Friday, July 07, 2006

Randy's Book Corner

I don’t claim to be very high brow when it comes to the arts--whether you’re talking movies, books, paintings, whatever.

So, going here to check the list of 30 books we should all have under our belts before we die was sorta scary. Um, I’ve read ONE out of the thirty. (Hm…d’you suppose I’ll live longer?) Oh, hell. I just copied and pasted the list below—surely that’s okay since I provided the link to the site as well.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Bible (by God!)
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
1984 by George Orwell
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
All Quiet on the Western Front by E M Remarque
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

So, like I say. I’ve read ONE of these friggin’ books and it’s not even one you’d guess. That’s right. I’ve read The Lovely Bones. Oh, wait. And I might have skimmed Lord of the Flies in high school. Other than that, nada. Unless, of course, you count whether I’ve seen the movie versions. No, geez. I haven’t even seen those. Have I been in a cave or something?

Anyway, in a related posting, here in Miss Snark’s comment section, blog readers named three of their top book selections from those published in the last ten years. Um, I’ve hardly even HEARD of most of ‘em.

God, I’m even less high-brow than I thought.

In my defense, I grew up in a white bread world where Medical Center was considered dramatic television and John Wayne a highly underrated actor. On top of that, my addiction to Nancy Drew mysteries (and then later, romance) limited my reading choices way up into adulthood. Oh, sure. I struggled through the humanities core course in college (a folly embarked on when I switched majors to English for about an hour) which forced me to read a lot of classics. But y’know. Back in the ‘70’s at UC Irvine, the notion of classics was loosely defined. Hell, I read stuff like Phil Slater’s The Pursuit of Loneliness for a HISTORY class.

So I got to thinking about the books that left a mark on me, for whatever reason, and decided to share. Dumb or not. Here they are (without checking my bookshelf, cuz I really wanna pull these out of my head). Oh, and I’m sorta going in chronological order:

1. Nancy Drew mysteries. The first one I ever read: The Secret in the Hidden Staircase. That’s where I fell in love with reading. Also loved Cherry Ames for a more mature heroine and Trixie Belden for pure adventurous fun.

2. The Beany Malone Series. Another childhood favorite. I wept when her mother died.

3. Little Women. Still remember the line that went something like: And as Beth drew her last breath where she’d drawn her first…

4. Anything by Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney—my romance period.

5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith.

6. Valley of the Dolls—Jacqueline Susann. Okay, come on, people. Admit you read it. Actually, I read her first book first. Every Night Josephine was an autobiographical account of life with Jackie and her poodle. I still remember laughing till I cried as she described trying to feed her dog a pink pill. But, wow. Valley of the Dolls. An introduction to sex in novels—I couldn’t BELIEVE people did that stuff in real life. (Hey, I was only about 14.)

7. O Jerusalem—Collins and LaPierre. First time I realized what good storytelling meant because it was actually nonfiction disguised as a novel. Or at least that’s the way I remember it.

8. Fear of Flying—Erica Jong. Er, I was kinda prude-y until I read about her escapades. Then I wanted to BE her.

9. Trinity—Leon Uris. Read it in a weekend.

10. The Accidental Tourist—Anne Tyler. Loved the book, hated the movie. Fell in love with the author (am currently reading one of her latest).

11. Atlas Shrugged—Ayn Rand. By far my favorite book of all time.

12. The Best and the Brightest—David Halberstam. Nonfiction, but this is my list, my rules. (Oh, and please note, this was a college “text”)

13. War and Remembrance—William Manchester (?) The characters from this one stayed with me for a long time.

Well, like I say. Those came off the top of my head, so I guess it’s a guarantee they’re memorable, at least to me.

Ever since I started writing genre, I can’t stand to read it, so my recent reading material includes stuff like:

The Secret Life Of Bees—Sue Monk Kidd
Memoirs of a Geisha--??
The Lovely Bones—Alice Sebold
Running With Sissors—Augusten Burroughs
The Bean Trees—Barbara Kingslover

I tried Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” I truly did. But soon it was either: put it down, sink into despair, or kill myself. I chose the first option.

So that’s our book discussion for the week. What are your favorites?


John said...

I haven't read 8 of them.

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Middlemarch by George Eliot

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

Interesting I don't think they picked out the best work by the authors. Barbara Kingsolver has at least two other books that are much better. My favorite is Prodical Summer, although I liked Animal Dreams, too.

After all that has been developed lately, uncertain if the Bible is God's absolute best work. Some of the kicked out books seem pretty informative.

My favorite book is Diana by Delderfield.

John said...

PS: Where is the ultimate book that every baby and post baby boomer had to read: Catcher in the Rye? And Alice in Wonderland, which should be on everyone's list, just so they can understand the Disney version and explain it their grandkids.

Anonymous said...

Well, I’ve read more than 1 of the 30...but not many more :(

I have lots of favorite books, but the book that had the biggest impact on me when I read it (I was about 14 and was forced to read it for school) was Animal Farm.


greenfees74 said...

Loved the Time Traveler's Wife but was a bit disapointed with The Lovely Bones. Another good is Herb's First 100 Years.

randy said...

Haven't read Time Traveler's Wife or Herb's First 100 Years, but I need a new stash, so will keep an eye out! Thanks for the suggestions.