Loving Lolita

This renowned classic may feature a rather reviled character, but it's all about those sublime and perfectly crafted words

22 out of 100 … books that is

One of the most memorable books I’ve read is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. And it’s on Time‘s list of the top-100 books of all time (qualified as English-language books since 1923 … so no Tolstoy or Shakespeare in the mix). We read it as a bookclub read a while ago now. The pick was met with a bit of apprehension from our bookclub mates (on the surface a book about some perv making it with a nubile young teenager doesn’t exactly scream enticing bookclub read). Turns out that it was one of our all-time faves. In fact, all it took to get Janet on board (as I recall) was cracking the cover and reading the opening lines:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.  ¶  She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

Oh, Humbert Humbert. What a character. And, of course, Dolores Haze. But it’s all about Nabokov’s writing. Same as another memorable bookclub pick of Janet’s: Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. The words, the writing—aside from the story itself (or lack thereof, as my significant other says)—is mesmerizing. Oh, and incidentally, this book is also on Time‘s top-100 list.

In fact, three other past bookclub picks are on the list: Money by Martin Amis (hmmm), The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, and White Teeth by Zadie Smith (another hmmm). Also on the list are authors we’ve read but not titles we’ve read, like Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Ian McEwan’s Atonement (read on my own and loved) and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. I’ll have to plough through that DFW tome one day…our last bookclub read was Consider the Lobster (thanks Janet!), a collection of non-fiction pieces by DFW, and I was wow’d (others, however, not so much—which is why reading is so awesome, it’s a shared but wholly unique and personal experience with so much to discuss, whether we love/hate, agree/disagree).

My personal total tally on the Time all-time top-100 books is 22 out of the 100. What’s yours? φ

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