The "Top 5 Favorite Books" list from High Fidelity

shelved under Fiction

In what is arguably Nick Hornby's best novel — "High Fidelity" — Rob Fleming is a London record store owner in his 30s whose girlfriend, Laura, has just left him. At his record shop Rob and his employees spend some of their free moments "top-five" lists of anything that demonstrates their knowledge of music.

These top-five lists figure prominently into the plot so I won't say more, but I will say that one of the five lists is Rob's "Top 5 Favorite Books." (Or, since this is set in London, maybe I should say "favourite".) Anyway, below is the list. Note that the #5 book on the list was described as "Something by William Gibson or Kurt Vonnegut" — being the generous guy that I am, I gave you the defining novel of each. Finally, for those who don't know "High Fidelity," I list that book as well.


#1. The Big Sleep

by Raymond Chandler

Ann Klefstad from Duluth, MN says:

Can atmosphere be so intoxicating that plot — even a tight and tense plot — dissolves into irrelevance? It can here. A most beautiful evocation of men's insane double bind — they didn't invent it; they are pinioned by it; and Chandler understood it so well he probably smelled of it.

This book also appears on Raymond Chandler's L.A. Noir


#2. Red Dragon

by Thomas Harris

Kali from Temecula, CA says:

Far better and scarier than his Silence of the Lambs. Harris tells the unforgettable and gripping tale of a psychopathic killer and his motivations. You root for the police to catch up to him and stop him but you can see how the killer became the monster he is. This book also serves as the introduction to Hannibal Lecter — and no, he's not the bad guy, not in this book.


#5a. Neuromancer

by William Gibson

Pat J. says:

Neuromancer is one of the seminal novels of the cyberpunk movement of the 80s and 90s. Dark, gritty, and atmospheric, it follows the quest of fallen console cowboy Case as he is manipulated by forces beyond his control. William Gibson's prose is at once spare and dizzyingly dense; not a word is wasted. Case's journey takes him from the gutters of Chiba, to Turkey, the sprawling metropolis that has engulfed America's eastern seaboard, and ultimately to Earth orbit, where he squares off against antagonists both human and otherwise. This novel won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award, and rightly so.

This book also appears on Simeon Stolzberg's Favorite Books


#5b. Slaughterhouse-Five

by Kurt Vonnegut

William F. DeVault says:

One of the truly great and disturbing war novels of modern time. Yes, it is sick, twisted, depraved and includes the Holocaust and a porn star named Montana Hilhack (a vision of Miley Cyrus' future?) — but that's what makes it so jarring.


High Fidelity

by Nick Hornby

Laura H. from Brooklyn, NY says:

"High Fidelity" has been one of my favorite movies for many years, and it has now become one of my favorite books. The protagonist, Rob, is a thirty-something guy in a relationship crisis. He questions his life in relationship to friends, family, music, and love. However, Hornby takes what could be a difficult scenario and turns it into an honest account of what it feels like to have real self doubt. The book is funny, meaningful, and ultimately true to the mistakes we all make and the lovely redemption that follows. Now I've got to go watch the movie again...


Finally, thanks to Don Hazelwood for suggesting this list.