So. Assuming that you’ve ALL read Monday’s post (and I KNOW that you all did!), I’ve no need to explain why with this post, we’re starting smack dab past the middle, at number six…
6 – “A Clockwork Orange,” by Anthony Burgess
Of the ten, this is the only one I don’t currently own, and I don’t currently own it for a couple of reasons. First off, I’ve read this book so many times, I feel as if I know it by heart. Secondly, it’s a damned tough read. As you can see by clicking through to the more in-depth review above, Burgess created for his near-future adventure, a near-future language to go along with it. And this in turn, required that a near-future dictionary of sorts, be included with the story itself. Residing at the back of the book, so that you can keep flipping forward and back sporadically, as you try to keep up. Read it at least once, and make damned sure you get the 21-chapter version when you do. It makes all the difference in the world.
7 – “Stranger In A Strange Land,” by Robert A. Heinlen
This book was actually a present for C from her brother. She never read it, and I’ll be forever glad that I did. It turns what we normally think of when we hear “space alien” on its ear in that, in this story, the man from Mars literally is a man. One of us, but not. Like so many of the other books on my list, this one uses science fiction as it’s base, but it’s the interweaving of the personalities that makes it so good. That, and the exploration of possibilities normally thought of as absurd (everyone gets to go to the heaven of their making, to worship the God that they personally believe in? Insane! Especially given the time in which it was first published). Oh, there’s also a bit of sex in there as well. And hey, as any reader of Heavy Metal Magazine knows, science fictional lovemaking is always the best.
8 – “The Book Of Lost Things,” by John Connolly
Every cute fairy tale you’ve heard as a child gets turned upside down and queasy-like in this little gem. This little, very disturbing gem. I was going to provide you with a quote to help solidify my argument, but this book has become a bit of a lost thing itself, as it has been on an overly extended loan to my sister-in-law. Note to self – do NOT loan out books that are liable to be ranked amongst your top ten at some point in time, and then needed to help provide a solidifying quote. At any rate, it’s a tale a young boy dealing with not only the death of his mother, but a shady character known only as “The Crooked Man” as well. I liked the story, as it was written with relish, and though some of the scenes are quite disturbing, you can almost “see” them through Connolly’s word choice. Creepy, but good.
9 – “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
Of course he had to make the list. And this one is my favorite. A scary tale about the day (soon coming), when all books will be illegal, all independent thought, frowned upon. Sadly, if this ever comes to be, all of us in Blogsville will be looking for a new hobby. In the case of the story – as I’m sure you all know – “firemen” don’t stop fires, but rather, set them. Burning every book that’s found, scrounged upon or being hidden away. The main character is one such servant of the law, but he also has an addiction to the very thing he’s been charged with the destruction of. His journey provides hope in an otherwise blasé world, and the story works well for me, because it helps to prove that there will always be those who are “outside,” who don’t fit in, but who all the better for it.
10 – “Death Of A Salesman,” by Arthur Miller
This is only coming in at number ten, because it’s actually a play. And again, it’s MY list. Anywho, I am Willy Loman. Just as my dad before me was. Or at least that’s how I’ve always felt. Possibly one of the bleakest stories I’ve ever read, it truly did speak to me about how you need to pay special attention to what you work towards, for your liable to obtain it in the end. Sad for those who are working for no reason whatsoever, sadder still for those who think that their path is true, when in fact it’s not. This is one of the few books that brings me to tears. Every single time I read it. I haven’t done so since dad died. Honestly, I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to again.
Well, that was pretty easy. My literary top ten, all wrapped up in two posts! Now, and because I’ve no idea how to truly do a Top Ten that is actually just ten in it’s count, here’s one more submission to the list that is absolutely VITAL to anyone’s reading list:
Honorable Mention – “Harold And His Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson
I used to work with a self-serving douche (trust me, he was) that at one point asked me what my favorite book was when I was growing up. My immediate response was the above title, and I followed that up with a “why?” “Well you see,” he said, “I believe that our favorite book from that time dictates the person we’ll eventually become. My favorite was ‘The Giving Tree,’ and that’s why I’m so generous to everyone and always giving of myself.” See? I told ya he was a douche. He did have a point though, I later realized. And while I don’t have my own purple crayon, I do feel as if I’ve spent my life trying to create a life (versus simply riding along with it), and while some of the things that I’ve created along the way have scared me, I do feel as if eventually I’ll get there. Wherever the “there” is, I suppose. Harold taught me that with imagination and belief, you can’t do just anything you want, but you can get close enough – and in the end, arrive safely home.
PS: click here if you want to see my Top Ten books on Poetry.