Blogging About Books

Flying Books © Sergei Razvodovskii/Stockfresh

Flying Books © Sergei Razvodovskii/Stockfresh

For those of you who wonder where the hell I’ve been – I’ve been asking myself the same question. Froghammer has turned out to be an interesting place to work, some of it good-interesting, some of it bad-interesting, most of it just weird-and-chaotic-but-will-make-great-stories-in-books-someday-kind-of-interesting. However, I hate catty, bitchy people, so I’ve resolved to just keep mum about Froghammer in the all-too-public realm of the Interwebs.

Meanwhile, this post has been making the rounds on Facebook in which someone lists their ten favorite books and challenges a group of friends to do the same. Of course, a few people decided to tag me, which is fine. But TEN?! Seriously? I need a list of at least one hundred to even make a dent in my list of favorite books. My whole living room is filled from floor to ceiling on all sides (except the one with the bay window) with just a few of my favorite books. Be that as it may, I decided I would answer the challenge, but the only way I could do it is to set some kind of limit. So I’m going to limit it to favorite books I’ve read in the last year or two. With maybe a little side note on a few all-time favorites.

MY RECENT FAVE RAVE BOOKS:

  1. Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty – maybe there was a murder, maybe not. definitely there was adultery. also, insightful thoughts on the complications of being a modern career woman and mom and how you can never be quite good enough at any of it. check out my earlier review here
  2. Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willett – Jincy Willett is so funny she makes me laugh ’til I cry. This companion book to her equally brilliant The Writing Class follows Amy as she gets mildly concussed, says some very strange things and suddenly finds herself a media sensation. Brilliant wisdom about the state of publishing and entertainment, and a great dog companion too. Here’s my previous review.
  3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Because Neil Gaiman. Review here.
  4. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead – Teen angst + Time Travel. Fabulous. I actually read this one more than a couple of years ago, but it’s still a fairly recent find, so it goes on the list. Because it’s my list. And yes, here’s my earlier review.
  5. Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer – a wonderful teen coming-of-age novel about a misfit girl who befriends a gay couple just at the start of the AIDS crisis in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. Brought back vivid memories of that era and moved me to tears. An excellent book. No previous review from me, I’m afraid. You’ll have to form your own opinion!
  6. The Last Policeman Trilogy by Ben H. Winters – Just magnificent. A stupendously original take on the entirely overdone “Life After the Apocalypse” genre. My review here.
  7. The Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch – another promising young writer of SF/Fantasy and another Ben. Fresh out of the police academy, Peter Grant gets recruited into a special unit of the Metropolitan Police, one that handles supernatural phenomena and also those troublemaking river deities that still populate London. If a young, British Harry Dresden fell into the world of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere,  it might go a bit like this.
  8. Mrs. Dalloway – Because Virginia Woolf. And no, it’s not a new book and not a recent read, but one I re-read over and over again. I spent a lot of years trying to be Virginia Woolf, writing-wise, and to me, this is her masterpiece. The economy of style, the smoothness of the narrative as she travels through one day in one ordinary woman’s head, the love and hope and regrets that make up that woman’s life. The older I get, the more I understand and love this story.
  9. The Crystal Cave Series by Mary Stewart – often dismissed as a mere author of “gothic romance,” Mary Stewart was way more than that, and if her series about Arthur and Merlin had been written by a man, I’m sure it would get a lot more recognition and respect. But that rant about the lack of respect accorded “women’s writing” is a rant for another day. Instead, let me just commend this wonderful series of stories to you. There are five books in the series, but I confess the first three are really far and away the best. This is the legend of King Arthur told from the point of view of Merlin, filled with excellently researched detail on the mythical and historic origins of the tales. No, also not new. But it’s my list and my chance to get a few people to notice some overlooked masterpieces!
  10. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – Magical Realism before there was Magical Realism. Also not new. But possibly my all-time favorite novel. Yes. If I had to pick only one book to take with me to Mars. If I lived in that world Ray Bradbury created in Fahrenheit 451 and I had to “become a book” to keep the story alive, this is the book I would become. Also, for those who are interested in such things, the book that famously inspired The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” Try to get the Mirra Ginsburg translation, unless you’re lucky enough to read Russian.

And now, I conjure you all to go forth and make your own list. If you can’t think of ten books right off the top of your head, you’re living your life wrong. Also, for my many good friends and family members with learning disabilities and other reading problems – remember that audiobooks count too. Don’t ever let anyone say you haven’t “read” a book because you listened to someone read it to you instead. That’s the oldest and best way to tell a story!

 

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