30 Day Book #30 – Author I wish people would read more

Wow, day 30 of my 30 day book list.  I’m kind of surprised that it’s over already, it seems like it went pretty fast.  It’s also been interesting to write up my couple of paragraphs for each topic and hearing everyone give their comments on what I’ve had to say.  I’ve had people suggest quite a few books that I’m going to look into eventually (I’ve still got a stack of books to read through right now, and I’ve got quite a few books already on my list of books to check out eventually).

This last topic is one that I really wanted to include on my list.  We all have our favorite authors, and those are the authors that we quickly suggest to other people when they ask for a book to read.  And while I talked about my favorite author yesterday, today I’m going to talk about an author that I really wish people would read more of.  I’ve mentioned two of his books already on this list, but I still cannot praise his work highly enough.

Hubert Selby Jr. is easily one of the most unique authors that I’ve written about at all on this list.  Many of his works are either tragedies, or books dealing with anti-heroes (evil people as the primary perspective character of the book).  Because of the subject matter of his books, they won’t be for everyone.  Many of his books deal with drugs, sex, and crime.

Selby’s writing gives a powerful look at the darker side of humanity.  It’s a side that many people do not explore at all in their writing, even though it is there in the world.  While many authors tend to offer somewhat cookie-cutter stories and characters, I can honestly say that Selby’s books are some of the most unique books that I have ever read when looking at the subject matter and themes of his work.  Whether he’s writing about depression, the desire for revenge, addiction, or redemption, Selby’s books are unique and interesting to read.

The best thing I can say at this point is to go check out his books.  The one most people will have heard of is either Requiem for a Dream or Last Exit to Brooklyn.  My personal favorite books of his are Waiting Period and The Willow Tree.  Now that I’m writing this I wish I would have picked The Willow Tree for book 2 of this list over Requiem for a Dream.  The Willow Tree is easily his most uplifting book, and it is the story of a young man dealing with the desire for revenge after he and his girlfriend are attacked in NYC.  It is a beautifully written book with a truly perfect ending and it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

I’ve rambled on about how much I enjoy Selby’s work for quite a while now, and hopefully I’ve convinced you to look for some of his writing.  He is one of the most unique writers that I’ve had the privilege of reading and I strongly encourage everyone else to read his works as well.

Also, thanks again to everyone who’s been checking in on my 30 day book list.  I enjoyed posting about this every day and I hope you enjoyed reading them.

30 Day Book #29 – Favorite Author

This one is really easy, and that’s part of the reason that I put this question at the end.  I use a variety of ways to find different books to read, but typically once I find an author that I like, I’ll go and buy all of their books.  Because of this, there are several authors where I’ve read quite a few of their books.  However, my favorite author is easily Brandon Sanderson.

If you’ve been following my 30 day book list, I’ve already put several books that he has written on the list.  Mistborn is easily my favorite series, Hrathen and Dilaf (from Elantris) I listed as my favorite villains, and although they were not originally his works, I also placed Perrin from the Wheel of Time and The Gathering Storm on my list.

I enjoy all of Sanderson’s work, he writes epic fantasy, but they are all unique compared to the epic fantasy novels that many people are used to.  In part because he was so successful doing it, and also in part because he was really the first person to do it, Tolkien really served as the baseline for fantasy novels for years.  Even some books that I really enjoy are not very far away from Tolkien’s world.  Sanderson creates completely original worlds for his books, and they are all distinctive and most importantly different from Tolkien’s works.  If you’re looking for elves, orcs, dwarfs, and hobbits, go look somewhere else.

The last point that I’ll ramble on about for Sanderson’s works is the intricacy of his magic systems.  I like magic, I find it interesting, and I like to see characters who use magic throughout their adventures.  Sanderson also likes magic, a lot, and he uses it all the time.  He also creates unique magic systems for each of his book, and often he will have several different magic systems for each of his books.  Just thinking about it quickly, Elantris has 3 systems I can think of offhand (only 1 that is explained by the characters in the story), Mistborn has 3, plus unique magical creatures, Warbreaker has 2, and The Stormlight Archive has 3 or 4 I can think about offhand.  All of these are unique with different rules and different limitations for what the characters can do using the various systems.

Along with having unique settings, Sanderson is also a very good writer.  His characters are all believable with their actions and interesting plots that aren’t always the simple ones that we’ve gotten used to from different books.  I cannot praise Mistborn enough, but the ending of the trilogy was amazing, it was the perfect ending for the series, and I didn’t see it coming.

I can’t suggest his works highly enough, you can start anywhere with his books, they’re all good.  Elantris is his first novel but you don’t need to start there to read his books.  I’ve enjoyed all of his novels and semi-patiently wait for his books to come out (Alloy of Law November 11th, I’ll be out to pick up my copy).  If you enjoy fantasy novels, or just good writing I suggest all of Sanderson’s works.

30 Day Book #28 – Book from a blog you enjoyed

Here’s a post that deals entirely with the community aspect of blogging.  When I’m looking through other blogs, I’m generally looking at other posts that have a lot to do with books.  Most of the blogs that I have subscribed to follow deal largely with books.  I read other blogs from time to time obviously, but the main focus of my blog is dealing with books, and that’s where I focus as well.  I’ve purchased and read several books that I’ve heard about on blogs, and I have a decent sized stack of books that I’m planning on buying eventually that I first heard about on various blogs.  All that said, this is an easy question.  My favorite book that I first heard about from a blog is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

I’m pretty sure that the first blog where I heard about this book was The Very Hungry Bookworm’s post here.  Oddly enough, I’m pretty sure that her blog was also the one that introduced me to Room by Emma Donoghue.  Anyway, The Book Thief was an absolutely brilliant book and one of the few books that I’ve read this year to get a 10/10 (without actually counting, I think there are maybe 7 books out of 70ish reviews thus far in my blog that have received a 10).

The Book Thief is the story of a young girl in Germany throughout WW2.  I’m not the biggest history buff, but it’s hard to be educated in any way shape or form and not know some things about WW2.  This book handles everything very well and shows much of the horror and terror of war without ever being graphic.  There are a couple of brilliant scenes in the book.  The premise for this book was brilliant, the execution of having Death be the narrator was excellent.  I can’t suggest this book highly enough, just go buy it and thank me for telling you about it later.

30 Day Book #27 – Most thought-provoking book

While some of the questions on my list have been fairly difficult to narrow down to a single book, this one was easy.  Although to be fair, I’m kind of cheating a little bit with this one.  My book for today is God’s Debris by Scott Adams (yes, the guy who writes Dilbert).  Why is this one cheating?  Simple, Adams describes the book as a thought experiment wrapped in a story.  It’s also interesting to note that Scott Adams originally released this as a free e-book, and you can find the story in its entirety here.

There is a lot of interesting stuff going on in this book, and I would highly suggest that everyone who is interested read this book (it’s short, you can realistically read the book in about 2-3 hours).  I would also love to hear your thoughts about the book and to see what you have to say about what the flaw in the logic is, I think I’ve reasoned out what’s going on in the book, I’d love to see other opinions.

Lastly, I’m going to mention another book that I really enjoyed that is very similar in tone to this one, and in fact it deals largely with the same topics.  Daniel Quinn’s book Ishmael is a book that I really enjoyed reading after hearing my Greek Lit teacher talking about it after class one day.  After reading Ishmael I suggested that she read God’s Debris.  Both books are very interesting and thought-provoking, but for me God’s Debris is the better of the two.

30 Day Book #26 – Book you couldn’t put down

Like several of the recent topics for discussion on my list, this one is a fairly weird question.  Obviously if I finished the book, I didn’t put it down, I kept reading it.  So essentially this is a question of what book that I’ve read fairly recently did I read in the shortest time.  What book did I read cover to cover without stopping?

I talked about this book during another post, but it really fits here very well.  Goliath by Scott Westerfeld is the third book of the Leviathan trilogy, and to me was a book that I literally couldn’t put down.  I read the book in one day, and the only reason that I stopped reading it for at all was because the day I read it was a Thursday, that’s right, bowling night.  However, I took a very brief hiatus from the book in order to go bowling, and then when I got home immediately started reading the book again.

This book was very consistent with it’s pacing throughout, and to me was a very quick read.  The book was the telling of the romance story of the two main characters that we’ve seen in the first two books of the series.  The romance was heavily hinted at towards the end of book two, and I thought it was very well done during the course of the third book.

It’s always interesting to find a book that is good enough to read in one day, I’ve done this with quite a few books, and this is one of my favorite recent reads that I’ve gone through that quickly.

30 Day Book #25 – Most Disturbing Book

In most books, we all know that everything is going to end up being ok in the end.  Most of the time, the journey in getting to the happy ending can involve going to some very dark places.  Obviously some books go much further than others, and the book that I’m writing about for this post goes into some very dark places.  I’ve already mentioned one book by this author in the course of my 30 books, but Hubert Selby Jr. tended to write several books that went away from the general idea of most books.  He wrote several books that go to horrifically dark places, and he wrote many books that would be considered tragedies because they do not end well for any of the characters involved.

My choice for this book is The Room by Hubert Selby Jr.  It’s been a while since I’ve read this book, but it was still one of the first ones to come to mind as having some very disturbing scenes.  The Room is the story of a man who is sentenced to prison for a crime that I don’t believe is ever mentioned in the book.  While he is in his cell, he starts to make plans about what he is going to do to the people that put him there (the police that caught him as well as several other people involved).

In and of itself that is probably a more common thought process than most people would think for prisoners, but Selby lets the prisoner’s imagination run wild.  He describes scenes of torture, and goes in depth about how is training his “dogs” (the police who caught him) to do various things that dogs do, even going so far as to bring in the officer’s families to show them how well his “pets” listen.

It’s been far too long since I read this book for me to go into too much more detail, I grabbed the book and flipped through it a little bit to find some of what he does.  Needless to say, this is a very dark book, and not for the faint of heart.  Even knowing what to expect with it, I don’t know how much I would want to read it again.  I like many of Selby’s other books and would highly suggest them (to the point where I will most likely read some of them again in the future) but this is one that I would suggest to people only with a big disclaimer.

30 Day Book #24 – Book that made you cry

The purpose of writing is to cause an emotional reaction.  If the writer is trying to cause you to feel scared, happy, sad, nervous, excited, or whatever, if you feel any emotion then the writer has succeeded.  Even if you experience a different reaction than the one the writer wanted, if you experience anger when they wanted to you experience surprise, they have still succeeded.  The only way for a writer to fail is for you to have no emotional reaction at all, which is usually when you’re just bored with a book and going through the motions of following all the words.  A truly great book, or even just a scene that is truly great, is one that sticks with you long after you have finished reading it.

Earlier this year I was introduced to the works of Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon by one of my classmates in my Fiction Appreciation class.  I’ve enjoyed all of his books that I have read, but of them, one particular scene truly stands out as absolutely beautiful writing.  In The Angel’s Game, there is a scene describing the funeral of one of the characters in the novel who owns a bookstore and works as a bookseller.  The Angel’s Game is in a series (of sorts) with The Shadow of the Wind, and literature is at the center of the storylines for both of these books, as well as the central idea that connects the two books.  The descriptions of the funeral and the eulogy were absolutely amazing and show how much Ruiz Zafon truly cares about literature.

I never made a note about where that scene occurs in the book, and I can’t find it offhand which means I won’t be able to share a few lines from it like I planned on for this post.  I cried the first time I read it, and even thinking about it again before writing this post I was tearing up a little.  The scene was beautifully written and Ruiz Zafon is a master with words (his translator is also very good).  If you haven’t checked out any of his books, I highly suggest them all.

30 Day Book #23 – Book that made you laugh out loud

Quite a few of the books that I’ve read over the years are satire or humor, whichever term you wish to use.  Even with that, there are some books that just have moments where you can’t stop from laughing.  On there other hand, there are some books where the jokes just leave you shaking your head and saying ‘I can’t believe the author actually wrote that down.’

Even if it’s not the central point of the book, humor can make a good book even more enjoyable.  While it would be very easy to list the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series here (and they are wonderful books) I’m going to pick another book that I read recently that made my laugh quite a few times throughout the course of the book.  I’m talking about Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International.

(A couple minor spoilers along the way.)

This book is taking every b-horror movie and turning it upon it’s head.  Some of the funniest moments came from the descriptions of various magical creatures throughout the book.  When they’re going off to meet some elves trying to help them in their mission, one character starts to talk about elves as Tolkien described them.  The senior member of the crew simply says “yeah, Tolkien wasn’t quite right about everything there.”  They proceed to meet the elves, who are living in a trailer park and provide them with information in exchange for Budweiser and cigarettes.

Another line that I absolutely loved is when Owen is introduced to the crew’s helicopter pilot.  The pilot grumbles something for his name and Harbinger says “It means Skull Crushing Battle Hand of Fury in his language.  We call him Skippy.  Saves on time that way.”  It was one of the funniest scenes I’ve read in any book for quite a while.

The last specific scene I’m going to mention also deals with Skippy.  Skippy turns out to be an Orc, and what’s the one thing that everyone knows Orcs absolutely love?  That’s right, heavy metal music.  When Owen & Co. see the Orc village in the novel they find the Orcs listening to heavy metal and starting a mosh pit.

The book has a pretty serious plot going on throughout the course of it, what with trying to save the world and everything.  However, it never takes itself too seriously and never misses the chance to crack a joke when one can be put into the story.

30 Day Book #22 – Book on the “to read” list the longest

On my blog I have my Book List page, which is a list of books that I own and I’m eventually planning on reading.  (I have a separate file on my computer with books that I’m going to buy eventually.)  Even before I started this blog, the stack of books to read has been there.

My page says that I’m not planning on reading the books on the list in any particular order, and I don’t, I just read whatever I feel like reading next.  Obviously doing this, certain books sit on the list longer than others.  Currently, the book that has been on my book list to read the longest is Frank Herbert’s Dune.

I read a wide variety of books, but in large part I tend to lean towards the Fantasy section in bookstores.  In my local bookstore, the SciFi and Fantasy sections are one and the same.  I enjoy SciFi books, but I’m generally a little more wary about them then I am about Fantasy books.  I find it really easy to learn about a new setting in a Fantasy book.  Go ahead and use all the magic you want to, I’ll learn how it all works.  Different societies and magical creatures, bring it on.  But when you start talking about the actual science in a book, the hard numbers and real physics that SciFi books need, it’s real easy for me to just zone out.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book, and I know that there are quite a few books set in the Dune world.  So that even when I finish Dune I can start reading the other books that Frank Herbert wrote in the Dune universe, beyond that there are the books written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson in the Dune world.  I get the feeling that once I actually sit down and read this book, I’m going to really enjoy it, it’s just that little matter of sitting down and starting to read it, which will happen eventually, I promise (it is on the list after all).

30 Day Book #21 – Favorite Book Turned Movie

This one is a difficult question for a very simple reason.  Like many people, I think that the book is almost always infinitely better than the movie, no matter how good the movie is (there are a few exceptions however).  So talking about my favorite book turned into a movie is a really hard question.  Once again, I liked this question and I picked it because I very quickly thought of a great answer for it: Howl’s Moving Castle.

The book was written by Diana Wynne Jones, and the movie is an anime directed by Hayao Miyazaki.  The reason that I ended up picking this is because unlike many times when a book is turned into a movie, with this example I absolutely loved both the book and the movie.

The stories of each start out the same, with Sophie working in a hat shop.  Sophie has worked in her family’s hat shop for years, and is quite content there and sees no reason to go out into the world.  While she visits her sisters, you start to hear some rumors about the evil magician Howl and the Witch of the Waste.  There is very little told about them early on, but shortly into the story the Witch of the Waste comes into the hat shop and puts a curse on Sophie making her physically an older woman.

Both the book and the novel deal with stopping an oncoming war between two countries and Howl and Sophie end up in the middle of it in each case.  They were different enough to tell two very distinct stories, but they were both very good and I really liked each one (I’ve watched the movie quite a few times, and I read the book in a single day) and I highly suggest them both to anyone who enjoys a good story in any form that it can take.