Thursday, March 3, 2005

Have You Read These Books?

John Scalzi notes that today is World Book Day. I broke my "fast" on blogging at work during Lent, just long enough to mention a few books.  Since then, I've added several more authors and titles.

part of my L'Engle collection
part of my L'Engle collection

My favorite book is usually A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. This Newbery Award winner is arguably the first science fiction I ever read.  The book features misfit kids, time and space travel via tesseract, alleged witches who are really retired stars (in the astronomical sense), a world of terrifying conformity, and the battle between good and evil in both macrocosm and microcosm.  If you like this one, L'Engle has many more great books, but none better than Wrinkle.  These characters reappear in many more books, as children, adolescents and even as parents, with crossover connections to L'Engle's other books about the Austin family and other characters.  I have a whole web site about L'Engle and her work, which I'm a few years behind in updating.

Harlan, Clarionites and Hat, 1977

Paingod and Other Delusions by Harlan Ellison. Ellison writes mostly short stories.  They're often depressing but equally often they're wickedly funny, with a beautiful and engaging prose style.  This particular collection has arguably his most celebrated story, "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman."  Great story.  I have an old LP of Harlan reading it.  We don't have a turntable set up any more, but I still play it back in my head.  Another good one in this collection is "The Crackpots," in which a character asks protagonist Themus, "What's your name, Themus?"If you prefer a greatest hits approach, try The Essential Ellison: A 35 Year Retrospective.

More books:

Dragonsblood (from the Dragonriders of Pern series) by Todd J.McCaffrey - Todd's first solo flight in his mom's world isn't perfect, but it's pretty good. Just try to ignore the inadvertent time loop after the Hatching.

a different cheesemanBusiness Law: Ethical, International and E-Commerce Environment (4th Edition) by Henry R. Cheeseman - I know it sounds boring, but it isn't.  This was my favorite textbook in my 2-plus years at UoP. For one thing, it's probably the only law book of the past century to begin with a love poem.  For another, Cheeseman recounts key legal cases in a clear, entertaining style.  He's kind of like NPR's Nina Totenberg in that respect.

Don't Know Much About American History (from the Don't Know Much About series) -- by Kenneth C. Davis, Matt Faulkner (Illustrator) - this is a fun-to-read, truly informative take on U.S. history. I especially like the reprinted snippets of writing by the people who made the history.

Alarms & Diversions, Lanterns & Lances, The Wonderful O, My World - And Welcome to It, The Thurber Carnival, etc. by James Thurber. Favorite pieces include "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," "File and Forget," "The Unicorn in the Garden," "The Curb in the Sky," "The Macbeth Murder Mystery" and "The Night the Bed Fell."  Many of the cartoons are equally great. 

The Wonderful O is especially wonderful. It's a fairy tale for word lovers, in which a man named Black bans the letter O from the island of Ooroo.

Enough.  See my favorite authors page for more, um, favorite authors!



plittle said...

I came across another one of those book list memes yesterday. You know, the one where you are given a list of books and asked to bold the ones you've read? It was over 520 book long. I didn't bother.

ryanagi said...

On my mental list of "must haves" for the new house...built in bookcases! A den/library would be sooo cool. Handy, too.

alphawoman1 said...

Bulit in bookcases...I'd love it! I think my fovaorite book of all time would be "To Kill A Mockingbird".  I just love that book.  It is perfect.  Lately I have read "Postcards" by Annie Proulx and I am so in awe of her prose...It is my favorite book now until something else wows me.

deabvt said...

Eye view, center; Ellison & Taxes!

astaryth said...

I absolutely love L'Engle... I read those books first when I was a child.. and then with greater appreciation as an adult. A boxed set that I found at a used book store holds it's special place in my bookshelves <smile>