books


Thanks to Denise I have a new obsession. I’ve been busily entering all my books at GoodReads. It’s quite addictive and easy to use. Plus you get to compare your reviews to others and get book recommendations. 🙂 Now if I could just remember all those that I’ve read that I don’t actually own a copy of…

Yesterday Mary posted her top ten favorite books, inspired by a program she had heard on MPR. After reading her post I thought, “Well, that should be fun.. what are my top ten books then..”. And here is where I got stuck.

What criteria should I use? Should it be books that have inspired me? Can’t think of one. How about books that have changed my world view? The only one I can think of is 1984 by George Orwell and I wouldn’t really call it a favorite book. I’m sure my world view has been affected by my reading, just not overtly. Just not in a way where I put down the book and think “Gosh, I’ve had it all wrong” or “Well, that changes how I think about that”. It is perplexing.

So, finally I decided it should be books that I loved so much that I would read it again, and again, and again. The kind of book that grows in the retelling. That you can sit down on a cold day, snuggled in an afghan with a pot of hot tea, and just savor. Books that I just can’t get bored of.

Ok. Well, when I stopped to think about it that came to a lot more than 10. And they were all by a handful of authors. So, instead of a top ten list of books, I give you my top ten authors (with annotations).

1. Terry Pratchett. I have read nearly every book this man has written as well as his short stories. Not only is he amazingly prolific, but his books never disappoint. He takes events in the real world and examines them in a fantasy environment. His books are always filled with humor and heart and are surprisingly insightful into human nature. My favorite books: Reaper Man, Wyrd Sisters, Wee Free Men, Guards! Guards!, and Good Omens (with Neil Gaiman).

2. Neil Gaiman. I was first introduced to Mr. Gaiman by reading Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett. It was such a wonderful book that I immediately sought out his other work. He has a wonderful talent for taking the world and bending it slightly to make you see it in a fantastical way. I simply can’t get enough. My favorite books: Fragile Things (collection of short stories, must read Study in Emerald!), Good Omens, American Gods, Stardust.

3. J.K. Rowling. Does this one really need an explanation? Harry Potter has changed the world of children’s literature for the better and has touched the hearts and minds of millions, nay, billions of people around the world. My favorite books: All 🙂

4. Douglas Adams. My, and many others, introduction to the genre of comic fantasy. He is an icon, with good reason. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very prolific and the few books he has left I savor like the sweetest nectar. I sorely miss him. My favorite books: Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, The Long Dark Tea-time Of The Soul.

5. Jane Austen. She is the only traditional literary figure in my list. As you can tell, I have a fantastical bent to my reading taste, which makes her seem a little out of place. But as many readers of fantasy know, you have to have very strong characters to make it work and Ms. Austen was the best at writing strong characters. The people in her stories are very real. I hope for them, and cry for them. That is very rare. My favorite books: Emma, Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice, Northanger Abbey.

6. Christopher Moore. He is an American version of Douglas Adams & Terry Pratchett. Need I say more? My favorite books: Lamb, Blood Sucking Fiends, A Dirty Job.
7. Shel Silverstein. I still enjoy his absurd poems and songs. I think everyone needs a little whimsy. My favorite books: Where The Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, Lafcadio, Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book.

8. Dr. Seuss. You are never too old for a good bed-time story. Every now & then Honey or I will pull out a Seuss book and read it aloud. Honey said that the Cat in the Hat was his first introduction to the idea of anarchy! 🙂 My favorite books: The Lorax, Cat In The Hat, Horton Hatches the Egg, The Sneetches.

9. J.R.R. Tolkein. He is the father of epic fantasy. Creating a world so beautiful, and filled with such brave, heroic beings, who wouldn’t want to visit as much as possible. My favorite books: The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings Triology.

10. Susanna Clarke. This last one was a tough one to decide, but I had to give it to Ms. Clarke. I have only read one of her books (she has only had 2 published), but it was one of the most glorious books I have ever read. It was a book that I kept thrusting upon people, saying “Yes, I know it’s 800 pages in small print with footnotes, but you HAVE to read it!”. The book? Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. Yes, you now have to read it. Seriously. You’ll thank me.

So, that is my list. I hope you will make one as well. I would love to know who you love to read; I’m always looking for a good book, and it is cold outside.

un-lun-dun-cover.jpg

I just finished reading Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy book for young readers. I would recommend it for ages 9 & up, because there is some imagery in the book that may be frightening for younger children. Also, there are several “big” words in the book that may be difficult. There is a bit of British slang used, but Mr. Mieville has been thoughtful enough to provide a small glossary at the back of the book. Also, he has kept the chapters short, most are only 4-5 pages long, so it is easy for even a slow reader to get through a chapter quickly. Below is a brief synopsis from Amazon.com

“It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too–including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book.

When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last. But then things begin to go shockingly wrong.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very imaginative and the illustrations are wonderful! Mr. Mieville is a very talented writer, with a voice that reminds me a lot of Neil Gaiman. Apparently this is his first novel for younger readers, however he does have several other novels out that I will definitely be keeping an eye out for.

I have to say that, since the break through of the Harry Potter series, the quality of novels for the young has skyrocketed. I find myself enjoying these books far more than most of the adult novels I have read. These books seem more original & imaginative, without all the sexual tension/hangups that can cause books aimed at older audiences to falter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for good love scenes… just not obligatory love scenes. Not every protagonist needs a love interest.

Overall I would give this book 4 out of 5. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have. I am definitely giving this one to my niece.

I haven’t done a meme in a while. I saw this one (may have done it before, who knows) and thought it looked interesting. So, here it is:

Look at the list of (100) books below.
Bold the ones you’ve read.
Italicize the ones you want to read.
leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
Movies don’t count.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25 . Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

23 of 100 read, not too bad. And only 1 (Brave New World) was read for a class! Still haven’t read any Dickens though, will have to remedy that soon.