Please play along with your own choices. Any book, or the surname of an author, as long as it begins with an ‘I’.
I am starting ‘I’ with ‘The Iliad’, that great work of legend and history from the Greek writer Homer. Published (by most accounts) around 750 BC, this may well be the oldest book featured in this challenge. But it is far from being a dusty old volume, believe me. And even if you have never read it, I am sure you will recognise the characters immediately. This is the book that tells the tale of the Trojan War, with Achilles the warrior, Helen of Troy, and the mighty King Agamemnon. Even today, this history still fascinates the modern reader, and has been the foundation of many epic film adaptations.
A collection of short stories from the masterful Ray Bradbury, ‘The Illustrated Man’ was published as long ago as 1951, but they are still great to read, decades later. The seemingly unrelated stories in this collection are in fact all inter-connected to the title story of a heavily-tattooed man who earned his living by appearing in a circus sideshow. He tells his story to the narrator, with his animated tattoos coming to life to explain those tales. Fascinating indeed, and later made into a film, starring Rod Steiger.
For personal reasons, I have to mention the book by Marcel Proust, ‘In Search of Lost Time’. This is one translation of the original French title, ‘A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu’. This mammoth work is a seven-volume novel, published over a fourteen year period up to 1927. This work of reflection, memory, and interpretations of the past is a far from easy read, I assure you. In my late teens, I was tasked with attempting to read it in French too, and I can still recall the headaches that gave me. I didn’t finish it at the time, and have not done so since. But if you are up for a real challenge…
When I was younger, I always though that invisibility would be the best ‘super-power’ to have. Imagine being able to move around unseen, and to watch everyone and everything as an unknown observer? But then I read the H. G. Wells novel, ‘The Invisible Man’, published in 1897. In that book, a scientist named Griffin becomes invisible, but his experiment goes wrong and he is unable to reverse the process. His life is far from enjoyable, and he faces problems at every turn. Yet the idea fascinated many film-makers and TV show creators, and has been adapted in numerous ways.
My top choice today is also my top film choice for the same letter. ‘In Cold Blood’, by Truman Capote is the 1966 non-fiction account of the murders of the Clutter family in Kansas, in 1959. Yet it is also a novel, as Capote interweaves fictional interviews and conversations, and writes about those real events in the style of crime fiction. Don’t be put off by that description, as this is a wonderful book, however you approach it. From the details of the murders, to Capote’s interviews with the kilers, and witnessing an execution, this story grips right from the start, and is hard to put down.