Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Eight Things About Books

(Note: Readers of “Bernie,” please continue with Part Four. Those who aren’t reading it yet, why not start today?)

It’s appropriate that this post coincides with the official release of Cheeseburger Brown’s Simon of Space. While his publisher might not be distributing it very well, I’m hoping it will garner him the critical acclaim and commercial success talent like his deserves and the world needs.

My reading of the first draft of this novel, written in serial format, and the subsequent comments of the readers, led to my friendships with Simon, Moksha, Dave, and others. It also inspired me to start writing fiction again and to put it out here for the world to see.

1. Name one book that changed your life.

Corny as it may sound, I think I already answered this in the intro.

I’ll amend it to “first book that changed your life.”

Summer of ’42, by Herman Raucher. A ninth-grade English teacher smuggled me this and Catcher in the Rye, two books that definitely were not on the allowed list at my school at any level. It was my first foray out of my usual fare of Hardy Boys, science fiction/fantasy. Funny and romantic, it is a coming of age story and, I found out only recently, was based on Raucher’s screenplay for the film.

2. Name one book you have read more than once

The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski. One of many great reads on my Adolescent Literature course syllabus, this gritty, disturbing gem was worth a second look and holds up under my adult mind’s eye. This might be the only book I’ve read more than once. Is that weird?

3. One book you would want on a desert island.

The Riverside Shakespeare. It has everything.

4. Two books that made you laugh.

I don’t read very many funny books, but most books I read have funny parts.

The Dilbert Principle. Scott Adams writes some hilarious stuff outside his comic strip, but outside his blog this is the only one I’ve read.

Couplehood by Paul Reiser. The male lead from “Mad About You” delivers familiar situations in a witty style.

5. One book that made you cry.

It’s hard for me to choose one, because I get misty fairly easily.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. If you have read this book and/or seen this movie and don’t at least get a lump in your throat when Gandalf says, “Fly, you fools!” before plunging to his death, or when an arrow-riddled Boromir pledges his last breath to his (future) king, I’m not sure I want to know you. Each had me blubbering.

6. One book you wish you’d written.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Riveting story, eloquent but easily readable. Just a great work of art. Don’t even imagine it might be boring.

7. One book you wish had never been written.

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. Had it never been written, then it would not sit on the shelf of one of my favorite people, keeping me forever wondering why it’s there. I chose this one because Simon already had chosen Dianetics.

8. Two books I am currently reading.

The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons and Too Much of a Good Thing : Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age by Daniel J. Kindlon.

The first because it’s the second in Simmons’ series of novels about the amazing universe he created in the classic Hyperion. Touching, imaginative, action-packed, and unexpectedly well-written describe both (not because they are Simmons, but because of the genre). The other because I saw it at Barnes and Noble and it sounded good. Yes, Kindlon’s a Ph.D., but he also happens to be a parent and admits that he doesn’t always do so well at following his own suggestions. Based on his own career counseling kids and on research, it’s great so far.

Can I mention the latest online novel by Cheeseburger Brown? See adjectives describing Simmons’ work.

9. Five people I tag.

Go tag yourself.

8 Responses to Eight Things About Books

  1. Wow, great questions.

    1. The Outsiders
    2. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
    3. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (every time I read it, I get more from it)
    4. The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy, Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon
    5. The Outsiders
    6. Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon (I hope you find time to read this Mark)
    7. No answer
    8. Son of a Witch, I Robot
    9. How do I tag myself?

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  2. You know, the rest of the Hyperion series is something that I’ve been intending to get around to for a while. Just one of those things: while the to-read pile never seems to dwindle on the night stand, the intend-to-buy-to-put-on-the-to-read pile never seems to make it past the good intention phase. It’ll happen. Only a matter of getting out and buying it.

    Other that Lord of the Rings, I haven’t read any of the others you mentioned. Catcher in the Rye is one I’d like to. Same with Great Expectations. Pretty much all the books I read these days are come to me via recommendation. Gone are the days where I would idly browse the Fantasy / Sci-Fi section of the bookstore and pick up whatever I thought might appeal. My more discerning tastes and dearth of free time dictate that I become a much harsher judge of what is worthy of my time and effort.

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  3. “Yes, Kindlon’s a Ph.D., but “………..

    Gotta problem with Ph.D.’s, kid?

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  4. 1 – “What’s So Amazing About Grace” – Philip Yancey
    2 – “Animal Farm” – George Orwell
    3 – Bible – various writers
    4 – “The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes” – Bill Watterson
    “Dave Barry’s Guide to Marriage and/or Sex” – Dave Barry
    5 – “Heaven and Hell” – John Jakes
    6 – “A Christmas Carol” – Charles Dickens
    7 – “The Girl Next Door” – Jack Ketchem
    8 – “Long Road to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

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  5. 1 – Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” It’s not as relevant to me now, but at the time (college) it was mind-blowing.
    2 – “Olivia” by Ian Faulkner I read it to my daughter. Over and over and over…
    3 – Anything by Laurell K Hamilton with lots of raunchy sex because I’d have lots of time to kill and might need some inspiration.
    4 – The funniest series of books I have ever read is the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I resisted them for a long time because they were so popular, but I have to admit that everytime her car blows up I laugh until I cry.
    5 – “Where the Red Fern Grows” I sobbed for about an hour after reading this… I was nine.
    6 – Harry Potter – I’d be the rich!
    7 – None.
    8 – Just finished “Kafka on the Shore” by Harumi Murakami and “Bangkok 8” by John Burdett

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  6. I am totally going to do this but I am SO tired right now! Hope you and Shannon had a nice Valentine’s Day!

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  7. Pops took offense to the Ph.D. comment apparently. I thought it was a harmless reference to the fact that there are so many “how to” books out there from people without Ph.D.’s AND no real world experience, but the fact that the referenced author has both gives it more credibility.

    Maybe you are anti-higher education, but I don’t think so. :-)

    On the Hitler book…you have me curious now. I have heard that it is an interesting book, and I don’t think it hurts to be well-rounded. I do think it’s a little odd to have it displayed just because of the possible ramifications, but I can see where there are plenty of other books that would offend people as well.

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  8. Geez, Charles! No offense! Sort of an inside joke, I guess.

    Pops, Ph.D.

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