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26 June 2008 @ 20:33
I've seen the Big Read book meme floating around and rather think that most people are taking the "most people have only read about six books on this list" as a challenge.

So here's my challenge: if you're thinking about doing the book meme, stop. Take the time to pick your three or so favourites (or the ones you want to talk about the most). You're welcome to announce that of course you've read more than six too. ;)

Catch-22 // Joseph Heller

This is one of my favourite books ever, although I can't explain why as easily as I can for the other books on my list. I suppose I will just say that the voice is strong and the humour dark. Despite the mildly confusing timeline, Yossarian's goals are obvious and shared by the reader.

The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy // Douglas Adams

Another one of my favourites and quite incredibly British. Endlessly inventive and I can only imagine the kind of planning that Adams needed to get every joke to fit together seamlessly. Love the whole series.

The Wasp Factory // Iain Banks

I read this in my early teens and the (massively spoilery!) ending really appealed to me. It turned out we're all the same after all and I didn't need to worry about my identity any longer. It was reassuring. It proved something. I've no idea how it would hold up to the test of time and I suspect that the writing was a little immature. But then so was I.

Loved the dark, grotesque humour: 'Angus, Frank's father, did occasionally embellish parts of the curriculum - for example, Frank believed for a time that there was a character called Fellatio in "Hamlet".'

Oliver Twist // Charles Dickens

I was forced to read this in university since I had to take a course on Dickens to make up enough credits. As it happens, our seminars were held by one of the key authorities on Dickens. He introduced the idea that Dickens was darkly comic, something which I hadn't known before then. The opening pages of this book are genius.

Sherlock Holmes // Arthur Conan Doyle

It might surprise you, but I LOVE mysteries. Most of the current thrillers and suchlike are extremely "conservative" -- in a recent one I knew whodunnit the minute it was revealed that one of the main character's associates was gay. In another one, a woman showed up who was capable, in charge of her life and unafraid of sex. Although I couldn't see how, I knew she would either be dead by the end or the person responsible for the crime. In fact the epilogue is an icky description of her execution while the murderer walks free. Yeah.

Sherlock Holmes is a collection of quality mysteries and, if you get the stories as they originally appeared, start off with an illustration of a crazy man (or lion) with bulging eyes leaping to attack Holmes and Watson. There's also the issue of Holmes and Watson's extremely close friendship. One of my favourite stories is when Holmes is furious at the villain because he hurt Watson. Or the one where Holmes narrates and expresses his sadness at Watson's "selfish act" that caused him to abandon Holmes for a wife.


And some stuff that wasn't there...

Trainspotting // Irvine Welsh

Another one for dark humour. Despite the subject matter, this is a beautiful book to read 'aloud' in your head. The rhythm and feel of the words are unmatched. Including Welsh's other works. Shame.

Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off // Liz Lochhead

Liz Lochhead was one of my creative writing tutors at university and she was amazing. The other students hated her and called her a bitch and worse. You see, she actually told you when your writing sucked. Imagine that! She's simply incredible.

I'm doing this challenge from penknife. Anyone want to join me? I'd love to see anime or Weiss-related meta.
菖蒲eye_ame on 26th June 2008 09:31 (UTC)
I read this in my early teens and the (massively spoilery!) ending really appealed to me. It turned out we're all the same after all and I didn't need to worry about my identity any longer. It was reassuring. It proved something. I've no idea how it would hold up to the test of time and I suspect that the writing was a little immature. But then so was I.
*shakes hands*
I read it only about a year ago and I did feel sorry I haven't done so in my late teens.
Williamgenkischuldich on 26th June 2008 09:38 (UTC)
Ohh... that is very interesting! I should add that while the ending appealed to me, it merely allayed my fears rather than stopped them. But at the time, it really spoke to me. I think I'd like to read it again, but I'm not sure.
菖蒲eye_ame on 26th June 2008 09:55 (UTC)
I actually didn't believe in the way Frank himself dealt with the news. I still don't :)
I rather believe in the way Ayame's story proceeded.
Williamgenkischuldich on 26th June 2008 09:58 (UTC)
Ayame is awesome. Yes. It seems we have an Understanding. :)
pink_bagelspink_bagels on 26th June 2008 09:41 (UTC)
I absolutely loved The Wasp Factory, if only for it's head-trippy, gothic strangeness.

Though I've been a big fan of horror for a looong time, I can say without impunity that the description of the brother's work in the hospital and what happened with the flies and maggots has haunted me ever since reading it. I couldn't sleep properly for a long time after reading that, and I still get the shivers thinking on it.

Williamgenkischuldich on 26th June 2008 09:49 (UTC)
I kind of remember that, but I guess those bits didn't make such a big impact on me. Who knows why?

I'm not a big fan of horror, I would say, although now I think about it, I used to read a ton of "teen" horrors when I was a kid.
We're only several miles from the sunanimegoil on 26th June 2008 09:44 (UTC)
I'm using the book meme mainly as a reminder of books I still need to read. There was so much stuff on that list that I've heard of and thought about reading, but forgot about, and other stuff that I know is just pending (Les Miserables, One Hundred Years of Solitude) and stuff. I liked the meme. But I think just school requirements filled over my six books.

Anyway, Catch-22! I adore that book. It's just great. I remember how confused I was in the first quarter, cause we kept getting told bits and pieces of different scenes, and all that. I loved Nately. He was such a sweetheart.

I... should reread Oliver Twist. I hated it when I read it as a child. Well, though also, I'd only been in the US for two years, and the book was tough for me to fully understand. So maybe I should give it another chance... And I need to reread Sherlock Holmes! God, I loved that series. It's the kind of mysteries I like, with that amazing observation skill of his, and just <3 If I end up shipping, it's your fault ;)

All my friends keep telling me to read the Hitchhiker's Guide. ^_^

Have you tried The Count of Monte Cristo? That, and anything else by Dumas, I adore. So thorough and complex, and overall great series, both of them. I last read them a couple years ago, so now I'm picking them up again in French (which might make it more frustrating than enjoyable, but oh well...)
Williamgenkischuldich on 26th June 2008 09:57 (UTC)
Yeah, it took me a little while to figure Catch-22 was out of order. But once I did, I just sat back and absorbed it. Great book.

I think interpretations of Oliver Twist have a lot to do with the film interpretations. They make it light and fun or dark and serious. It's neither and that's what's fantastic. Read it again, bearing in mind that the narrator is really sarcastic.

And yeah, Sherlock Holmes. It's delightfully shippy and it won't be my fault if you like it. :)

And of course you should read Hitchhiker's Guide too. :)

I'll add Monte Cristo to my list... I've been meaning to read it for ages!
reichsfreiherr on 26th June 2008 10:24 (UTC)

Who doesn’t?

Have you ever read My Dearest Holmes by Rohase Piercy btw? I read it quite some time ago and thought it was wonderful and then picked it up again recently and wondered how I’d missed what struck me as a bit of a Sue in the first part.
Williamgenkischuldich on 26th June 2008 10:33 (UTC)
Heh, now that sounds like a book I'm interested in. Are you reccing it or mentioning its existence?
reichsfreiherr on 27th June 2008 05:46 (UTC)
I remember it being quite fun so it’s probably worth the recommendation though in retrospect the female lead in the first story and the convenient tying up of loose ends might seem a bit contrived. It’s the ‘all the women are secretly lesbians’ clause in this case.

I presume you’ve seen this site as well?
Williamgenkischuldich on 30th June 2008 07:37 (UTC)
Wow. I had no idea that even existed. I thought I was a little weird, to be honest!
reichsfreiherr on 3rd July 2008 05:52 (UTC)
The first rule of Holmes slash is that you don’t talk about Holmes slash, apparently. I didn’t know that site existed until I decided to google for something absurd a few years ago and lo and behold it didn’t return a page saying “Put the books down and back away slowly” in response.
ext_85209 on 26th June 2008 11:48 (UTC)
Too late!

Most of my favourite books aren't on the list but I'm saving the book review posts for when I've made enough headway on my 50 books challenge. I don't think the world really needs to know I've got the Blood + novelisation.

Dickens IS darkly comic! Missing this is like missing the irony in Jane Austen (and I have met English Lit students who totally did). Dombey and Son is my personal favourite - possibly because Paul Darrow was the baddie in the bbc dramatisation but I also remember chuckling over it all the way down from Durham to Birmingham New Street (on the train). It possibly helps that I never read Dickens in school.
Williamgenkischuldich on 30th June 2008 07:40 (UTC)
You could still talk about your favourites? Really, I'd much rather see reviews from people rather than a list. When I see lists, I briefly skim to the bolded titles and don't pay much attention. that's if they're not behind a cut. ^^

Dickens may be darkly comic, but you'd never be able to tell that from the adpations. They're either dark and serious or happy and light.
Jess: No Shit Sherlock!hideincarnate on 26th June 2008 12:38 (UTC)

I am seriously in love with those stories. Seriously.
Williamgenkischuldich on 30th June 2008 07:41 (UTC)
I know what you mean. :)
susperia1: ravages of time3susperia1 on 26th June 2008 12:45 (UTC)
wow i love The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, well the old tv series was the best i haven't really read the book, i know i know i really should get to it one day, i didn't like the new films even when they did have the same jokes it never came out funny.
i love sherlock holmes stuff as well but yet again i haven't really read his books just watched the tv adaptations, i really should read some of his books. :)
Williamgenkischuldich on 30th June 2008 07:42 (UTC)
The BBC series was pretty good, not so sure about the movie. You should definitely try reading the book versions of all those titles -- they're even better! :)