Top Ten Tuesday #39: Books I Almost Put Down But Didn’t

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

May 6: Ten Books I Almost Put Down but Didn’t

Andrew’s Picks:

Like Caleb, I hardly ever will put down a book. Probably because I’m slightly OCD in that regard because I figure, hey, if I have the book, and I already spent X amount of time reading it, why waste that? (plus, who knows, I suppose the novel always could turn around) But there are definitely times when I either wanted to or considered putting a novel down:

  1. Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn. This book was just really depressing. And not in the good way, if that makes sense. The Fault in Our Stars is probably the most famous example I can think of of a good depressing book. Because it doesn’t make you feel depressed really, it just tugs at your heartstrings and makes you interested in/feel for the characters. Not so with Sharp Objects—it was just depressing.
  2. The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling. See above, basically. Although this I wanted to put down less, because I love Rowling and her writing style. Not to mention she’s utterly fantastic with making round, in-depth characters. I did enjoy reading this, even if overall I didn’t really like it.
  3. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. Nothing in this novel interested me, really. Plot, characters, writing style . . . I will say that it gets point for setting, because that actually was interesting, but by no means enough of a saving grace. To be honest, I’m really not sure I would have actually finished this, if not for the fact that I had to read it for school. Just not my kind of novel.
  4. Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk. I’m reading this now, actually. But if not for what I said at the beginning (i.e. I don’t like not finishing books), I’d probably just set it down (though it is a really quick read, and that helps me stick with it). I thought his Survivor was interesting. Not my favorite novel, but it was worth the read. I can’t really say the same here. I suppose I should have listened to the first few sentences of the book: “If you’re going to read this, don’t bother. After a couple pages, you won’t want to be here. So forget it. Go away. Get out while you’re still in one piece. Save yourself. […] What happens here is first going to piss you off. After that it just gets worse and worse.” Well, he did warn me.  Still, I’ll be reading more Palahniuk in the future. His writing style(s) interests me (one of the things I particularly liked about Survivor), and I at the very least really need/want to read Fight Club.
  5. I, Alex Cross, by James Patterson. Maybe it’s because this was the first Alex Cross novel I read (and it’s like…15th in the series or something), who knows, but I just really never got into it. To be honest, having the incredibly short chapters was one of the things that kept me reading, as otherwise I may not have wanted to keep putting in the effort. I’m going back and reading his earlier Cross novels, and they’re kinda the same thing. He does have some interesting ideas at least, though, but I can’t say I”m a fan.
  6. Bonus: A Clash of Kings, by George R.R. Martin. Technically I did put this down for about 4-5 months before finally picking it up again. Simply because it was taking too long to read and it was hard for me to focus on it, so I wanted to wait until winter break. This has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the work, or my liking of the work, as I think Martin (and his writing) is fantastic. Rather, it was simply the density and not feeling like reading something like that at the time. It’s an amazing novel.

Caleb’s Picks:

I rarely put a book down – I don’t like to start something without finishing it, least of all a book. On that incredibly rare occasion I do put a book aside, it’s usually for a very good reason; and when I come close to putting a book down but don’t, I typically find that I was justified in seeing it through.

  1. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. Journey to the Center of the Earth bored me to death like few books I’ve ever read. I was very timid approaching Verne again, and even after I did finally pick up Eighty Days I wasn’t immediately won, but soon enough I’d forgiven Verne.
  2. The Quest by Pio Baroja. Baroja’s work can be hard to get through. It’s slow, very very slow, and also very bleak and depressing. But it really is worth reading through, and though I have not yet and am in no hurry to read the rest of the trilogy, I know I will, because Baroja deserves it. His stories may not have been engaging or entertaining – but they’re meaningful.
  3. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers. Sayers certainly didn’t grab her readers; if anything, she dragged them along. At best, she ambled with them. For example, when she collaborated with her fellow members of The Detection Club to write The Floating Admiral, her chapter was some forty or fifty pages out of a 300 page book (and bear in mind, there were thirteen other chapters written by as many authors). Still, she was a brilliant, ingenious writer with very intricate, innovative mysteries.
  4. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Okay, technically I did put it down. I had just read Chronicles of Narnia and been just a little bit bored by Lewis’s style (much as I loved his stories), and at first The Hobbit didn’t appear any more promising. In addition to that, I had several other books I was particularly interested in reading and a story I was keen on writing, and Hobbit just didn’t end up fitting. But
  5. Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s actually the same story here. I put it down years ago when I was too young to appreciate us. Alas! children had much more refined tastes in Tolkien’s day. I only finally picked it up again this year, and as with Hobbit I enjoyed every word of Tolkien’s genius.

And as a bonus, here are five books I almost put down but didn’t and wish I had:

  1. The Black Tower and A Taste for Death by P.D. James. I purchased six or seven James novels from a used bookstore and, a rare thing for me, returned them all, after reading just two. I could hardly stand Black Tower for a number of reasons, but I gave A Taste for Death a chance anyway because I’m like that, which turned out to be an even bigger waste of my time. I ended up skimming and even skipping irrelevant chapters (which James was very fond of writing in). I respect James as a mystery scholar, but as a novelist not so much. Her stories lack imagination or cleverness, the mysteries are bland and unexciting, her characters are exaggerated and dislikable, and like Sayers her style is long and rambling. Unfortunately, James did not possess Sayers’s saving grace, the ability to make you care enough to finish the story.
  2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Dull, murky, depressing, and prolix. Thankfully, it was short.
  3. Dangerous Days by Mary Roberts Rinehart. It depicted high society life in America during the Great War, and ended in Paris on Armistice Day, which made for interesting research to someone interested in the time period, like myself; the characters, however, were difficult to stand, in the same sort of way you’ll recognize in most works of the time, such as The Great Gatsby. Many writers, including Rinehart, had the uncanny ability to make you care anyway and enjoy the story, but this one didn’t do it for me.
  4. The Secret Places of the Heart by H.G. Wells. Another work from the same period starring unbearable characters in an uninteresting situation.
  5. 100% – The Story of a Patriot by Upton Sinclair. See above. The redeeming grace was that the protagonist in this story, a hateful imbecile, was at least so outrageously idiotic that he was amusing, and at least his situation was interesting. Still, I haven’t been in any hurry to try any of his other work, such as The Jungle, though I’ll have to give Sinclair a second chance eventually, because I’m like that.

Top Ten Tuesday #38: Book Covers I’d Frame As Pieces of Art

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

May 6: Top Ten Book Covers I’d Frame As Pieces of Art

Andrew’s Picks:

  1. A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. Quite possibly my all-time favorite cover.
  2. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. There’s multiple ones that I wouldn’t mind, but I love this one.
  3. Any of The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher (drawn by Christian McGrath). I absolutely love McGrath’s work.
  4. Hawkeye vol.1&2, by Matt Fraction. And any of the individual comic covers, too–I love this. Sometimes, simplicity is best.
  5. A bunch more. I mean, honestly–any Calvin and Hobbes cover, many graphic novel covers (particularly Batman ones)…

Caleb’s Picks:

  1. The original cover of This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I like how simple and elegant it is, and how vividly it conjures the era. Even in as worn condition as the edition seen in this cover I’d be happy, in fact, perhaps especially so; it has the respectability of age and the
  2. The original cover of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. My greatest inspiration as a detective novelist? Of course I’d want one of her covers on my wall, and I couldn’t think of picking any one other than this.
  3. This cover to The Princess Bride by William Goldman, illustrated by Michael Manomivibul, or for that matter, any of his illustrations; aren’t they incredible?
  4. The cover of Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. I know, I know, Calvin and Hobbes again, I have nothing to say for myself. But if I was hanging covers on my wall, well, this would be one. Actually, it was pretty difficult to single out one cover, but I went with the first because it has the right blend of innocence, imagination and mischief. And with no subtitle, that’s a plus, too.
  5. The Holt McDougal cover of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley is a another great inspiration to me, and this is my favorite cover – as you may remember, I chose it back in October as one of the Top Ten Scariest Looking Book Covers. My comment then was: “I have never seen a cover that captures the Monster so vividly.”
  6. Bonus: Do these count?

Top Ten Tuesday #37: Books You’ll Like if You Liked . . .

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

April 29: Top Ten Books You’ll Like if You Liked . . .

Andrew’s Picks:

  1. If you like the BBC series Sherlock . . . First, of course, would be to read the original Doyle stories, as they are simply fantastic and amazing. Agatha Christie is certainly another author to look in to, particularly her Poirot novels. I’d also suggest watching the old Sherlock Holmes TV show with Jeremy Brett, if you enjoy Doyle’s stories.
  2. If you liked the film The Prestige, by Christopher Nolan . . . Well, first, the novel on which the film was based: The Prestige, by Christopher Priest. Like the film, it’s absolutely fantastic and brilliant (and also quite different, which was one of the most enjoyable things for me). But then I’d also recommend The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, as it too has to do with rival magicians set in Victorian-esque England. I’ve heard Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, is another good magician novel, but haven’t read it yet myself (been meaning to for a while…definitely hope to soon). And for Nolan films in general, I’d actually recommend S., by J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst. The book itself is a mystery, and reminds me a bit of Nolan’s flair for puzzles/mysteries/the psychological thriller twists/etc. (such as Memento, Following, etc.)
  3. If you liked the films Shooter or Olympus has Fallen by Antoine Fuqua . . . I’d recommend anything by Vince Flynn. Particularly, Olympus Has Fallen shares many similarities with Flynn’s first Mitch Rapp novel, Transfer of Power (and on a side note, Fuqua was once attached to adapt Consent to Kill, another of Flynn’s novels). Or, really, if you enjoyed any espionage film I’d recommend Vince Flynn. There’s also the obvious Tom Clancy who needs to be mentioned if you enjoy espionage films.
  4. If you enjoyed the tv show Buffy the Vampire Slayer . . . I actually only recently got into Buffy (I know, horrible), but I’ve been a fan of the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher, for a few years now. I can certainly see why Entertainment Weekly calls it “Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Philip Marlowe”, and for any fan of Buffy or Angel, I’d wholeheartedly recommend The Dresden Files.

Caleb’s Picks:

  1. If you like the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip by Bill Watterson . . . it’s really hard to say, because I’ve never read a book that came near to being “like” Calvin and Hobbes. If  it exists, I’ve never seen it. But without a doubt Watterson’s work certainly has a spirit that’s all its own, and it’s difficult to point to a book that has a similar spirit. Though Snicket and Trenton Lee Stewart come to mind, possibly DiCamillo as well, the author I would actually recommend most to the Watterson fan would be Lewis Carroll. There’s a man with a very different style, but a rather similar imagination.
  2. If you like the ABC drama Once Upon a Time . . . you might like the Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke. I don’t actually watch the show but I’m familiar with it, and Inkheart has a similar sort of story.
  3. If you like the Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender . . . Did I scare you, for a moment, when I said “Nickelodeon”? No, this is no Spongebob. The Avatar series (including its sequel, The Legend of Korra) is the best animated comedy drama I have ever seen. If you want a similar sort of adventure story packed with action and humor I would recommend Rick Riordan’s work; or, if you like something with a darker, more dramatic tone, and you go wild for the Asian culture, I recommend the Dragon Keeper series by Carole Wilkinson. Just look at the cover of Blood Brothers; that’s Aang!
  4. If you like the Kingdom Hearts video game series by Square Enix . . . I would recommend something like Faust, or Forster’s work, or for a lighter read, Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux. When I was younger I loved this series, and it’s done a lot to inspire me as a writer. It’s outgrown my old gaming systems by now, so these days I stick to reading the scripts.

Top Ten Tuesday #36: Bookish Things I’d Like to Own

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

April 15: Top Ten Bookish Things I’d Like to Own

Andrew’s Picks:

Geez, there’s so many things I could put on this list. Trying to narrow it down to a top 5, though:

  1. A Hidden Library. Or I mean honestly, any bookshelf-secret-passageway would be cool, but this hidden library in particular is just awesome.
  2. This.  I’ve always loved the idea of labels that say “Andrew’s Personal Library” or whathaveyou, but this is just 100 times better.
  3. Batman Bookshelf. And I mean, a bunch of cool/unique bookshelves would be nice, but I love this Batman symbol one.
  4. Awesome Bookends. I don’t have one specific answer here. For example, I would absolutely love to get the Sandman Absolute Editions, and then get these bookends to go along with those. Various “themes” I’d like: comic books (batman vs. superman, for example), Star Wars, LOTR, dragons, typewriters, awesome buildings…I mean the list just goes on and on, and I’d just love some awesome-looking bookends (yes, totally subjective).
  5.  Book-related clothes, posters, coffee mugs, statues/figurines, nick-nacks…again, the list goes on.

Caleb’s Picks:

  1. This. I’ll never live in a house with doors again if I have anything to say about it.
  2. Yes, please. Maybe not quite that elaborate, but you can bet my dream home will have a library with a room all its own.
  3. I need to start collecting these now. This is easily the first thing on my list that I will actually be able to buy, and you can bet it won’t be long. Available from Amazon or direct from Spineless Classics.
  4. One of these. They come at a price if you want to buy from The Little Library, but if you’re a DIY sort you could make one of these pretty easily for a lot less.
  5. Just five for every room in my house.

Top Ten Tuesday #35: Most Unique Books We’ve Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

April 8: Top Ten Most Unique Books We’ve Read

Caleb’s Picks:

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – You just don’t see any other books like this. I’ve tried, believe me I’ve tried hard for reasons of my own, to find similar stories, but there just aren’t very many. In many ways, Shelley’s first (and perhaps greatest) literary achievement is simply exceptional.
  2. The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes – I know, another one of the standards I often fall back on, but come on—it’s a standard for me because it’s that good. Cervantes’s magnum opus is arguably one of the best, certainly among the best known, and definitely one of the most original, novels of all time.
  3. The Princess Bride by William Goldman – Goldman has a . . . unique mind, that’s for sure, and his most famous work is a very unique reading experience.
  4. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck – Buck has a very unique style, beautiful in its simplicity, and in addition to that the subject matter—China in the early 20th century—is unusual. You just don’t see much fiction coming out of China in that era, and though Buck is American, she was raised in China and that was what she knew.
  5. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket – There’s just something about it, and all of Snicket’s work, that stands out. He has an imagination that’s . . . frankly a little deranged, but on the whole quite amazing.

Andrew’s Picks:

  1. S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. This is without a doubt the most unique book I’ve read. I mean in so many ways it’s much more than just a book. You’ve got notes in margins, inserts, mysteries to solve…really, it’s just an incredibly fun read.
  2. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. This book certainly stands out to me as being unique–never have I read something where a setting is, well, personified, really, to such an extent. The Circus itself is magical, captivating, and awesome, and just how the entire novel is focused around that is what makes it so great (and unique).
  3. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. The writing style is definitely what makes this book unique.
  4. The Prestige, by Christopher Priest. I think the way this novel is structured and put together is incredibly unique (and amazing). There are two diaries read by grandchildren, who then have chapters of their own lives (current events) in the novel. It’s quite brilliant, really.  And such a fun read.
  5. Survivor, by Chuck Palahniuk. This was the first (and is, currently, the only) Palahniuk book I’ve read, and if I had to sum up the book and Palahniuk’s writing overall in one word, I think I’d choose “unique”.
  6. Honorable Mention: The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud. I had to mention this because I just finished the book today and it’s one of the most unique (and most enjoyable) books that I’ve read, specifically due to the footnotes when in first-person. I loved it, personally.
  7. Honorable Mention 2: Calvin and Hobbes. Not strictly a single book, but rather the whole series of (comic) books, I simply had to mention it, as it is certainly, in my mind, a very unique comic (and unsurpassed in wit and humor).

Top Ten Tuesday #34: “Gateway” Books and Authors in My Reading Journey

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

April 1: Top Ten “Gateway” Books and Authors in My Reading Journey

Andrew’s Picks:

I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, but certainly the first three are authors who were incredibly inspiring to me and my reading journey–it’s because of them that I read so much now. There have also been more authors who are great, well, “milestones” in my reading journey (i.e. authors that have made a huge impact), such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Erin Morgenstern, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, etc., but I’m not sure I would consider them exactly “Gateway” authors, which is what I tried to stick to here. The first three were the gateway to my reading a lot in general. The second three were large milestones that opened ways to even more reading.

  1. Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer. This was really the series that started my serious reading journey. I had read a lot as a kid, but when I was a little older I didn’t start reading much until I read these books.
  2. Agatha Christie. Same as above. I started with Artemis Fowl and breezed through the five that were out at the time, and then I discovered Agatha Christie (it may have been a year or two later, now that I think about it). I again tried to read as many as I could, and did manage to read a good handful.
  3. Vince Flynn. It was after Colfer and Christie when I started looking for more books to read (to put it more accurately would be to say I needed to find more books). I came across Vince Flynn and he’s really the one that finally made me into the read-52-books-a-year reader, as I loved his novels, then started buying more and more thrillers until I slowly branched out into other genres.
  4. Jim Butcher. This is when I started to branch out more, and when I started to really love fantasy (granted, I had always loved fantasy, because of Artemis Fowl and The Hobbit, etc., but for a long time after Christie/Flynn I was on a sort of thriller craze).
  5. A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. If I remember right, this was one of the first YA novels I read (after which I would read The Hunger Games, The Book Thief, and finally Harry Potter for the first time in 2012). Even if this wasn’t the first, it’s certainly an incredibly memorable one. And not only did it get me interested in YA, but also just more different books in general. This was the first illustrated book I had read in a long time, and I loved it. It was a mix of fantasy and real life, and I loved it. This book certainly opened the door to many others.
  6. Jeph Loeb and Matt Fraction. I enjoyed The Walking Dead vol.1, but it wasn’t until I read Hawkeye vol.1 and even moreso when I read Batman: Hush, by Jeph Loeb, that I started wanting to read more and more graphic novels as soon as possible. Now I’m incredibly excited to get my hands on more, and further branch out in that department, too.

Caleb’s Picks:

I really love the idea of this week’s list, because it asks how books have changed and shaped their lives, not only affecting what they read, but who they are – and for me, that includes what I write.

  1. Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. Most parents read their kids fairy tales – my father read me Calvin and Hobbes. These were the “books” I was making up dialogue for since before I could read, and when I did learn to read this was probably the first thing I exercised my newfound powers on.
  2. Beverly Cleary (especially her The Mouse and the Motorcycle). When it comes to chapter books, this was the first I read. I fought against learning to read as hard as Calvin fought against learning anything, but as soon as a family friend gave me The Mouse and the Motorcycle as a gift and I had to read it just to be polite, I was hooked for life.
  3. Trixie Belden series created by Julie Campbell Tatham. Even after I could read my mother used to read these books to me – that, and watching Matlock incessantly with a six-year-old, is one of those things for which my writing career has my mother to thank.
  4. Agatha Christie. What more do I need to say? I was already interested in mystery thanks to Belden and Matlock and Doyle, and this was already a few years past my dream of growing up to be a detective, but Christie is the one who made me love mystery.
  5. The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote’s cultural legacy began to influence me since long before I actually read the book, which while not quite what I expected impressed me profoundly.
  6. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Being a young novelist myself, Mary’s story (published at 19!) really inspired me, and Frankenstein continues to be a fascinating favorite.

Top Ten Tuesday #33: Spring 2014 TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

March 18: Top Ten Books On Our Spring 2014 TBR List

Andrew’s Picks:

I’m not very good at sticking to these lists. Very often I really mean to, but the way I choose what to read next, it’s really just…whatever I feel like. That’s the best way I can describe it. I have many, many unread books on my shelves, and so once I finish a book often I’ll just walk around my room for a while, looking at various books, and then go: “that one!” (for example I just started reading the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Been meaning to for a while, as I’m trying to make my way through every story chronologically, but I didn’t think I would right now until I saw it on the shelf and just instantly decided to, on a whim)

That being said, there are definitely some books that I want to read “very, very soon” and that’s what this list mostly comprises of. A couple of these have been on this “to read very soon” list for a couple times now, but…oh well. Maybe this’ll be the time I finally do get to them. =P

  1. Batman: Hush, by Jeph Loeb. I have been so excited to read this graphic novel (GN) for a long time. Not only will it be my first Batman GN (who is my favorite superhero, either followed closely by or tied with Captain America), but I’ve heard so many amazing things about it, and it was recommended to me by someone who’s recommendations are always spot on. So it may seem odd that I haven’t gotten to it yet, since I’ve had it for over a month or two now, but the reason is quite simple: I am almost positive I’ll love it, and I’m really excited for it (not often I can remain excited for a book for several months without reading it); as such, I’ve been saving it for a time when I get in a sort of reading slump. Because I’ll still want to read this, even when I may not want to read anything else. But I may just end up reading it soon anyway, because that slump hasn’t happened yet, oddly enough. And dangit I just want to read a Batman comic. Because he’s Batman.
  2. Sandman Vol. 1, by Neil Gaiman. Basically the same story as Hush, really–and recommended to me by the same person, too. Super excited to read this, and definitely will sooner than later.
  3. Murder on the Links, by Agatha Christie. So Agatha Christie is really the author that got me into reading. Her Poirot novels as well as Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl. That being said, I’ve only read a small-ish handful of her works, and so I’ve been slowly trying to complete my collection and read all of her Poirot books chronologically. A few weeks ago I read The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the first Poirot, and so next is this.
  4. Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. I’m really, really hoping to finally get to this this Spring. Les Mis is without a doubt my favorite musical and one of my all-time favorite stories. All that said, I still haven’t read the original novel yet (I know, for shame).
  5. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is another series I’m planning to make my way through chronologically. Last Spring I read both A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four; currently I’m reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, though I’m nearly done. Memoirs is next, and with how much I absolutely love Holmes and Doyle, I have a feeling I’ll be wanting to read that set of short stories soon, too.
  6. 11 Doctors, 11 Stories, by Various (including Eoin Colfer, Patrick Ness, and Neil Gaiman). This I won’t be reading until I’ve watched at least one episode/mini story-line from each of the classic Doctors, as I’ve only watched Doctor Who from the 9th Doctor on. But I plan to do that soon, since there’s a good amount of classic Who on Netflix.
  7. Another Palahniuk book. Read my first book by him, Survivor, at the beginning of January. He really is an enjoyable writer, and as I have three of his other novels (Choke, Lullaby, Tell-All) I hope to read another sooner than later. Also A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess.
  8. Various Crime Novels. The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K. Rowling; The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris; The Millennium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson; etc.
  9. Various Fantasy Novels. Including: Any Novel by Ursula K. LeGuin (definitely hope to read her Earthsea series soon, but I need to acquire all of them first); Wild Cards, by George R.R. Martin & Others; The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan; The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (one of my all-time favorite films); Ranger’s Apprentice, by John Flanagan; The Strain, by Chuck Hogan/Guillermo Del Toro; Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke; and Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman (this one is also similar to Hush and Sandman, in that I’ve been waiting for a slump as I’m super excited for it: it’s Gaiman, it’s a kid’s book, and just overall sounds super fun). And more, I’m sure. I’m not planning to read all of these this Spring, but I can’t really choose one that I definitively want to read over the others, either.
  10. Anything Else on my To-Read List. Since 8 and 9 were really 8 through 17, I figured this was a good #10 to use. I have so many things on my to-read list, and I have no doubt that I’ll probably only get to half of the ones listed here, if not less, and will instead decide to read something else. But it’s good to get these written down somewhere, and I hope to at least read this many novels, even if not these specific ones. I also really hope to read more classics. Because I have not read nearly enough, unfortunately, and almost exclusively for school, rather than my own pleasure.

Caleb’s Picks:

Andrew already did a good job of describing an attitude I think “any reader worth his [or her] salt” will appreciate. Most of my choices from the fall and winter TBR lists are still unread. My “TBR list” is very loose, constantly evolving and adapting, and never comes near an end. Without much more to say, I will withhold from further ado.

  1. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. From the savant who brought me the moving beauty of To Kill a Mockingbird and the charming Magic of The Secret Garden, The Princess Bride comes with high praise from the wisest and best trusted of critics in my life, and I’m dying to read it.
  2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I simply have no excuses for having never read this.
  3. Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo. DiCamillo’s books are typically something that I read in an hour’s sitting. My sister and I very much enjoyed The Tale of Despereaux, and I gave her both The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Tiger Rising for Christmas. I’ve since read Edward Tulane, but not this one, not quite yet, but it’s just a matter of having a spare hour when I feel like it.
  4. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe. Charming story behind this one: it found me in a used paperback store, boasting a stained and wrinkled cover, that irresistible “old book” smell, and a “FREE” label. It whispered sweet nothings too persuasively for me to turn away; it was love at first sight. It was destiny.
  5. Various Agatha Christies. Always on my list, Partners in Crime will be the first the next time I pick up one of her novels.
  6. Various mystery novels. I’ve been planning for some time to make a study in the earliest years of the genre: Poe’s Murder at the Rue Morgue, Charles Felix’s The Notting Hill Mystery, Steen Blicher’s The Rector of Veilbye, Hoffman’s Mademoiselle de Scuderi, to name a few.
  7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Still getting around to this one.
  8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  9. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis.
  10. Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan. I’ve read the first two books in the series in twice as many years, and now that my sister has bought and read the last installment, and recommended it, I’ll have to get to it sooner or later.

Top Ten Tuesday #32: All Time Favorite Books in the Mystery Genre

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

March 11th: Top Ten All Time Favorite Books in the Mystery Genre

Andrew’s Picks:

  1. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie. Although Murder on the Orient Express takes close second, this has to be my favorite Agatha Christie novel and, probably, favorite mystery novel period.
  2. Anything Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Although I haven’t read all of the stories, I’ve loved every one I have read. My favorite thusfar is The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  3. The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher. While the genre may be technically Urban Fantasy, the series is about a wizard Private Investigator, and each novel has its own mystery. Definitely a fantastic mystery series.
  4. The Murders in the Rue Morgue, by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is amazing. There’s just no other way to say it–he’s fantastic. And this story, often considered the first detective story, is also amazing.
  5. S. by J.J. Abrams, and Skin by Ted Dekker. Putting both of these together because neither is completely a mystery, but they both definitely have some mystery-genre aspects, and both are extremely enjoyable.
  6.  Bonus: The Floating Admiral, by The Detection Club (including Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and G.K. Chesterton). With those three names working on the same novel, you just know it’s going to be good–and The Floating Admiral definitely was.

Caleb’s Picks:

  1. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.
  2. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I always call this my favorite Christie because it was the first I read. You may call that a prejudice; I call it an excuse to get out of trying to name her “best” work in my opinion from a critical standpoint. Besides, a “favorite” book is more than just a book that’s technically good; it’s a book that’s special to you. This was my introduction to Christie’s brilliance; and what an introduction! A closed setting as small as a train adds to both the drama and the awe, captures the interest, and it’s an immediately recognizable icon of the genre, which doesn’t hurt. The solution to the mystery was completely unexpected in every way, and forever captured me as a Christie fan.
  3. The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie.
  4. Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  5. Before Midnight by Rex Stout.

Top Ten Tuesday #31: Popular Authors I’ve Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

March 4th: Top Ten Popular Authors I’ve Never Read

Andrew’s Picks:

Decided to do all 10 this time as there’s literally so many authors I need to read. There’s actually a lot of authors who six months ago or even just a few weeks ago would have had to be on this list, but now that’s changed. I’ve been resolving to read more authors who I haven’t read anything by and so far it’s going well. If the question was “10 Authors I Need to Read More Of” this list would grow exponentially.

  1. John Green. I’d have to say that he is most likely the #1 on this list that needs to change. I finally picked up The Fault in Our Stars a few weeks ago, and will be reading it soon. But until then…he unfortunately remains an un-read author of mine.
  2. Timothy Zahn. Often lauded as one of the greatest Sci-Fi authors alive (and perhaps the greatest Star Wars author), he’s been high on my list for a while, especially after finding Heir to the Empire at a used bookstore.
  3. Robert Jordan. After finally getting my hands on The Eye of the World, I’ve been eagerly awaiting reading this.
  4. John Grisham. I’ve heard high-praise for his novels; really should get to The Firm soon.
  5. Susanna Clarke. Been meaning to read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell for a while.
  6. Terry Pratchett. Especially with my fairly-new-found love of Neil Gaiman, I really need to get my hands on one of his books.
  7. Joseph Conrad. One of the many classic authors I have yet to read.
  8. Robert Ludlum. I really loved the Bourne film trilogy, and ever since then I’ve been meaning to read the novels. Or, really, anything by Ludlum.
  9. Dan Brown. To be honest, I’ve just never really had an interest, with the exception of how popular he is.
  10. Stieg Larsson. The Millennium Trilogy is definitely high on my  to-read list.

Caleb’s Picks:

Not much to explain about each individual pick. These are all authors I wish I had already read but haven’t, and just can’t seem to get around to. Sometimes, trying to read a book “high on your reading list” is like trying to transfix the last pea with your fork.

  1. Lewis Carroll.
  2. Charles Dickens.
  3. Mark Twain.
  4. John Steinbeck.
  5. Just about every popular novelist since 1950.Can’t beat the classics. Especially when they’re free on Kindle. Still, there’s a lot of contemporary reading I mean to get around to, but as any reader will recognize, that could mean years.

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/Reader

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

February 18: Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/Reader

Andrew’s Picks:

  1. Blogger: I can talk about books. I love books. Possibly to the point of obsession (possibly? who am I kidding). And I love interacting with other people who love books just as much as I do.
  2. Blogger: Being able to rant and ramble on about things I love. Sure, conversations with friends who enjoy the same things as you is fun, but being able to put all those thoughts “on paper” (as it were) and go in depth with a blog is highly enjoyable.
  3. Reader: Provides healthy entertainment. Not only are books highly entertaining, but reading is also a very healthy habit. Books stimulate the mind, provide inspiration for writing or other creative pursuits, inform the reader, and much more. And on top of that, they provide limitless entertainment–there can never be enough books, and there can never be enough time to read enough books.
  4. Reader: As George R.R. Martin says: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
  5. Reader: Books are a great escape. Being able to simply immerse yourself into the word/characters/setting/etc. of a book is incredibly enjoyable, and can provide great respite from every day life–a chance to relax and enjoy a story.

Caleb’s Picks:

  1. If you read, you’re never alone. “We read to know that we are not alone.” — William Nicholson
    “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx
  2. Reading can create real relationships too. “There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.” — P.G. Wodehouse
  3. You can never read enough. “I guess there are never enough books.” — John Steinbeck
    (. . . whether we like it or not.)
    “I am simply a ‘book drunkard.’  Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.”  — L.M. Montgomery
    (. . . even if we don’t have the time.)
    “The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.” — Joseph Joubert
  4. Books open our eyes. “The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” — Oscar Wilde
  5. Books are magical. “In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” — Mark Twain
  6. Bonus: the smell of a book. “There is no scent so pleasant to my nostrils as that faint, subtle reek which comes from an ancient book.” — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“What’s a book? Everything or nothing. The eye that sees it all.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson