Saturday, September 6, 2014

Reads that changed me

There is a thread ongoing on FaceBook now asking people to list the top 10 books that have stayed with you.  I'd like to do more than just list the books, but also talk about why ... and one of my quirks is that when I find an author I enjoy, I often try to read all of their books.

  • Aleksander Solzenitsyn, who wrote 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich', 'The Gulag Archipelago', 'Cancer Ward'.  I encountered this author later in high school.  This was one of the first times I read of the horrors that people can inflict upon others.  Coming from an idyllic setting of rural small town area with little exposure to bigger world, these books were deeply unsettling.
  • JRR Tolkein.  The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion.  I delighted in the rich imagery and languages of middle earth, the bravery of the (not so) ordinary.
  • Frank Herbert.  The Dune saga.  Plots withing subplots, wheels within wheels.  New worlds, new ways to survive and navigate relationships.
  • The Chrysalids by John Wyndham.  My introduction to post-apocalypstic worlds.  I especially loved the ending of the book tying back so elegantly to the beginning.  This was one of the novels we studied early in high school English class, one of the first books I loved enough to re-read.
  • Room by Emma Donoghue.  Haunting.  Finding the will to carry on in an impossible situation, with resilience and love.
  • Alex Haley, Roots: The Saga of an American Family.  Bowling was never the same after reading this book.  Again, the small-town rural childhood, with basically a monoculture, starting to come to some sort of basic understanding of slavery and racism.
  • Diana Gabaldon.  The Outlander series ... now a TV series!  Superbly researched, fabulous details of the times, sassy Sassenach and loyal warrior James Fraser.  I have loved her worlds.
  • Douglas Adams.  Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Pounced upon 'Last Chance to See' when encountered at a yard sale.  Found and treasured 'The Deeper Meaning to Liff'.  I even collected his quotes. My favourite memory - shortly after my son broke his leg in an ATV accident, we were at the cottage.  Brought a mountain of books for him, including a few Adams books.  He is laughing out loud while reading this series.  42.
  • Kevin Hearne.  The Iron Druid Chronicles.  Wonderful turns of phrases, deep relationships (even with ones you can't trust or even like), lots of magic and alternative worlds.  Makes me laugh.  Intimately attuned to the elements.
  • Dean Koontz.  Odd Thomas.  "Tales of character, mystery, and adventure that strike to the core of what it means to be human" - so wonderfully describes this author's writing.  

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