Feb 14, 2005

Top 10'ish books

The only email group I belong to, the only intelligent one in my opinion, prompted me with the following question--what is your top 10 list of books.

Now, it's not a gentleman's place to recommend books, don't think of this as a list you have to go out and fill, it's simply my take on it. And you'll note that it's not ten books, it's more like twenty or so, and the genres move about a lot, and so you see now why I have such a hard time making up my mind about things involving books, and why I cannot throw them away, EVER.

And why all book burners should be put to their own torch.

Kay, and this is in no particular order because I've been thinking about this for three freaking days now and still am not 100% certain:

1.) Dune, Frank Herbert, because it launched a whole new way of writing science fiction, but read back a little into his lesser-known works, like The Jesus Incident and Hellstrom's Hive and you'll find more of the incisive, thoughtful writing that makes Dune such a stunner.

2.) The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett--first of the Discworld books, which are all utterly so funny they make Douglas Adams look like a Math 1001 professor. Again, insights into real people, but dressed with such outlandish comedy that I can read them over and over literally dozens of times and never get tired of them.

3.) The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler--for 30's era pulp crime drama the entire Phillip Marlowe corpus is utterly astounding. Chandler was a singluarly intelligent and well-spoken man. Having read his complete works, as well as selections of the letters he wrote, I stand in utter awe of his style, his panache, and his willingness to take on any obstacle.

4.) The Man Who Sold The Moon, Robert Heinlein--because I cannot name Heinlein's body of work as one, tho I'd like to. Stranger In A Strange Land is earthshatteringly good, Time Enough For Love will break your heart, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is pure sci-fi throughout.

5.) Soldier In The Mist, Gene Wolfe--the man cannot write anything bad. Simple as that. Horror, sci-fi, historical fiction, he can DO IT.

6.) Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Paul Repps--I used to give this book as a gift for any and all occasions. It's zen koans, the lesson of The Gateless Gate, and much more, presented in a very readable, clear format. My introduction to the life lived Zen, and I don't mean the storebought stuff.

7.) I, Robot, Dr. Isaac Asimov--I could read this book over every day and never get tired of it. CLASSIC Golden Age SciFi. Asimov wrote literally hundreds of books, both pure science, science fiction, education, you name it, he put his mark on it. Such a pure voice, and coming from the Golden Age of Sci Fi, Asmiov's older books have such a ernest longing for things beyond us.

8.) Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury--again, a Master storyteller, anything he lays his hand to is going to be good. I'd read his laundry list. I had read 451 about six years before I had it in high school English lit. This is the most important book of all times, and would be first on any numeric list of importance.

9.) Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle--yeah, the entire Canon. Single story? Gah..."The Final Solution," where Doyle tries to end the Holmes career by letting him plunge to his 'death' with Moriarty over Richenbach Falls, and then is browbeaten by his public into a ressurection. You don't see people making a fuss over Jet Li, now do you.

10.) Mr. Punch, Neil Gaiman--an utterly moving graphic novel. I want to wear the badger head and utter vast truths that I cannot otherwise give voice to. Gaiman's body of work, including his Sandman books and his children's books have such a marvelously scary/impressive vein running through them.

When I wrote this, it was so much harder than I thought. I read authors more so than books, and many of my choices are whole blocks of books. I didn't even have room to mention David Brin, who alternately sucks and is astounding--skip Sundiver, read Slant and Kiln People. VERY hard sci-fi. And I had to leave out Phillip K. Dick, whose entire body of work is so unusual, so out of the ordinary bounds of fiction that they're indescribable. And Kurt Vonnegut, who can make your skin crawl one second and then have you laughing out loud the next. And Madame L'Engle, whose A Wrinkle In Time started me and many thousands on the road. And K. W. Jeter and William Gibson, who are two of the most powerful voices of cyberpunk. And Tolkien. And Kipling, and Poe, and Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World, Rex Stout's obese gourmand Nero Wolfe, and and and...*lol*

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