Friday, October 23, 2009

15 Books

I just finished telling y’all that I’m a compulsive maker of lists, and here I go again. This list is not compulsive, however; it is requestive from Peter Sandico, my creative book blogging buddy in Manila.

A few days ago, he challenged readers to list, in his comments section, fifteen books (in no more than fifteen minutes) “That will stick with them forever.” I like that wording: not favorites because, by definition, only one book can be a favorite.

I didn’t time me because I have no idea where my watch is (I’m watching out for it, though), so I cheated on the time factor. And I don’t know if this is cheating or not, but three of my selections include multiple volumes; listing just one book of a trilogy seems really dopey to me. If I'm a cheater then so be it—this is my blog and I’ll do what I want with it. [large raspberry]

On to the list. These books will stay with me forever because they either affected me emotionally or were just fantastic reads (in no particular order):

1. I Know This Much is True, Wally Lamb

2. The Snopes Trilogy, William Faulkner (3 vols., duh)

3. The Journeyer, Gary Jennings

4. The World According to Garp, John Irving

5. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

6. Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

7. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

8. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

9. A Song of Fire and Ice, George R.R. Martin (4 vols.)

10. The Source, James Michener

11. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

12. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry

13. Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe

14. The Dark Tower, Stephen King (7 vols.)

15. Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham

A bonus book from childhood, one that has stayed with me all my life:

16. The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper ("I think I can, I think I can, I know I can.")

[Feel free to steal!]


Wandering Coyote said...

I prefer this wording to "favourite" too. I loved I Know This Much is True! Have you read his most recent book? I haven't gotten around to it yet. I cannot stand Charles Dickens!!

Anonymous said...

For me.. there is only one book.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol - Oscar Wilde.

There was a time when I had only two books for company, and saw daylight twice a week. I was given Wilde's book by someone with a twisted sense of humour.

I asked for the second book. It was a Thesaurus, and I've never looked back.

I still have both of those original books.

Pat said...

There used to be a record of an old forties English actor Reginald ? reading out the laboured 'I think I can.' going up the hill and then the triumphant 'I knew I could' as he sails down. I love it.

St Jude said...

The Book Thief, I'm with you on that one, I also love the characters in Dickens works, they are so 'alive'. Good list.

MaryWitzl said...

Can't say I'm with you on The Book Thief (I have tried to read it and I have failed), but I LOVE The Kite Runner, Lonesome Dove, and just about anything Wally Lamb writes. And Huckleberry Finn is absolutely a book that will stick with me forever.

Kim Ayres said...

I'm not going to attempt this list because on it would be The DaVinci Code - for all the wrong reasons

Barbara Bruederlin said...

This would be a fun exercise and of course one that appeals to a fellow compulsive list maker. Plus you can add books that you hated intensely, that's always fun.

Tiffin said...

With you about "The Book Thief".
*big snort of laughter*, Kim.

Diane said...

Great picks. I especially loved 1,5, and 11.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Charlie! This is such a diverse list of books that have "stuck with you forever." I've always been curious about I Know This Much Is True. I loved She's Come Undone, so I guess I'll check Lamb's Other Novel.

As for the William Faulkner, I promised myself to read him next year. I actually have a lots of copies of his Faulkner's novels on my shelf, but I can't get past his very, very, very long sentences.

And I see that you like George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I also like that fantasy series, especially the second one. I've always recommended this series to my friends who are not that into fantasy since the series is not your typical novels of the genre. Come to think of it, there's not much fantastic and magical elements in the series, right? I read these novels for the political intrigue. How do you feel about the fact that Martin is taking so long a time to come up with the 5th book?

When did you read Huckleberry Finn? I read it when I was 10, I think. Most people say that this novel conjures a negative reaction from people who reread it at a later stage in their life.

Yay! We have books common in our lists! The World According to Garp is really memorable. Even though Garp may seem like an an a**hole in some parts of the novel, he's always lovable. I think this is the genius of Irving -- coming up with characters that you can really empathize with.

P.S. Thanks for the shout out.

Charlie said...

WC: Yes, I've read Lamb's latest, but I was quite disappointed (I notice that I didn't review it.) Perhaps I was unfair, attempting to compare it to an uncomparable work.

JIMMY: The number of books doesn't matter--it's the meaning to you that counts.

PAT: I don't know Reginald, of course, but I remember my mom's voice reading it to me.

ST JUDE: Dickens certainly had his faults (the master of coincidence), but he had a superb ear for dialog and dialect. Not to mention humor and biting sarcasm.

MARY: So except for one or two books, I done good, huh? [Mary climbs wall, screaming.]

Charlie said...

KIM: I believe you zoomed over my head on this one (far from the first time, of course).

BARBARA: Now that would be a tough list to compile, especially limited to 15. Why don't you try it the next time you're in a pissy mood?

TUI: I'm delighted that you got a big kick out of Kim. He zoomed right over my head, or did I mention that?

DIANE: Imagine trying to pick a "favorite" out of those three!

Charlie said...

PETER: I'll comment on your very brief comment in pieces:

1. Do read I Know This Much Is True.

2. One of the "tricks" I found for reading Faulkner is developing a rhythm for his long sentences.

3. I addressed Martin's slowness here, Does G.R.R.M. Owe Us?, and I got roundly chewed out by a published romance writer. Personally, I think he burned out because he's writing other stuff--and developing games.

4. I haven't heard that about Huck Finn, and I don't think I'll test it. BTW, I read it at about the same age as you.

5. Garp was great, and Irving always has characters one can empathize with.

6. You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

Interesting list. I thouught A Prayer for Owen Meany was Irving's best book but now I'll have to check out Garp since it on your list and Peter's. Of Human Bondage is on mine too!

Book Bird Dog said...

I'll try The Book Thief one of these days. Good to know it was a memorable book.

Robert the Skeptic said...

I am somewhat ashamed to confess I don't read much. My memory comprehension is not very good, for one. I would also say that I don't have time, but that really isn't true. I just don't have the passion for books and reading that many people do. When I do read, it is mostly non-fiction.

In junior. high and again in high school, they kept hammering us with "Great Expectations". About the third class where we were dissecting this book I was wondering why we aren't required to read something else?

I do read occasionally and the essence of those few books books generally stay with me. "Roughing it" by Mark Twain (not fiction, actually) and "Shogun" by James Clavell both contain metaphors which I find useful in everyday life.

So there's two books on my list. The third one... hmmm can't quite remember.

Kim Ayres said...

15 books that will stick with you forever - The DaVinci Code will stick with me forever as being one of the most over-hyped pieces of crap I ever read.

Hope that helps :)

Charlie said...

TLS: Go Garp!

HARVEE If you read it, make sure you have some hankies within reach.

ROBERT In high school we got Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton instead. You were lucky with Dickens.

And my wife asked me why Shogun wasn't on my list--that was a great book too.

KIM: Thanks, birthday boy, for the clarification. You already know what I think of Dan Brown "thrillers."