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Your (least) favorite fiction books

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Your (least) favorite fiction books

Postby 1%homeless » Sun Jan 25, 2004 5:52 am

Yes, this topic has been discussed before, but I don't think it's reached to the annoying point yet, has it?

I’m curious to know what kind of fiction you people digest (other than ancient Greek and Latin of course :)). Have your favorite works actually influenced your life? I need to really make a reading list of fiction work. I am embarrassingly way behind in the fiction department. Also I don’t think I ever read a romance novel or a mystery novel. If anybody is well read in those genres or read something interesting/entertaining in those genres I’d like to know what you recommend. What was the worst thing you ever read? I actually would like to read them too. For some reason I find it appealing to investigate something that somebody reacted really negatively to...

Any time anyone mentions a book (fiction or non-fiction) in this forum, I usually investigate it. You know, it’s actually hard finding good fiction. You either read what’s popular or learn about books through book reviews... I wonder, how do you guys stumble upon your favorite stuff? I barely ever read book reviews... From my experience, the best books I’ve read were through recommendations -anyone one from an online diary writer to people I know in real life... I think having a discussion about books is much better filter than book reviews. Also, there is a lot you can learn (or conjecture :wink: ) about a person through their favorite books.

So please list away!

(Oh yeah, William, I've read the SF book entry already. I hope you don't think I'm such a snoop. ;))
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Postby klewlis » Sun Jan 25, 2004 8:16 am

My all-time favourite fiction authors are Thomas Hardy and Isaac Asimov. Asimov is sci-fi, of course, so if you are interested at all in that, check him out (see also Robert Silverberg... wow). Hardy is an old English author from late 19th, early 20th C. Amazing. Brilliant. Every book is a tragedy (I like tragedy) and often controversial (some were banned for being racy, though by today's standards they are *very* tame). My favourite book of his is "The Mayor of Casterbridge", but it was "Jude the Obscure" which first got me hooked. His poetry is great too.

I like all the old ones... David Copperfield, Middlemarch, Candide, The Brothers Karamazov, Robinson Crusoe, A Farewell to Arms.... beautiful.

Oh, and just recently I read "The Life of Pi" by Yann Martel, which was Canada's favourite book last year. I do recommend it.... very different and intriguing.
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Postby Kalailan » Sun Jan 25, 2004 8:46 am

I have recently just thought of the same subject...

in Sci Fi, i like asimov too.
but my favourite fiction book is "the compass rose" by Ursula K. Le Guin.
it is a collection of short stories. it is categorized as Sci Fi, and that is an insult in my opinion. science fiction literature is considered lesser...
this book is a riddle to me. it is among the best books i ever read, and it is out of print! i just can't understand why.
has anyone here read it?

i am a great Le Guin fan in general. have you you read the Earthsea series?
thats Fantasy.
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Postby 1%homeless » Sun Jan 25, 2004 9:39 am

Ahhh!! Too many already. Hahaha. :lol: But you don't have to stop though. Please keep dishing them out.
klewlis wrote:which was Canada's favourite book last year.

heh heh, How come I've never heard of the US having a favorite book? (I'm not sure if bestseller counts.) I think I should live in Canada... Anyways, I keep seeing that book in bookstores and never bothered to open it up. I tend to ignore things obnoxiously displayed as adverstisements. I might take a better look at it next time though. :)
have you you read the Earthsea series?

I've never even heard of Le Guin. :)

Ok, Asimov has a double mention. Umm... so which book was the best of Asimov? I didn't get to Asimov, I didn't even finish Bradburry yet. Most sci-fi/fantasy stuff I've read are comic books when I was young. Ok, I must confess that I was mostly a comic book reader. I have no shame in that ...maybe a little ;). Comic book format is an artistic media like any other media. Like animation, it is associated with kids. Somehow the idea that words and pictures combined is low brow art... boy, I wish I can find a cultural/historical explanation for that one ...because Japan's comic book attitude is very different. "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud is my comic book manifesto.

it is categorized as Sci Fi, and that is an insult in my opinion. science fiction literature is considered lesser...

And comic books even lesser. :) Are you saying that you consider science fiction lesser or are you speaking in the third person context? Insults are getting more complicated in literature culture... So if I were to make fun of David Copperfield, I would say David is so SciFi ...? :wink: Anyway, I don't understand this haughty attitude towards SciFi. Why do the literary snobs look down at SciFi? I'd like to check out their silly arguments and chuckle a bit.

{edit: Heh heh heh. Just checked Will's list again and ol' Willy just mentioned Le Guin too. Should I be embarrased now?}
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Postby Kalailan » Sun Jan 25, 2004 11:49 am

I meant considered by others.
although a lot of the sci-fi literature is not very good, i think it can be a most powerful tool.

i will now go to check the other thread you were talking about.
Cya!
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Postby rimon-jad » Sun Jan 25, 2004 1:28 pm

Hey, I didn´t know how wicked guys are hanging around here! :wink:
I don´t read very much fiction these times, but I like SF the most.
My favourite ones are H.P.Lovecraft´s short stories. They´re like E.A.Poe´s, whom i also admire.
if anybody´s interested whether i like tolkien i say No, I don´t like him.
cliché, cliché, ...
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Postby bingley » Sun Jan 25, 2004 1:57 pm

Of the classic English novelists, I would recommend Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. A hugely enjoyable, but alas recently deceased, modern novelist is the Canadian Robertson Davies.

From detective fiction, try P D James for the more traditional type, though, particularly in her later works she uses the form to explore all sorts of social issues. Ruth Rendell writing under her own name or as Barbara Vine has a good series of police procedural detective stories with her detective Chief Inspector Wexford. Perhaps the best detective story I've ever read is Barbara Vine's "Asta's Book". Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael series is also excellent.

I assume you've read "The Lord of the Rings." If not, remedy the situation at once. (aside: a lot of it is cliche because he's had so many imitators. It wasn't cliche back in the 1950s). I can also recommend C. S. Lewis's SF trilogy, "Out of the Silent Planet", "Perelandra", and "That Hideous Strength." For more humorous SF, try Douglas Adams's "The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" and its sequels.

If you want some novels set in Ancient Greece, I would recommend anything by Mary Renault. My particular favourites are "The King Must Die" and "The Bull from the Sea", telling the story of Theseus, and her Alexander Trilogy, "Fire from Heaven", "The Persian Boy", and "Funeral Games". Also set in the ancient world are Gore Vidal's "Creation", where you will meet everybody who was anybody in the first half of the 5th Century BC in Greece, Persia, India, and China, and "Julian", based on the life of the Roman Emperor, Julian the Apostate.

That should keep you going.
:lol:
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Postby Emma_85 » Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:26 pm

Ok, well Asimov has already been mentioned (try the Foundation series). And Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit... the Hobbit was the first book I ever read and so when I was about 11 I think I finally sat down and read the Lord of the Rings too.
Other SF and fantasy:
Olaf Stapleton's Last and First Men (dunno if it's still in print though), which is great, I think I recommended it here once before ...
I've read a lot of other fantasy and SF books, but they often have a terribly bad ending (as in a stupidly happy ending, that wasn't well thought out). Loads of books are written really well apart from the very end. Tad Williams Otherland series for example is great except for the end, same for Robin Hobb's Assassin's Trilogy.
I really love Terry Pratchett's Discworld, if you haven't read the books, you really should, they are great. They're still fantasy, although he originally started writing them to make fun of the classic fantasy genre.

Other fiction books: uh... that's a hard one... :wink:
I've read others of course, but I can't remember liking them much. I've nearly finnished reading Middlemarch, and there's another one that's promising at the moment but I haven't finished it yet, so I won't recommend it yet :P .
But I'd certainly not recomment Charles Dickens. Just telling you now, because quite a few others did and I don't agree. His characters are just so stupid! He can't invent good ones :P (at least that's what I think).
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Postby klewlis » Sun Jan 25, 2004 4:25 pm

oh, reading these brought so many more ideas!

The Chrysalids is one we had to read in school... it is sort of a sci-fi, about a post-nuke world where the "normal" people obsess religiously about "mutants" and hate them and treat them as outcasts. Well there is a group of kids who aren't obvious mutants but who are telepathic... the book is about them and about religion and normality, excellent and thought-provoking.

You mentioned Bradbury, and of course Farenheit 451 is one of my favourites.

If you want to get started with Asimov (he has so many books!) then I recommend The Ugly Little Boy, which he co-wrote with Robert Silverberg--they wrote a few together, all of which are fantastic. The Ugly Little Boy blows apart the idea of sci-fi being lame, as it deals more with the human story than with the science. It's a beautiful and heartwrenching story.

oh, and Madeleine L'engle's stuff was great too... there's a trilogy I read when I was a kid, including "A Wrinkle in Time", "A Wind in the Door", and "A Swiftly Tilting Planet". I remember loving them but haven't read them since I was about 12.

The Life of Pi is about a boy who is stuck in a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger. It sounds bizarre and it is, but the book is fascinating and claims that it can make a reader believe in God... and I wouldn't be surprised if that was true in many cases. As for Canada having a favourite book, this one won some awards but it was also one of the books chosen for a national book club program thing they were doing last year, so lots and lots of people have read this book and even now, a year later, I hear about it all the time from various people.
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Postby MDS » Sun Jan 25, 2004 5:53 pm

Wow, what a topic. I'm unsure of where even to begin.

I havn't read a lot of Sci-Fi (been meaning to check out Asimov though...) but I must recommend Orson Scott Card, he wrote a series of books (well...two series really but one's a spin-off), the first book being Ender's Game. It's really well done in my opinion and interested me as a non-Sci-Fi fan.

The Chrysalids is one we had to read in school... it is sort of a sci-fi, about a post-nuke world where the "normal" people obsess religiously about "mutants" and hate them and treat them as outcasts. Well there is a group of kids who aren't obvious mutants but who are telepathic... the book is about them and about religion and normality, excellent and thought-provoking.


I have to second that recommendation heartily as its probably the only school assigned book I've really enjoyed. I warn you though, it'll make you think.

Despite all the Canadian hype, I personally found Life of Pi to be slow and unengaging. Course thats my personal opinion and judging from all the awards I'm clearly not in the majority.

For general fiction I have to recommend anything by Pauline Gedge (known mainly for her books on ancient Egypt), I'd start with Eagle Against the Raven first (its about the Roman invasion into Britannia but told from the Celtic perspective.). Colleen Mccullough is fantastic as well, she has a historical fiction series on the Romans, I cant recall the first book but one in the series is The Grass Crown. Her books are meticuously researched and thus ring authentic.

In terms of your more well known authors, I'm a fan of John Grisham (best one is The Chamber IMO) and Steven King (read The Green Mile, book outdoes the movie by far!).

A book that received a ton of press attention this past year was The Lovely Bones by Annie Sebold, I thought it was great too. It tells the story through the perspective of the fourteen year old girl from heaven.

Dickens has been mentioned multiple times, he isn't fantastic but Great Expectations and Oliver Twist were the ones I enjoyed most by him.

I'm also a huge fan of Bruce Courtenay, his best IMO being The Power of One which is one of the best book I"ve ever read. He also did a trilogy called the Potato Factory trilogy, the main character being the man Dickens appartently based Fagin on in Oliver Twist. He's written others that are very good too, didn't like his latest couple though.

If you dont mind reading 1000 page books or so try out Edward Rutherford, he takes a place (e.g. Stonehenge, or London or Russia etc.) and traces back its history multiple generations and then tells the fictional story of the family lines throwing in tons of the historical and socio-economic stuff along the way.

Wilbur Smith is also awesome, his best known stuff is a series about the Courtenay family in South Africa. First book is When the Lion Feeds. He has quite a bit out now but has traced the family from about the 1600's to present day. Quite a man too!

There are tons more but I'm sure you'll get more than enough reading suggestions on this thread.
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Re: Your (least) favorite fiction books

Postby annis » Sun Jan 25, 2004 6:17 pm

1%homeless wrote:(Oh yeah, William, I've read the SF book entry already. I hope you don't think I'm such a snoop. ;))


Do you mean the blog entry?

For non-SF I think every classicist should read Helen DeWitt's The Last Samurai (it has nothing to do with the recent film). A woman has a son who turns out to be a genius, so there are Homer lessons on trains, and conjugations of interesting Arabic verbs while he waits for the arrival of the next candidate to be his father (mom will not say who it is). The narration is very nonlinear at first, then settles down.

I also always recommend C.J. Cherryh, who once taught Latin. There are no Latinist aliens in her books, but she has a great sensitivity to language, much better than most SF/Fantasy authors. I'm not the first to suspect that she spent a lot of time reading Latin historians. Her books are almost always full of complex politics.

(The next time you read some fluff SF/fantasy note how the languages work: bad guys always have lots of gutterals (g,k,x,kh, etc) and huge consonant clusters (ptkogh!), and the airy elves get all the vowels, l and r. Apostrophes are decoration. Magic is always conducted in Old High Blahblahblah.)

To avoid: White Apples, by Jonathan Carroll. I just read this for the SF reading group in town I belong to. It's awful and infuriating.

(To rimon-jad (what in the world does that name mean?): I agree on Tolkien. I find his sentiments sententious and the prose over-wrought. Having said that, as a language inventor, I have to respect such an amazing work of imaginative philology. I just need a huge insulin injection after exposure to his writing.)
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Postby rimon-jad » Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:36 pm

yes, annis, tolkien is nothing but a thief. he kidnapped folklore of severe german nations, put it into his simple minded head and made a mixture which cannot be called "literature". :twisted:
he was a kind of linguist, though. if he hadn´t waste his lifetime with such fables, he could have achieve something. the languages he created in the middle-earth, i mean, he really created them.
for all hebraists know what rimon-jad means. 8)
rimon - pomegranet (literally grenade)
jad - hand
thus rimon-jad is HANDGRENADE

P.S. i think it´s weird if anyone´s seriously interested in C**P lit.
average is 3000 books per life
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USE YOUR TIME WISELY :!:
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Re: Your (least) favorite fiction books

Postby Kalailan » Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:55 pm

annis wrote:
(To rimon-jad (what in the world does that name mean?)

hehe, finally will you have to unveil!

pm me if you advance, dear pomegranate.

annis wrote:I just need a huge insulin injection after exposure to his writing.)


i thought i am the only one!
thanks god.
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Postby Kalailan » Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:59 pm

How could i forget "Shogun" by James Clevell (spelling?)?
it is a most wonderful book about japan in the 16th century.
i even read it when i was experiencing a Reader's block.
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Postby Episcopus » Sun Jan 25, 2004 8:26 pm

I don't read at all. The last novel I read, I was forced to read it by Peter Dickinson about 2 years ago called "The Ropemaker". I usually hate such far fetched stories. It was class.
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Postby 1%homeless » Sun Jan 25, 2004 10:01 pm

Do you mean the blog entry?

Yup. :wink:

Heh heh, I knew someone had to mention Tolkien. I'm glad that there is a difference of opinion. I've read the Hobbit and most of the first book of LTOR. So far, I'd say I'm in between people who like his work and dislike it.

I'm going to check out White Apples now. Heh heh.

That's funny, I didn't even mention what I liked. Well two books come to mind at the moment. James and the Giant Peach. Catcher in the Rye.

I'm surprised no one mentioned Ayn Rand yet. :wink: But I do enjoy her books even though it's a bit preachy at times. Sometimes she does piss me off because of her writing style. Example: "Mr. Blah hates to drink water so much that he likes it." "She loves him so much that she hates him." Sometimes I agree with her fans and sometimes I agree with her critics. I guess you can say I like her and hate her. :)
Last edited by 1%homeless on Sun Jan 25, 2004 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Emma_85 » Sun Jan 25, 2004 10:03 pm

I hated all the books I had to read at school, for some reason we only read terrible stuff. The only book I liked at all of the ones we had to read was Hesse's Unterm Rad (dunno the English title, sorry).
Lol, no one has mentioned Harry Potter yet! :P

Anyway, in defence of Tolkien: yes, he did base his stuff on old legends, so what? I think it's great the stuff. But the most important thing is his writing style. After reading the Lord of the Rings you should take a brake before reading any other book I think - otherwise you'll just cringe at their writing style and use of words. Tolkien writes so well, you don't notice it though until you pick up another 'normal' book after reading Tolkien.
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Postby Nexus Ferocis » Mon Jan 26, 2004 12:57 am

Huh, I don’t know where to begin. I loved all of James Clavell’s Asian Saga; he is able to weave remarkable storylines and the character development is the best. Shogun was the first one of his I read and I was hooked after that.

Poe is also one of my favorites, though his stories are either melancholic or bizarre. But he also had poems to add to that, needless to say.

Hiero’s Journey was highly recommended to me, but I never came around to reading it. Has anyone here done so? Other authors where mentioned before me, so I need not reiterate.

I also must defend Tolkien. He wrote the books because he felt that England had no good myths and legends of its own, and I have never heard it to be derivative from other Germanic myths.

rimon-jad wrote:he was a kind of linguist, though. if he hadn´t waste his lifetime with such fables, he could have achieve something. the languages he created in the middle-earth, i mean, he really created them.


I don’t see what’s wrong with him “wasting his life” on his books. He liked writing them and he wrote them for his own satisfaction. Honestly, it’s not as though he lived to serve the populace; he didn’t even expect them to be popular. And if you’re a fan of fantasy, you have Tolkien to thank, for he brought it to life.

Calling him “kind of a linguist” is demeaning to him! He was deep into Greek and Latin at the age of 15, where he proceeded to learn more throughout his life! And Emma makes good point. When I last finished reading the Lord of the Rings, my brother convinced me to read some Terry Brooks and I just couldn’t enjoy it, it seemed so simple in tongue.
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Postby mingshey » Mon Jan 26, 2004 1:27 am

As for fantasies, I liked "die unendliche Geschichte", by Michael Ende, quite much. I got a strong impression with the book. Full of metaphors and rhymes, and a great twist (which is like that of Matrix), too.

The book I hated myself to read it was Arthur Clark's "Rendezvous with Rama" series. The first book was okay, but the following sequels were pushed into a christian judgement day plot.
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Postby annis » Mon Jan 26, 2004 4:26 am

mingshey wrote:The book I hated myself to read it was Arthur Clark's "Rendezvous with Rama" series. The first book was okay, but the following sequels were pushed into a christian judgement day plot.


Is he really pushing a Christian plot? I've always assumed he just likes to think BIG, and destroyes planets, galaxies and universes for fun and dramatic imact.
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Postby mingshey » Mon Jan 26, 2004 5:36 am

Yes, the Rama space ship represents this world and people are monitored, and finally divided into good and bad guys; good guys go to heaven and bad guys get sterilized and imprizoned. The aliens who made the Rama spaceship plays the god. Yuk! :x
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Postby Raya » Mon Jan 26, 2004 11:12 am

Hmm... what non-classical stuff do I read...

I have to agree that Douglas Adams is brilliant: I love <i>Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy</i> (the 5-part trilogy!:lol:), but my favourite by him is probably <i>The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul</i>. Gotta love that Electric Monk...

The <i>Chicks in Chainmail</i> series (edited by Esther Friesner) are a good laugh at the fantasy genre - especially the portrayal of women therein.

I used to be a fan of Marion Zimmer Bradley, but now I feel that the feminist tone in her writing is overdone. I still like her perspective on the Arthurian legends in <i>The Mists of Avalon</i>, though.

<i>The Surgeon of Crowthorne</i> by Simon Winchester: Murder, Madness, and the Oxford English Dictionary! (For some reason, in the US it's published under the title <i>The Professor and the Madman</i>.)

<i>Art</i>, the play by Yasmina Reza... if you can see the show, even better!

<i>Le Petit Prince</i> by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I think it's the only book I ever read in French. :roll:

But this is all stuff I've read ages ago... I'm really not much for reading fiction these days, being more enclined towards poetry, essays (I would heartily recommend the anthology entitled <i>The Art of the Personal Essay</i>), and books which are hard to classify except to say vaguely that they are 'philosophical' (such as <i>Godel, Escher, Bach</i> by Douglas Hofstadter).
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Postby Keesa » Mon Jan 26, 2004 2:10 pm

:sighs in ecstasy: Books I love and books I hate-my favorite topic!!

One that falls into both categories for me was A Tale of Two Cities. It was gory and cliched and beautiful and fresh and uplifting and depressing. I put off reading it for about ten years, then read it. I suspect I'll wait another ten years before reading it again, but then I do think I'll read it again.

Dickens books that I liked include Oliver Twist and David Copperfield; I was neutral about Nicholas Nickleby (a bit boring, actually, I thought) and I disliked Great Expectations, although there were some good parts. It seems as though I've read more of his books, but the titles are slipping my mind right now...

I would second the Jane Austen recommendation, with my favorite (s) being Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abby, not necessarily in that order ( :lol: ).

William Shakespeare, regardless of whom you believe wrote the plays (I recently read Bacon's Essays Civil and Moral. I do not believe for a moment that Bacon wrote the Shakespeare plays.) Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing were my personal favorites, although Twelfth Night was pretty good, and I liked parts of Hamlet and Macbeth. I never could get into King Lear or Midsummer Night's Dream, and I'm only familiar with part of...either Henry the Fifth or Henry the Fourth; whichever one has the St. Crispin's Day speech. (I can never keep those two clear.) But I like what I know of it, and I'm reading through the rest of it at the moment.

Gosh. This list could go on for a while...

The Wind in the Willows. It's supposed to be for children, but I read it about a year ago, at C.S. Lewis's suggestion, and loved it.

My Friend Flicka. I don't even really like this book, but I relate to Ken, the main character. I borrow it from the library and read it once a year, and every time I wind up in tears at the end.

A Wrinkle in Time. I have a perverse fascination for books that confuse me, especially when read for the first time at midnight. :wink:

Lewis's Space Trilogy, already mentioned. (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra [although I disliked that one], That Hideous Strength.) The Chronicles of Narnia. (My first books; I still love them today!) Mere Christianity (nonfiction/apologetics). On Stories and Other Essays on Literature. Miracles. The Screwtape Letters. Anything and everything I've ever read by Lewis.

Taliesin and Merlin, by Stephen Lawhead. I didn't like Arthur or Pendragon much, but I loved the way Celtic myth and the legend of Atlantis were tied together in Taliesin.

The Empyrean Saga (The Search for Fierra and The Siege of Dome), also by Stephen Lawhead. I absolutely loved these for their dry, witty jabs.

Jane Eyre, by one of the Bronte sisters. (Either Charlotte or Emily; I can never keep them apart.) I understand that this book is considered too "moral" for most modern audiences, but I love it dearly nonetheless.

Wuthering Heights, for a book I hated. This one was written by the other Bronte sister (either Charlotte or Emily; I never have any trouble keeping Anne apart because I've never read her book.) I thought this one was gruesome and depressing.

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, for two more books I disliked. I'm a fan of nonsense work, as long as it stays within my own vague, indefinable limits. These two not only stepped over the border, they were on another continent!

Cheaper by the Dozen. Lovable, funny, delightful. I really enjoyed this book.

Treve, White Ruff, The Faith of a Collie, The Further Adventures of Lad. These are all some of my early favorites, and they're especially good if you like dogs. (Collies in particular.)

Thomasina. Now there was an interesting book...I was probably too young to understand it fully when I first read it (seven? eight?), which lent it the air of mystery that it had back then, but even now that the mystery is gone, I still love the story.

Where the Red Fern Grows. This is one of those books where I would say, unconditionally and in the same breath, that it's an excellent book and I hated it.

In This House of Brede. Wow. That's a book that made me wish I was Catholic...I couldn't say whether I loved the ending or hated it.

Five Children and It. One of C.S. Lewis's favorites, and now one of mine, too. It's a children's book, but I read it and loved it.

And, I think this post is long enough for now. There are more, and plenty of them, but that would take the rest of the day to list.

Still, this is a start. Happy Reading!
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Postby Raya » Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:10 pm

Keesa wrote:Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, for two more books I disliked. I'm a fan of nonsense work, as long as it stays within my own vague, indefinable limits. These two not only stepped over the border, they were on another continent!


Arrrgh, how could I have forgotten <i>Alice</i>?!?!
(Sorry Keesa, but I liked them ;))

If you read them closely, they're actually quite sinister. Like that whole thing in <i>Through the Looking Glass</i> about Alice being in the dream of someone other than herself, and worrying what would happen to her if she were to wake the dreamer - quite a scary thought!

Some even argue that Alice's 'visits' to Wonderland are schizophrenic hallucinations on her part. The video game designer American McGee played on this idea in his game <i>Alice</i>, where you play Alice several years later, returning to Wonderland following a traumatic event - but it's a twisted version of Wonderland where just about everything is out to get her. (Lovely surrealism - girl in frilly frock wielding big bloody knife. For more info: http://www.alice.ea.com)
Last edited by Raya on Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby klewlis » Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:20 pm

Raya wrote:<i>The Surgeon of Crowthorne</i> by Simon Winchester: Murder, Madness, and the Oxford English Dictionary! (For some reason, in the US it's published under the title The Professor and the Madman.)


Yes, the full title in North America is <i>The Professor and the Madman: a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English Dictionary.</i> I loved that one too but it's not fiction! :)

Reading Keesa's I remembered the book that I hate - The Scarlet Letter. I had to read it in college and couldn't stand the writing style and thought the story was stupid. A friend said that the style is similar to Jane Austen, so I have avoided Austen ever since!
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Postby Raya » Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:49 pm

klewlis wrote:...but it's not fiction!

ack - I knew that! :oops:

klewlis wrote:the book that I hate - The Scarlet Letter

I haven't read it, but my father totally adores Hawthorne and is always trying to get me to read more of his stuff. Some of his short stories have interesting thoughts behind them, but for the most part, he's far from my favourite writer.
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Postby Carola » Mon Jan 26, 2004 9:46 pm

bingley wrote:Of the classic English novelists, I would recommend Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. A hugely enjoyable, but alas recently deceased, modern novelist is the Canadian Robertson Davies.

I didn't know anyone else had even heard of Robertson Davies! One of my favourites! Actually, one of my least favourite books is Wilkie Collins "The Moonstone", a most boring, boring book. It could have been gripping but he drivels on and on. There is a great deal of very trashy romance and "thriller" stuff which is ghastly, but I don't usually get past the first page in the library or book shop before I discard those.
Another favourite is a book called "The Pope's Rhinocerous" except that at 8 in the morning I can't think of the author's name - it will come to me after the first cup of coffee. But his other books are not so good.
Umberto Eco was the same - "Name of the Rose" was great but later novels didn't really grab me.
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Postby Keesa » Tue Jan 27, 2004 12:24 am

I've never read The Scarlett Letter, but I did like the Tanglewood Tales...
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Postby bingley » Tue Jan 27, 2004 2:08 am

I struggled through The Scarlet Letter but I think Hawthorne must be up there with Thomas Hardy as classic authors I just don't get.

I cannot see the resemblance between The Scarlet Letter and Jane Austen at all. So, you're quite safe, Klewlis. Run, do not walk, to your nearest bookshop or library and start reading. I suggest either Pride and Prejudice or Emma to start with.
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Postby klewlis » Tue Jan 27, 2004 3:43 am

bingley wrote:I struggled through The Scarlet Letter but I think Hawthorne must be up there with Thomas Hardy as classic authors I just don't get.

I cannot see the resemblance between The Scarlet Letter and Jane Austen at all. So, you're quite safe, Klewlis. Run, do not walk, to your nearest bookshop or library and start reading. I suggest either Pride and Prejudice or Emma to start with.


lol. well I'm on non-fiction at the moment.... rereading Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" (is there anyone cooler than Chesterton???). After that I'm rereading Hardy's "Mayor of Casterbridge". How can you not "get" Hardy? Well, I just love the tragedy and his use of the language. :)
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Postby bingley » Tue Jan 27, 2004 4:38 am

We had to read some Hardy at school. All I really remember is endless descriptions of the countryside, with me muttering under my breath, "Oh do get on with it."
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Postby klewlis » Tue Jan 27, 2004 4:53 am

bingley wrote:We had to read some Hardy at school. All I really remember is endless descriptions of the countryside, with me muttering under my breath, "Oh do get on with it."


well, maybe it's time to give him another chance! My tastes changed quite a bit as I grew up... I hated Hemingway in highschool and now I love him, because I understand stuff better now. :)
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Postby mingshey » Tue Jan 27, 2004 5:54 am

klewlis wrote:well, maybe it's time to give him another chance! My tastes changed quite a bit as I grew up... I hated Hemingway in highschool and now I love him, because I understand stuff better now. :)


And maybe because now you don't have to write reports on his works? ;)
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Postby Raya » Tue Jan 27, 2004 1:00 pm

mingshey wrote:And maybe because now you don't have to write reports on his works? ;)


Some texts *are* completely ruined in the classroom!
Wilde's <i>The Importance of Being Earnest</i> and Saint-Exupery's <i>Le Petit Prince</i> come to mind... no wonder George Bernard Shaw called down his curse on those who would make schoolbooks of his plays -
<i>My plays were not designed as instruments of torture.</i>

Havig said that, some books can become all the more enjoyable when you study them and come to understand them in more detail... I don't think I'd have enjoyed <i>Sense and Sensibility</i> otherwise.
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Postby Keesa » Tue Jan 27, 2004 1:11 pm

klewlis wrote:
lol. well I'm on non-fiction at the moment.... rereading Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" (is there anyone cooler than Chesterton???).


Only C.S. Lewis! :wink:

After that I'm rereading Hardy's "Mayor of Casterbridge". How can you not "get" Hardy? Well, I just love the tragedy and his use of the language. :)


There's no "how" to it; either you get it, or you don't. I don't, with the exception of one of his poems...Neutral Shades? Neutral Colors? Just Neutral? Something like that, anyway...he's got a line in there (it's been years since I read it; our library doesn't have the book of his poems I found it in), something about "Your smile, the deadest thing alive enough to have the strength to die...", which just gives me goosebumps.

Oh, another book I hated; the Stonewycke Trilogy, by Michael Phillips and Judith Patella. Usually I like Michael Phillips, but I didn't like this one. Icky books...

George MacDonald is a good author, if you don't mind fiction with a decided religious slant. (Actually, I could say that about several of my choices.) My favorites were The Landlady's Master (The Elect Lady) and The Maiden's Bequest (Alec Forbes of Howglen). (His books have been reedited and republished under different names; the ones in parenthesis are the original. The others are the ones I have.) I also liked The Peasant Girl's Dream (Heather and Snow) and A Daughter's Devotion (Mary Marston). Additionally, I liked the first book of his Quiet Neighborhood series, "A Quiet Neighborhood", and Lillith, neither of which (I believe) were reedited, and both of which retain their original names. The others of his (that I have) are good, but not super.
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Postby klewlis » Tue Jan 27, 2004 2:32 pm

Keesa wrote:
klewlis wrote:
lol. well I'm on non-fiction at the moment.... rereading Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" (is there anyone cooler than Chesterton???).


Only C.S. Lewis! :wink:


well, Lewis considered Chesterton his mentor. ;) I like Lewis--he has some really great ideas--but he doesn't have nearly the style or originality of Chesterton. Of course, it's all personal opinion. ;)
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Postby pherfe » Tue Jan 27, 2004 3:53 pm

I agree with previous posters who said that the Lord of the Rings wasn't a cliche when it came out; it's only through (invariably self conscious) imitation that it has become so. It was wonderful when it was new and it still is. It shouldn't be damned by the cliched company in which it now finds itself.

Several posters have mentioned Douglas Adams' books, so could I make this suggestion: Terry Pratchett' s Discworld series of novels? He also writes children's stories, but his Discworld books are brilliant - they're sort of a cross between Shakespeare and Tolkein meets Douglas Adams miscegenationiseated with Monty Python in a torrid affair with Stephen Hawking looking fetchingly over the shoulder towards HG Wells on the rebound from Frank Herbert with Spike Milligan's father (mother?) chasing ferociously with a shotgun.

Like many of these writers, he too, has created an imaginary world. It's a bit like the earth only it's flat and disk shaped, and he takes that to various illogical conclusions, invariably on the back of something vaguely suggestive of a Shakespearean plot or a currently fashionable bit of popular culture. And they're funny. Although I find other humorous books funny, they rarely make me laugh out aloud (even though I may be chortling away inside), but Pratchett's books cannot be read in public places, especially on aeroplanes, or in bed with your wife (now there's a sentence that required a bit more thought before being committed to electrons), because of the disturbing effect that such vigorous and uncontrolled laughing out aloud has on the world around you.

On top of that, and increasingly so as the series has progressed, he manages to reach in and give the old grey matter a healthy tweak too.

But mainly I like him because he's just plain bloody silly.

AC Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and almost anyone's whodunnit, but especially Ian Rankin's Edinburgh cop Rebus, are always good reading, Janet Evanovich is someone else who can provoke out aloud laughing, the Earth's Children series by Jean M Auel (although they've recently been getting a bit along the lines of it's the same story only told in a slightly different way in a new location-ish) and for an interesting and invariably insightful view of the world, the various collections of essays by the sadly late Stephen Jay Gould, and along the same breadth of compass lines, John Ralston Saul's writings.

There's probably a bunch of other people who should be mentioned here, but these are who I can think of at the moment.
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Postby mariek » Tue Jan 27, 2004 5:04 pm

bingley wrote:Of the classic English novelists, I would recommend Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. A hugely enjoyable, but alas recently deceased, modern novelist is the Canadian Robertson Davies.


I've never heard of Robertson Davies, I will have to check him out. Which is your favorite? Would you recommend the Deptford Trilogy, the Cornish Trilogy or the Salterton Trilogy first?

I haven't read Lord of the Rings Yet (can you believe?), but have it on 9 CDs which I am planning to listen to one of these days.

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Postby mariek » Tue Jan 27, 2004 5:21 pm

MDS wrote:I havn't read a lot of Sci-Fi (been meaning to check out Asimov though...) but I must recommend Orson Scott Card, he wrote a series of books (well...two series really but one's a spin-off), the first book being Ender's Game. It's really well done in my opinion and interested me as a non-Sci-Fi fan.



I read Ender's Game when a coworker recommended it, it's quite an amusing quick/easy read. I haven't touched any of the sequels, are they worth checking out?

If you want something humorous, check out Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. It's one of my faves. I also have it in French, but some of those scifi neologisms translate funny.

A non-scifi book which has wonderful olfactory descriptions is Patrick Suskind's Perfume. It's about a murderer who has no olfactory senses. Read it in the original German! :lol:

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Postby Lex » Tue Jan 27, 2004 6:13 pm

mariek wrote:I read Ender's Game when a coworker recommended it, it's quite an amusing quick/easy read. I haven't touched any of the sequels, are they worth checking out?


Not in my opinion.

mariek wrote:If you want something humorous, check out Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. It's one of my faves. I also have it in French, but some of those scifi neologisms translate funny.


Have you read Diamond Age? I think it is better than Snow Crash (although Stephenson still hasn't learned how to end a novel).
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