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The 10 Favorite Books

Once again, I find myself in a predicament.  Someone has asked me to send them my favorite book, and as we all know I have problems with choosing a favorite anything.  But I can at least narrow down my list to 10 Favorite Books.  So without any further ado, here they are:

  • House of Leaves: A creeping and mysterious tale that got a lot of people interested when it was published in 2000 because of its experimental formatting.  This could have easily become a gimmick, if it weren’t for the fact that every colored word and blank page, every page-long footnote, every chunk of sticky-note sized text is all adding to the character’s psyche and the mood of the piece.  I have yet to read more Danielewski, but his first novel was more than captivating.
  • Ubik: Another first, this time the first P.K. Dick story I read.  A strangely twisting tale that instantly captivated me and painted a world of immensely imaginative science fiction.  Like with many of Dick’s works we begin with a captivating science fiction concept (Extra-sensory powers), and from there go down a rabbit hole where the reader begins to question the very fabric of reality within the book itself.
  • If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler: A book completely about reading, which makes it simultaneously a brilliant written work and the singular book I would love to adapt into a movie.  Another work which includes a central idea which could become a gimmick if every time the story switched and every time The Reader (both protagonist and yourself) begins again the central idea and conceit of the book becomes clearer and clearer.
  • Crime and Punishment: An exploration of guilt, conscience, and most interesting (for me anyway) obsession.  Dostoevsky is able to write a profoundly fascinating tale which includes many scenes where protagonist Raskolnikov is just walking through streets named K or N.  Also, Porfiry Petrovich, the police detective intent on proving Raskolnikov’s guilt, is one of my all-time favorite literary characters and his interrogation scene where he slowly goes mad is an absolute work of art.
  • A Wrinkle in Time: My Mother read to my Sister and I almost every night growing up.  We would have a story time, where she’d read from a book we didn’t yet have the capacity to do ourselves, and we would listen and marvel for an about an hour then go to bed and have wonderful dreams.  She read the entirety of The Wrinkle in Time series to us, and the most memorable part for me (which technically comes in a later book) may also be what got me first fascinated with the idea of parallel universes.  The book itself is also a brilliant science fiction adventure story bringing in questions of angels, time travel, alternate universes, and dimensions beyond time.  Though it’s true that a lot of why this book is on my 10 List is because of the memories surrounding it, the memories accumulate around this one for a very good reason.
  • Fahrenheit 451: Another book about books and reading, and one of the few instances where the book is adapted into a pretty great movie.  It shows the both the power of the written word as a means of expression and culture and travel and passion, but more importantly it’s a book about the power of ideas and what happens to a world when there is no more expression and a government goes too far out of its way to repress The Idea.  If this book were simply about the rise of television and radio and how it will rot a person’s brain, I don’t think it would be as lasting and as adaptable as it most certainly is.
  • The Stranger: A guiding philosophical force for me, though I was already familiar with The Myth of Sisyphus, Absurdism, and Existentialism before this (though The Stranger isn’t Existentialist, Camus’ philosophy of the Absurd is markedly different in a few incredibly important ways, mostly: The Point is to Live).  The Stranger touches on many of the points of Camus’ philosophy while being much more digestible and simple than his essays.  Through the protagonist of Mersault, who is an ultimate book protagonist in that he has no wants outside of what external forces demand of him be it society or others’ expectations, the reader is able to understand the absurdity of living for expectations outside of your own and existing for no other reason than to serve a society which itself is absurd.
  • Doom Patrol: The Painting that Ate Paris: I haven’t read many comic books (or graphic novels.  There’s a difference between the two, though I’m not sure what it is and which Doom Patrol falls into.  Probably Comic Books), but I have read all of Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol and it is fantastic.  It’s this compilation that really gets into the heart of how imaginatively insane Morrison’s Doom Patrol was and just what, exactly, being the supergroup “tasked with protecting the fabric of reality itself” meant.  It also helps that this is the compilation that introduces my favorite villain team Mr. Nobody and his Brotherhood of Dada.
  • Animalia: One of the most important books of my childhood, which brought me so much joy seeing it again as an adult at the Albuquerque Zoo that I just had to buy it so I could look over each illustrated letter over and over again.  Animalia feeds into almost all of my obsessions that have been with me throughout my life: Words, Animals, and true-to-life animals wearing silly hats.
  • Timeline: This was my favorite book in Jr. High School, and even though it wasn’t my first Crichton book (that was Congo, I believe), it’s the one that sticks out in my mind.  It continued my ongoing fascination with time travel and science fiction, and it was the first book I read to approach science fiction with a more measured and scientific look.  Outside of the world of memory, it remains an interesting story of causality and time, and a neat medieval adventure story as well.  Is it the best of Crichton’s works?  Probably not.  That might be Sphere.  Timeline also has the distinction of being the work that I was most monumentally disappointed in when it was adapted into a movie.  The movie is absolute garbage and shouldn’t be watched by any means.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • American Psycho
  • Naked Lunch
  • The Phantom Tollbooth
  • Cat’s Cradle
  • The Metamorphosis (by Franz Kafka)
  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold
  • Les Miserables
  • The Magicians
  • Lord of the Flies
  • The Lorax