10 books that stuck

I said STUCK lol

I don’t usually participate in/repost Facebook things like this, but you know I loves me some books, so the “10 books that have stuck with you” thing, that one I can get into.  Knowing me, though, you should realize that I’m going to give you way more information about them than you really wanted.

Here they are in no particular order.

1.  Idoru by William Gibson.  When I started reading, if you told me my favorite sci-fi book in the whole world would be centered around a nerdy teenage girl and a rock star’s romance with a computer hologram, I’d have probably thought you were crazy – and told you so. Here we are, though, and there it is. I think one of the reasons I’ve been so disappointed with Gibson’s last few books is that they’re not Idoru and I desperately want them to be.  (I recently re-read Neuromancer and boy, is that a good book, but this one’s still better!)

2.  Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.

Wait, what?

Yeah.  The meme is “books that stuck with you” not “your favorite books.”  MK is a book you can never quite forget no matter how desperately you wish you could.  It’s equal measures haunting and hilarious, but the thing that gets you is that a lot of his sentiments (from the 1920s, mind you) translate so easily – and fully – into modern times. You hear people say things nearly exactly like things that Hitler wrote in this book.  It’s kind of upsetting, really.

3.  The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.  I used to assign this book to my US history classes until the crying about “how are we supposed to do all this reading” got too much to bear semester after semester.  If you ever read this, stop reading it when the main character (Jurgis) starts going to the political rallies/meetings.  It’s boring socialist propaganda after that and truthfully, the story has ended by then anyway.  If half the shit that happens to the protagonist in this book ever happened to anybody in real life, it’s a miracle anybody survived the early 20th century.

4.  The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.  The original excellent adventure.

5.  Yukon Ho! by Bill Watterson.  This was the first Calvin & Hobbes book I ever got – and I still have my original copy from 1989.

6.  Chess for Beginners by IA Horowitz.  My father (with whom I had a complicated, contentious and often unpleasant relationship) gave me this book when I was about 11 or 12 years old.  Playing chess with my father is among the few really positive memories I have about him, and it always meant a lot to me that he gave me this book.

7.  The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days by Ian Frazier.  The only other book that ever made me laugh as hard as this one was Death Rat! by Mike Nelson – and this one’s way funnier.

8.  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  This book, I’m pretty sure, is what sparked my love of dystopian science fiction.  It’s also one of the books I think about when I get into one of my “words mean things” rants – the way Bradbury turns the word fireman on its head is pretty powerful.

9.  On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony. This initial volume in the Incarnations of Immortality series is pretty thought-provoking – the idea that Death is a job just like any other job, and what happens when Death goes on strike.  I’ve always felt it was the best in the 7-book series.

10.  Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough.  It’s a little cliche to say such-and-such book is the Bible of such-and-such discipline, but this one really is.  Every time I pick it up, I learn something new that helps keep me safe on the road.

There you have it, 10 books that stuck with me. If you’re tagged, let’s hear it 🙂


2 thoughts on “10 books that stuck

  1. I’m not as well-read as you, of course. But I have read the Incarnations series, and I thought the sixth one (about Satan) was the best of the bunch.

  2. Well, OK. Not in order, but here’s my top 10 and why:

    1) Letters to A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. This book came to me during a particularly difficult period of my life, when a lot of things were coming together but felt like they were coming apart. Rilke shows that people with great talent can show great empathy and appreciate the efforts of others while pointing out their shortcomings in direct but gentle ways. He showed me that just because you haven’t become the kind of awesome you thought you would, it doesn’t mean you aren’t awesome. You just need to keep trying.

    I take this one with me every time that I travel anywhere, and usually on hikes as well. Just in case I feel like stopping to embrace awesomeness in more than one form.

    2) Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut. Because Vonnegut stretches the imagination while conveying his actual life experience. Which reminds me, I still need to visit Dresden someday.

    3) The Great Fires, Jack Gilbert. As someone who prefers to inhabit my own world in my own head, the space between words that poetry affords the imagination makes for wonderful opportunities to think. Say what you will about Gilbert but this collection is an amazing demonstration of his talent for conveying volumes of thoughts and feelings with only a few words.

    4) Factotum, Charles Bukowski. Yeah, he retreads a lot of his experiences but Buk is one of my favorites. The pace and variety of this one places it just slightly ahead of Post Office and Ham on Rye for me. Women was actually the closest second but I can’t really quite explain why . . . I just liked Factotum better. And I don’t want to repeat authors in my top 10.

    5) Get in The Van, Henry Rollins. Because he is awesome, and this book came along just in time to show me that I’d already done everything completely wrong if I wanted to “make it” in music. One of the very few books that I have read over and over and over again. Mostly (like Rilke’s book) it taught me that I didn’t want it as much as I thought I did or I’d have worked a lot harder at it. And he was nice enough not to say that to me directly on the occasion when I talked to him.

    6) The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein. Because Shel Silverstein, people. That’s why. A good constant reminder that no matter how much you’re doing for others, you can do more.

    7) The Heart of The Buddha’s Teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh. Nothing in the realm of understanding the world and the people who inhabit it touched me in the way that this book has. I keep it with me most of the time and I refer to it several times a week when I need to refocus on the right things.

    8) Kafka on The Shore, Haruki Murakami. Sure this makes me seem trendy but who cares, brotherman can write and this book is wonderful. Murakami reminds me that I have a decent imagination and could be using it a lot more to further my creative pursuits. If I’d just apply myself. Wait, I had a couple of teachers who told me that . . . I learn slowly.

    9) The Catcher in The Rye, J.D. Salinger. Again, predictable and cliché, but this was probably the first book that helped me understand that the things-work-out-for-the-best world that I learned to believe in was, perhaps, not as simple as it seemed.

    10) Birthmark, Jon Pineda. Jon is my friend, so knowing some parts of the stories behind the poems in this book makes it easier for me to relate to them. Even so, had I not known anything about him, the opening piece from this one, Matamis, so completely perfectly captures the fundamental bonds and fissures between adolescent boys and their fathers that it stuns me every time I read it.

    I could easily have included works by Mary Oliver, Alice Sebold, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Cormac McCarthy and many others, but this list covers where my brain was when I saw this post. Thanks Wes for including me.

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