30 Books I Dig

Julie over at Samurai Knitter gave a list of 30 books she digs.  She gave the option for others to do the same.  I love to read and 30 seems like a small number, but here we go and in no particular order:

1. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Euxpery – Technically a childrens book, but every time I read it I find something new about life or life lessons.  It’s very charming and the illustrations are nice. 

2. The Sparhawk series by David Eddings.  It’s fluff reading and a lot of fun.  There are 6 books in the series.  It’s about a bad ass Knight and a sassy Queen who becomes his wife with magic.  Lots of adventures and hijinks by the time you get to the end.  The two series are titled The Elenium and The Tamuli

3.  The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.  This is a well written novel, the kind that crawls inside you and doesnt let go.  It’s about a family in India in the 1960’s and how unnecessary cruelty shapes the family for years to come.   It’s one long heartache with glimmers of joy until the end which is heartbreakingly sad.

4. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.  I picked this up for free from a garage sale while vacationing in San Francisco.  It’s a deep novel about life, what is found meaningful to someone can be pointless to another, and how to find joy in your situation.

5. Trojan Women by Eurpidies.  Be careful what translation you get.  Translation makes all the difference.  I have a thing for tragedy and wept at the end of this play.  Everything those women went through and how Hecuba fought to retain some small shred of dignity while at the same time being taken into slavery.  A powerful play on what the emotional consequences of the victims of war.

6. War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges.  American Fascists was preachy but this is much better.  Chris Hedges was a war correspondent for the NY Times from 1983 through the Balkan War in the late 1990’s.  He talks about how war can be addictive, how nationalism can take over even the most rational people in the run up to war, how the media can be manipulated to work people into a frenzy . . .  It’s an interesting read if you want a take on how war is used and manipulated by culture and vice versa.

7. Sappho A Garland translated by Jim Powell.  Not sure how easy this would be to get.  It was printed by the University of Iowa several years ago.  One of the best translations I’ve read of Sappho’s work.

8. Lysastrata by Aristophanes.  I discovered how important translation is when I read this.  I have two copies, one translation I hated and thought was crappy, and one which was good.  Yes, it’s about war, but it is entertaining and has some interesting insights on women in Greek culture.

9. Lamb.  The Gospel According to Biff,  Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.  I enjoy satire almost as much as tragedy.  This book made me laugh out loud.  Biff tells his version of the Christ story including all their wanderings from the time Jesus was 12 until he was 30.  All their wanderings throughout the Middle East, India, along the Silk Road, etc.  I laughed my ass off at this book.  With a title like that how could you not.

10. Red Meat Cures Cancer by Starbuck O’Dwyer another satire.  Sky Thorne has worked for a fast food chain Tailburger  (a job he hates)  for almost 20 years, he’s about ready to get his pension so he can retire and find his own inner Tahiti.  One small problem.  His boss “The Link” tells him if he cant get their market share up to 5% by the end of the year he’s out on his ass with no pension.  With two kids to support and a lawsuit pending from SERMON (Stop Eating Red Meat Now) to handle, he’ll do nearly anything to keep his pension.   I’ve read this book at least 3 times and it still makes me laugh.

11. Waiting for the Galactic Bus and The Snake Oil Wars by Parke Godwin.  Again, more satire.  Two brothers, from an alien race of energy beings whose chosen purpose is to see planets with intelligent life, come to Earth for a party with some classmates.  They get drunk, are left behind, and forgotten for several million years.  One brother comes to operate Topside (which is supposed to be Heaven) and the other operates Below Stairs (supposed to be Hell) but nothing is quite like it seems.  They get a glimpse of the future and have to intervene in human existence again to thwart Armageddon.

12. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.  Made me glad I’m a vegetarian who rarely eats fast food.

13. Twinkie Deconstructed by Steve Ettlinger.  One of the most interesting food books I’ve read.  Lots of information on what and where a lot of ingredients in processed food comes from like Polysorbate 60.

14. Secrets of the Night Sky.  The Most Amazing things in the Universe you can see With the Naked Eye by Bob Berman.  Bob Berman used to write an astronomy column for Discover Magazine.  This was an enjoyable read and is still used for reference.  He explains how to find stars, planets, constellations, satellites, etc in layman’s terms with humour.  Very informative.

15. Harry Potter by JK Rowling.  Exciting reads with characters you get attached to and who grow and change as the series moves along.  Funny, sad, adventurous.  Have read each one except The Deathly Hallows twice.

16. Bush on the Couch by Justin Frank.  Lots of interesting insight into the workings of the mind and family of our (thankfully) former President George W. Bush.

17. The Plague by Albert Camus.  About a community quarantined and isolated by a terrible plague.  The people left try to find a way to live with dignity and compassion in the face of a force they cannot control.  But then, anything by Camus will have something to say about human nature and/or human society.

18. Watership Down by Richard Adams.  Like The Little Prince, there is a lot more to this book than it seems.  The rabbits have their own mythology and gods.

19. NP and Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto.  Two separate books with separate characters but by the same author.  Two soulful tales.

20. Censored Newsfrom Project Censored.  Every year Project Censored puts out it’s top 25 most important news stories that you havent heard about through the mainstream press.  Lots of interesting stuff.

21. Shame of a Nation, Amazing Grace, and Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol.  Jonathan Kozol went to Harvard in the 60’s and became an educator, mostly working in inner cities.  His works show how extreme poverty and neglect in inner cities effect the quality and equality of education children receive and how this directly effects their chances of succeeding in life especially compared to public schools in more affluent communities.

22. American Furies by Sasha Abramsky.  An intense read mostly about the private for profit prison system in America.  He goes into some detail about kids ending up in adult prison, how private, for profit, prisons suck money out of poor communities, how guards for these prisons are poorly trained and are unnecessarily cruel to inmates.  Intense, and difficult subject matter, but eye opening.

23. Confessions of an Economic Hit Manby John Perkins.  John Perkins used to work for the US Government and IMF (I think, I havent read this in a while) He talks about how the IMF, World Bank, US Government and other intuitions have used economics with brute force to keep impoverished nations impoverished when they have resources more developed nations or corporations want.  He talks some about the privatization of water in Bolivia by a major corporation deprived poor citizens of necessary clean drinking water because it became too expensive for them to afford.

24. House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger.  Goes into detail about the deep links between the Bush family and the Saudi Royal family.  Interesting read.

25. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  Satire about Armageddon (again?!)  The Snake from the Garden of Eden and the Angel who was supposed to guard Eden with his flaming sword (which he gave to Adam for protection) get word from above and below that the End Time is here.  They like Earth too much to let that happen.

26. Ancient Myths by Norma Lorre Goodrich.  Not sure if this is still in print but it has good translations of the Epic of Gilgamesh and other ancient stories.

27. Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan.  Feminist French literature from the 15th century.  Woo-Hoo!  Christine de Pizan was the only woman of her time to speak up for Joan of Arc.

28. East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  I will admit that I’ve recently developed a weakness for John Steinbeck.  He did a modern translation of some of the King Arthur stories and I enjoyed Grapes of Wrath.  He has such an interesting insight into human nature, and human nature in the face of adversity.  His landscapes are lovely.

29.  From Hellby Alan Moore with illustrations by Eddie Campbell.  Yup, it’s a comic, or more precisely, a graphic novel.  Much better and different from the film.  An in depth study and theory of Jack the Ripper.

30. She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb.  Two different books by the same author.  Different stories and different characters.  When I read She’s Come Undone, I had to keep reminding myself that it was a man writing this book.  Each has a lot to do with dysfunctional families and family secrets.

There’s my 30.  I didnt touch on Herman Hesse, many of the graphic novels I’ve enjoyed over the years, all the books on US politics I’ve read, or Arthurian Legends such as Sir Gawain and The Green Knight . . .  I’ll tag Emms , Samer and anyone else who chooses to participate

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4 Responses to 30 Books I Dig

  1. Samer says:

    Ack, how am I supposed to only choose 30?

  2. walterknitty says:

    I felt the same way. Kurt Vonnegut got left out as did Strangers in Paradise, Sandman, Frida Kahlo’s diary, a biography I read of her, Stephen Hawking’s Univers, Ender’s Game, Earth by David Brin, Where The Red Fern Grows, Bridge to Tarabithia, The Last Unicorn, Preacher, and soooo much other stuff. Consider it a challenge.

  3. JulieT says:

    Geez! Classics, polytical analysis, satires, more classics. If that graphic novel and Harry Potter weren’t on there I’d be really worried.

    Amazing what you can learn about people from their book choices, it’s like an ink blot test, but more fun. Great list!

  4. Samer says:

    I’m constantly after her to read more fluff. 🙂

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