Saturday, March 03, 2007

A question

On ew.com there's a discussion going on about favorite books. An editor, J. Peder Zane, asked 125 contemporary authors to name their 10 favorite books. Your list says a lot about you, I think, so I put some thought into it and came up with mine. These are in no particular order.

1. The Stand by Stephen King
2. The Genesis Code by John Case
3. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
4. Jhereg by Steven Brust
5. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
6. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
7. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
9. The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger
10. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

For a fantasy/horror/sci-fi writer, you'd think there'd be an Asimov or a Sagan somewhere in this list, but I tried to include childhood favorites as well as more recent reads. I also tried to include a book from each of my favorite series. I should note that I only read the Jodi Picoult book because it was a book club selection, and I left off The Lies of Locke Lamora since, having read it so recently, I might be biased. I should also note that this list--like I suspect yours would be--is fluid. Ask me three months from now and half the list might be different., though The Stand would remain at the top.

What's your list? Don't want to list 10? Shoot for five.

Oh, as an aside: A few days ago I reread The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. I can see why some of my friend's parents wouldn't want them to read it--it's set in a private boys school, and there are numerous references to masturbation and tits--but it's got nothing on Judy Blume, I think. My memory was right in that the basic theme is how shitty kids can be to each other; what I didn't remember was how dark the book is. Not only are Cormier's adolescent characters willfully cruel, an adult teacher uses blackmail and bribery on the students to save his own hide. The good guys not only don't win in the end, they get their asses kicked. It's a poignant portrait of how solitude, peer pressure, and the group dynamic are an integral part of our academic experience. Having said that, the plot is a little threadbare and jumpy; the narrative is overly wordy and skips around to a lot of characters who ultimately have no bearing on the story; some plot points are overwrought and unrealistic. This is, however, coming from an adult writer re-reading a YA book with a critical eye and the question "could I do this as well or better?" in her mind.

2 comments:

Rob S. said...

Alright, I'll give it my best shot. In no particular order:

1. Jack the Bodiless -- Julian May
2. The Lord of the Rings -- J.R.R. Tolkien (yeah I know its 3 books)
3. Haroun and the Sea of Stories -- Salman Rushdie
4. Debt of Honor -- Tom Clancy
5. The Stand -- Stephen King
6. Red Mars -- Kim Stanley Robinson
7. Jurassic Park -- Michael Crichton
8. The Sword of Shannara -- Terry Brooks
9. Sojourn -- R.A. Salvatore
10. The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe -- C.S. Lewis

Naturally, my list will likely change depending on my mood, when you talk to me, etc.

Kelly Swails said...

Rob! Good to see you around these parts!