Saturday, August 08, 2009

15 Books in 15 Minutes

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

Feel free to post your own list in my comments section, or if you want to go more in-depth, put it in a post on your own blog.

1. Talking It Over, by Julian Barnes
2. Love Etc., by Julian Barnes
And right away I destroy the idea of the list by adding a sixteenth book. I was torn between these two because they're part of a series, so I decided to bend the rules a bit and just include them both. The idea is simple: a love triangle told in a series of monologues by the three people involved. The first book details what happened, and the second book details what happens in these people's lives a decade later. Fantastic dialogue throughout and a story that is alternately funny, heartbreaking and (especially by the end of Love Etc.) scary.

3. The Eleventh Hour, by Graeme Base
A children's book based around the mystery of who ate all the food at Horace the Elephant's birthday party. You guessed it --- Britney Spears. No, wait, actually, the mystery could only be solved by examining the clues hidden in lavishly detailed illustrations and solving various puzzles and codes therein. This book was flippin' grand. If I ever procreate, I'm buying this book for my son/daughter as soon as they're able to comprehend light, let alone words. It's all part of my plan to raise a real-life Sherlock Holmes. Anyone know how to mix opium into baby formula?

4. Ten Little Indians (or, And Then There Were None), by Agatha Christie
Got me into Agatha Christie, only the greatest mystery writer of all time. It was on the book rack in my sixth-grade class, so thanks, Mrs. Ferguson! TLI (or, ATTWN) gets onto the list as the Agatha Christie rep since it was the first one I ever read and pound-for-pound it's still a pretty ingenious book, but mention must be made of The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd. It only has arguably the greatest ending in murder mystery novel history. Though TLI is probably the better book overall.

5. Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow
Only downside to 'Ragtime' is that it fooled me into thinking that E.L. Doctorow was a good writer, thus dooming me to reading three or four more of his books thinking 'Well, maybe THIS one will be as good as Ragtime...' only to be bitterly disappointed.

6. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
I suspect Catch-22 will show up on pretty much anyone's list. Possibly my favourite book ever. It's been five years since I've last read it, so I'm far overdue. The introduction scene to Major Major Major had me laughing so hard that my parents thought I was choking.

7. A Prayer For Owen Meany, by John irving

8. Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew SuperMysteries, by "Carolyn Keene"
Ok, this one takes some explaining. I was a big fan of the Hardy Boys series. I was a big fan of the Nancy Drew series. Ergo, I was a huge fan of the SuperMysteries, wherein both Nancy and the Hardys teamed up. Credit must be given to the ghostwriting team for regarding this series as a big deal, since the story quality was noticeably better than just your solo Hardy or Drew adventures. They even had ongoing plots from book to book, like Nancy and Frank's smoldering passion for each other that was never consummated due to their respective significant others, Ned and Callie. Nancy should've gone for Joe --- he was single as could be after his girlfriend died in a car bomb. Quick question: if you've had a family member who died at the hands of the IRA, would you feel guilty of you ever went to a bar and found you really enjoyed Irish Car Bomb shots?

9. Son Of Interflux, by Gordon Korman
Another representative novel, as SOI was probably my favourite of Korman's bibliography. For those non-Canadian readers unfamiliar with his work, Gordon Korman wrote a number of teen or young adult-centric comic novels, most notably his series about Bruno and Boots, two havoc-causing students at Macdonald Hall private school. 'Son Of Interflux,' however, was about a kid who started a local movement against his father's vast multi-national corporation.

10. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
This one's probably showing up even more often than Catch-22. Pretty much the perfect book in terms of a novel that can be enjoyed by anyone in any walk of life. (Well, unless you're a rapist.) TKAM is also probably the most novel-movie combination in literary/film history. I'm hard-pressed to think of another universally-regarded novel that was made into a similarly universally-regarded movie. Compare it to Catch-22, which was made into a horrible movie in 1970 by the usually reliable Mike Nichols.

11. Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales
Another book that I only read every few years to keep it fresh. It's a series of interviews with virtually everyone that ever worked for SNL, detailing the show's history and influence. You get all kinds of great backstage gossip, anecdotes, details of skits that never made it to air, and surprisingly in-depth description of Milton Berle's penis.

12. 1984, by George Orwell
You know a satire is dead-on when it actually becomes more accurate with each passing year.

13. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
This is the only Vonnegut book I really like, though I enjoy his writing style itself.

14. Yukon Ho, by Bill Watterson
Not technically a 'book' per se, but rather a collection of Calvin & Hobbes comic strips. I remember ordering the book on a lark from Scholastic in the fourth grade, and it ended up altering the flow of my life given that C&H was by far the greatest comic strip of all time. Now that I think about it, Hobbes might very well be the fictional character that I most resemble. For example, I jump-tackle my roommate every time he gets home. We live on the third floor, so I've shattered many a vertebrae.

15. The Ax, by Donald E. Westlake
One of the true underrated writers of the 20th century, Westlake could alternate at will between wacky caper mysteries to hard-boiled drama to stand-alone psychological thrillers like 'The Ax' Plot summary: a guy really, really wants a job. That's all I'll reveal.

16. Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
"It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."

1 comment:

Manu said...

Here's mine in no particular order. I went over the 15 as well so you are free to sue me.
1. Lord of the rings - JRR Tolkein
2. Tale of two cities - Charles Dickens
3. Agony and the ecstasy - Irving Stone
4. Three investigators and the stuttering parrot AND Three investigators and the Fiery Eye - Robert Arthur
5. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
6. The code of the Woosters - PG Wodehouse
7. Dune - Frank Hubert
8. Guns of Navarone - Allister MacLean
9. The Wary Transgressor - James Hadley Chase
10. The spy who came in from the cold - John La Carre
11. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
12. Hitchhiker's guide to galaxy - Douglas Adams
13. Ten little Indians - Agatha Christie
14. Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets - JK Rowling
15. Five find outers series - Enid Blyton
16. The Idiot - Dostoyevsky
17. To kill a mockingbird - harper lee