gatsby for the same reasons I love it.

Now, let’s get to the actual post.

Technically, stylistically, The Great Gatsby is a wonderful novel. The story flows effortlessly, even though I have to admit that at times the prose is a bit pretentious. Some might view this as a flaw, or just Fitzgerald trying to show us he’s smarter, but I believe that he just wanted to write the best story he was capable of writing.

If you’ve read Fitzgerald’s short stories, you might get the feeling that they’re a bit superficial. He wrote them for money, so it’s understandable that they’re just nice. That’s why I think Fitzgerald employed a different style in his longer works, trying to separate what he did just for money from what he wrote in an attempt to achieve a sort of literary immortality.

In a way, The Great Gatsby is to Fitzgerald what Ulysses is to Joyce. Both writers set out to write their magnum opus. And they both were aware of this.

The writing impacts the way we perceive a scene. In my opinion, the best example of this is the scene where Nick first sees Gatsby in front of his mansion.

But what I like most about this novel is its main character, Jay Gatsby. And to understand why I like him so much, I have to tell you a bit about my country’s history.

As a modern capitalist state Romania is just as young as I am. There are no great financial dynasties here. Basically, we only have rags to riches. Also, there’s this opinion that most of the rich folks in Romania acquired their wealth through shoddy business practices.

This theme is far from universal, but it just happened to accurately depict the world I was born into.

Furthermore, I’ve always had this bizarre obsession with The Count of Monte Cristo. The idea of acquiring great wealth with the clear goal of obtaining revenge is wonderful. Because that’s what Gatsby wants. Of course, he doesn’t want to kill anyone, there’s nothing great or good about his desire for Daisy to love him, but he still wants revenge.

He want to show everyone what he’s capable of. That’s a very strong motivation.

In a way, I get this feeling that Gatsby did what he did not so much for love, but simply to prove himself he could do it.

I’ve always believed that you can’t get fabulously rich unless you view money making as a game. It’s more about the way people perceive you than it is about the intrinsic value of money.

And we get to another thing I love about this novel. Fitzgerald was one of the few writers who could really write about rich people.

Yeah, you might think it’s easy, but it’s not. You can see the difference between Tom and Gatsby — one born into a wealth, the other self-made. They act and react differently.

Then there’s the mystery. How did Gatsby acquire such great wealth? Who is he? I can imagine a lot of people reading the story just because they want to find out what’s the deal with this Gatsby.

Another great thing about this novel is that it features such a fantastic narrator. I don’t like Nick very much, but it’s fantastic that he just seems to give up on his life while the events in the novel take place. You might argue that he’s just omitting events in his life for the sake of telling Gatsby’s story, but the man forgets his birthday.

Imagine being so caught up in events that had nothing to do with you.

I could go on an on, analyzing this or that scene, but the thing is that it would soon start to sound as if I’m trying to convince myself that The Great Gatsby is my favorite novel.

As a conclusion, I’d say that this novel is well worth reading. Maybe just for those brilliant scenes that stick with you for no reason at all, maybe for the fantastic ending, maybe just for a few lines of wonderful prose. You might find something about Gatsby that you love, or maybe something that you hate, but I think that it’s very difficult to be indifferent.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Today’s question is obvious. Do you have a favorite novel? Oh, and why?

117 comments on “The Great Gatsby

  1. It May Seem A Touch Childish, But My Favorite Novel Has Always Been "The Hound Of The Baskervilles" by A. Conan Doyle.

    Why?

    Because I Used To Read It All The Time, Over And Over Again.

    It's Always Been My Favorite, From The First Time I Read It As A Kid, And To This Very Day.

    It Excites Me To Read It.

    It Makes Me Happy To Read It.

    It Reminds Me Of Simpler, Happier Times In My Life.

    I Feel Personally Connected To It.

    That's Why It's My Favorite, Sir. :)

    -B.

    • Hound of the Baskervilles is a great demonstration of what a good writer Conan Doyle was. He doesn't bog the book down, like many of his time. It's quite modern with its emphasis on dialogue. Personally I could eat Scott Fitzgerald's prose. It's hard to choose a fav. You go back to books you loved and sometimes wonder why. But Serenade by James M Cain. Prefer his writing to Hemingway's. Risky subject matter for its day and a narrator who doesn't know he's flawed.

  2. MarinaSofia says:

    Guess what? My favourite is your favourite… I wrote about it here
    http://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/2012/05/0

  3. toricatjr says:

    Reblogged this on The musings of a die-hard optimist. and commented:
    So well written, I cannot add anything to Cristian Mihai's words other than: "I concur."

  4. Hip Kitty says:

    Great post. I don't read books with a writers mind. I have a particular fascination with the writers of that time. The "Lost Generation" as Gertrude Stein called them. So I read these books because I have done extensive research on these writers as humans and I want to read the way their minds put the words onto paper. Scott Fitzgerald was a tortured soul but his writing showed how beautiful a thinker he was and how observant he was to his time on this earth. I find that I can only read fiction from writers once I have read every detail of their personal lives. Might not make sense to anyone but me but it becomes so much more personal when I read the story they wrote while living in a mansion in Delaware while their wife was having an open affair. Don't fact check that, it's just an example of why i find the words so fascinating. It amazes me how such beautiful works of art are produced when one is in a terrible emotional state. It helps me to realize that even when crap hits the fan, one can get through it. An excellent read is by Scott's friend, Edmond Wilson titled "The Twenties". His authentic detail to life reveals more than any biography will tell. Wow.. I guess I had a lot to say on that. Thanks again. I look forward to more of your posts.

    “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”

    ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

  5. Audie Jean says:

    Yes, it is one of my favourite novels too, Cristian. Mostly, I think, because Fitzgerald is so good at revealing character in a believable way. Daisy, the airhead; Tom, the arrogant bully; Jay, the idealistic dreamer; and Myrtle who is so cruel in her desperate need to be seen as somebody.

    However, unlike you, Cristian, I really like Nick and admire his ability to remain a calm observer that we can trust to narrate. These people that he spends the summer with are, indeed, a strange lot, but he doesn't judge them. He just does his "job" and tells us the story.

  6. toricatjr says:

    Beautifully written, my friend. I recently reread The Great Gatsby and it resonated even more for me now that I'm a little older. It's one of those few stories that seems to age with you; you gain more from it each time you read it again.

  7. Reblogged this on My Thoughts, My Words, on Entertainment and commented:
    I already have a post on this book but I love this; so, I thought I'd share

  8. It is one of my favorites as well. I also enjoyed the movie version, although nothing compares with the book! Something about writers from that era was so inspiring, so fresh and original. The fact that so many of them were contemporaries only adds to the intrigue of their works.

  9. Dave Brisbin says:

    Now I've got to go back and read this, Christian. Compelling review–you are truly prolific!

  10. My favorite novel is Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I've read it and seen the movie more than I care to count and it still gives me great pleasure. It's like no matter where I am and no matter where I go, Gone With The Wind is my anchor, my romance harbor (yeah, I'm an incurable romantic, in case you wonder). Love to hate Scarlett O’Hara and hate to love Rhett Butler. Immortal characters, consistent story line and a climax that leaves you yearning. I only wish Margaret Mitchell would’ve wrote a sequel, but we’ll never really know what happened next. Just wonder…

  11. I enjoyed your "take" of The Great Gatsby. Interesting.

  12. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I never read The Great Gatsby – I guess they skipped over it as required high school reading. I feel left out, I will read it soon. My favorite novel is The Hobbit. Besides being an amazing story with all sorts of awesome creatures and characters, this was the novel that taught me to read. I hated reading before my 4th grade teacher suggested The Hobbit as my free reading book. I've read it dozens of times since then and I can't wait to pass it on to the children I don't have yet. I even asked my fiancee if he wanted me to read it aloud to him (as he just began reading it this week). :)

  13. turtlegirl22 says:

    There are many, but the one that comes to mind first is 1984 by George Orwell. I read this novel in high school when reading was no longer a luxury for me but a requirement. Reading his novel became both. The idea of being watched in everything you do was strange and interesting. The novel was thought provoking and well written. Definitely an all time favorite.

  14. I loved this book, too. The narrator not the least of the reasons. I recommend "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" for a great narrative, and any any any Steinbeck. :)

  15. Cheryl Rose says:

    I would go so far as to call The Great Gatsby The Great American Novel. The themes Fitzgerald conveys with an economy of words is an impressive feat. The book explores love, ambition, crime, infidelity, hope, ennui, the bankruptcy of soul that often comes with material riches, betrayal, revenge — and it does all this in a mere 50,000 words or so.

    In college, I wrote an essay in which I critiqued The Great Gatsby according to the tenets of Russian Formalism, specifically focusing on the technique of defamiliarization. According to Formalist Victor Shlovsky, "The technique of art is to make objects 'unfamiliar,' to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged."

    The scene immediately following Myrtle getting hit by Gatsby's car, which was being driven by Daisy, sticks out in my mind. Fitzgerald does a stellar job of describing her death without ever using the words "death" or "die." It's easy to lose sight of what death really is, because we talk about it often, read stories about it in the news every day, and generally just become desensitized to the reality of it. And this why Fitzgerald's defamiliarizing description of Myrtle's passing is so brilliant. He writes: "Michaelis and this man reached her first, but when they had torn open her shirtwaist, still damp with perspiration, they saw that her left breast was swinging loose like a flap, and there was no need to listen for the heart beneath. The mouth was wide open and ripped at the corners, as thought she had choked a little in giving up the tremendous vitality she stored so long." Myrtle didn't die. Myrtle gave up "the tremendous vitality she stored so long." Don't forget, when Nick meets Myrtle, he recognizes "an immediate perceptible vitality."

    I do not have one favorite novel; I have a few. The Great Gatsby is one of them, along with A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens, Possession by AS Byatt, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. I have a feeling that rereading House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday might thrust it into that grouping also.

  16. Cynthia says:

    The River Why immediately jumped to mind but without any specifics I can share at the moment as to why it is a favorite. Every time I talk about the ups and downs and ups of writing, a good friend tells me I must read Carmichael's Dog by R. M. Koster. So that is the next novel on my list. ;)

  17. Kim says:

    Both The Great Gatsby and The Count of Monte Cristo are also at the top of my list. Along with Austen’s Persuasion. I think the universal theme among them is the longing – that forlorn desire that can’t be quenched. It consumes them. And I think we can all relate to that on some level.

  18. ClewisWrites says:

    Gatsby is in my top 10 all time favorites as well, possibly even clearing my top 5 favorites of all time. Jane Eyre is also one of my favorites for many reasons that are too long to add in a comment post. Le Petit Prince is also in that top five list. The story of love and loss and the beauty of childhood innocence, just gets me every time!

  19. Christian…your favorite novel is my favorite novel for many of the same reasons. I too love Jay Gatsby. I love that he pursued what he wanted with an unwavering dream. Fitzgerald makes such a point of proving that all Gatsby had meant nothing to him. What mattered most was what he DIDN'T have. Maybe that is why I can relate to Gatsby's motivation…I am always striving to focus on what I have and let go of what I don't. It's a constant struggle for me. Thanks for your beautifully written and insightful post.

  20. If I had to pick a favorite novel, I might go with The Stand by Stephen King. It's one of his longest, but it's a thrilling story and its characters are truly memorable.

    Oh, are you excited for the new "Great Gatsby" movie Baz Luhrmann is making with Leo DiCaprio?

  21. TAE says:

    It's been a long time that I tried to read this novel. At the time I had nothing to relate to it. I'm not sure if I finished it, or if I let it go half-way through. It was at a time when Penguin sold a lot of paperbacks for cheap.

    It be interesting to give it another try now that I have spent some time thinking about and living in the capitalist US.

  22. Reenie says:

    Gatsby is certainly up there for me, and it was definitely interesting to hear you analyze it from a non American perspective. Being an American, educated by Americans, I have never seen such an analysis until this year when I read Reading Lolita in Tehran , I'm glad people from other cultures can enjoy this story, which I'd always been told was so particular to my culture.

    But my favorite novel is and always shall be Little Women , because of the fact that I've read it over and over again and I've enjoyed it and gotten something new from it each time. Also the "family" theme has always struck a chord with me.

  23. "The Great Gatsby" 's been sitting there on a bookshelf in my home…. I have been thinking about reading it for ages… I still wonder why I haven't….

  24. The Great Gastby's one of those books that makes me realize, uncomfortably, how underdeveloped I am as both a reader and a writer. I had to read it as a requirement in my junior year of high school, and I was in the minority that didn't like the book, couldn't stand it even. I couldn't understand the book, nor why Fitzgerald would write about what I thought were so many unlikable characters, and I found Gatsby's pining for Daisy too grating on my nerves – I only understood the book on a superficial level.

    I'm ashamed to admit that even though I've had many chances to analyze the book, and even though one of my favorite Youtubers and writers, John Green, did a very concise analysis on the book, I still don't have the heart to pick up The Great Gatsby and read it again. I'm not going to deny it was very well-written though; Nick's narration did make an uncomfortable experience flow smoothly, and it was easy to navigate.

    I'm frustrated by my seemingly shallow ways of thinking about reading and writing, but I see myself picking up Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street, or Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, or George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, before I pick up The Great Gatsby again. But who knows? I might give it a chance again; I'm very forgiving with most books, after all.

  25. I also love the Great Gatsby! My very first blog post (now long deleted) was about re-reading it. It was by far my favorite novel in high school and I've loved Fitzgerald ever since. I actually greatly admire his vocabulary. It may seem pretentious to us now (especially in light of his peers, like Hemingway) but I think his vocabulary is a huge factor in his overall style. I think it also plays in to Nick's (the narrator) character effectively.

  26. Doc says:

    Very profound analysis!

  27. Cristian

    "It’s more about the way people perceive you than it is about the intrinsic value of money."

    Your views on intrinsic value intrigue me.

  28. I read "Gatsby" on recommendation from Bob Dylan in "Ballad of a Thin Man" that familiarity with Fitzgerald's work was a vital link to achieving "well-read" status. I was not disappointed.

  29. Elizabeth says:

    I have many favorites, some I read until the book covers show that love in tatters and stains.

    One book I never expected to like, fell in love with, and have never read again, because I don't want to spoil its resonance in my mind: A Separate Peace by John Knowles.

    In literature / English class, I wrote a paper on the short novel, but was only able to express a small portion of all the thoughts and feelings in my teenaged head. I couldn't tell you now if the writing was good or story a classic — it left a mark on me that remains decades later.

  30. Christiann says:

    Oddly enough, I have never read The Great Gatsby. But after your reading your post I wish I had it! It sounds like the kind of book I would enjoy.

    There are so many books I love, and I could say each is my favorite. However one stands out among the rest. Lew Wallace's Ben Hur is a novel I can read over and over and over.

    When I go back to read some of my favorite parts, it's like I am reading them for the first time. I can almost forget the last time I read them, and be caught up in the story all over again.

    Does that ever happen to you?

  31. I remember reading "The Great Gatsby" in high school and I keep telling myself to reread it as well as some other classics for many reasons… BUT, I must say one of my favorite novels is "What is the What" by Dave Eggers. It's based on the life of an African man named, Valentino Achak Deng who was forced to leave his village in Sudan (as well as other young boys – Lost Boys) and travel hundres of miles on foot. He finally finds his way to the US where he is faced with other challenges as a young African man. A great read!

  32. alittlelifeinphotogr says:

    i love the Great Gatsby for the beautiful writing. to be so brief and so beautiful is a miracle. the only novel for me that can compare is Goethe´s The Sorrows of Young Werther. i remember reading a letter that fitzgerald wrote to some friends of his who had just lost a child. it was one of the most moving, compassionate letters i have ever read. he died a week or so later, a shattered man.

    my favorite novel? probably narcissus and goldmund by hermann hesse. or zipper and his father by joseph roth. or the grapes of wrath by john steinbeck. or our mutual friend by charles dickens. or cousin pons by balzac. or so many others.

  33. I'm not so sure I could pick a favourite, but the first to jump to mind is certainly "Mrs. Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf, it's just an amazing piece of literature that keep coming back to and it flows as effortlessly as water. Otherise, I'd have to say something by Marie Darrieussecq, "Breathing Underwater" maybe but certainly her novel "White". Her power with language continues to intrigue me.

  34. David Gillaspie says:

    My favorite Gatsby moments? One where the gangster says "Gonnections" instead of connections. Another is the idea of walking into room after room in a mansion and opening closets full of clothes never worn. How many have had that rich man's fantasy?

    Favorite idea of a novel? Catcher in the Rye. JD Salinger was an older WWII guy caught in the longest sustained combat in US history, and came back to publish Catcher in 1951. It's not a war story like the others did, Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller, James Jones, Kurt Vonnegut. Instead he wrote about a kid.

    After so many wars and talk about PTSD, I figure Catcher came from that.

    Great post. Keep reading.

  35. Clanmother says:

    Cristian – you have a remarkable way of integrating an author's message into the the reality of the world in which we live. Reading is about embracing the courage of the writer when he or she speaks the truth. You are able to give life to the legacy of those that came before. I am glad that we have connected.

  36. poisonivyherself says:

    Just re-read GATSBY again recently – probably about the 5th or 6th time. It is timeless and I agree, a novel of perfect balance. Fitzgerald didn't just dash this off – it wasn't pure genius, in other words. He's even admitted the amount of craft and care that went into it. I think that's important for writers to realize – it took FSF a long time to produce a GATSBY. He was no slouch before, but this is his pinnacle, for good reason.

    As you hinted, the message and themes in the book are timeless. It's the era of the "Lost Generation," sure…but we all know people like the characters in his book. The mysteries and backstory of GATSBY allow us as the reader to open our own imaginations, even as the writer masterfully guides us along the path of his tragic tale. And it's a quintessential American novel, about a vision of America that we still cling too, even today. I think only someone who had lived as an ex-pat could see America with such clear-eyed idealism and cynicism at the same time.

    Someone above mentioned LITTLE WOMEN; that's a book I'll never forget. But I think my ultimate favorite novel of all time (if that's possible) is ALL THE KING'S MEN by Robert Penn Warren. It's politics, character, morality tale and poetry all at the same time – an immensely complex work based on another quintessential American true story. Neither film does the poetry and depth of the novel justice. Like GATSBY, ATKM has one of the most interesting and believable first person narrators ever created.

  37. Ken Marteney says:

    You make me want to read it again! Thanks.

  38. Bill Hayes says:

    I treid to read the book after having seen that remarkable film , screen play by Coppola staring Sam Watson as Nick and Robert Redofrd as Gatsby and Mia Farrow as Daisy, but I couldn't get the film out of my mind and so gave up. Perhaps I'll give it another go.

  39. dietriotgirl says:

    When it comes to books I like to follow the philosophy " to each their own". Just like each book is different, each reader is different as well. I have a soft spot for YA supernatural/paranormal series. But, that doesn't mean I don't enjoy a good classical read.

  40. Mirror MUSES says:

    Cristian, Gatsby is one of my favorite novels, as well. It's beautifully written– the quote you cited in your entry above along with so many others are timeless. I'm teaching it at this moment to my juniors. We are at the part where Gatsby tells Nick he absolutely believes in do-overs. So many passages make us, as readers, question our own beliefs and dreams.

    My favorite novel is most defintely Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, for many of the same reasons you cite here.

    Apart from it being masterfully written, we are sympathetic to Heathcliff who has gone away to make fortunes so he has a chance with Catherine. For me, WH is so much more satisfying than Gatsby because there is mutual, undeniable love (where I don't feel the same about Daisy for Gatsby– I think she's shallow and cannot love anyone more than herself, which is the real tragedy in Gatsby). Heathcliff and Catherine, on the other hand, are bound by their souls and while they cannot be together on earth, they find their way to one another in the afterlife. I think there is something very spiritual about that.

    Thanks for the thought provoking entry!

  41. wordsaver says:

    It is " A Teacher" by Frank McCourt, because it is the real thing,and the favorite is because I do not know if the author's mind was better in the art of living or in the art of describing his life; because of the tragicomic irony , which I like in your writing, too

  42. petit4chocolatier says:

    I love how you write about the Great Gatsby. One of my favorites! One of my other favorites is Gone with the Wind.

  43. This is the only Fitzgerald novel I read and yes, it does feel a bit like an overpolished little gem, but a gem nonetheless. :)

  44. gwynnem says:

    I love The Great Gatsby, too. I'm in the middle of Fitzgerald's first novel (This Side of Paradise), and he's blowing me away, all over again. I can't believe he was 23 when that book was published!

  45. words4cards says:

    That's easily the best cover – great choice

  46. mapelba says:

    I am teaching The Great Gatsby this semester to ESL students. One student, a young man from Jordan, has already decided that when he finishes film school, he's going to film his own version of the novel. He has a complete cast in mind too. I love enthusiasm like that from students.

    I've always liked Nick. Maybe because I can identify with him more than Gatsby. While I want to be able to pay my bills, money has never been a motivator for me. Though I did live in your neck of the woods for two years–in Bulgaria–and can understand a bit of what you speak.

    Anyway, I love the novel too. Have you heard Studio360's podcast about the book? You might find some of the observations interesting.

    Also, reading a few of the comments, I was taken with the idea of needing to know about an author before being able to read his or her fiction. As a writer who is about to have her first novel published, I wonder about how much people need/want/care about my actual life. It's odd to think about.

    Thanks for the post. I may share it with my students if that is okay.

  47. "My definition of perfect is the following: a story where a balance has been established. There’s nothing to be taken away, nothing to be added." – That's exactly how I think of Love in the Time of Cholera.

  48. Although I loved The Great Gatsby, it wasn't my favorite book. Oddly enough, my favorite book takes me back to fourth grade. The Outsiders was and is my favorite book. Maybe it was the fact that a 16 year old girl put out such a solid body of work so young. Or maybe it's that it captured so many things from highschool cliques and heirarchies to the social issues and biases of the '50's.

    Actually, even though those things were all done amazingly well, it was the way she built the friendship between Johnny and Ponyboy, then later between Ponyboy and Cherrie. It spoke to hope and the belief that there are still things that are good and pure in the world. All it takes is faith and the willingness to make a change.

  49. ktdp says:

    I loved gatsby. But factotum tells me how I feel! I love Charles bukowski !

  50. vanbraman says:

    Great Expectations, but wait maybe it is The Count of Monte Cristo. Or maybe about a dozen others. Too many great books. But these two currently have an edge.

  51. sheedon says:

    My favorite is Pride and prejudice. It has vivid characters and arouses strong resonance in me. It is reality and has a happy ending. :D

  52. insahmity says:

    I couldn't let a comment about Jane Eyre go without comment. I read this book when I was about 9-10 years old, finished, and went straight back to the beginning. I rank it with Dr. Zhivago and Tender is the Night.

  53. insahmity says:

    Gatsby, to me, seemed a bit cartoonish, simplistic. I never "loved" it. Tender is the Night, I thought, was brilliant, my Fitzgerald favorite, yet it is much more complex and obscure. I adore Fitzgerald, yet Gatsby is just an introduction, a primer.

  54. Reblogged this on J.C. Henderson's blog and commented:
    Gatsby is one of my favorite novels of all time, one of my biggest influences. This post by Cristian Mihai, I think, sums up what I think about it perfectly.

  55. Oh, I'm so glad I got to read that! And in answer to your question I have to say The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey. I read it right after it came out and it changed my life. It opened imaginary worlds to me in ways I'd never thought of. I could wax poetic for hours, but I won't. Suffice to say I still have the first copy of it I ever read. :)

  56. texydeb says:

    “The Grapes of Wrath” John Steinbeck I think it remains my “favorite” because it is the first book I read that blew me away. I read the Great Gatsby many years ago but I just didn’t get it. Now that I read what you wrote today. I want to re-read it. have a great day

  57. rinceagusgra says:

    I've never really had a favorite novel. A few of the ones I've really enjoyed have been misplaced and I've forgotten their title (which I'm rather upset about). However, I love reading books about peoples adventures in another country or in another time period. I recently read People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. The way she organizes the story is really interesting and I actually enjoyed it a lot. Normally I detest 'flashback' type stories.

    I also enjoy reading old cookbooks. It's nifty to see how food has changed.

  58. Agreed. While his prose may be pretentious, if taken in small doses, it's quite beautiful, really.

  59. babs1209 says:

    I have two favorites, actually. The Grapes of Wrath, in my opinion, is one of the greatest novels ever written. It intricately details a family's struggles during the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. It gets down and gritty without being sordid. I can never read this book without crying. The other novel is Whurthering Heights. Who doesn't love a good love story?

  60. dedepuppets says:

    It took me ages to read the Great Gatsby. Not for the lack of want, there were just so many other books I had to read first. When I finally got round to it, I couldn't put it down and wondered what took me so long. However my absolute favorite book is "The Discovery of Slowness" by Stan Nadolny. This is the only book I have re-read a few times already. Only recently I started re-reading books I didn't understand or like when I was younger as I believe at different stages of your life you pick up different things from novels. It certainly goes for a lot of books that were part of the school curriculum and chewed to death in class.

  61. Tom Gething says:

    Gatsby is like a prose poem. Fitzgerald was impressed with Conrad's use of Marlow to create a first-person narrative distance and used the same technique in Gatsby to great effect. Personally, I prefer Tender Is the Night, though it is flawed compared to Gatsby. I think he struck a deeper, more personal and heartfelt chord in it.

  62. I love Great Gatsby. Another favorite novels is "The Accidental Tourist" by Anne Tyler. Macon Leary is a lost man, thanks to the death of his son his and estrangement from his wife. When he meets the quirky Muriel, his reluctance to leave his rut of a life forces him to realize that there is more to the world than what can be safely capsulized in travel books. It's a quiet book, very penetrating in its own way. I recommend it highly.

  63. scholleandy says:

    Hi Cristian,

    Great post and great book absolutely one of my favorites and in my opinion one of the best novels in literature, there are so many aspects that could be analyzed in this story it is so complex and what I love most is Gatsby himself for everything he is and represents.

    I have read thousands of books also due to my specialization in college, I have many favorites but maybe the closest to my heart would me Dostoevsky and his magnificent Crime and Punishment. I have read this book so many many times and each time I found something else that makes it even more deep and meaningful. It is hard to choose one novel from so many masterpieces but somehow I feel Dostoevsky touches topics that are both controversial and as real as they can get.

    Thanks for this post!

  64. harri8here says:

    Effortlessly, beautifully written.

    I find this question as difficult to answer as the favourite colour one, plus it unnerves me. A few years ago i had an illness and, whether it was trauma or medication or both, i lost a zillion megabytes of memory … plots of novels and films completely wiped. Some say "Wow! So much to rediscover." But i actually find it immensely frustrating, and feel very stupid a lot of the time.

    Enough waffling. Tess of the D'Urbevilles, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, Roald Dahl's Danny the Champion of the World, undoubtedly many other candidates but …

  65. reblogged this on my blog. Wonderfully done, couldn't have said it better myself. I am somewhat looking forward to the movie though, but nothing beats the novel.

  66. elizjamison says:

    Reblogged this on A Daily Journal of my Comp/Rhet Dissertation and commented:
    For all my students who say that Gatsby is out of date, here you go. I agree with this post.

  67. Elaine Isaac says:

    I've never read this book, but after reading this blog I might just do that. Can't really say I've got a favourite novel as I enjoy various genre of book. I'm currently reading Pride and Prejudice having not managed to the first time I tried.

  68. The Great Gatsby is soooo worth reading and so is your write-up :-)

  69. niharikapandit says:

    I happened to stumble upon this post. Quite agree with The Great Gatsby being a magnum opus to Fitzgerald. Plus I like the intricacies you have drawn in this piece-the way a born rich and a self-made rich man react to situations. Plus the idea of Jay Gatsby not doing it for love but it is more about proving himself. These are commendable observations and agreed upon. At the same time, I believe that Fitzgerald through Nick could have woven in more details about these characters and their reactions to events unravelling.

    Wuthering Heights, which is my favourite book has a certain way in which it vaults you up and lets the thoughts contain. One would want to delve into the world of Cathy and Heathcliff and watch it, writhe in pain, scream, well up eyes but all as a silent spectator. Unlike Bronte's novel, Fitzgerald touches upon aspects and leaves them soon. The hungry reader is indeed wanting for more. But the events keep switching quite swiftly giving lesser room to the reader to fathom and be in Jay Gatsby's place. But the subtlety with which The Great Gatsby ends, leaves me with questions about betrayal, love, friendship and the sourness of the American Dream.

  70. victoriahere says:

    I've read a lot of novels but the one that has stuck with me the most over time is, "The Giver" by Lois Lowry. I read this book when I was either 9 or 10 years old. I'm not sure why I liked this book, we had to read it in 5th grade (mandatory). Yes I would complain and when we finished the book, I finely understood what was going on. I think about that book every once in awhile, things that happen or things that people say remind me of that book.

    Anyway, now that I'm older (26) when I want to read, somehow I also go back to that book.

    I really enjoyed the Great Gatsby as well. I remember the first time I read it, took me 3 days but really enjoyed it and I will read that book again sometime. :)

    I really love your posts and you inspire me. :)

  71. I started reading "Gatsby" a few months back and struggled to find an interest in the writing. I can't say for certain why…the book just didn't do anything for me. I didn't dislike anything, just simply could not find anything in the story to "hook" me. My reading prior had been a series of "bland" titles (lots of nonfiction and a few overly wordy novels). Perhaps I just approached "Gatsby" at the wrong time, needing to cleanse my mind with something a bit more fleeting before I attempted another good read.

    I intend to give it another try, especially after reading this post.

  72. I love The Great Gatsby, and Red is right, it’s not for everyone. You have to feel a dimension with a character to create a bond to pique your spirit. But there are so many writers and books I love. First to admit, I am very bookish. Wuthering Heights is a dark but interesting passage of time. It’s a wonderful read for a dreary winter day because at times you can feel the bone chilling iciness of the wind howling the moors. I think what makes these “perfect novel” authors so ingrained in our hearts is their ability to poetically word what is diabolically festering away in their own souls. I know some don't care for him, but I adore Pat Conroy and envy the way he can color a sentence with words so that you can feel every nuance of the meaning, the feeling, of the characters. As if you are an unobserved watcher of the scene being played. I am going to read The Great Gatsby again soon. Thank you Christian for reminding me that sometimes going back to revisit an old friend is more comfortable the second or third time because you understand the meanings of the silences within chapters because you have lived with these friends before.

  73. Karin says:

    The Great Gatsby was the first novel I remember really reading and liking in school (I struggle with reading unless it's really worth my while, engaging, and produces "writing thoughts" and other such language in my thoughts). My favorite novel lately is The Time Traveller's Wife…though I know nothing of the critical reviews, the laguage spoke to my soul, the writing was precise (I didn't feel like I was editing it while reading), and the subjects, themes, and research were well-composed. It's not Gatsby, but it has become my go-to book when I need a little inspiration. :)

  74. gpicone says:

    Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

  75. sued51 says:

    I'm with Dave…I think I have to go back and read it again. Good job, Cristian.

  76. gilfeliciano says:

    Great thoughts. Thanks for sharing. Just saw the movie for the first time two weeks ago. Gotta read the novel.

  77. jlee5879 says:

    I remember reading and enjoying The Great Gatsby but it was soo many years ago…perhaps I should re-read. Thanks for the inspiration.

  78. mrsalicia says:

    My favorite is "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. It made me want to go into law in the first place. It makes me laugh, makes me cry, and always leaves me feeling older and a little wiser.

  79. MagisterNodi says:

    Gatsby is a wonderful book but I often have an issue with the classic Ameircan canon. While it is important to read books like Gatsby, On the Road, and Mrs. Dalloway, they often are used as shorthand for understanding great authors. It is often the missed pieces, the under estimated or neglected works that make you better understand the minds of these artists.

  80. rebelsprite says:

    I can't narrow it down to one favorite novel – but The Great Gatsby is up there. I don't think I can read it over and over, too sad – but it has stayed with me. The cover art is definitely one of my favorites, too – it captures the mood very well.

  81. S.C. says:

    Gatsby is a great novel. Hard to teach, though. I had to get through it with my class, and they didn't follow Fitzgerald's thick prose all that well. It doesn't help that he flashes between the past and the present so often. I love it, though.

    I especially like the scene where Nick and Gatsby are officially introduced. Gatsby's character gets so built up in the preceding pages, and we expect him to be some haughty magnate. And then Nick is just talking to some guy, and he says "Oh sorry, I'm Jay Gatsby, nice to meet you." I don't know what I like about that scene, except that it sort of introduces Gatsby as a guy who maybe doesn't let his wealth get to his head.

  82. Sherri says:

    I have never read The Great Gatsby, but that does not mean I never will. There are so many good books out there just waiting to be read. I don't think I have a single favorite; there are so many that have touched my heart and mind over the years.

  83. You're making me want to read that book again. I loved reading that book in high school and that was really the best book I've ever read for English class, besides Richard Adams's Watership Down. I also love the last quote from the novel you put in your post. I still love the quote, "They're a rotten crowd. You're worth more than a whole buch of them put together." At least, that's what I remember from that book. :)

  84. My favorites in no particular order:

    1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Should be required reading for every woman.

    2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. See above.

    3. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean. A retelling of a Scottish border ballad, set on a college campus in the 1970s. It was a gift from someone I love very much.

    4. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Great coming of age story.

    5. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Just because it's fun.

  85. meholysmile says:

    I am now tempted to read this novel now. Thanks for the review.

  86. Gregoryno6 says:

    Thinking about the answer to this question, I had to go look through the bookshelves for assistance. And I realised that the titles that caught my eye are mostly short and – well, not exactly uplifting and positive.

    Junky, by William S Burroughs

    Froth On The Daydream, by Boris Vian (Stanley Chapman's translation is the best IMO)

    High-Rise, by J G Ballard

    Fortune, by Robert Drewe.

    And just to break the pattern – one happy tale:

    The Hawkline Monster, by Richard Brautigan.

  87. Thank you, I have just started it but got distracted reading something else, so after seeing this I am going to go and read the next chapter. :)

  88. Mommy Road says:

    I read the Great Gatsby in school but I haven't gotten around to re-reading it. I need to because all the books I read in school are jumbled together in my brain into something like The Great Gatsby Who Kills a Mockinbird and Catches The Scarlet Letter in the Rye.

    I don't think I have a favorite novel. Or maybe I do but it could change at any given moment based on my mood, the weather, the alignment of the planets…. you get the idea. Right now, if I HAD to choose a favorite, I'd say Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice. I have re-read both of them several times and they never get old. I guess I'm a cliche female that way….

  89. klumpigy says:

    I just finished studying Gatsby for my Literature class. I must say I loved it, it was Daisy that made it for me. Though the insane imagery given to the Valley of Ashes is just amazing. My favorite novel would be (as popular as it may be) Pride and Prejudice – there is something I admire in pre-modernist text. Though in saying that my favorite story is Through the looking glass

  90. Valentina says:

    Cristian, I totally agree with you about the Great Gatsby and it doesn't matter to me if Fitzgerald wrote for money or to achieve a literary immortality. His novels are very entertaining and well written. That's what books are for, either informing or entertaining.

    Sarah Dunan is one of my favorite writer at the moment, she writes historical novels based on real facts, real places and events in time, but the personages and their involvement in the novels are all invented.

  91. ohbenjy says:

    what a phenomenal review of the work! I read The Great Gatsby in a sophomore English class and I truly feel it was, along with To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the best books I was ever asked to read for literary study. My favorite book of all time, as a work of art goes, would have to be Jack Kerouac's The Subterraneans. Through studying fine art, drawing, and oil painting I have developed a wonderful appreciating for the editing of unnecessary flab to cut through the wordplay and tell the best story in the fewest words, or lines, as it would be viewed in art. For this reason, Kerouac's Subterraneans is a lyrical force of nature in my mind. It can be read in an afternoon, sucks you in and captures you with romance and distress, only to resolve the issue and leave you with profound thoughts as you wrap up the end of the hundred page epic.

    I personally feel there is something to be said for any work which can be read, understood, and reflected upon in a single afternoon. Any work possessing this quality can truly influence a reader in the here and now, even in this modern age of technology and time spent wasting.

    Your review inspired me to pick up Gatsby again to give it a second reading nearly a decade later, and I would learn even more from the great book if I did, I still have visions of that giant, elegant, yellow car blasting through the streets.

    I sincerely hope the Hollywood blockbuster doesn't destroy the legend of the novel itself!

  92. Anything Under Kenny says:

    I’m intrigued to read this book. :)

  93. Michelle says:

    I can't say I have a favorite novel; that would be like saying I have a favorite TV show or movie (well, Batman: The Dark Knight, definitively).

    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was my favorite book when I was twelve, then it was The Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, then Harry Potter, then The City of Ember… and so on.

    Right now my favorite novel is The People of Sparks (Ember's sequel) because I finished reading it yesterday.

    It's not pretentious or "OMG I can't find a favorite, I love them all!" Is just that… I don't know. Let's say I haven't find "The Book" yet.

    I met a friend who liked The Great Gatsby because he believed Nick was homosexual; I feel tempted to read it from that perspective and see what happens.

    PS: Apologies for the bad "Englich".

  94. Yoshiko says:

    I also love the Count of Monte Cristo. After watching the movie, I proceed to watch its TV series. And finally, the Anime series.

  95. cperrot89 says:

    I must applaud you on your writing. Very engaging, and informative. I have this book on my kindle along with many other classics, awaiting the chance to be read. I have many books to get through, but your post here definitely makes me want to read it. I love older books, and hope to read them all.

  96. Cody says:

    I think it's fair to say Gatsby is one of the best American novels ever written. Fitzgerald was a master of his craft, much like Hemingway.

  97. laina says:

    The Count of Monte Cristo is definitely one of my favorite books, but I'd never thought about it paralleling The Great Gatsy before, so that was quite surprising for me to read about.

  98. Greg Graham says:

    I read The Great Gatsby last summer and enjoyed it very much. I agree with your reasons why it is a great novel. I have not read Ulysses or the Count of Monte Cristo yet, but maybe someday soon. My favorite novel would have to be The Lord of the Rings, primarily for the triumph of the goodness of simple people in the midst of overwhelming evil, but also for the imaginative world Tolkien creates.

  99. jaelwriting says:

    I love The Great Gatsby as well. Such a good story. Great points!

  100. Jeff says:

    The Great Gatsby is a really good novel. A fine piece of literary art. Who can forget Gatsby and the "foul dust that floating in the wake of his dreams."

  101. jaelwriting says:

    Reblogged this on jaelwriting and commented:
    Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. "The Great Gatsby" is one of those where you are taken back in time and taken through the minds of fictional characters that could easily be non-fiction. I thought this was a great analysis.

  102. kartikasays says:

    I would have to say I have favorites, not a favorite. I adore, "Their Eyes Were Watching God" and Huckleberry Finn" – just to name two. I think I will enjoy following you very much…

  103. athoesen says:

    It might seem coincidental, but Great Gatsby would probably qualify as my favorite novel, followed closely by Brave New World. There's something about the beauty of Fitzgerald's writing that seems untouchable.

  104. I'd say the writing is lyrical rather than pretentious. Such beautiful lines and descriptions throughout. But not everyone likes that sort of language-spinning, though it really characterizes a certain period and place.

  105. Jessica says:

    You mentioned in a previous post the new Baz Luhrmann movie, coming in December. I hadn't seen that post or seen the trailer until today. Interesting. I wonder . . . Will you see the movie? What will you think? Movies tend only to touch the essence of a book. But I do think it's a good thing Baz Luhrmann is the one doing it. His style is, somehow, fitting.

  106. Jessica says:

    I love Catcher in the Rye! Even though it drove me crazy ;)

  107. I just read The Stand for a book report in my English class and I agree with you. It was fantastic and definitely one of my favorite reads.

    I'm certainly not going to be choosing any more 1000+ paged books for school unless they're assigned, though. At least the stress was worth it. :)

  108. macswriter says:

    Nice post. Amor Towles has also written about the wealthy. I think rather well, too.

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