Another Friday wiz-banger for my party people!
My childhood friend, Betsy, tagged me in one of those “list 10 books which have changed your thinking/stuck with you” and I thought it’d be a
shoe-in easy post fun post to write. Haley also wrote one this week– I love book reviews from her. I’ve quickly learned that reading blogs with book recommendations when already knowing the writer and his/her reading taste is just the best thing ever because I’m almost guaranteed to enjoy that book. I stopped blindly asking for book recommendations on FB after Fifty Shades of Gross came out. Learn me once.
My list definitely isn’t as unique as Haley’s but hopefully, some of the titles listed will get you all nerdy and excited for something new and enjoyable too! The links I give below are Amazon affiliate links- thank ya much for clicking ;)
The Eyes of the Dragon, Stephen King
Oy, Stephen King? Really? You’re gonna bash 50 Shades and then turn around and talk Stephen King? Yes, but just this particular book. The Eyes of the Dragon is one of the first books I truly enjoyed as a young teen. Don’t yet write the book off as grotesque and horrific, per the norm of King’s works. This one is more classical and no where near the horror fiction for which he’s famous.
I was captivated by the narration, and drawn in to the world of two young prince brothers who learn the secret passages inside their castle; one brother, insecure and jealous, who witnesses the murder of their father, the king, behind a wall on which the head of a Dragon is mounted; and the other, much beloved brother, falsely convicted of this murder, is locked up in a tall tower with nothing, it seems, to give him hope for escape or vindication. It’s a classic tale of good triumphing evil (an evil magician, of course). I have to admit this book set me up for my love of Harry Potter, many years later.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain (S.Clemmons).
I grew up taking twice-a-year visits to my extended family in rural Kentucky. By rural, I mean, we used a real, wooden outhouse, and at night had to be accompanied by our parents for fear of bears. By rural, I mean we weren’t allowed to wander through the woods without our parents because of known, unseen sinkholes in which we would be lost forever. And by rural, I of course mean visiting family members who stumbled around half-clothed, half-toothed, carrying a bottle of alcohol and a loaded handgun or shotgun while showing us their pride and joy: A barn full of drying tobacco. That smell is immortal in my memory.
Huckleberry Finn gave me somewhere to place this distant world I knew into real history. It gave me some of my first glimpses into reflecting on human dignity.
Twain’s use of southern dialect made reading it an absolute hilarious delight (having only ever heard the language used by my relatives from the hollers of Kentucky), and something I’d never come across in literature.
The BFG, Roald Dahl (and the rest of his books)
The BFG, being the first of Dahl’s books I’d read, captured my attention as a young girl who’d begun to feel negatively about reading in school. I think it is also Dahl who hooked me into british literature. How Dahl just flat-out makes up words, writes in dialect, and had me laughing out loud (I’ll never forget the surprise of hearing my own giggle as I quietly read his book), taught me that writing and reading is not necessarily mathematical, and following the rules of it will only take an artist, and especially his or her readers so far. Apart from Twain, I had never read anything as fun from American writers. Scrumdiddlyumptious.
Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
Based in the 60’s, this book (although fiction) is written in diary format by a teenager. Reading it as a teen myeslf helped me understand how easily someone can fall into the trap of drug addiction, the stifling black hole of consequences which accompanies it, the enormous circle of people affected by it, and how almost impossible it can be to climb out.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone , J.K. Rowling.
My little brother began reading these books and I resisted in annoyance for probably a year before I cracked open the cover. I was bound to fall in love with the british author’s wit, her diverse and well-developed characters, but what lost me forever to the world of Harry Potter was the triumph of an ordinary boy, who willingly sacrifices himself for his friends. The Christian allegory -and profoundly Catholic ones if you know where to look- have made me a forever diehard Potterhead.
Sense and Sensibility , Jane Austen
While I’d have to say Pride and Prejudice might be my favorite, Sense and Sensibility was my first Austen novel. My favorite kind of book seems to be one where the central characters struggle to control their own senses, while graciously dealing with ridiculous, selfish people who provoke a justified retort. The hilarious, awkward moments thrown back to the English 18th century are refreshing to read in a culture full of obnoxious cat-fighting.
The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
A satirical fiction which gives an eerily conniving -yet still comical- voice to the devil’s demons and demons-in-training into our every day thinking. It’s a chilling thing to consider that while we go along knowing we’ve got our guardian angel protecting us, there may conversely be dedicated servants of “the father below” who vie to claim our souls for Hell. When we rationalize our actions into something less than good, when we allow ourselves to ignore injustices for the sake of our own personal comfort and convenience, when we seek what is easy instead of what is right, that is where the demon-in-training, named Wormwood, makes great strides in chipping away little by little at a human soul.
Architects Of The Culture Of Death, Benjamin Wiker
At my Dad’s recommendation, I read this book as a side project while writing a college essay on historical figures in the progressive moment because I tend to make things harder on myself. Wiker discusses a number of historical figures whom our culture currently celebrates or just plain ignores in formal education, and how they have contributed to a culture of death by denying the sanctity of human life in their philosophies. It’s eye-opening, it’s shocking, and it’s quite frightening to look around today and see the movements put forth by those individuals engrained into our culture so deeply, that we don’t even recognize it.
A Refutation Of Moral Relativism, Peter Kreeft.
Kreeft- Hilarious, thought-provoking, and quite easy to read all at the same time, is one of my favorite apologists.
“Therefore, I want not just to present a strong case against moral relativism, but to refute it, to unmask it, to strip it naked, to humiliate it, to shame it, to
give it the wallop it deserves, as they say in Texas […]”
And he does.
The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins
This British mystery took me by surprise, and I did not want it to end.
Whew! Crazy Friday night book recs, right? Just nuts.
Okay, so now you know two things about me: I super stink at brief book reviews, and I’m possibly a Britlit-o-phile. Or would that just be an Anglophile?
Share your list with me! (cause I know that’s how you’re gonna spend your Friday night. right.)