Book Love

I have been looking at a tumblr site awesomepeoplereading.  And it is truly awesome. Plus, it gave me the impetus I needed to talk about something I have been putting off for a while: books.

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Note to self: Books do not make comfortable pillows.

Books changed my life. I always loved to read. I knew how before I ever started school. My mother homeschooled my older siblings and as there was no sitter, we sat in on the classes. It made the first few years of school painfully slow.

 

I was always reading a book in class instead of paying attention, a habit I kept up right through high school. I never volunteered to answer anything in class, but always knew the answer when called upon (and once the question was repeated and after they finally got my attention). I am a bit of a know it all.

 

When I was 10 we moved to a house that was literally one block from the public library. I was old enough to walk there alone. And it was free. My mother gave the library permission to give me an adult card. And I have never looked back.

A whole world of grown up books was waiting for me.

I spent that whole  summer reading, and every summer after that. I would sit on our porch in the heat and rain with a glass of water or sweet tea and a bowl of snacks. I was lost in another world of some writer’s creation. I read voraciously. I could read an entire adult novel in less than a day (I still can if I have the time to).

 

So I thought I would share some of my favorite books of all time for you. I even divided them into categories. I have a lot of favorites. These are books that are so good, I bought them after I had already read them. But this is in no way extensive. Prepare yourself:

 

Series:

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling- These books got me through my first hospital stay. There were weeks of boredom and waiting for my blood levels to be right for my first surgery. I couldn’t walk, bathe, brush my teeth. I couldn’t even use the toilet. But when I read these books, nothing existed but the world of Harry and Hogwarts. 

 

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – I actually read these for the first time this year. But I am obsessed with the books, story, and movies.

 

Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer- She is one of my favorite authors. This series is like  Harry Potter in the 11th century. It is riveting. This is one of those series that you wish there were dozens of instead of only three.

 

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams- I can’t even remember the first time I read this. Probably middle school. And I thought it was some of the funniest writing I have ever read. It still is. PS: He has other books not in this series that are somehow even better.

 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle- Most people don’t know there are 4 books in this series. All of them are interesting and wonderful.

Childhood Favorites:

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell- This is one of the first books I can ever remember reading. It made me want to be a writer. It also is one of the most unintentionally feminist books I have ever read. It made me realize women were just as capable as men in every way.

 

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer- I love her so much that she gets two spots on this list. This is the first book I read by her. I loved it so much that I buy a copy every time I see one for sale. I collect them and am constantly giving them away. I think sharing a book you love with someone is one of the greatest things you can do.

 

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner- Remember reading Where the Red Ferns Grows as a kid? Did it make you cry? Not me. I loved that book, it is very good. But THIS book made me cry.

 

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery- This book will always be treasured by me. I will probably get a tattoo of it someday. I wish the whole world would read it.

 

Sign of the Seahorse by Graeme Base- All of his books are some of the most beautifully illustrated things I have ever seen. And the stories are good too.

I love his art.

Short Stories:

I have a particular love of short stories.

 

Stephen King- He is my favorite author, but my favorite things by him will always be his short stories. All his compilations are fantastic and I think they keep getting better. ‘N’ is one that really stuck with me.

 

Ray Bradbury- He got me reading and loving short stories. I remember the first thing I ever read by him. I remember reading it and feeling like my world had changed and knowing that this would be an important memory. It was ‘All Summer in a Day.’ My favorite book of all time is an 800 page compilation of his. And that is saying something. ‘The Scythe’ has influenced me in ways I can’t describe. His writing is soft and gentle and sometimes terrible and horrifying. “The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl’ is very reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe.

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My favorite book in the entire world. If those shelves behind me look like they are buckling under the weight, they are. Every shelf is double packed; with books on top of books too.

Phillip K Dick- This man is pure sci-fi. A friend recently compared my fiction to his and I felt this was the highest of compliments. ‘Second Generation’ is one story I can read over and over. I am sure you know his work. He wrote Bladerunner. And Minority Report. And Total Recall. And Paycheck. And A Scanner Darkly. I could go on…

 

Edgar Allen Poe- I doubt any of you are surprised that I adore this guy. My favorite thing by him ever is ‘The Raven.’ I know it is very well known and popular, but it deserves to be. I also love ‘The Cask of Amontillado.’

 

100 Little Series- There are about a dozen of these short story compilations. I have read most of them. My favorite two are 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories and 100 Vicious Little Vampire Stories. These books will challenge your concept of aliens and vampires in the best ways possible.

 

Scary Stories:

I read a lot of horror and suspense. They rarely affect me. But these stories have haunted me long after I moved on to the next book.

 

World War Z by Max Brooks- If you’ve seen the movie, forget it. This book is nothing like anything I have ever read before. It is in my top 5 all time favorite books. And I don’t even particularly like zombies. The story that stuck with me most was under the streets of France. That shit is haunting.

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I wanted A to read this so much that I read it aloud to him every night before bed.

Gerald’s Game by Stephen King- I have read everything by him and this was the book I couldn’t sleep after reading. The man in the moonlight just did me in.

 

Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood- This book does everything she intended it to do. The ending is so horrifying to me.

 

Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O’Nan- His writing is so beautiful, it is like reading poetry. But don’t let that fool you. This book is incredible and disturbing.

 

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes- This book chronicles one of my greatest fears. Need I say more?

 

1984 by George Orwell- I know there is some debate of 1984 vs Brave New World. But this book is scary because the people don’t even have the privacy of the inside of their own minds. It still gives me the shivers.

 

Comics:

I’m not too good to consider the writing and stories in comic books to be just as serious as any other medium.

 

SCUD by Rob Schrab- Have you read this? No? Read it! It is the best comic ever written. It is full of pure fucking awesomeness. And that’s all I will tell you.

 

Bone by Jeff Smith- It took me a minute to get over the weird creatures that are the main characters. But the story is too good to miss.

 

Hellboy by Mike Mignola- This was one of the comics that got me seriously into comics when I was younger. The stories are funny and weird and interesting.

 

Ghostopolis by Doug Ten Napel- He has several comics that I love, but this is one of the best. It has some interesting ideas about the afterlife.

 

Watchmen by Alan Moore- I think the movie did a great job adapting this, but you should read it anyway because the story is that good.

 

Uplifting Stories:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel- The movie is good, but the book is better. I laughed my ass off during several parts of it.

 

I thought my father was God- This is a series of short stories written by NPR listeners. They are all true, short, and interesting. This book is funny, sad, spiritual, interesting.

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I’m not wearing pants in any of these pictures. You’re welcome.

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusack- This is one of those stories that just sticks with you. I had to read it twice just to re-experience the book from the perspective of knowing the ending.

 

Widow for One Year by John Irving- I love everything by this man. Some of his books are depressing. But this is another one that snippets of just seem to stick with me. I find myself thinking of it during odd moments of my day.

 

Non-Fiction:

Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan- I love two non-fiction books over any other; food and diseases. This one is about food. It is interesting and well written.

 

Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft- I wish every single woman on the planet was required to read this. It’s about abusive men and their motives. It was the single most helpful thing I have read on the subject. I intend to read it once a year for the rest of my life.

 

Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker- This is the only other book on this list that I believe should be required reading for every woman on the planet. I have bought more than 10 copies of it because I continue to give it to people that need to read it.

 

Gaining by Aimee Liu- This is about eating disorders. It is helpful to read if you have one, are recovering from one, or know someone that has one. It is about life after an eating disorder. It made me realize I wasn’t alone with my issues.

 

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson- This book is about cholera and the father of epidemiology and anaesthesia: Jonathan Snow. He is my hero. This is one of the best books I have read about diseases and I believe I have read them all.

 

Bonk by Mary Roach- She is hilarious and amazing and everything she writes is incredible. This book is about the study of sex. She reminds me of the bloggess. Read her, love her. She has a TedTalks about orgasms that is brilliant.

 

Honorable Mention:

These are a few favorites that I didn’t know where to put.

 

Microserfs by Douglas Coupland- I love all of his books. They are weird and funny and lovely.

 

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk- His novels are great. But I am always fascinated by the things happening in the periphery of his stories.  This is my favorite because it is about rabies and time travel and I can’t even explain what else here.

 

The Pleasure of my Company by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin)- This book is another that will stay with you. It is amusing and sweet.

 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson- This book was so hard for me to read. But all of her books can be. They are about the dark side of growing up. Not in some Christopher Pike, ‘my best friend is secretly a ghost’ way. Her books are more of a ‘I was raped or have an eating disorder’ kind of way. I own multiple copies of this book and even suffered through Kristen Stewart’s acting to watch the movie.

 

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon- My favorite plot device is the unreliable narrator. And this books nails it on so many levels.

 

Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb- I went through this phase where I read every book I could find on dating. Most of them were hilarious, terrible, or hilariously terrible. This is the one that I thought was actually sensible, logical, and helpful. I don’t suffer from the issues described in this book, but I recognized many of my friends, male and female, in it’s pages.

 

And there you have it. A, by no means, exhaustive list of some of my favorite novels. Do you think I missed something? Do you have something to recommend to me? Please do so in the comments.

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BOOKS!!

 

PS I just wrote a humongous post about books. And I had to really narrow down my favorites. None of you can leave me too long of a comment. Honestly, ever. But definitely not if we are talking books.

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42 thoughts on “Book Love

  1. Thank God and the angels who deemed it important enough to build libraries. We share many of the same reading tastes. Here are a few you might want to try:

    I wonder if you’d enjoy John Barth. His early works, like The Floating Opera is relatively straightforward in terms of writing style/genre. Other works like Giles Goat Boy or Chimera are a bit too “out there” for me, but I read ’em anyway. I’ve read everything by him. And by John Irving – I keep going back to A Prayer for Owen Meany.

    Have you read “Cloud Atlas”? It blew me away enough to read everything else by David Mitchell. Black Swan Green was a good one from his earlier days. Number 9 Dream was astonishing.

    Finally, so as not to exhaust you, have you read Nabokov? I read Lolita first and have re-read it several times. Then to Ada – an enormous work. Also read at least twice more. And then I proceeded to read ever other book he ever wrote that was available to me from the library.

    OH! I lied: here’s another – Teddy: a short story by JD Salinger

    I’ll go now. I look forward to reading other comments here. I can always use recommendations.

    • I’ve read everything by JD Salinger and several of Nabokov’s including Lolita (which I hated, sorry). John Irving is great, A Prayer for Owen Meany is the first thing I read by him. I also like The Fourth Hand. I have not read anything else that you mentioned. I am excited for some new stuff to read!

      • I read Lolita about thirty-five years ago. (YIKES! really?) I re-read it maybe five years later after I had read all of the rest of Nabokov’s work. I re-read it again maybe ten years ago and it was different. The subject matter overwhelmed the writing and I did not enjoy it.

      • I think Nabokov is a talented writer. I just don’t like reading about things like Lolita. I find the implications very upsetting. I think we all have our sticking points. And that is mine. But it doesn’t have to be anyone else’s.

  2. You’re a know-it-all because you’re smart. I used to read a lot, but not to this extent. I still read, but minimally. I’m reading The Goldfinch right now. I love these pictures. Just so you know.

  3. That’s a great list. We share a lot of favourites so if you haven’t read them I’d recommend the following:

    Gene Wolfe, “The Book of the New Sun”. You want unreliable narrators? Let me introduce you to Severian. A young apprentice banished from the Guild of Torturers for helping a prisoner escape and who might not be telling us the entire truth about his journey to the far off city of Thrax where he is to become an executioner. If I’m ever stranded on a desert island then this is the book I hope is washed up with me.

    “Reasons to Live” by Amy Hempel. Chuck Palahniuk says that Amy Hempel was one of the biggest influences on his writing style and you can see it in this collection of short stories. When I read someone this good it make me *not* want to write. She does so much with so little that everything else just seems like noise. Every time I get to the final paragraph of “In the cemetery where they buried Al Jolson” I get a lump in my throat the size of a frickin’ apple and it gets a little dusty. You can read that story here: http://fictionaut.com/stories/amy-hempel/in-the-cemetery-where-al-jolson-is-buried.pdf

    • Ooh! I haven’t heard of either of those people! Thank you for coming by and sharing. I’m starting a list. Also, I don’t think it’s fair to not write just because you think someone else is so much better. Maybe you’ll never be an Amy Hempel. So what? I doubt I will be either. Maybe I will never be published or successful, but I will never stop writing. I’d love to read something of yours some time.

  4. Dammit. I started swatting at a spider and lost my comment. ANYway. Love the pics. I have 7 gigantic bookshelves and they are still not enough room for all my books. They are two deep and stacked. Have you read anything by Gillian Flynn? So good, I love all of hers. And, Oh my God, Hugh Howey’s Wool? I could go on and on.

    • Please do go on! I had to get rid of 8 boxes of books when I moved. It was tragic! I still have about 10 boxes worth and I can’t get rid of any more. I’m starting a list, share more!

  5. After looking at your list, I took a deep sigh…I have got a lot of reading to do, lol. Thanks for loaning me that Philip K. Dick book. Still churning through it, but enjoying what I have read so far.

    Some books/authors I enjoy:

    Arthur C. Clark: He has a special place for me as I have a few books personally signed by him. Great novels as well as short stories.

    Tom Clancy: Pretty main stream, but good character development.

    David Eddings: Not the deepest writing out there, but he spins a great yarn and has interesting characters.

    Book of Five Rings and the Hagakure: Good books on “philosophy” from an Asian perspective.

    Stephen Hawkings: A Brief History of Time – great read interweaving science and religion.

    Raymond E. Fiest: Very good series, reminiscent of the scope and breath found with Tolkien.

    Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Game – book was so much better than the movie (usually the way it is).

    George R.R. Martin: GOT – started reading this way before it became “fashionable” to be into this series. Winter is Coming….

    Anne McCaffrey: Dragonriders books are another great yarn with characters that you root for and mourn when they pass.

    Living with Someone Who’s Living with Bipolar Disorder (Lowe & Cohen) & The Bipolar Relationship (Bloch) – the first two books I read to finally educate myself so I can better understand my wife’s mental health condition.

    Probably tons more that I am forgetting, but a solid start of what I enjoy.

    • I’ve read almost everything by Arthur C Clarke and Issac Asimov (if you haven’t read him I highly recommend I, Robot and Nightfall). I really like them both. I’ve read a few Tom Clancy as well. I LOVED the Ender’s series but didn’t like anything else by Orson Scott Card. I cant get into Game of Thrones (I know I know, it’s amazing). I just don’t like all the backstabbing and dirty dealings. I’ve tried a few times. I have not heard of any of these other people, well, I’ve heard of A Brief History of Time, I just haven’t read it yet. The rest are going on the list! And I am starting to realize I might have more of a reading addiction than I originally thought.

      • Considering all the things to be addicted to, books gotta be the safest (watch out for those nasty paper cuts)!!

  6. You just made me want to run out to the library. I’m on crutches (minor “calcaneus” bruise), but have to go to the grocery store anyway, if I’m ever to eat again.

    It has been a shamefully long time. Even when I got bad about reading, I used to always have an audio book in the car. Now I’ve been listening to the same six CDs of burnt music for a year (old car, no iPod input). Shame, shame, shame.

    I’m willing to publicly shame myself for my criminal lack of reading in the past year because it means I’ve deprived myself of everything you describe in your fifth paragraph. No self-loving person ever should.

    I love love love your two pictures with the book pillows (your funny other ones too). There’s something about your face that I simply adore.

    Do you read any Vonnegut, by the way? Also, as far as comics go, have read any Tintin?

    Finally, huge ass yeses to:

    Harry Potter
    Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    The Little Prince
    Handmaid’s Tale
    Ray Bradbury
    Rant
    1984

    Some of the rest, I need to read. Especially Tolkien.

    • Go forth and read! Just be careful on your crutches. And take care of yourself. With books!

      Everyone is loving those pictures. Including me. I think it’s just because I was feverish with the excitement of talking about and thinking about books. They are my biggest passion in life. I guess it shows.

      Someone else asked me about Vonnegut. I said it wasn’t an exhaustive list, but I am shocked I forgot to include him. I have read everything by him. I think his non-fiction shows him to be one of the kindest, most humane people I have ever read. I adore his speeches. I have only cried at two authors deaths. His and Ray Bradbury’s. (I am sure Stephen King will be the third someday).

      I have never read Tintin. But it will go on the list at your recommendation.

  7. I read and read and read, and then I don’t for stretches of time. One author ( Author? … I seem to want to capitalize is as that writers are, like, important and stuff yes? ) that I just picked up because the cover looked intriguing was Chis Wooding. It is called “The Braided Path”. Actually an omnibus of a trilogy. I am going to re read it soon. So out there and unlike anything I had read before.

  8. Read through everything here and didn’t see Stephen R. Donaldson. He has two multi-book series that you may fine entertaining. The first, started in the 70’s and wrapped only in 2012 is the Thomas Covenant: The Unbeliever series. I think 10 books all told. Ought to keep you busy for a week, at least. Not unlike Tolkeins’ Ring Trilogy, but he found a way to involve bits of present day life into the fantasy world.

    The other series by Donaldson is The Gap, a 5 book pure Sci-Fi series about space travel, alien cultures, culture wars, hybridizing species and a lot of personal introspection on the part of the characters.

    I devoured both series, but thought that towards the end of the Covenant series Donaldson was trying to impress himself with his own vocabulary. Bogged down my reading some, but I was so invested by that point, I HAD to finish.

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