"A reader lives 1000 lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one."
- George R. R. Martin

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Books that I love - Part 3

This will round out my "favorite books" posts.  While there are many books that I love, and many categories of favorites, these lists (Parts 1-3) are the ones that move me over and over again!

Often times while reading a book I become attached to the characters and feel as though I'm traveling the pages with friends.  None more so than with "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe".  When this book and I parted ways at the end of the reading, I cried as it is a very moving story.  I found myself crying again about a week later because I missed the people so!  They were as real to me as my family, and I had known them on a very personal level, thanks to the writing and wit of Fannie Flagg.  I know that the film is one of the best "chick flicks" of our time, but the book is so much more!  We follow these people and their lives feeling every slur and heartbreak right along with them.  The book centers around friendship, race, love and cooking and it will take you along for a very satisfying ride.

"Woman: An Intimate Geography" takes you on a tour of the female covering such subjects as organs, orgasm, exercise and the mysterious properties of breast milk.  Pulitzer Prize winner Natalie Angier tackles questions of "female nature" and challenges the Darwinian-based gender stereotypes.  I read this book from cover to cover, often highlighting and dog-earing pages as I went.  It is a journey of discovery answering questions I never would have asked and showing me a new way to look at myself, and women!  A must read for all females (especially those headed out into the world for the first time) it is an education you will love!

I have a very broad and active imagination, and any book that allows me to exercise and explore it always gets 5 stars from me!  Maurice Sendak is a 5 star author/illustrator.  Best known for "Where the Wild Things Are," Sendak never shies away from subjects that may offend, rather basking in them and showing children that there are hardships, but always hope.  "We Are All In the Dumps, With Jack and Guy" is just such an offering.  Centering around the homeless, and touching on the subjects of AIDS, loneliness and vulnerability, Maurice Sendak takes us on a journey where the words are not the main storyteller, rather the pictures and images you create along the way.  I come back to these images over and over as I reach for hope in my everyday life, and am reminded that so long as there is hope, there is help.

Until next time, I wish you good reading!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Books that I love - Part 2

Some more of my favorite books!

Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite authors of any genre, but definitely my favorite Sci-Fi author - hands down!  His books draw me in and envelop me in their stunning worlds in ways that few others have ever done.  "Ender's Game" was the first book of his that I read, and I must admit that I read it again at least once a year.  It takes place in a future where we have faced an otherworldly foe known as the Buggers.  Earth needs a battle commander fast enough and capable enough to compete with these highly advanced invaders, so they create The Battle School for children.  Only the most brilliant of our youth are chosen to go, and the psychological, physiological and moral strategies that the grown-ups use on these children in order to find the one they seek has me racing through the pages every time I read it.  Always the first book that I recommend, especially for teens, "Ender's Game" will not disappoint!

"The Genesis Code" by John Case is the single best thriller that I have ever read!  It begins in a small church in Europe where a priest hears a dying man's confession.  The priest then boards a train and heads straight for the Vatican where he waits for an audience with the Pope, and refuses to leave until they meet. Across the pond in America, Joe Lassiter mourns after a house fire killed his sister and nephew.  He soon learns, however, that they were murdered before the fire was set.  The murder of another mother and son, with striking similarities to Joe's sister and nephew, start him on an international adventure in search of the truth.  I couldn't put this one down (I think I finished it in one sitting, as a matter of fact) and it is a book that haunts me to this day!

While on the subject of international thrillers, another of my favorites is "The Eight" by Katherine Neville.  It centers around a chess set, once owned by Charlemagne, which is said to grant the person who plays the perfect game world domination.  The pieces have been scattered throughout history and we visit the world leaders of yore who encountered the pieces including Napoleon, Catherine the Great and many, many more.  For those who love historical fiction (like me!) this is a book that will definitely find itself on your top ten list!

Speculative fiction often doesn't resonate with me, only because by the time I've read the book many of the events it speculates about have already come to pass (or not).  "The Truth Machine" by James Halperin is the exception.  It was written in 1996, so a lot of the future it predicts has already happened in one way or another, but the genius of this novel is not wrapped up in the predictions.  The story, told by a journalism computer far into the future, is about an unparalleled genius who invents an infallible lie detector, "The Truth Machine".  Invented as a result of the country's new Swift and Sure justice system where it takes less than a year to get from trial to execution, and intended to prevent abuse of the new law, The Truth Machine is so perfect that soon it ekes into everyday society and dishonesty is eliminated from every aspect of the human condition.  Exploring truth and what it means in stark detail makes this novel both poignant and terrifying.  An excellent read!

There are still a few more to go (I keep adding favorites the more I think about this blog) but they will have to wait until next time!

Until then, I wish you good reading!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Books that I love - Part 1.

    Some books that you read are space fillers, time wasters, something to keep your brain occupied.  A lot of books are like that.  You read, you enjoy them while they are there, but once you have turned the last page you are able to move on to the next without a second thought.  
    These books are not those books.
    These are, for me, books that I return to over and over.  They resonate in me and have created a space in my psyche that pulls their images to the forefront even years after I've read them.  Normal, everyday occurrences remind me of these books and the people in them and bring me right back into the center of the story with fond memories, as though I lived their events myself.  These books move me.  

    "Sexing the Cherry" by Jeannette Winterson may be my favorite book of all time.  Winterson writes with a singular outlook on the world and it's creatures, one that captures your imagination and places you in a world where impossible things are commonplace yet drawn with awe.  All of her books are about love in all of it's aspects and "Sexing the Cherry" is no exception.  This book changed my world and how I see it.  
Even the most solid of things, and the most real, the best-loved and the well-known, are only hand-shadows on the wall. Empty space and points of light. 

    When I started to think of the books that move me for this list, "Was" by Geoff Ryman came immediately to mind, followed by an emotional reaction as strong as the day I read it.  It is really a collection of 4 stories that all revolve around "The Wizard of Oz".  There is the story of Judy Gum who grew up to become Judy Garland, the story of the star of the film (treated as though she is an entirely different person), the story of a man obsessed with the film and the story of the real Dorothy Gale.  "Was" explores the power of art, the power of hope and the melancholy of lost childhood.

   The last one (for now) that I will mention is an intricate weave of history, imagination and personalities.  "A Case of Curiosities" by Allen Kurzweil begins at a modern auction house and travels through the late 18th century following the life of Claude Page as he sets out to become the most daring inventor of his time.  His journey from enameling, watch making, pornography and invention leads to a bizarre execution and a captivating read!  A very clever book that has stayed with me for years and years.

    There are a few more books on my All Time Favorites list, but they will have to wait for another blog!

   Until next time!  I wish you good reading!