Monday, February 27, 2006

The Books You Remember

From Byzantium's Shores:

A book that made you cry
I'm going to cheat here a little and cite "Higher Education," a Sports Illustrated article by Gary Smith I encountered in the 2001 edition of The Best American Sports Writing. It's a Disney-ready inspirational story of a black coach in the white heart of Amish country who inspires the kids and the town. Had me nearly sobbing openly on the train ride home.

A book that scared you
Stephen King's Gerald's Game, which has the distinction of being, for me, King's scariest book in terms of pure creepiness and psychological horror, as well as his most squirm-inducing in terms of blood and gore. One of the only King books I've only read once--primarily for the latter.

A book that made you laugh
Dave Barry's Big Trouble. Barry can bring the funny, of that there is no doubt.

A book in High School that you loved
Flowers for Algernon. Got the book in 1st-period English Class and finished it that same day on the bench in my basketball shorts and top as the rest of the team warmed up. I haven't read it since; I really should.

A book in High School that you hated
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, AP English senior year. Didn't understand hide nor hair of it.

A book that challenged your imagination
Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep. Hard going, and most definitely screaming out for a re-read. My imagination, truth be told, didn't quite rise to the challenge--my fault, not Vinge's.

A book that challenged your morals
John Dominic Crossan's Who Is Jesus? Answers to Your Questions About the Historical Jesus. Specifically, the notion that Christ meant that a fat man could sooner get through a needle than a rich man into heaven. By Christ's standards I--and pretty much everyone I know--qualifies as "rich."

A book that challenged your identity
Stephen King's On Writing. I like to think of myself as a writer, but King reminded me that until I really make it a priority it's simply not true.

A book series that you love
Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. Remarkable in scope, detail, and inventiveness.

Your favorite Horror Novel
The Shining. Remarkable that, if not King's two best, easily two of his five best, were the third and fourth novels he published.

Your favorite Science Fiction Novel
See "series" entry above. Impossible to pick one of the three..

Your favorite Fantasy Novel
I adored The Neverending Story as a child and must read it again--at some point.

Your favorite Romance Novel
Stephen King's Wizard and Glass, the fourth of the seven Dark Tower novels. King takes a shot at old-fashioned, Romeo and Juliet-inspired, epic, tragic, young love and nails it completely. A gorgeous book.

Your favorite "Coming-of-Age" Novel
Tabitha King's One on One, a basketball-infused book about two teenagers in love in rural Maine. Why King is so ignored is beyond me--she's a wonderful writer.

Your favorite book not listed previously
The Known World by Edward P. Jones. For an accounting of why, see here.

Your Favorite Book of Poems
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.

Until Whenever

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