I'll come up with something in a minute.

15 books (more or less)

Hey, not just picking one book but picking 15! I like this one, I’ll give it a go.

Name fifteen books that have always stayed with you. These are in no particular ranking of preference.
In no particular order, unless you count the order that I thought of them.

1. The Dark Half Stephen King
While IT was the first Stephen King book I read, this remains my favorite. Recently, I wanted to listen to the audio book but I don’t have it on audio. Okay, I figured I’d just read it, but we didn’t have it. SHOCK! We’ve got a local used bookstore so I went to see if he had a copy. Not just a copy, a first edition! Like I care. I just wanted it hardcover and that’s what I got. I also got Nightmares & Dreamscapes on that trip, which is my favorite of his short story collections, but that’s for another day. Am I supposed to mention what I like about the book? Well, the connection between George and Thad really set my mind alight. I really dug this one.

2. From Hell Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell.
One of the few people who I think actually writes what can be genuinely called graphic novels is Alan Moore. This one is, I think, his best. A lot of people will hold up Watchmen, but when all is said and done, I think I like this one just better. It’s more complex, is set more in reality, and has a hell of a lot of research poured into it. If we were going into what got me into his work, I would have to mention The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which was the first book of his I read. No, wait, I tell a lie. Killing Joke was the first, but LXG got me wanting to search out more of his work.

3. The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien
Because it’s The Hobbit! My father read me this about a million years ago, and it’s one of the earliest books I can remember reading that wasn’t a Dr. Suess book. I’ve had some trouble re-reading this in the last few years. I blame the dual dangers of growing up and having read it enough to recite it in places as my problems.

4. In the Best Families Rex Stout
The problem with calling this the best Nero Wolfe book is that you have to read a bunch of the other books to get why this is so good. Wolfe lives a strictly regimented life, and this is the book where he breaks almost all his little rules so he can live by the big rules. If you’re not accustomed to his normal life though, this book is much less remarkable. The first book of Nero Wolfe I ever read was the book that comes before this one The Second Confession, and it took me a while to get around to this book, which made it better.

5. A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking
Yes, I’ve actually read it. Listened to it several times on audio as well. I know, lots of people own it and have never read it, but I gave it a go in high school. I failed in high school though and only got through it all the way on my third attempt. Having read it the first time though, the second wasn’t such a struggle. Got it on audio and that was easier.

6. Drink With the Devil Jack Higgins
One of Higgin’s books had to be in here, and it might as well be the first one I ever read. Actually “read” should be in quotation marks. I got it on audio when I was part of an audio book club because I forgot to send back the card and the back of the box sounded interesting enough to give it a try. That was a heavily abridged version, covering two tapes while the full version covers 6, so I was very surprised when I read the book for real. From there I collected the rest of the Sean Dillion Books and even read them instead of getting them on audio.

7. The Annotated Alice By Martin Gardner (based on the books by Lewis Carroll)
Now you could claim that I’m trying to slip both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in here by clever marketing, but you’d be wrong. Also, you smell. What I really like here is the annotation of the books. I’ve read a few annotated versions and this one is the best I’ve ever gotten my hands on.

8. Chuck Amuck By Chuck Jones
Out of all the autobiographies I’ve ever read, this was the first. I was either 13 or 14 the year I got this book, which is when it came out, and it was just as I was trying to actually learn about the history of animated films. So, it was the right book at the right time. It’s also a pretty good read if you want to know about the animation business.

9. The Battle for Christmas By Stephen Nissenbaum
Another right book at the right time, this was near the start of my scholarly investigation of the holiday and its history. It wasn’t the first one I read, but it was the first one I could really point to that wasn’t at least partially built on nostalgia and bullshit pretending to be research. You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) to find how many so-called serious books on the subject contain more “I remember when” than they do actual facts.

10. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz By L. Frank Baum
Along with the next choice on the list, I actually can’t read this anymore. I tried a few years ago and found the prose clumsy and irritating. It was fine when I was 9 or 10 and reading it for the first time, but now I can hardly deal with it. I think I read up to the sixth book, which would be Emerald City of Oz, but I know I never read Patchwork Girl of Oz. Nope, I just read over this list and I don’t recognize the story line, I do know I read Road to Oz though, so that’s as far as I got.

11. Winnie-The-Pooh/ House at Pooh Corner
Again with the problems of prose and such. I liked these books once upon a time, and glancing over them today, I still like them. However, I couldn’t sit down and some jazz music and just read them for the sheer hell of it now. Also, I have to admit that Dorothy Parker was right in attacking these books in the guise of Constant Reader when she said…“and it is precisely at that word, ‘hunny’ that Tonstant Weader fwowed up.” However, even agreeing with her I still have affection for the books and like them quite a bit. Probably I like them sitting on my shelf better than I do in my hand if you know what I mean.

12. The Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses By Michael Jordan (No, not that one)
This book gets mention because I have to look through it so often. You’d be surprised ho often I need to look up Ningirama or Potina for some damn reason or other. As you can see from the pages, not only is Wikipedia no damn help, but they refer to the book I’m talking about as their source.

13. The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
This is probably my favorite of Hammett’s work. It’s a good story, but if you’ve only seen the movie it will confound you a little. The book is first person, and many of the fun and whimsical elements of the film are either missing or are presented in a much darker light in the book. The book also has a more cohesive story that doesn’t contain the plot holes present in the movie. I still like the movie, because the important things are present, but the book is a different creature.

14. Dracula By Bram Stoker
This is just one of those “it will never leave you” books for me. Everyone know it, but strangely, almost everyone I know who has read this can remember almost nothing about it. Oh, they remember the basic story, they remember that Jonathan Harker is so stupid that he needs people to remind him to breath once in a while lest he suffocate, they remember that Dracula dies in the sun… except he doesn’t. Read the book again, he walks around in the daylight in the book. That’s one of the interesting things about the story. Because of the numerous adaptations, people get confused about what is and isn’t in the book. It doesn’t help that the book never really seems to ever get going until the very, very end so people get bored with it a lot. It’s a challenging book, and depending on how you feel about it, the reward is dubious. The book style of the book is badly outdated, even by the standards of the day, so there are a lot of problems. And yet it will never leave you. Not ever… fucking Stoker.

15. Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe By Stephen Fry E.A. Poe
I put this as the last because it’s a cheat. I own this book, but I’ve never read the whole thing cover to cover and in fact, there are still poems and a couple of stories in there that I’ve never read. The books he published in life were short story and poem collections besides The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Poe existed in the realm of the short story and that’s always how I read him. However, it would be false to say there was no influence or re-reading of the parts I did like. So I decided that since I’ve well over shot the 15 anyway I can throw one cheat in.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment