Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Greatest books

In reading this article, I got to thinking about my "100 best."

I've never really gone through and come up with a comprehensive recommendation list like that. I've read quite a few and gotten some great recommendations from them (as well as groaned as I saw some of their 'top' choices).

I think I'll add this to my list of goals/ come up with my own prioritized list of recommendations. It sounds like a daunting task, but could be a bunch of fun also.

I'd be curious if any of you out there have a feel already for your "Top Books"...maybe not 100, what are your "top 10", "top 5", etc.?


Jaerixon said...

Thanks for your comment. I've seen your comments on other blogs of mine and started writing replies, but for some reason they got finished. Anyhow, I would say most of what you wrote I would agree with, except for your last line, "the more you make of it, the more you will understand". This is true, but I think we learn more from experiencing both sides of the spectrum, love and no love, ya know? Anyhow, I've been meaning to ask you how you got into reading so much? I feel like I need to read more, mostly because I feel I've gone as far as I can with simple logistics, I need to be more knowledgeable and have more facts about current issues and other things, and reading books can get me that. So what got you on the book train?

Jaerixon said...

never got finished*

Okie said...

I definitely agree that without experiencing the one you cannot truly appreciate the other. There's a scripture (that I'm too tired to remember and still too tired to go look up) that comments on this very thing...that everything must have its opposite in order to exist, good-and-evil, love-and-hate, virtue-and-vice, etc.

How much sweeter is the pleasure after tasting bitter pain?

What I meant by my final line there is that the more you exercise love or have it expressed to you, the easier it is to understand what love is. I suppose the other side can be helpful in this, meaning that you can learn about love by experiencing hate, but it's a learning of a different kind.

I actually just read a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr that I had actually just come online to post when I saw your comment. It talks a little about the effects of love versus hate.

I would agree that you need both sides in order to fully appreciate one or the other, but once you decide which is better or which is desirable, you needn't necessarily focus on the other in order to better understand/appreciate the one you're after.

To take a more tangible example, let's take two opposites "wet" and "dry" and say I want to better understand what it is to be "wet."
I can understand wet based on comparisons to dry. But there comes a point when comparisons are not quite as valuable as diving into a greater study of "wet", still remembering what I know and have learned/experienced of dry, but putting it aside to study the wet...studying the Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms interacting to make water, studying what it takes to cause things to be saturated with water, the effects of certain materials against dampness, etc.

Anyway, I'm rambling again (I do that a lot).

To answer your other question, I've sort of "always" been a reader. I "self-taught" myself to read via pbs (sesame street & others) and picture books. I was reading and writing in Preschool and got to go hang out with the first graders while my kindergarten classmates were working on their alphabet recognition.

Through early childhood, I had a lot of fun with some old goodies for kids like Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, various mystery books and "choose your own adventure books."

In Junior High, I was given the first Shannara trilogy books by Terry Brooks and I got hooked on fantasy books for a few years, devouring huge books of high and epic fantasy.

Because I read so much, I got to be pretty good in my English classes and pushed into the advanced English lit classes through High School, falling in love with Shakespeare, Twain and other staples of English.

I decided about that time that I wanted to eventually be a novelist and spend my waking hours writing. I enrolled in college with the plan to get an English degree and possibly teach High School English while working on my writing.

Now, 12 years later, I'm finally almost ready to graduate. I've only actually completed writing one novel, though I've read hundreds more.

A couple of years ago, I started a blog. I never really was sure what I wanted my blog to be about. In 2007, I was working on a larger writing project and doing much of it on the blog. At that point, I decided to turn the blog into a sort of "review" area where I'd post my thoughts on things I'd read (or seen/played/etc) as well as posting some of my own writing for review from time to time (which has been less frequent lately).

My reading has definitely gone in spurts, but I've really always loved to read and I have TONS of books in my house (~6 bookshelves all stuffed stacks and boxes elsewhere). Many of the books are still on my "to read" list, while others I've poured over a few times and keep to read again.

I find that I love reading because it is often a more personal experience than, say, TV or movies. It's for that same reason that I prefer live theatre to's more tangible, so it feels more personal and touches me more (although it's hard to compare Hollywood special effects to stage effects, so I still love good action thrillers on-screen).

The personal interaction with a book really helps me internalize what I'm reading and think more about it. I read from all over the spectrum as far as genre. Some people tend to focus on one genre or another and devour everything they can in it. Everybody's taste and method is different.

But I think if you find a few books on topics or with plots/characters that intrigue you, that's a good start. From there, check for other books by the same author. See if the author has a webpage and troll the forums for recommendations. Check with libraries or booksellers for recommendations. Once you really get going, the snowball will just roll down the hill and get bigger and bigger.

Best of luck.