Top Five

We've read at least one, and we'll prove it!
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Lethal Interjection
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Re: Top Five

Post by Lethal Interjection »

Not an easy task. Particularly since I don't do well at top-anything lists.

But the first two are pretty easy.

1. The Great Divorce - CS Lewis.
- The only book that I can recall where I re-read immediately following my first-through. I found that a number of the situations rang all-too-true for what I'd seen in life. I'm not sure how many people I'd actually be able to recommend it to, though. It has a religious/philosophical edge to it that might just require someone from a similar vantage point to my own in order to have such an appreciation.
2. Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey - Chuck Palahniuk.
- I love Palahniuk, but this is the best he's done. By far. For one, it is told in an oral biographic style. Which means that the biographical recounting of the various characters are inherently flawed. Secondly, the story has a weirdly bent non-linear aspect to it that somehow comes together. Lastly, it is sci-fi (but not), distopian (but not), and manages to never be far enough out of current reality to leave the reader alienated (and reader-alienation is something Palahniuk thrives at).

Now for the much more loose 3-5:

3. Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
4. Good Omens - Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman
5. Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk.

Though I feel that's a pretty solid 3-5 for me.
Pillars of the Earth was a near-inclusion.
I'd be tempted to include Children of Dune/God Emperor of Dune too, but whenever it comes down to parts of a series I falter. Especially in a top-X ranking of movies, where a lot of series' rank high when combined, but not necessarily when viewed individually.

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Re: Top Five

Post by Liriodendron_fagotti »

Lethal Interjection wrote:sci-fi (but not), distopian (but not)
Those are the aspects that draw me to Margaret Atwood so much. That even her seemingly innocuous short stories somehow always feel as if they're riding on the precipice of disaster, and that there are these larger movements in the world that she barely hints at. A lot of the time, that disaster is climate change-related, which makes it way scarier because it's real. The inclusion of climate change also made me like David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks a lot more there's this metaphysical war raging for the entire book, but in the end the whole world loses to global warming.
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Re: Top Five

Post by smiley_cow »

Man, this is subject to change dramatically but for now I'll say:

Deadeye Dick - Kurt Vonnegut

-Because this book stuck with me in a weirdly relatable way.

Kiss of the Fur Queen - Tomson Highway
-This might have some of the darkest themes I've ever found in a book (cultural genocide, childhood sexual abuse, the AIDS crisis, etc.) but it's such an important piece of Manitoba that gets glossed over all the time. And it's so beautifully written. I was torn between listing this one and April Raintree by Beatrice Mosionier for similar reasons. Both stuck with me, and both have had a huge impact on how I look at this province. And both have come and spoken to my class (Mosionier when I was in high school, and Highway one of my six people university French courses when he was the artist in residence at my uni).

The Animorph Series - KA Applegate
-I honestly came to respect these books a lot more as an adult then when I read them as an adolescent. They're so well realised, and they get so dark and really explore issues about fighting wars a lot better than a lot of adult stories I've read. Last time I read them I read the entire series in 3 weeks, then spent a week just walking around as a zombie processing it all.

Ella Enchanged - Gail Carson Levine
-I don't know if this one would have been on my list if I'd read it now, but this was my favourite book growing up and I've read it so many times my original copy fell apart. Definitely formative.

Ulysses - James Joyce
-This is the only book I've ever read that I've put down and desperately wanted to talk to someone about. In the end I ended up looking up academic essays on it. This was a book written to be analysed and I love analyzing stories so we were a good fit.
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Re: Top Five

Post by trickcyclist »

Likewise subject to my highly capricious whims, but at the mo', and in no particular order:

The Code of the Woosters, P G Wodehouse; as a book featuring Jeeves and Wooster it is certainly on the light side of novels, but it sends up facism beautifully. The head of the local facists finds there is a shortage of black shirts, so they march around town in black shorts instead. Nuff said.

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell; the whole structure and the visualisation of the various worlds is wonderful. On any given day you could swap this for his The Thousand Autumn's of Jacob de Zoet, mind.

Madouc, Jack Vance; damn, but I like the way Jack Vance uses language. He pretty much invented all of the original D&D spells. And I like that he did a turn on stage at Worldcon, said he would answer one question, replied 'I am no egoist' when someone asked if there was anything of himself in his books and spent the rest of the time playing them 20s jazz on ukulele and kazoo. He could play, too. This is the last of the Lyonesse series, with the most interesting character as the star.

Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman; because Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar are so very, very badass. This could easily be substituted with Stardust, American Gods or Anansi Boys. If any of those latter three had included Messrs C&V, then ZOMG. Gaiman does plot well.

A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K LeGuin; this and the other two in the series were my childhood. (She wrote a fourth, many years later. It's crap. Entirely IMHO, of course, but it has a blatant sociopolitical agenda which the others didn't.) Beautiful, sparse, pared down-to-the-bone writing.
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smiley_cow
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Re: Top Five

Post by smiley_cow »

trickcyclist wrote: The Code of the Woosters, P G Wodehouse; as a book featuring Jeeves and Wooster it is certainly on the light side of novels, but it sends up facism beautifully. The head of the local facists finds there is a shortage of black shirts, so they march around town in black shorts instead. Nuff said.
Man, I was obsessed with the Jeeves books about 7 years ago. I read a lot of Blandings Castle too, but Jeeves was where it was at.
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trickcyclist
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Re: Top Five

Post by trickcyclist »

The Blandings books are great but, as you say, they do rather lack Jeeves. I go through Wodehouse binges every few years. When I'm indulging that way I tend to pick up some of the speech patterns too, and start greeting people with a cheery 'what ho'. Fortunately as a middle-aged, eccentric Englishman I can pull this off.
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Lethal Interjection
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Re: Top Five

Post by Lethal Interjection »

smiley_cow wrote:Man, this is subject to change dramatically but for now I'll say:

Deadeye Dick - Kurt Vonnegut

-Because this book stuck with me in a weirdly relatable way.

Kiss of the Fur Queen - Tomson Highway
-This might have some of the darkest themes I've ever found in a book (cultural genocide, childhood sexual abuse, the AIDS crisis, etc.) but it's such an important piece of Manitoba that gets glossed over all the time. And it's so beautifully written. I was torn between listing this one and April Raintree by Beatrice Mosionier for similar reasons. Both stuck with me, and both have had a huge impact on how I look at this province. And both have come and spoken to my class (Mosionier when I was in high school, and Highway one of my six people university French courses when he was the artist in residence at my uni).

The Animorph Series - KA Applegate
-I honestly came to respect these books a lot more as an adult then when I read them as an adolescent. They're so well realised, and they get so dark and really explore issues about fighting wars a lot better than a lot of adult stories I've read. Last time I read them I read the entire series in 3 weeks, then spent a week just walking around as a zombie processing it all.

Ella Enchanged - Gail Carson Levine
-I don't know if this one would have been on my list if I'd read it now, but this was my favourite book growing up and I've read it so many times my original copy fell apart. Definitely formative.

Ulysses - James Joyce
-This is the only book I've ever read that I've put down and desperately wanted to talk to someone about. In the end I ended up looking up academic essays on it. This was a book written to be analysed and I love analyzing stories so we were a good fit.

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Lethal Interjection
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Re: Top Five

Post by Lethal Interjection »

Deadeye Dick and Neverwhere are now in my shortlist.

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Kaharz
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Re: Top Five

Post by Kaharz »

Neverwhere is good. I'm not a huge Gaiman fan as far as his novels go, but I'd put that slightly below American Gods and those are the only two I really like. If you like the book, check out the old BBC miniseries afterwards. It is very well done and very true to the book. I definitely has that characteristic BBC production value that they recently got away from. So it is a bit weird if you are used to US TV at all.
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