Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Words I could read a hundred times over.

My eyes are about to bleed from going over this massive media list with a fine-tooth comb. Looking at media lists in any form - whether it be creating, vetting, or pitching - is possibly my least favorite thing about my job. They make me want to poke a fountain pen into my jugular. I'm not getting out of here before 7.

Having said that, I decided to take a break (what? I'm on deadline? It's 6:30? what? work?? what's that???), and because a friend of mine was asking me about books and stories today that she was thinking of buying from BN, I thought I'd post my top 10 novel picks + top 5 short story picks.

Top 10 Novels
1. The Road - Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy's simple post-apocalyptic tale was so hauntingly beautiful, the nameless little boy a ray of hope for all that is good in humanity in the face of a disintegrating society. Saved me at a point where I felt incredibly cynical of all that I try to stand for.

2. The History of Love - Nicole Krauss. Her sophomore novel was unconventional and required an odd suspension of disbelief, but held an uncanny sense of nostalgia all throughout. Written simply but poetically, I fell in love with not just the characters, but the wonderful lines that rang with truth and heartbreak.

3. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline l'Engle. I read this in fourth grade I think and was captivated by the "tesserect" concept and tried to wrap my head around the idea of time being the 4th dimension. But what really drove it in was the way they defeated IT posessing Charles Wallace. It blew my little 4th grade mind away.

4. Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini. Only because it was the only book I've ever read that made my heart hurt so much that I had to put it down, take a few deep breaths, take a break, before picking it up again. Such a sad, beautiful little tale of betrayal, regret and friendship.

5. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card. I'm normally not a big sci-fi person, but this hardly qualifies. I mean it does, but it's smart and inventive. A great story that demonstrates how human psychology works, the need for compassion and understanding, and how we fight to survive. Plus, the strategies of the games are really fun to read too.

6. Ishmael - Daniel Quinn. Not so much a plot driven book than a fictional creative conceit as a vehicle for Quinn's ideas on the Earth and our responsibility as humans living within this ecosphere. I loved the interpretations of Biblical passages as a different take on creation myths. The idea of being a "giver" over a "taker" kept haunting me, and made me want to be more socially responsible.

7. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger. Creative love story. I enjoyed this especially trying to piece everything together, looping back, seeing how it all fits, following each multiple POC, and slowly figuring out the inevitable ending. I also was impressed because the time plot was remarkably consistent, and I have a peeve for time plots being inconsistent.

8. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult. By far the best of hers I've read (Tenth Circle sucked), it raises an interesting ethical dilemma, but does so through the eyes and guilt of multiple narrators, leading you to question your own sense of morality and judgment, forcing you to think about how gray lines can really be.

9. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden. I love this book, the way it delves into old Japan on the brink of modernization, the intricate details and following the fall of the geisha world. Easy, fun read.

10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling. Okay, this was my favorite Harry Potter book. It actually makes my top 10. I'm a dork, I know. But this one was the best one by far (we'll see when 7 comes out).

Runners-up: Norwegian Wood, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Remains of the Day, Unbearable Lightness of Being, Einstein's Dreams, and soon, Lolita.

Top 5 Short Stories
1. "Children of the Sea", from Krik? Krak! - Edwidge Danticat. I love the conciet of this story - letters written by two young lovers, but letters that never get seen by the other, and yet they still somehow parallel each other quietly. Tragic yet beautiful, despite the tumultuous, bloody circumstances in which the letters occur. Everytime I need to get myself in the right mood to write, I read this story and it touches me.

2. "On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning", from Elephant Vanishes - Haruki Murakami. Short, simple tale, but resonates. This idea of the winds of fate. This idea that sometimes we only get one chance. The sadness behind it. And to think, it's all just a ploy by some guy who sees a beautiful girl that he thinks is the one for him.

3. "Asleep", from Asleep - Banana Yoshimoto. Blue is what I think of when I read this. Swirling fog of sleep. It's written just like how it should, giving you that slippery feeling. All at once dreamy and suspended and strange, I can't help but love this story of sleeplessness and too much sleep and all because of the uncontrollable uncanny things that happen around us.

4. "Emergency", from Jesus' Son - Denis Johnson. I wrote about this before on this blog, but I really enjoyed this one from the collection, the snow, the bunnies, the vulnerability of the narrator, struggling to figure out where he is all of this. Being saved or being a savior. That sort of thing. And us just going along for the ride.

5. TBD. Quite honestly, I said 5, only because it's a nice round number, but I'm still trying to decide. Haven't yet come across another one that I totally love. So I'll let you know.

Okay. After numerous breaks (I was editing that damn media list for an hour and a half), it is now 7:45. Which means. Time to go home.

p.s. Blogger won't let me list the 25 different tags that belong to this entry. So um, I'm throwing it all in "General book babble". Apologies for the disorganization (I know, no one really cares about that except me).

5 drops:

moonrat said...

Best short storY of all time--still FOR ESME WITH LOVE AND SQUALOR (JD Salinger)

moonrat said...

babylon revisited (fitzgerald) is also effing awesome

Jiffy said...

I'm so glad you put Kite Runner on this list. I bought a whole bunch of stuff from amazon and accidentally put the Kite Runner on that list. I bought so many things that this one book actually got lost in the mix. I was SO MAD! But now, I'm not as mad, hahaha.

Jiffy said...

also... have you read Ender's Shadow?

angelle said...

moonrat - ooh, thanks for the suggestions!

jiify - of course. i've read all of them except for the very last hegemon book.

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