Hello, everyone! Welcome one more Sunday to my blog, where we can discover about new books (or maybe not new) that are loved by other writers. What a wonderful way to add books to your TBR list, don't you think so?
Today, Amber Jerome-Norrgard joins me to talk about one of her favourite books in the whole world. Do you want to know which book is? Keep on reading and discover it by yourself. Enjoy!
Here’s a secret people don’t know about me: I have owned over ten different copies of Stephen King’s The Stand.
I haven’t owned that many because of my love of King’s work, although he is my favorite mainstream author. I’ve owned that many because even packing tape wears out holding a much-read book together. I was first introduced to the novel when I was thirteen by the young man I had a huge crush on. Tearing my eyes away from his adorable little tushy and avoiding his beautiful hazel-colored eyes so I would not lose my ability to speak, I asked him what he was reading. “The Stand,” Mr. Soooooo fine! responded, and gave me a smile that caused me to go weak in the knees. “What’s it about?” I had asked him then. “It’s a book about good and evil, I’ll loan it to you later when I’m done reading it.” And loan it to me he did, along with giving me my very first kiss. The kiss lasted maybe twenty seconds. The passionate love for the book, however, has lasted for over twenty years.
To call The Stand a book is just flat-out wrong. It’s not a book. It’s an epic telling of humanity and the truth of what lies at the center of all of us.
While the central story line is about the battle between good and evil (Mother Abigail versus “The Dark Man”), what I gained from the story at thirteen, and what I still take from it at thirty-five is the same lesson: Life as you know it can end, your world can be turned upside down, everything you hold dear can be swept away from you, and you can still be standing tall, proud, and stronger than you were.
In The Stand, life the entire world over is completely devastated by a super-flu, decimating 99% of the population. The characters in the novel slowly come together, each dealing with his or her own additional heartaches: an unplanned pregnancy, someone at an emotional crossroads to becoming a man, someone fighting the hurt and darkness within themselves and losing, and forming two new societies: The “good” with Mother Abigail, and the “bad” with “The Dark Man”.
But time and time again, those characters aligned with Mother Abigail, despite facing even more hardship after their lives and their worlds have been flipped upside down, choose to live life in a positive manner. To fight with and for what is good, and what is right in this world. They reach within themselves, long after they think their reservoir of strength is depleted, and find even more strength to carry on with what needs to be done. Rather than giving up, when most people would throw up their hands and walk away, they continue fighting against the odds, and they hold on to their true selves.
This isn’t just a novel about good versus evil in the broad range. It’s a novel about good versus evil within ourselves. We all have light and dark within us, and it’s up to us, no one else, to choose which side of that line we end up on. I myself have been faced with heartache and heartbreaks and devastation in my life time, and I have been asked countless times why I’m still hopeful, how it’s possible I’m not more angry, how it’s possible I’m still standing. The answer is simple: I choose to do so. I choose to learn from each experience in my life, no matter how painful it is. That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days where I want to give up, that there have not been days where I’ve curled up into a ball and sobbed myself dry. Quite the contrary: there have been many days when I’ve wanted to land on that dark side of the line.
I land on the good side of the line more often than not, because no matter how badly I’d rather take the easy way out, I choose to do so. I do not allow those heartaches and heartbreaks and devastations to control who I am as a person. To do that? I’d be allowing those things that have happened to me to break me.
Or as one of my favorite literary characters from The Stand says, “I like to believe that most people are good.”
Luke Benjamen Kuhns is the author of The Untold Adventures of Sherlock Holmes/Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Crystal Blue Bottle. I got that book recently and I cannot wait to read it. Have I ever mentioned how much I love reading about Sherlock Holmes? No? Well, now you know.
But the thing today is not what I love reading, but what Luke loves reading, not only a million, but a billion times, according to him :D And the book he chose to talk about here today is The Magicians Nephew, by C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia 6). Enjoy what Luke has to say about his favourite book!
One of the first book series I read as a kid was The Chronicles of Narnia written by the brilliant scholar & Theologian C.S. Lewis. It was my Harry Potter! I absolutely adore this series. As a whole I could re-read these stories time and time again and not think twice about it because Lewis really created a truly magical piece of writing.
There is one particular story though that has always stayed with me. -The Magicians Nephew. This is one of my favourite books and a book I find myself returning to several times a year! The Magician’s Nephew is the 6th book out of 7 in Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, and don’t be fooled by the re-arranged chronological and less magical order they sell the books in now!
Growing up you hear stories of magical worlds. You read about them, see you pictures of them, they are t.v. and video games. There really are countless stories of magical worlds and creatures but how many fairy tales let you see the creation of a magical world? The Magician’s Nephew does! And that is where the magic of this story lies.
The story is set in 1900 London and serves as a prequel for the series. Set some 40 odd years before the events in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, ‘in the days when Mr Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street,’ as the book so wonderfully opens.
It is a story about a young boy named Digory and his friend Polly who one day decide to go on an adventure and find themselves at the mercy of Digory’s loony scientific Uncle who has developed magical rings and uses one on Polly as a sort of guinea pig. Digory follows after her and this is where the real adventure begins!
Lewis creates such a unique and haunting “wood between worlds” where the characters’ adventure continues. The wood, which is filled with small pools, is soon realised to be gateways to different universes and before the children return to England they deiced to explore. Their explorations take them into a world where the children are faced with a tempting offer to risk danger or leave and never know, but always wonder, the outcome.
Through the course of their adventure they end up in what appears to be a a complete black void. Here in the void, in an almost divine way, Lewis describes the birth of a new world which the characters see unfolding before them. It is a scene that few writers could ever top. The mental pictures you get while reading totally warps the mind. I remember reading this and picturing a brighter than bright sun coming up over the horizon with creations exploding and coming to life all around. If you’ve not read the book, please do!
In The Magician’s Nephew Lewis paints a vivid picture of what the purist good looks like verses the purest evil. Clearly inspired from his Theological background he toils with concepts of ‘creation’ paralleling a Biblical Genesis creation as well as ‘breathe of life’ through his character Aslan. He also plays with idea of natural order and selfishness in which in the bliss of a new world evil still finds it’s way inside through careless actions and the greed of human hearts. Lewis’ intertwines theology and fiction into a wonderful piece of writing and that is ever revealing.
I can understand why this book took Lewis 6 years to write. The way he was able to take deep theological concepts and put them into a child friendly fairy tale would most certainly take a long time and exhausting effort. This is one of the reasons why I adore this book so much. His ability to craft humorous dialogue between the characters and scenes while retaining a sense of true danger and urgency while also tackling deep spiritual and metaphysical questions is truly genius. The Magician’s Nephew is a book that reveals something new every time you read it! A scene or a sentence that has been read hundreds of time before will suddenly pop and click in your mind. When a book is able to do that, be fresh, no matter how many times you have picked it up, that is the sign of an outstanding writer.
I asked Peter Germany if he wanted to talk about his favourite book, and he agreed to do so. Before I asked him, I already knew which book he was going to choose. First because he writes mainly science-fiction stories, and second because he gave me that book when we met in Oxford, saying "This is my favourite book." So keep on reading and discover which book is Peter Germany's absolute favourite
When Cinta asked if I would like to write a post here I thought 'I know exactly which book I'd tell you all about’, but then I thought of another one that I could equally read a million times, so I found that I was stuck. What helped me decide was how the book has affected me as a person. Both of these books give me a great amount of pleasure and as a writer I've learnt a lot from them, but it's Joe Haldeman's The Forever War which made me grow as a person, so this is the book that I chose to talk about today.
Joe Haldeman wrote this book based from his experiences of the Vietnam War and looks at how humanity deals with its contact with the alien and alien species, The Tauran. I’ve heard it referred to being the Vietnam War, but in space. There is very little fighting in the novel though. It is more a look at the personal conflicts of the main character and how he has to adapt to a world he returns to that he does not know. In the universe that Haldeman creates here, the technology to travel across the galaxy takes decades at the least, so when our protagonist, William Mandela, returns from his tour of duty it's decades after he had left.
The first time that I read this book it truly blew my mind away. This was the first book I read that dealt with social issues. Haldeman talks about sexuality, the economy of how humanity has had to evolve in this future he has created. I found myself reading it a second time within about a month of the first reading because it had injected so many questions into my head about the Tauran as a species, about how mankind has had to adapt to population issues, how the returning soldiers are treated just like Vietnam veterans. As I talk about this book I am beginning to feel the urge to start reading it again as it has been a good four years since I read it last (I’m up to about five reads if I remember correctly). This book was the first book that made me feel
the main character's struggle with his life. From his basic training to the conclusion of the story I could feel what he went through.
The Forever War is a book that I can’t say that I totally understand but with each read I learn more, not only about the story Haldeman has written but also about myself, and I grew as a person from reading The Forever War. Okay, now I’m off to finish reading Fahrenheit 451 so I can read The Forever War again.
I just want to thank Cinta for inviting me to ramble along on her blog :D
This week, for this series, I am very glad to introduce Scott Morgan. Have you visited his website Write Hook
? No? Shame on you! You are missing a really helpful site if you are willing to become a really good writer. Honestly, his webinars are amazing and very helpful. I have learnt lots of things about characterization, for example, watching them. Do you think your characters can be better developed? Run to his site and watch the videos!
So, now enjoy reading about Scott's favourite book. You will be surprised. I was, and I agree with him, since it is also one of my favourite books. Read his words and, please, show your love in comment form.
Ask someone "What do you like to read?" and odds are you will be lied to. Nobody likes to read historical biographies on fascinating presidents any more than anyone really enjoys those lousy independent films on IFC. But they'll tell you that they do.
My friend and gracious host for this blog, Cinta Garcia, has asked a far better (actually, the ideal) question: What book can you read a million times? My answer: The Calvin & Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson.
Now … I can just feel all you writers out there saying "That doesn't count." To which I counter with "Yuh-huh!"
My love of Calvin & Hobbes as a comic strip is boundless and enthusiastic, much like Calvin's backyard wonderland, but that's not why I can read this book over and over. The Tenth Anniversary Book is no mere collection of strips, it is a magnificent collection of essays through which Mr. Watterson explains his vision, his philosophy, and his rabid adherence to his ideals.
And they are strong, deeply felt ideals about the creative process and creative property. Mr. Watterson refers to his strips as his children. He famously turned down lucrative (exceedingly so) merchandising offers revolving around his work, and even fought his syndicate to keep it from making dolls, toys, and tee shirts, despite that he'd have made a bucketload of money. He writes: "I envisioned Calvin & Hobbes as a comic strip, and that's all I wanted it to be."
You let me know if your own lofty ideals hold up like that in the face of legal pressures, five years of bitter resentment, and several millions of dollars, and I'll let you know how well mine hold up.
There is no better book on the purity, the singularity, and the universality of creativity than this gem. Each time I read this book I am reconnected with something that takes a daily pummeling ‒‒ my idealism. I am an unapologetic idealist, and I take a continued shellacking from Planet Earth and its population of anuses (not you) because of it.
So when I read this amalgam of creative insight, idealism, egotistical bullshit, failures, realities, and the unapologetic adherence to the purity of artistic vision at all costs, from a man who made himself an unwitting legend by way of a tiny comic strip, I am reborn. If I live long enough, I might actually just read it a million times.
Since this blog series was inspired by his blog, it is fair that the first official guest post should be written by Robert Zimmermann.
Robert is a writer. Most of the time his thoughts will grace the pages in the form of poetry, but occasionally some short pieces of fiction will show their faces. His work mainly touches on experiences that shape who he is today and are emotionally engaging but easily accessible to those not familiar with much poetry.
When Robert isn’t writing for himself, he’s writing to help others. In his blog, A Life Among The Pages, Robert posts numerous book reviews, interviews, and other book related posts to help out fellow writers in any way he can.
How qualified is Robert for all of this? Well, he holds an A.A. in Humanities and a B.A. in Creative Writing. Basically it boils down to him having a lot of downtime living at home. At least he has a cute puppy to keep him company while he’s busily at work writing his first collection of poems.
I strongly recommend Rob's blog. It is my favourite blog, as I have said some other times. It is really a delight to go through it, so give it a try. You won't regret it, and you will go back to it from time to time, just to see if there is something new.
You can find Rob in the following places:
And now, enjoy the post written by Rob about his favourite book. And don't forget to show some love in comment form. We love getting comments!
I’d like to start off by saying thank you to Cinta for asking me to be on her blog. It’s an honor to be here and to help her out as she has helped me many times doing guest posts on my blog. I’d also like to say, this is a great idea for a series. As Cinta mentioned in her first post, I do a series called “Authors We Love.” In that one I focus on the authors of the books. Here it’s a bit different. The books are the focus. In particular it’s the books that can be read over and over again.
To be honest, re-reading books isn’t a common occurrence for me. I used to have a mindset of “I’ve read this book before, why would I need to read it again.” I had a stronger attitude of this toward movies, though. It all changed after I re-read one book in particular. That book was Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. There aren’t many that I’ve read again, even after this one, but I have picked this book up twice since I first read it back in high school.
A Moveable Feast is a memoir about Hemingway’s time in Paris. When I was in high school I have an even more limited world view than the one I have now. Luckily today I have the internet to help expand my knowledge and interaction with the world outside of my country. But at the time, this book helped shape how I see traveling. Even on a small budget, Hemingway’s life in Paris intrigued me and I could picture myself sitting in a café most of the day writing in a notebook. At that point in my life I was doing the same thing, but it was in my school cafeteria and I was scribbling down the poems of a 15 year old reclusive boy. I wasn’t penning the great novels Ernest was in his memoir.
About a year or two later I picked up the book again. It was my favorite book at the time and I started recommending it to other people. I wanted to relive what made me enjoy it so much. Another two years later I took my copy off the shelf and read it again. To be honest I can’t tell you too many particulars of the book. My memory isn’t that great, though I think I can help fix that by re-reading it AGAIN, and reviewing it this time. Reviews have improved my memory of books, luckily. Even without being able to tell you a great scene from the book there are things I can assure you helped make this book a welcomed read.
As I mentioned earlier, the book made me want to sit down in a sidewalk café on a Paris street sipping coffee and scribbling in a notebook. I wanted to meet other authors of the Lost Generation, and meet Gertrude Stein (the woman often credited for naming that generation). Hemingway struggled to get by with his writing, but to me it seemed like a romantic way to live. This could be due to a number of things for me. Other people might not have taken the book in that way, but for my young mind and with hopes of breaking out of a small town, it was all I could ever want in life.
If I were to pick this book up right now I know I’d be brought back to a time in my life that was filled with wonder and dreams. That’s what a great book should do, in my opinion. I think I might just go dig it out of my stacks now. I want to marvel at the “simpler times.”
Well, today I start a new section in my blog. I am sure that everybody has that special book that you like reading once, twice, forty times, a million times! Don't say you don't, you liar! :D I am sure that, just by reading the title of my blog page, a book popped in your head. Come on, share it with all of us! We all love books! We all want to know which book is the one that you love reading. OK, since this is my blog, it is fair enough that I start with this series of posts, which I will publish every Sunday (well, every Sunday that I have a post to publish, that is :D).
There are lots of books that I can read a million times, so it is difficult to pick just one. For this first post I am going to choose a book by.... dun dun duuuun!! Jane Austen!! (now it is when everybody goes "doh!"). Yes, I know; I am obsessed with Jane Austen. Anyways, the fact is that I never get tired of reading Persuasion. I can read it a million times, and every time I will find some aspect that had escaped to my notice in a previous reading.
The magic of books is that they change at the same time that we grow older. Obviously, our view of the world changes as long as we grow in experience as well as in age. So the reading of the same book when you are 20 and then reading it again when you are 33 it is a completely different experience.
The first time that I read Persuasion, I didn't really like it that much. I thought that the protagonist was a bit stupid, since she had let people convince her to break up with her love. I read the whole of the book thinking that if she really wanted him back, she better change her attitude. Obviously, the stupid one was me. I was only 19.
I remember I read it again when I was 27. My perspective of the book changed. I wasn't so annoyed with the protagonist as the first time I read it, and this time I could understand better the ironic and subtle layers that were contained in the story. The first time I was so centered in thinking that Anne was stupid that I didn't pay attention to what was happening around her. This time, I enjoyed the book immensely. I realised it was a story about second chances, about acknowledging our mistakes, and about forgiving. I also have to add that, at 27, I was the same age as the protagonist and I could understand her better.
I read the book again last year, when I was 33, and I absolutely loved it. Events in my real life made me appreciate this book better, and made me put myself in Anne's shoes. Nowadays I think that it is Jane Austen's best book, more mature, more sober, but not losing that subtle ironic tone that she so liked to use in her writing.
So, Persuasion is a book that I would read a million times because I love it. I love the story, I love the style, I love Captain Wentworth (deep sigh and a bit of drooling), and I can appreciate it better, grasping the whole meaning of the novel. I understand that lots of people don't like Austen's novels, thinking that they are silly romantic stories. Please, read this book and you will change your mind. Jane Austen's use of the English language is an exceptional one, and her style is unique. I have just told 3 times that I have read this book in this post, but the truth is that I have read the book around 12 times. I cannot get tired of reading it.