Tuesday, January 16, 2007

From the Library of...

We’ve recently discussed movies. Now let’s talk about books.

I love reading and my life is full of readers.
This is a great combination. One of the joys of reading is sharing books with friends and family. I love it when a book has sufficiently moved me to recommend it to someone else, who in turn enjoys it, too. Hopefully, they will recommend this book to someone else, and so on, and so on. Over the years I have made and received many novel recommendations.

Pun intended. :-)

My friend Greg and I have been sharing book suggestions since we were in high school. After hooking him on The Uncanny X-Men (
The Dark Phoenix Saga) I then recommended my first book to him. Elric of Melnibone is one of my favorite books to this day, as Elric is the first true “anti-hero” that I encountered in fantasy. Greg later highly recommended The Belgariad which I enjoyed very much. I have recently recommended The Skystone and Eagle in the Snow to him, with much success.

My friend Jim recommended Gates of Fire to me seven years ago and I proudly own a hardcover edition of this novel. In turn I recommended Booke of Days, a dark, blunt look at the Crusades as well as Lonesome Dove. Jim is currently finishing the fourth (and final) novel in the western series. He recommended Undaunted Courage to me and I suggested The Killer Angels* to him.
In fact, of all my friends Jim and I have swapped book suggestions the most; a fact that I would never have known if not for this posting. This is very interesting and unexpected, indeed.

Rick Cox recommended The Hornblower Series which begins
here and I am halfway through the series. Gene Roddenberry once said "A shorthand sketch of Kirk might be "a space-age Captain Horatio Hornblower," constantly on trial with himself, a strong, complex personality." High praise (for me anyway) and yet this is VERY true of Hornblower. His character comes alive in these novels. Historical sea novels exist because of C S Forester.

Steve Dooley recommended
Master & Commander which is one of the most difficult yet rewarding novels that I have ever read. I have only read up through the second novel but I know that I will continue on through the entire series. Its just that good.

Bridget demanded that I read
To Kill a Mockingbird for which I am forever grateful. I loved this novel.

Victor has been a
Lord of the Rings fan since we were kids and has always wanted me to read the trilogy. I tried when I was fourteen and was bored to tears. However, I finally did so, right before the first movie came out in theaters. This trilogy is without peer. It is, simply, wonderful. Fantasy novels would not exist if not for J R R Tolkien.
I will always remember reading "The Return of the King", specifically the Battle of the Pelennor Fields while sitting on the terrace at Villa Il Lago overlooking the valley in Dicomano, Italy on a cool, spring May morning. A great memory, indeed.

I read The Hobbit when I was in the 4th grade, Jenna read it in the 7th grade. She was the only girl in her class to pick this novel, too. I suggested The Dragonlance Chronicles to her (which she has read twice now) and she in turn rabidly suggested The Harry Potter Series to me. I am only up to the third book but I have been pleasantly surprised by the series. I applaud JK Rowling and her simple, delightful creativity. It has been a great joy for me to watch Jenna gladly disappear into her room to read the latest novel and not emerge again until it is finished.

The long and the short of this blog is books deserve to be recommended to others. Books should be shared. Many of my now favorite novels have been suggested to me by others.
So, now its your turn.
If you were going to recommend one (no more than five) novels to the blog readers, what would they be?
* Little known fact: Joss Whedon based Firefly on the characters and situations found in this novel. Shiny!


Blogger FoxInDetox said...

Literary suggestions divided into sections by specific targeted audience.

Section 1: Sci-fi geeks.

The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan

Never Let me go, Kazou Ishiguro

Section 2: Literary snobs.

Grendel, John Gardner

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

Section 3: Adventurists.

Shadow Divers, Robert Kurson

Finding Atlantis, David King

Section 4: Perpetual child.

Watership Down, Richard Adams

Peter Pan, James Matthew Barrie

Anything by Dr. Seuss

Section 5: Poseurs.

Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger

Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

2:31 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger Andy said...

Okay...so out of all the books that you suggested which is the ONE book above all others that you would want me to read?

BTW - The Wheel of Time absolutely ROCKS! However, after the 5th book I was so disgusted with the series that I bailed on it completely.

3:19 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger FoxInDetox said...

Dude, they lost me on #4. I just couldn't read it anymore. I loved the first one so a friend of mine bought me all of them for my birthday one year...and wrecked it. I felt so guilty when I donated them all to the used book store in Allston.

The one I think you would appreciate the most (same for me) is "I know why the caged bird sings". I really enjoyed "Shadow Divers" and "Nine Stories"...but I also loved "Grendel" and "Cat's Cradle". My all time favorite was "Watership Down", but then I read "Peter Pan" again. "Never Let Me Go" is about a futuristic society where clones are produced for spare parts...it's a really good read.

Arrggghhh! I'm torn.

5:49 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger Andy said...

Jordan lost you at 4? We both should have bailed after #3. I could bitch about Robert Jordan all day.

Also, the Song of Fire and Ice lost me after the second book, too. I wish to God that someone would just EDIT these people already!

So your torn on your recommendation, eh? Which ONE book (or series) would you want with you on a desert island?

6:21 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger FoxInDetox said...

On a dessert island, I would want "The Mitford Series" by Jan Karon. They are a series of very pleasant books about a very pleasant town full of very pleasant people. What makes it so great is the fact that Karon takes these completely benign people and makes you care about them. I didn't put it on my list because they are what I would call my "guilty pleasure". If you ever pick one up, you'll know why...if you do...start from #1. I read 1 through 5, but never went beyond that...oh, did I mention that they're really churchy? They are...but not in a preachy way.

7:01 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger Andy said...

I have never even HEARD of "The Mitford Series". When did you read this? And why?

9:06 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger FoxInDetox said...

I read it about 10 years ago. I was working for a Newspaper and one of the perks was free books. Publisher's would send them in so that we could review them. I liked the way the covers looked, so I grabbed them out of the book bin and just started reading. They were comfortable and even though I'm far from religious, I enjoyed them. Google it, you'll see what I mean.

9:59 AM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger Andy said...

Google accomplished through Amazon! Since it has been described as an "Andy Griffith" type of story I will probably check it out.

See? You went from a huge list to one recommendation!

4:09 PM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger FoxInDetox said...

It's a gift!

12:53 PM, January 19, 2007  
Blogger Cynthia said...

I just caught up with this conversation...

Octavia Butler is, hands down, my favorite author. I have been recommending her for quite some time, yet you, my friend, have yet to at least inform me that you have read one of her books. If I were to recommend one to start with, I'd go with Parable of the Sower--not religious at all but very spiritual. She writes speculative fiction.

Madeleine L'Engle: Two-Part Invention (autobiographical) and A Wrinkle in Time.

Jennifer Finney Boylan: She's Not There (non-fiction).

Leo Tolstoy: Walk in the Light: Twenty-Three Tales

...plus all those books I listed on my blog back a while. I also read a lot of theology, which takes up time I might spend on fiction, but most fiction doesn't interest me as much. Perhaps I just haven't found any fiction that speaks to me the way theology does. Right now I'm reading Evolutionary Faith by Diarmuid O'Murchu.

9:59 PM, January 22, 2007  
Blogger Lara said...

Well, I'm not sure you'd want to read ANY of these books, except, of course, Gone With The Wind , which I read more as a manual, of course, BUT here
goes -

When feeling studious:

I have a fascination with life during the pre and post Elizabethan Era - and I blame my time on the Mayflower (more about that in a minute) so my long-time favorite reads on cold and/or rainy weekends alone are

Alison Weir's

The Life of Elizabeth I and
Henry VIII: The King and His Court

When I'm feeling slightly less intellectual, I like the fictional side of the same era, such as:
The Other Boelyn Girl (soon to be a movie, I understand), The Queen's Fool: A
, and Phillipa Gregory's other books

Back to the Mayflower - for fascinating, well-written non-fiction of interest to anyone, but particularly me, having been a pilgrim myself (ahem) I LOVE Nathaniel Philbrick's:

The Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (although he doesn't even MENTION Desire Minter, the cad)

and, off topic but equally wonderful, his -
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

For pure girly escapism:

I ADORE The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, including the novels in the series:

Outlander, 1991
Dragonfly in Amber, 1992
Yoyager, 1994
Drums of Autumn, 1997
The Fiery Cross, 2001
A Breath of Snow and Ashes, 2005

and the non-fiction reference guide: The Outlandish Companion, 1999

I enjoyed, but do not LOVE the tangential novel about a minor character in the Outlander series: Lord John and the Private Matter, 2003

For understanding the ins and outs of being a GRITS (girl raised in the

I read and reread, like a textbook on life:

Gone With the Wind (of course you are the only person on the face of the planet who calls me Scarlett, but I digress)
by Margaret Mitchell
Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral
by Charlotte Hays and Gayden Metcalfe
The Official Guide to Christmas in the South: Or, If You Can't Fry It, Spraypaint It Gold by David C. Barnette
We're Just Like You, Only Prettier: Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Belle
and Bless Your Heart, Tramp by Celia Rivenbark

For realizing that as quirky as I am, I'm not alone, and to get into the head of an immensely talented autobiographical writer:

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana and the sequel,
She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts From Mooreland, Indiana - by Haven Kimmel

Then there is work -
For work, it would seem natural to list The Bible - but no - I do not enjoy reading the Bible. Blasphemous, to be sure, but it's too much like, um WORK -

I'm a narrative preacher anyway, so I LOVE The Book of God by Walter Wangerin, Jr. If you've always thought you should read the Bible and can't bring yourself to do so - read this - it's fantastic.

If you'd like to be seriously frightened, you can read Rightous: Dispatches from the Christian Right - it will make you wonder what makes these people think they are any better than terrorist cell groups. Answer: NOTHING. You can also check out:
Evolution Exposed, which I almost didn't buy because I hated to write a check to support its publication but sheer curiosity and a desire to get really annoyed won me over. I smiled as I handed them the check - then promptly filed an expense report to alleviate my personal guilt - and ensure that I leave it behind should I ever leave my job.

Sorry you asked?

6:20 PM, January 28, 2007  
Blogger Andy said...

Cindy, what is it about "Parable of the Sower" that puts it so high on your favorite author's list of works?

4:21 PM, January 30, 2007  
Blogger Andy said...

Of course I'm not sorry I asked, Lara. :-)

I recently read "Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War" and found it to be excellent.

"Gone with the Wind" is a great book, too. Much more of a soap opera then even the movie ever hoped of being.

What is very interesting about these replies is that no two books seem to overlap.

4:24 PM, January 30, 2007  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Just read it and find out for yourself.

Alright, I'll give you two reasons:

1. For the book and its main character she came up with an entire belief system unlike anything I've ever seen.

2. She includes the entire biblical parable of the sower at the end of the book and it never made more sense than it did there.

And a bonus third, I'm your friend, trust me, you'll love it.

10:10 AM, January 31, 2007  
Blogger Andy said...

Reason three works best for me, on so many levels. Not the least of which being that I have NO IDEA what the parable of the sower actually is...

1:56 PM, January 31, 2007  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Biblical illiterate...Mark 4: 1-9; Matthew 13: 1-9; Luke 8: 4-8. Jesus tells a parable about a farmer who sowed some seed. Some fell on the path, some fell on rock, some fell among weeds and thorns, some fell on good soil and it produced a hundredfold. Look it up.

You better believe reason three works the best! :-)

4:04 PM, January 31, 2007  

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