My top 10 favorite books.December 22, 2009
A good way to start out, I think, would be a post about my favorite books. These aren’t in any sort of order because I’d spend longer trying to put them in order than I would typing all of this up. All of the stuff in italics is what’s on the back covers of each book.
1. Christopher Moore “Practical Demonkeeping”
In Christopher Moore’s ingenious debut novel, we meet one of the most memorably mismatched pairs in the annals of literature. The good-looking one is one-hundred-year-old ex-seminarian and “roads” scholar Travis O’Hearn. The green one is Catch, a demon with a nasty habit of eating most of the people he meets. Behind the fake Tudor façade of Pine Cove, California, Catch sees a four-star buffet. Travis, on the other hand, thinks he sees a way of ridding himself of his toothy traveling companion. The winos, neo-pagans, and deadbeat Lotharios of Pine Cove, meanwhile, have other ideas. And none of them is quite prepared when all hell breaks loose.
This is the first Christopher Moore book I read and I loved it so much. I’ve since read as many of his books as I could get my hands on. Amazon link.
2. Michael Ende “The Neverending Story”
Bastian Balthazar Bux is shy, awkward, and certainly not heroic. His only escape is reading books. When Bastian happens upon an old book called The Neverending Story, he’s swept into the magical world of Fantastica—so much that he finds he has actually become a character in the story! And when he realizes that this mysteriously enchanted world is in great danger, he also discovers that he has been the one chosen to save it. Can Bastian overcome the barrier between reality and his imagination in order to save Fantastica?
This is a total classic, in my eyes. It’s a fantastic fantasy, and if you liked the movie (the first one, anyway), then definitely read the book. Amazon link.
3. Neil Gaiman “American Gods”
Shadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she’s been killed in a terrible accident.
Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible.
He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming. And from that moment on, nothing will ever be the same…
I’ve had to buy a second copy of this book because my first one fell apart because I read it too much. This is a really fun book if you’re into mythology—there’s lots of “guess the god!” that goes on. Neil Gaiman is a great author and he’s perfect at creating a story that just sucks you in. Amazon link.
4. Diana Wynne Jones “Howl’s Moving Castle”
Sophie lived in the town of Market Chipping, which was in Ingary, a land in which anything could happen, and often did—especially when the Witch of the Waste got her dander up. Which was often.
As her younger sisters set out to seek their fortunes, Sophie stayed in her father’s hat shop. Which proved most unadventurous, until the Witch of the Waste came in to buy a bonnet, but was not pleased. Which is why she turned Sophie into an old lady. Which was spiteful witchery.
Now Sophie must seek her own fortune. Which means striking a bargain with the lecherous Wizard Howl. Which means entering his ever-moving castle, taming a blue fire-demon, and meeting the Witch of the Waste head-on. Which was more than Sophie bargained for…
There’s an anime based on this book, but there’s a lot of differences between them. Almost to the point of being completely different stories with the same characters. I love both, really. I’m in love with the character of Howl. Amazon link.
5. Nicola Barker “Behindlings”
Spurting with kinetic energy, nasty wit, and kindness to animals, Wesley ought to be a star. Or so it seems to the “Behindlings”—followers who nip at his heels, turn up everywhere he goes, and lie in wait for him around every corner. They skulk through the dreary streets of their tiny English town, gathering their own scabby intentions, irritating habits, and weird manners, burying all differences in the common pursuit of their true prize, their Wesley.
This book seems to be an acquired taste. I like it, it’s just so.. weird in a wonderful way. I suggest listening to The Weakerthans’ “Left and Leaving” album while reading this. Amazon link.
6. Mary Roach “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers”
Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
I love reading books like this and this one covers just about everything that will happen to your body after you die. The author has a great sense of humor, especially considering what the book is about. NOT for the squeamish! Amazon link.
7. Sir Terry Pratchett “Hogfather”
Who would want to harm Discworld’s most beloved icon? Very few things are held sacred in this twisted, corrupt, heartless—and oddly familiar—universe, but the Hogfather is one of them. Yet here it is, Hogswatchnight, that most joyous and acquisitive of times, and the jolly old, red-suited gift-giver has vanished without a trace. And there’s something shady going on involving an uncommonly psychotic member of the Assassins’ Guild and certain representatives of Ankh-Morpork’s rather extensive criminal element. Suddenly Discworld’s entire myth system is unraveling at an alarming rate. Drastic measures must be taken, which is why Death himself is taking up the reins of the fat man’s sleigh…which, in turn, has Death’s level-headed graddaughter, Susan, raving to unravel the nasty, humbuggian mess before the holiday season goes straight to hell and takes everyone along with it.
I love all the “Discworld” novels, but I made myself pick only one for this list. And considering how close it is to Christmas, I thought this would be the obvious choice. Hilarious and wonderful and Death is one of my favorite characters in the whole series. Ho Ho Ho! Amazon link.
8. Gregory Maguire “Wicked”
When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, we heard only her side of the sotry. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?
Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elpheba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all out preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.
You’ve probably heard of the musical version of this, but it was a book first. And the book is great, you’ll never be able to watch The Wizard of Oz in the same way again. Amazon link.
9. Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman “Good Omens”
According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist…
Hilarious, awesome, and one of the best Apocalypse books I’ve ever read.
10. Chuck Palahniuk “Invisible Monsters”
She’s a fashion model who has everything: a boyfriend, a career, a loyal best friend. But when a sudden freeway “accident” leaves her disfigured and incapable of speech, she is transformed from the beautiful center of attention to an invisible monster, so hideous that no one will acknowledge she exists. Enter Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme, one operation away from becoming a real woman, who will teach her that reinventing yourself means erasing your past and making up something better. And that salvation hides in the last places you’ll ever want to look.
In this hilarious and daringly unpredictable novel, the narrator must exact revenge upon Evie, her best friend and fellow model; kidnap Manus, her two-timing ex-boyfriend; and hit the road with Brandy in search of a brand-new past, present, and future. Changing names and stories in every city, they catapult toward a final confrontation with a rifle-toting Evie–by which time we will have learned that loving and being loved are not mutually exclusive, and that nothing, on the surface, is every quite what it seems.
I like all the Chuck Palahniuk books I’ve read, but if I had to choose only one, it would be this one. I think that it’s a little less gruesome than some of his other books, but your mileage may vary. Amazon link.