Sunday, August 27, 2006

The "One Book" Bandwagon

I've never been above jumping on a blogosphere bandwagon (such as Friday Cat Blogging) when it coincides with my interests, and the current one going around is an interesting one. I don't know who started it, but I picked it up over at Is America Burning?

And, like everyone else, I complain because there are so many books to choose from, books that I've loved, books that I've hated, books that have changed my life. Nevertheless, here are the ones who made the final cut. Today. Ask me the same questions tomorrow and I might have completely different answers.

One book that changed your life
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
It was the early 60s when I first picked up On the Road, and it led to several stretches of time spent bumming around the country, abusing a variety of substances and living in communes. It changed my life, all right, but probably not for the better. If I hadn't read it, maybe I'd have stayed in college, majored in pre-law, become a Naval officer, married a liquor heiress, joined the astronaut corps and earned a Nobel Prize for Literature...

One book you have read more than once
1984 by George Orwell
Regular readers of this blog know how much I like this book, dystopian fiction at its very best, and an amazingly prescient prediction of the kind of society we're slipping into. I reread it every couple of years and never fail to find something new in it. Maybe because we are becoming more and more like Oceana every day.

One book you would want on a desert island
Devlin's Boatbuilding: How to Build Any Boat the Stitch-and-Glue Way by Samuel Devlin
I figure the only way off that fucking island is to build your own boat. Otherwise I'd go totally insane.

One book that made you laugh
Miles Walker You're Dead by Linda Jaivan
A wacked-out post-modern look at Australia on the eve of the millennium. On New Years Eve, artist Miles Walker is preparing to have himself blown up for his art because his friends have convinced him that dying young would be a good career move for him. Absolutely hilarious.

One book that made you cry
Tortilla Curtain by TC Boyle.
A relentless examination of the same themes found in John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, updated for a new generation of migrant workers in California.

One book you wish had never been written
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion by Anonymous.
From their first appearance at the start of the 20th Century, the completely fraudulent protocols have whipped up fanatic hatred for Jews. But thanks to Henry Ford (yes, that Henry Ford), who pushed this ugly propaganda onto an easily-duped American public, a virulent strain of Anti-Semitism effectively blocked most efforts to do something -- anything -- to save the European Jews who were being systematically exterminated by the Nazis.

One book you are currently reading
Around the World on a Bicycle by Thomas Stevens
In 1884 Englishman Thomas Stevens set out from San Francisco on a high-wheel "penny farthing" bicycle on a ride around the world. Fascinating descriptions of places and people that he encountered along the way, and an amazing glimpse into how much has changed in the world in a little over 100 years.

One book you have been meaning to read
Mason and Dixon by Thomas Pynchon
Aside from the Bible, this has to be the least-read bestseller in history. It's been sitting on my bookshelf since I bought it new. I've taken it down and hefted it a couple of times, even read the first couple of pages. My literary friends are all in the same boat with me: I don't know one person who has actually read it. One of these days I'll manage to do it. Or maybe I'll just wait for the comic book version...

One book you wish you had written
Suspects by David Thomson
What starts out as a somewhat whimsical examination of the supposedly real lives of movie characters eventually takes on a more sinister tone and you slowly come to the realization that many of these characters interact in some way with the unnamed narrator, who ultimately turns out to be a famous film character himself. A master accomplishment and a must-read for film buffs, especially those who love the 1940s film-noir genre.


Mike Kretzler said...

Oddly enough, I actually read the copy of Mason and Dixon that my librarian-wife bought me for Christmas. I found it interesting and difficult. Almost enough to get me to go back for another run at Gravity's Rainbow.

Spadoman said...

Thanks for reminding me that I don't read enough books:)

Granny said...

I'm a little behind on my reading this week and didn't realize you'd linked to us.

Thanks for the link and for reading us. That meme was fun to do.

Is America Burning

If I don't add the blog name in the comments, the link goes to my other blog which can be confusing.

Anonymous said...

Try any of Kafka's short stories, or if you really feel adventurous,try Ulysses by James Joyce.

JBlue said...

Great list!

byron smith said...

Did you know this thing started in Australia? It was this guy that sparked it off.

PS I really enjoy your blog.