Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Pop Essay Time: In comments, name one book that you want other people to read, and why.


  1. CATCH-22 ... because that's the way it is.

    Actually, I give this book to my children as a summer assignment when they are about to enter high school.

  2. Anonymous1:54 AM

    Catcher in the Rye is a book I want other people to read (or more likely re-read). I know that I certainly didn't have enough life experience to appreciate the book at age sixteen when it was required in high school.

    When I had to re-read it in grad school, it went from being one of my least favorite books to one I love. I think it's pretty likely that there are plenty of other people who might see a whole new book if they re-read it as adults, too.

  3. Anonymous2:08 AM

    Praying for Sheetrock, an amazing nonfiction book about civil rights, old boys, poverty and good people who go bad. It's more timely than ever in the wake of Katrina.

    Deborah Branscum

  4. Anonymous2:24 AM

    The Weirdstone of Brisingham by Alan Garner. It was the first book I ever read that taught me there was more out there in the world than what my senses told me; it sparked my imagination.

    Jaye Patrick

  5. Alas Babylon
    Not so much because it's apocolyptic fiction; but because the small details within the entire novel make the reader think about the "what ifs" of nuclear warfare.
    -- Lesli

  6. Anonymous7:53 AM

    Les Miserables.
    This was the first book I read where the ending wasn't completely happy, with everyone getting exactly what they wanted. It showed me 1) that this kind of ending is superior for reading, and 2) that in the real world, life doesn't always end perfectly; what's important is to make sure you LIVE.

  7. The Stars Dispose by Michealla Roessler. A brilliant first work. This book was magic for me and I'm always amazed when a first work by an author is so well done.

    Every thread of plot in this book weaves together in the end even if it seemed quite unimportant in the reading.

  8. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Because it's just so darn well-written! Because while you read it, you have to sniffle to get the dust from the road out of your nose. You cover your ears at the crack of Atticus' gun. Because you realize that "There but for the grace of God go I."

  9. Martin Magnus, Planet Rover by William F. Temple. Because it played a huge part in awakening my interest in SF.

  10. Gonna bend the rules a bit and reccomend two:

    Starship Troopers by Heinlein


    Stranger in a Strange Land also by Heinlein.

    One argues the necessity of war and violence, while the other presents the need for peace and love. Two seemingly opposite views that -when read together- have startling similarity. Always impressed me that one man had such a broad understanding of the human spectrum.

  11. StarDoc because it's an enjoyable story.

  12. Ground Zero by Dennis Smith because it was powerful and while it was about the great tragedy of the Twin Towers it was also about the human spirit and becoming famil with complete strangers. And the audio was even more powerful.

  13. Pride & Prejudice because Austen writes about a tiny little world that nonetheless has resonance in every social interaction. Her humor is dry and totally snarky, and she writes a compelling romance, too.

  14. Anonymous9:59 AM

    The Ballad of Billy Badass and the Rose of Turkestan, because William Sanders is hilarious and tragic - and almost no one has heard of him.

  15. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. It's almost like Frances Hodgson Burnett for grown-ups, and it's one of the loveliest stories I've read all year, but so many people who come into the store refuse to try it because it's written in present tense.

  16. Anonymous10:07 AM

    Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross.

    No matter your religion or whether its fact or fiction if there was ever a female Pope, this story about a ninth century girl who refuses to give up her desire to learn and where that takes her life is an amazing read.


  17. Anonymous10:30 AM

    PK the Bookeemonster:
    Thirteenth Night by Alan Gordon because I think the concept of a Fools' Guild as medieval CIA is brilliant. Jesters are everywhere and have the ear of powerful people but are never really seen.

  18. To Kill a Mockingbird. There are so many things about this book that move me deep in my soul.

    These days, we're so used to the 'larger-than-life' mega-hero and heroines that I think we forget the capacity for greatness, in simple and not-so-simple ways, that exists in each person.

    People need to read about Atticus Finch -- a simple, ordinary man of extraordinary humanity, courage and heroism.

  19. Anonymous10:30 AM

    East of Eden, Steinbeck. It astonished me as a teen, and continues to be a standard for me in terms of character. Although To Kill A Mockingbirg is right up there, too.

  20. Just one? I can never name just one. :) Most that have been mentioned so far are ones I would recommend, especially To Kill a Mockingbird and Catch-22. And hundreds of others, like The Martian Chronicles, which was the first SF book I read and changed things for me forever (well, along with the first Mercury flights, but still...) and a bit later, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    But for the books that most moved me when I was a teen: A Patch of Blue by Elizabeth Kata, Shardik by Richard Adams, and The Fixer by Bernard Malamud, all of which have a lot of important things to say about humanity.l

  21. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Gibbon's Decline and Fall by Sheri S. Tepper.

    Because everyone needs a wake up call, a look at the worst case scenario once in a while to remind them to be open-minded and kind to their fellow travelers.

  22. Anonymous1:00 PM

    Godbody, by Theodore Sturgeon. Because it's simply brilliant. There's something there to offend nearly everyone (it is, after all, a ficional treatment of the Second Coming), but unless you read it with the intention of being offended, you will be moved by this book.

    Sturgeon's words are most always gorgeous (except when they're not, by the author's intent), but in this book, more than any other, his unique gift for the language and his sheer stubborn love of all of us, even the worst of us, came together to produce a work of fiction that is truly transcendent.

    From a writer's perspective, it is astonishing in that it's written in multpile first-person. Essentially the novel is told in the form of eight vignettes, each presented by a different character, with each narrator picking up the thread of the main story arc just a bit before the end of ths last scene, so that the reader gets a bit of the new character's perspective on the last character's vignette. It sounds infinitely more confusing than it is, as Sturgeon makes this bit of writing-as-tightrope-walking-while-juggling-flaming-chainsaws seem not only simple, but inevitable. And without using spelled-out dialogue tags of any sort, he manages to give each character their own unique voice.

    It's out-of-print, as most of Sturgeon's work was until North Atlantic Books began publishing the complete short stories, but it is well worth the effort (any amount of effort, far less a simple search on ABE or alibris) to run a copy down.

  23. Anonymous1:02 PM

    The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki. A fascinating book that should teach us all two lessons:

    - The collective wisdom of ordinary everyday people is smarter than we think it is
    - The ability of putative "experts" (be they political leaders, CEOs of corporations, or whatever) to make the best decisions is no better than -- and sometimes worse than -- that of a group of ordinary people of diverse experience.

    In the wake of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, this book has some interesting lessons about relying on our political leaders to tell us the right things to do.

  24. Anonymous1:40 PM

    Mine: The Night of Time in the original French (the English translation was retitled The Ice People) by Rene Barjavel.

    Why: Nothing I've read explains humanity better, or makes you more uncomfortable being human, than this book

  25. Anonymous1:40 PM

    The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, because it's incredibly relaxing and allowed me to take a step back and realize how much I had going for me in my life.

    I was a very angry, depressed person when I picked up the book, but when I'd finished it four hours later -- at like 6 AM, no less -- I put it down, called my girlfriend to tell her that I love her, and watched the sun rise.

    I felt happy.

  26. One? Just one? OK, I'll take your question to mean one book - other than a classic - that I want other folks to read. Still, it's hard to settle on one. But just to buck the trend, I'll go with Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome because it never fails to make me laugh out loud no matter how many times I read it. The part where our hero is reading the medical book in the library and becomes convinced he has every disease listed except housemaid's knee is hilarious. And to think it was written in the 1880s!

  27. Anonymous2:09 PM

    This Perfect Day - Ira Levine

    This is probably one of the best works of fiction ever turned out. It shows how individuals relate to and through society, what society does to individuals, how you can try to be yourself despite the pressures from various social groups and it does all that in an entertaining way.

    I used to buy all the used copies in every book store I could find then give them away to friends and family.

    Read this book. It just might change your outlook on life.

  28. Oh -- A Patch of Blue! I loved that book, too, and the movie's terrific.

  29. Ombria in Shadow because she's the author I want to be when I grow up . . . sorta. I want to write that beautifully, but in my own voice.

  30. Anonymous6:48 PM

    The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers is a must-read. Not only was this one of the first time-travel books I read that didn't leave me saying, "But what about-" because plot bunnies were left dangling, but it also reawakened by interest in Coleridge and Byron.

    Sneaky Powers, makng me learn a little while I was reading for fun! You have to admire that.


  31. On the Beach

    Why? Because it's utterly depressing and makes you realize that life isn't that bad. And because it shows your just how devestating fear can be and how it can affect the completely innocent.

  32. I'd have to go with The Shipping News, by (E.) Annie Proulx, because it's the best book that I've ever had fun reading.

  33. I already had a choice further up, but I want to second Three men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome. Not as my first choice, just as a book everyone should read. Books like this (and Jeeves & Wooster) influenced my own writing to a large degree.
    TMIAB is long out of copyright (since it came out before Mickey), and is available from the gutenberg project as a free download.
    If you don't like reading ebooks in your web browser you can always use my free yBook software (windows only) to make it look more like a physical book on the screen.

  34. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

    I think I discovered this book the same day puberty hit and while many books have moved/impressed/inspired me since I always come back to this for reasons that are probably hardwired into that emotional attachment. But I still push this (and Cat's Cradle) into people's hands whenever and wherever I come across the uninitiated.

  35. Anonymous12:19 AM

    I've thought about this all day. Recommend my favorite book of all time (The Stand), the one I think has the most amazing prose and storytelling (The Color Purple), the best use of gore as a backdrop to drama (Hannibal), or even one of my own?

    Nope. I'm going with A Tale of Two Cities. Skip the first five chapters. In fact, rip them out and throw them away (I think they were put here to scare highschool lit students). The rest is utter brilliance. Dickens deserves his place among the greats.

    "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."

    He nailed that ending. :)

  36. Anonymous9:51 AM

    She won't recommend her books, so I will:

    Ghosts In The Snow - Tamara Siler Jones

    If you like either fantasy or mystery books, read this one, it is a clever and gripping mix of both.

    I ordered her next one, Threads Of Malice, in July (right after finishing Ghosts) and have to wait till October to get it. It's been hard so far. ;)

  37. The Bible.

    Why? I hope readers would be able to see what I see in it : )

  38. Anonymous10:19 AM

    Jen -

    Thank you. That was very sweet.

  39. Anonymous5:16 PM

    To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Because it speaks of one man doing what he can, because it speaks of teaching our children what is important for them to know by our example, because it sohws that what is right is not what is popular, but what is right. Because it speaks of doing what you feel must be done even if you don't think you have a chance in heck. And its about growing up.

    Loads of reasons. I just love this book.

  40. Talyn By Holly Lisle I'm still thinking about it, several weeks later. It's one of the few books I've read that haunt me that way. It's not only on my keeper shelf, but I plan to reread it in a few months. It's a complex book and I'm sure I missed things on the first readthrough.

  41. Anonymous12:21 PM

    Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire ....a book that makes you question why we did nothing and still do nothing

    However for a fun read any thing by Jasper Fforde the man is wacked

  42. The Finovar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. The blending of archetypal myths is masterful.

  43. The Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop.

    Great story with some of the best characterisation I've read, and a strong horror-to-hope plot arc. It still remains my favorite set of books after six years. (That's saying something for me. :P)

  44. Anonymous3:41 PM

    One book? PBW, that's just mean. Ok, if it must be one let it be Dr. Atul Gawande's "Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science" because it was one of the first non-fiction books I read completely out of my field and loved just for itself. After that I had to stop saying I never read non-fiction.

  45. The Shadow of the Wind. Set in Spain after WWII, about a booksellers son who is has to find out who is trying to erase an author by destroying all his printed books. An orginal story with a bit of everything in it. This book reminded me how fun it can be to read a facinating story. Time flys!

  46. Anonymous3:13 PM

    I would highly recommend a book called "The Mists Of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It is possibly THE best re-telling of the Arthurian legend, told from the point of view of all the female charachters involved. Given that I am a bloke and have read almost everything on the subject, this is high praise indeed.
    P.S. I also second the recommendations for 3 Men In A Boat and any Jeeves and Wooster story.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.