09 March 2013

10 Books That Changed My Life

Rob's Note: The blog's hit almost 1000 pageviews, not counting mine, as you can see from the counter. Thank you, visitors, commenters, and lurkers! :)

Yesterday, while ordering a plethora of books to add to my ever-increasing book collection (it's over 250 now,) I realised that it's pretty negligible compared to the Bodleian Library, which is on my bucket liszt to visit, but EXPONENTIALLY more than 95% of people I know.

So, today I'd like to talk about the 10 books that have most profoundly impacted my life, thoughts, actions, ideas, philosophy, ideals, etc., for better and for worse. Most books on the list are awesome. They're my favorite. But there are several on there I hate. With a passion. I'll make it clear. But they have influenced me, for worse, as you can well imagine. :)

So, let's begin! The title of the book has a link to the Amazon page where you can find the copy I own, or a copy of the book. And the placement of the books aren't in any necessary order, so don't go thinking they're in a certain order.

1. The Bible

Rather controversial among most my friends and acquaintances, as I do know a lot of atheists and deists. But the Bible, even if I haven't read the entire thing, is well worth reading. It explains many of the happenings of the world in an interesting light, and also manages to mix morals and the like into it. My favorite book of the Bible is Ecclesiastes (and Job, too.) Make of that what you will.

2. The Picture of Dorian Gray

The original dandy.
Oscar Wilde's only novel, written in 1890 in serial form and then extended to be longer. Very controversial in its time (and still today among conservatives) because of its references to homosexuality. They're very blatant and pretty obvious. But still, a very good book. Think of Faust (which I'll explain next), and it's just like that. Morality, sin, all that interesting thought-provoking stuff.

3. Faust

Wilde based the above book on this one. The classic tale of the mad Heinrich (or John) Faust, who sold his soul to the Devil to become smarter. I identify with most of Faust's traits (not the demonic transaction one, though, before you call the priest.) Chris Marlowe wrote Faustus, which is the older version. However, Marlowe's a bit too dry for my tastes. Goethe's version is far more humane and it focuses on whether the powers can be used for other means (lust, power, etc.) instead of just knowledge.

4. The Great Gatsby

Oh, Gatsby...I love this book. The realism. The decor of the 1922 setting that Fitzgerald so expertly wove together in the pages of this masterpiece. The language, the emotion, the setting was as real and moving as if I had lived it. The romance was as complicated as a soap-opera, (a good thing) without all the romantic kiss-slap-what have you that is prevalent in soap operas (an even better thing.) Needless to say, I can't wait for the movie to come out in May. Nothing more to be said, unless you want an endless rave.

5. The Sun Also Rises

The only book I've read by Hemingway, it's also been one of the most tedious. Before all you Hemingway fans come and bash me, let me give my own reasons. I do like certain parts. It's changed my writing style, which is why it's on this list. The language is clipped, terse, and to the point. Out of any book I've read (yes, even you, Numbers 4 and 10) it captures how people talk accurately. Why is it tedious? I don't like the plot. An attractive girl sides with a bunch of guys and they all go watch bullfighting, and she falls in love with the bullfighter, and then the narrator is arguing with her husband, and the bullfighter...just, eh. This may seem childish but it's the truth.

6. Great Expectations

As a 6-year-old, I remember reading the watered-down kids version. Two years ago (wow, it's been that long?) I had a Kobo (warning: NEVER get one, their customer service sucks. Tried getting in contact to return my broken one and they never responded.) Anyways, so I had a Kobo and it came with the book, along with 99 other books. I was able to finish it before the Kobo broke, just 4 months after I bought it. I liked it, enjoyed the realism again. As real as Dickens can get, which is often. For some reason the idea that Ms. Havisham would hire Pip just to play was interesting and awesome to me. Paid for playing. But she was creepy. :) And then I was also fascinated with the meaning of "satis" and Magwitch, and the whole debacle behind that.

7. The Anubis Gates

Good old Scott at Polite Dissent recommended this book in his review for Fringe back in 2010's "White Tulip". I bought it on a whim, and LOVED IT. It isn't nerdy, esoteric sci-fi that you usually find in pulp magazines that only weirdos read. It's brilliant. Time travel at its best. One college professor ends up in 1810, among such literary greats as Byron, Colleridge and William Ashbless. The way Powers can turn the setting so quickly and harrowing is nothing short of genius. I recommend it for anyone who likes how chains of events unfold to create something true.

8. The Maze of Bones

The only children's book on this list, if you know the story behind it, good for you. Suffice it to say that this book got me into a very major part of my Internet and real life. But to be honest, the 39 Clues isn't really that great of a book series. Teenage cynicism, it's sad.

9. The Importance of Being Earnest

I love this play. It's amazing, witty, dramatic and much more. I can quote the play so profoundly. I usually do. "My dear Algy, you talk just as if you were a dentist. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn't a dentist. It produces a false impression."

"Well, that is what dentists normally do."

10. The Catcher in the Rye

My all-time FAVORITE book. I read it shortly before I turned 12, at the behest of my mom. I love everything about it. The language (but don't count that against me), the angst, the adventures, the way Holden views the world, just as I do (cynical and curious) and how he makes everything funny. Or sad. It's tragic that he's such a pessimist and a depressed soul. But I sort of imagine Holden in myself (not entirely, but certain aspects.)

So, those are the 10 books that I respect and agree that they have changed my life the most. What's on your list? I'd be interested to see everyone's opinions.

To the next!

1 comment:

  1. More than is reasonable are my share of pageviews...

    An impressive list, to be sure. Since I've read the Bible, and Earnest, and Catcher, I can totally get what you're saying, and I feel encouraged to read the other books you have. :)