What are some of the greatest novels of all time? Why are they great?

What are some of the greatest novels of all time? Why are they great? by @ghostofWaterloo

Answer by Tanmay Purohit:

Brace yourself because this is going to be a long one.

I have read a lot of books that have changed the way I think, dream, or live my life. (gullible, much. :P)

But there are three books that have shaken up my cor cordis, (if you will) and made sure that it was so completely rattled that it was never the same again.

And these are..

1) Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

I have read this book scores of times. The only reason I went to Cafe Leopold in Colaba was to feel the same as Shantaram, sipping away at the cold beer, watch life and people pass by, and ruminate. The prose in this book is so powerful that one can't help but feel admiration for the protagonist and the way he lives his life.

E.g :-

“Some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. Some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for them.” – Gregory David Roberts

“I don't know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us, or our endless ability to endure it.” – Gregory David Roberts

And this one, a sucker punch! Completely gutted me.

"For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. Feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love: the passionate search for truth other than our own. With longing: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on. God help us. God forgive us. We live on." – Gregory David Roberts

Truly a life changing read.

2) Catch – 22 – Joseph Heller

Such satire. Such cheek. Such dark humor! This book is filled with such amazing quotes that if I was to sit and highlight them, I'll color the whole goddamn book! E.g.-

“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.” – Joseph Heller

"Anything worth dying for … is certainly worth living for." – Joseph Heller

“What a lousy earth! He wondered how many people were destitute that same night even in his own prosperous country, how many homes were shanties, how many husbands were drunk and wives socked, and how many children were bullied, abused, or abandoned. How many families hungered for food they could not afford to buy? How many hearts were broken? How many suicides would take place that same night, how many people would go insane? How many cockroaches and landlords would triumph? How many winners were losers, successes failures, and rich men poor men? How many wise guys were stupid? How many happy endings were unhappy endings? How many honest men were liars, brave men cowards, loyal men traitors, how many sainted men were corrupt, how many people in positions of trust had sold their souls to bodyguards, how many had never had souls? How many straight-and-narrow paths were crooked paths? How many best families were worst families and how many good people were bad people? When you added them all up and then subtracted, you might be left with only the children, and perhaps with Albert Einstein and an old violinist or sculptor somewhere.” – Joseph Heller

3) Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

Well, this one had to be there. After all, it inspired my eponym. And a whole lot of my feelings and action since the 11th grade when I read it first. Daphne Taggart might be one of the most desirable female protagonist from any of the books I have ever read. And there's a three way tie between D'Anconia and John Galt and Rearden for the most kickass male! Quotes SLUGFEST!! E.g:-

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” – Ayn Rand

“I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.” ― Ayn Rand

“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – What would you tell him?"

I…don't know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?"

To shrug.” – Ayn Rand

These quotes more or less sum up the why of the question too, I guess. 😀

What are some of the greatest novels of all time? Why are they great?