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15 books (meme)

The rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

"Axiomatic" by Greg Egan
"Reservation Blues" by Sherman Alexie
"Drawing Blood" by Poppy Z. Brite
"Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo
"Time Enough for Love" by Robert Heinlein
"Blood Music" by Greg Bear
"Nadya" by Pat Murphy
"Motherless Brooklyn" by Jonathan Lethem
"Espedair Street" by Iain Banks
"High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby
"The Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon
"Summers at Castle Auburn" by Sharon Shinn
"The Pleasure of My Company" by Steve Martin
"A Conspiracy of Paper" by David Liss
"Ciphers" by Paul DiFilippo

my note: There probably could be a lot more books on this list, its kind of a random grab. To simplify, I skipped series where it was hard to pick a book, and limited myself to 1 per author. Also skipped graphic novels and nonfiction, both of which have worthy candidates.


Hmm, don't know that all these descriptions communicate much, but I'll post this anyway. You can always Google the books to find out more, or borrow them from me.
You will notice some themes in the books I chose . . .

"Axiomatic" by Greg Egan
A great science fiction short story collection, with wonderful exploration of several different really cool SF ideas and their effects on society and individuals. I've enjoyed Greg Egan's novels as well, but I think his plots and ideas really express better as short stories.

"Reservation Blues" by Sherman Alexie
I love a good rock and roll story. In this on, a bunch of ordinary guys on an Indian Reservation form a band and have adventures.

"Drawing Blood" by Poppy Z. Brite
I love Poppy's writing style, and this is my favorite of hers. In 1972, an underground cartoonist goes crazy and kills his family, except for his 5 year old son. 20 years later, the son, also a cartoonist, makes a road trip to the house where it happened to try to figure out what went on. On the way he meets and falls in love with a computer hacker on the run. It's horror, but so much more than that.

"Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo
I first read this when I was dating meastromatthew because he loves he musical so much. I like the musical, but I love the novel. It is epic. It probably helps that I am an expert at variable-speed reading (skimming some of the lengthy digressions Hugo goes on and reading much slower in other parts).

"Time Enough for Love" by Robert Heinlein
A science fiction classic and a fun read - the main Lazarus Long book. Though other Heinlein works stand out to me too, especially "To Sail into the Sunset" (which is sort of a sequel to this) and "The Door into Summer"

"Blood Music" by Greg Bear
This was one of the first serious science fiction books I read, in my early teens. A researcher invents cells that can think. When his project is canceled, he smuggles them out of the lab by injecting them into himself. And slowly, they take over. It's surreal. As a teenager, I used to like to reread it when I was home sick.

"Nadya" by Pat Murphy
Excellently-written historical werewolf fiction. With top points on the literary equivalent of the Bechdel test - a large section of this novel is women alone on the Oregon Trail (one of whom is a cross-dressing werewolf, but that's beside the point).

"Motherless Brooklyn" by Jonathan Lethem
A great seedy mystery novel from the point of view of a man with Tourette's Syndrome.

"Espedair Street" by Iain Banks
Another good fictional rock and roll story (1970s British), a man's life from aspiring rock star to eccentric forgotten ex-rockstar. I also like Banks' "The Crow Road", though I think it kind of fails as a mystery while succeeding as a family saga; and his science fiction "Culture" series, especially "Excession".

"High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby
A love story, a music story, and a book about obsessing about your obscure interests. If you like this but obsess about books more than music, read Hornby's "Polysyllabic Spree" as well.

"The Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon
This is lightly science fiction, but more a story about life and choices. From the point of view of a high-functioning autistic man, who works with other autistic people doing specialized work best done by the autistic. They are offered a new experimental treatment to reverse autism, and have to decide whether to try it or not.

"Summers at Castle Auburn" by Sharon Shinn
This fantasy novel is a coming-of-age story and a fairytale love story with a twist, which manages to be both fantastical and joyful and dark and realistic.

"The Pleasure of My Company" by Steve Martin
Comedian Steve Martin is also a great writer. This is my favorite of his works, from the point of view of a man with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"A Conspiracy of Paper" by David Liss
A wonderful, complex historical mystery set at the birth of the stock market in England. That sounds much less interesting than it really is. The protagonist is an outsider to the society he investigates in a few different ways, being Jewish and a former boxer.

"Ciphers" by Paul DiFilippo
Have you ever read Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon? This book reminds me of that, except it's more rock and roll.

I ought to have some Lewis Shiner on this list but mysteriously didn't think of him at the time. Probably "Glimpses", about a stereo repairman who discovers he can imagine a piece of music in his head (the first is an alternate take of the Beatles' "Long and Winding Road" and make it manifest itself in a stereo system. He starts creating historic albums that never (but almost) got made, but it gets harder to do - his technique starts to involve passing out by various means and having elaborate dreams of trying to manipulate the musicians.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
soylentmean
Oct. 5th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
Fantasy
Daughter of the Forest and Son of the Shadows, by Juliet Marillier. They will make you cry. So good!
A Game of Thrones (and sequels), by George R. R. Martin, possibly the most epic fantasy series of all time, up there with LotR.
The Wizard of Earthsea (and sequels), by Ursula K. Le Guin. All of her work is great. The Flyers of Gy and The Seasons of the Ansarac are amongst my favorite short stories.
Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett. The entirety of Discworld is great; we have all the paperbacks, if you ever want to borrow.

Science Fiction
Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. Too bad he's such a douche.

Children's Books
The Butter Battle Book and The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. If only our politicians would read them.
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.
Mail-Order Wings, by Beatrice Gormley. Made a big impact on me, growing up.
Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen.

Fiction
Hokkaido Highway Blues (republished as Hitching Rides with Buddha), by Will Ferguson. One of the funniest books I've ever read.
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Also laugh out loud funny.
Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell. Sad but true.

Non-Fiction
As Nature Made Him, by John Colapinto. Phenomenal crushing of John Money. Unbelievably sad story and lapse in ethics.
True Selves, by Mildred Brown. Reading about how hard childhood is for transkids always makes me sob.
grenacia
Oct. 5th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
I love Game of Thrones and its sequels. I have a copy of "Daughter of the Forest" that I keep meaning to read but haven't yet, everyone tells me it is very good.
soylentmean
Oct. 5th, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC)
You really should. It is beautiful and poignant. You'll love it!
saphirepassion
Oct. 5th, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC)
Wow, after reading your awesome recommendations of some other books to read I think I would be interested in borrowing your copy of "Nadya" By Pat Murphy. I have not read any other type of books for the last five years besides vampires,erotic fiction, and other nonfiction books that deal with social issues. :)
darkknight9
Oct. 6th, 2010 03:13 am (UTC)
You're inspirational! :)
Arabian Nights. Williams Ellis, Amabel
Alone Against the Atlantic. Spiess, Gerry
Starship Troopers. Heinlein, Robert
The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen. Owen, Wilfred
The Maneaters of Tsavo. Patterson, Col. John Henry
How Cars Work. Newton, Tom
Sand County Almanac. Leopold, Aldo
The Hobbit. Tolkien JRR
Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Weiss, Margaret and Hickman, Tracy
The Art of War. Sun Tzu
The Cardinal of the Kremlin. Clancy, Tom
Helter Skelter. Bugliosi, Vincent and Gentry, Curt
Love is a Stranger. Rumi, Jalâluddîn
The First World War. Keegan, John
Batman Role-Playing Game. Barker, Jack
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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