It’s late in the day and with all the construction that’s been going on in my house, I’ve only now had a chance to sit down and write tonight. I thought I might pick a few genre’s and pick a book that I feel is a must read in that category. Disagree? Lets talk about it over twitter,Facebook, or Goodreads (or respond to the blog!)!
Literature: John Irving “A Prayer for Owen Meany”
I’m convinced that this is the best of Irving’s many works. Irving has an amazing capacity to make a character realistic, more so that any other author out there. What’s more amazing is that he makes you love them. His characters are always flawed (which is probably what makes them so real), but because of those flaws the characters become your friends. Owen Meany is no different, but what makes this book stand out is it’s structure. Like Chekhov said if there’s a gun in the first act it has to go off by act five. This book opened my eyes to what real literature should be. Read it.
Fantasy: Brandon Sanderson “Mistborn, The Final Empire”
This is the first book of a trilogy (and a much broader spectrum of books under the mantle of Mistborn), but you can read this one as a stand alone. What starts off as a heist book, evolves into something so unique, epic and beautiful that it’s hard to put down, even with its 500 plus pages. People talk all the time about book hangovers. Where you put the book down and you are so satisfied that you are actually a little depressed because you didn’t want it to be over. This is that book.
Horror: Richard Matheson “Hell House”
In a genre where things have gotten so trite and the writing so dime store, it has gotten very hard to find a good horror book (and believe me I try every October. I try to read 3 or 4 of them in that month in honor of Halloween). This, from the grandfather of horror, is probably the best written and the scariest. While reading it you want to put it in the freezer to hide it away like Joey from “Friends” does, but it’s so engrossing that you really cant stop. Matheson was the creator of the trope (He wrote for Twilight Zone which most of his short stories are produced on screen, and most of his books have been made into movies multiple times; the most recent being “I Am Legend”), giving a group of scientists a chance to try and disprove a haunted house. Get ready for a roller coaster.
Science Fiction: Orson Scott Card “Ender’s Game”
Many people have had to read this book in high school, and where I never had to I think it could have been a good addition. This is a fabulous coming of age book, in addition to a treatise on war and society. The Eponymous Ender is a brilliant Hero (I use a capital because he’s a Campbell mythic hero) who does what needs to be done to get farther in life. With teenage angst, pain of family and friends and more drive than many characters do in the genre. Another can’t put it down.
Classics: Fyodor Dostoevsky “The Gambler”
I wanted to add a classic that many people might not have read. This is a preamble to James Bond in both feel and character (James Bond in the Books that is). This is the story of a man who develops an addiction to gambling because of the influence of the young girl he’s chasing after (It’s a little ironic because Dostoevsky himself was a gambler and partially wrote this book to pay off gambling debts). It’s a great realistic tale. The characters a horribly flawed and they make realistic decisions. In the end the gambler finds his reason for being after being lost in the black hole of a gambling addiction and you see light at the end of the tunnel, but Dostoevsky weaves it so beautifully that there is reason to doubt. If you’d like to read a Russian classic (they are some of the best after all), but are daunted by Brothers Karamazov, Anna Karenina or War and Peace check this one out…might open some doors for you.
That’s all for now! What are your favorites in these genres?