The Facebook ’10 Books That Stayed With You’ Meme Post

libraryBooks

This week I got ‘tagged’ on a ’10 Books That Stayed With You’ post, and wanted to quickly

“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great words of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.”

OK, before I start I admit to peeling four of the books from my ‘Ten Days You’ list of ‘Four Books’ … I mean, why not, it is only three months old, right? And then I found I had been tagged way back in the early days of the blog, and wrote about it here. Interesting that there are similarities and differences in the list.

So here we go!

1. ‘Cat’s Cradle’ by Kurt Vonnegut – this book I would call my all-time favorite. Like most Vonnegut works it is a fairy easy and quick read – deceptively so. I have read this book 20 or more times since around 1980, and I don’t think I have read it the same way twice: it is funny, bitter, sardonic, twisted, anti-government, anti-religion, pro-spirituality, pro-human, both pro- and anti-science, and so more. I cannot recommend it enough.

2. ‘Foundation Trilogy’ by Isaac Asimov – while like so many sci-fi series there is a ton that this trilogy gets wrong, so much that has been changed as technology advances … the human side of the stories and the thrilling chase and mystery aspects are all consistent with what could really happen. It is interesting to juxtapose some of the events of these books with some anti-science movements in our own country today.

3. ‘100 Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Getting through this book the first time early in high school is something I still remember (not assigned, just pleasure reading my sophomore English teacher thought I would like) – the sweeping story of a town as it rises and falls, told through the history of a single family, if funny and sad and touching and engaging throughout. It really is an epic piece of modern literature, and I always love stepping back into that world.

4. ‘Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy’ by Timothy Zahn – It was either this or the ‘Jedi Academy’ trilogy by Kevin Anderson, but this is better written, has a better villain and of course introduces Mara Jade. Starting a few years after ‘Return of the Jedi’, it pits an Imperial Grand Admiral against the fledgling New Republic. Even without the Star Wars mythos these are enjoyable books.

5. ‘Night Watch’ by Sergei Lukyanenko – these books by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko captures great character studies and tales of the human spirit in the context of magic and mystery, all set in post Cold War Moscow. The series has ups and downs, but having just re-read the first couple I was reminded of how well it mixes intriguing storytelling and quality writing.

6. ‘The Plague’ by Albert Camus – Danny is reading ‘The Stranger’ right now, another of my faves, but I love this one more! It is an amazing tale of the human spirit in the face of crushing despair, and a very hopeful and positive take on the essence of existential philosophy.

7. ‘Harry Potter’ series by JK Rowling – I have been flipping back through these recently, re-reading the series for the fourth or fifth time overall. And aside from the epilogue of the final book (that I always hated that) the series has held up well. Sure the books starting with Goblet of Fire could have used tighter editing, but overall they are a great series.

8. ‘Guerrillas’ by V. S. Naipaul – Naipaul was recommended to me by my 11th grade English teacher, Mr. McLellan who called him ‘the best living writer’. This book is not a happy, fun or easy read – yet it is incredibly compelling.

9. ‘Winesburg, Ohio’ by Sherwood Anderson – Anderson (no relation) transports you to a small town just after the turn of the century. While there is a central character, the stories are told through the loneliness and despair that permeates the people of the town and the town itself.

10. ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury – although technically dated, the heart of this book is the character study of the interface of people and information and freedom. And it remains interesting because of that – I love looking at the stuff he got wrong about the future, and yet there are things that seemed wrong that are becoming more true with time (The Family, for example).

Tag, You’re It! Either post your list here, on Facebook, or your own blog!

10 Books That Touched You

The joy of reading

The joy of reading

This morning on Facebook I saw a post from a friend which appears to be the latest ‘tag & share’ game. It is called ’10 Books That Touched You’, and it immediately captured my imagination as the list started writing itself in my head, and completed itself while I was out for my run.

Don’t tell anyone but one of my goals for 2014 (‘resolutions’ are recipes for failure) is to complete at least one new book a month and re-read a book every quarter. Anyway, here goes the list:

1. Kurt Vonnegut – Cat’s Cradle – my favorite Vonnegut book and one of my all-time faves. I have re-read this dozens of times and always discover something new.
2. Isaac Asimov – Foundation Trilogy – yes this is a cheat choosing all three books, but it is really essential reading for the sci-fi genre, but is much more than that.
3. Albert Camus – The Plague – an amazing tale of the human spirit in the face of crushing despair, and a very hopeful and positive take on the essence of existential philosophy.
4. Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451 – although technically dated, the heart of this book is the character study of the interface of people and information and freedom.
5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – 100 Years of Solitude – this sprawling tale of many generations of the Buendia family captured my imagination as a teen and never left. I have re-read a few times and always love it.
6. V. S. Naipaul – Guerillas – Naipaul was recommended to me by my 11th grade English teacher, Mr. McLellan who called him ‘the best living writer’. This book is not a happy, fun or easy read – yet it is incredibly compelling.
7. Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse 5 – for me this remains the essential war book, which tells you a lot about my views on war, violence and guns.
8. Jean-Paul Sartre – Nausea – pretty much the flip-side of The Plague, I remember reading this on vacation on Cape Cod in high school. The prototype of the bleak, negative, solitary existential story.
9. Sherwood Anderson – Winesburg, Ohio – Anderson (no relation) transports you to a small town just after the turn of the century. While there is a central character, the stories are told through the loneliness and despair that permeates the people of the town and the town itself.
10. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner – Faulkner is an incredible master at constructing realistic portraits of the elements of his fictional south and those moving through it. The tale is dark and poignant, and the character voices and insights are just incredible.

Other choices would be Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and Ulysses by James Joyce. Catch-22 is another great WWII anti-hero story and is regularly hilarious, but it falls below Slaughterhouse 5 for me. And Joyce … well, I have only completely finished the book once in a deliberate front-to-back read, and read it in chunks other times … not enough to really qualify, although I adore it whenever I read it.

All of these books were initially read as physical books, but any reading in the past two decades was digital – so all of my most recent re-reads of these books was done on some sort of digital device. I have no particular love of physical books or magazines, and the minute I can keep my digital devices powered on during air travel is the end of physical media for me.

What about you? Do you have thoughts on these books, have favorites of your own? And what are your thoughts on digital versus physical books?

Oh, and I love the wild image of the huge book and cup of tea/coffee as you sit on the couch reading – it came from here.