Whats the best book you've ever read?

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Cary Bleasdale
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Whats the best book you've ever read?

Postby Cary Bleasdale » Fri Jun 23, 2006 11:37 pm

(Note: this thread is entirely inspired by "Whatcha reading?" by the always enigmatic and brilliant David Loftus. When they give me whatever award they give to people for awesome threads, I want him to get some credit.)

Whenever you first get in a conversation with someone, I always have a list of questions I ask, just to see what type of person they are. Of these, the most important is:"what’s your favorite book?" If they hesitate, then read me a list, they're good friend material. If they offer the dreaded "duhhh...I'm not much a reader," then they are not likely to play an important part of my life. (Either that, or they're President.)

I am a constant, voracious, Get-the-fuck-away-can't-you-see-I'm-busy reader. I figure most of you are highly literate, well read Gents and Ladies so: what’s your favorite? What’s that one book you could read over and over? Or books. What the hell, it’s a free country. Go nuts with it.

I only offer the one caveat that religious books (Bible, Koran) or books taken in a deeply religious and/or talismanic sense (no Chomsky for Frank!) are not eligible. Philosophy is fine, though.

Other than that: Go to it.

My all time top: Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov, and The Idiot, Nietzsche: Thus Spake Zarathustra, Kierkegaard: Either/Or, Márquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Shelley's Poetical Works, The Complete Shakespeare (If only one, then Richard the Third) Conrad: Heart of Darkness and Melville: Moby Dick, and, for an even ten: Toss up between Dylan Thomas, Keats, or Being and Nothingness by Sartre.

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Sat Jun 24, 2006 1:21 am

Hmmm. You've actually posed several different, very different questions in your post: what's your favorite book and which book(s) you would want to read over and over and not necessarily the same thing.

But you offered a whole bunch of answer to the question that supposedly asked for one favorite, so I figure it's open season.

Off the top of my head, my favorite books (the very few I actually HAVE read more than once) include:

1. The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
2. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findley
3. The French Lieutenant's Woman - John Fowles
4. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
5. Fisher's Hornpipe - Todd McEwen
6. Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
7. The LA Quartet (all four books) - James Ellroy
8. The Complete Poems and Plays - T.S. Eliot

That's as far as it goes, off the top of my head.

Of the books and writers you named, Cary, I've read all but the Conrad (I know, shame on me) and Shelley (read a lot, but not all of him) and that particular Sartre. I'm partial to Notes From Underground, Ecce Homo, and Lear. Once saw a terrific production of Sartre's "No Exit" that took place on a dangerously tipping stage (every which way, depending on where the three actors walked), and the prostitute was played by a man in high heels!

Gotta go. It's 12:20 a.m. and I got to meet my wife who was seeing my 90-year-old fan home from tonight's performance of "Macbeth." I'm dog tired. . . .
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby Moderator » Sat Jun 24, 2006 9:37 am

Wow. Like Loftus said, this is a two-pronged question (being that "what's yer favorite" and "what's the best" are likely to have two separate answers). Below is an early Saturday morning casual glance about the library list.

Favorite(s). Asterisks mark "best":
Tom Sawyer* Samuel Clemens
Life of Pi Yann Martel
The Hobbit JRR Tolkien
I, Robot, Illustrated Harlan somebody...
Talking Straight Lee Iacocca
Losing My Virginity Richard Branson
And So It Goes... Linda Ellerbee
Where Do We Go From Here?* edited by Asimov
A, DV* edited by that Harlan guy
The Sun Also Rises* Papa Hemingway
Walden* Thoreau
Run Silent, Run Deep Ned Beach
El Cid* Rodrigo Diaz
Don Quixote Cervantes (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra)

And mucho mas more....
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Steve Evil
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Postby Steve Evil » Sat Jun 24, 2006 9:51 am

Ah gee,

Definately Something Wicked This Way Comes,

And the Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury,

and "Enemy At the Gates" by William Craig,

and "Love and War" by Paul Cornell,

and "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" by Edgar Allen Poe,

Do plays count? "Hamlet" by Sir Francis Bacon.

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Favorite books

Postby debbie » Sat Jun 24, 2006 12:37 pm

Ah, I can't resist replying to this topic.

Books I've read and re-read more times than I can count:

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings J.R.R.Tolkein
Dune Frank Herbert
A Canticle for Leibowitz Walter M. Miller
Pride and Prejudice ( and Emma and Sense and Sensibility and all of them) Jane Austen
Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
The Decameron Boccacio
Sherlock Holmes all of them

It's impossible to pick one best book, but of this list, I'd pick The Decameron as being the best of the list.

debbie

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Postby BrianSiano » Sat Jun 24, 2006 12:44 pm

On my hit list:

_Lolita_ and _Pnin_ by Vladimir Nabokov (_Pale Fire_ was interesting as hell, tho.)
_Gravity's Rainbow_, _Mason and Dixon_, _Vineland_, by Thomas Pynchon
_The Baroque Cycle_ by Neal Stephenson
_Perdido Street Station_ by China Mieville
_Catch-22_ by Joseph Heller
_The Power Broker_ and _The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power_ by Robert Caro
_The Stand_ by Stephen King
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Postby FrankChurch » Sat Jun 24, 2006 3:17 pm

Brian, you are reading my mind. I also would pick Gravity's Rainbow. You see, folks, real books should say something. A good read is fine, but learning something about yourself and your world is the big banana.

2.Tropic Of Cancer
3.Animal Farm
4.most poems of EE Cummings
5.Leaves Of Grass
6.The Idiot
7.Chomsky and Herman, Manufacturing Consent
8.Understanding Power, my boy Chomsky
9.The Clash of Fundamentalisms--Tariq Ali
10.Strange Wine--gotta have our boy Ellison. Shame on the rest of you.

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Postby Hathor » Mon Jun 26, 2006 1:09 pm

A favorite book I can read over and over and have...By far "Sylvie And Bruno" by Lewis Carroll.

It was also the first book I'd ever read as a child where the action didn't follow a linear timeline, but rather the narrator's mind wandering. I was maybe nine or so, and just completely fascinated with the whole idea of a story moving like that.

Now that I'm older I keep re-reading it because it's never the story twice. (grin grin grin)

As opposed to ANYTHING by Victor Hugo, which i read over again and wail like a banshee...

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Postby David Loftus » Mon Jun 26, 2006 1:23 pm

Hathor wrote:A favorite book I can read over and over and have...By far "Sylvie And Bruno" by Lewis Carroll.

It was also the first book I'd ever read as a child where the action didn't follow a linear timeline, but rather the narrator's mind wandering. I was maybe nine or so, and just completely fascinated with the whole idea of a story moving like that.

Now that I'm older I keep re-reading it because it's never the story twice. (grin grin grin)



Sylvie and Bruno has its moments -- especially the part about the map that is the same size as the landscape it describes -- but I found it of only intermittent interest. I did read an excerpt from it when I read Carroll aloud at Powell's Books some years ago . . . as opposed to "The Hunting of the Snark," which I found to be an immense shaggy dog joke that was a total waste of time.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Hathor
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Postby Hathor » Mon Jun 26, 2006 1:32 pm

David:

I liked "Snark". Especially the idea that The Good Reverend Charles was dwelling on the concept of false hope, a united mental aberration that draws people from all walks of life together, etc.

Bold stuff back in an era where even LOOKING at the institution through cynical filters was tantamount to heresy in the eyes of the Church, much less commenting about it...

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Wed Jun 28, 2006 12:35 pm

I might add Peter Matthiessen's _At Play in the Fields of the Lord_ to my list. (Don't go by the movie, which was a very pallid adaptation.) I might be inclined to add all or part of his Everglades trilogy someday, but I have to confess I've only read the first installment, _Killing Mr. Watson_.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Wed Jun 28, 2006 12:35 pm

I might add Peter Matthiessen's _At Play in the Fields of the Lord_ to my list. (Don't go by the movie, which was a very pallid adaptation.) I might be inclined to add all or part of his Everglades trilogy someday, but I have to confess I've only read the first installment, _Killing Mr. Watson_.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Jun 29, 2006 4:41 pm

Anything by William S Burroughs but especially the so-called "Red Night" trilogy.

Anything by Sam Beckett.

Anything by Cordwainer Smith.

War of the Worlds by H G Wells.

Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Epic of Gilgamesh

The Saul and David stories that make up what scholars call the "old source" which constitutes most of what are now known as the First and Second Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible.

Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay

Strange Wine & Deathbird Stories by You Know Who.

Till We Have Faces by C S Lewis.

House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

Masks of the Illuminatti by Robert Anton Wilson

His Master's Voice by Stanislaw Lem

Far Rainbow & Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky Brothers.

James Blish, William Blake, Thomas Ligotti, etc etc etc
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Duane
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Postby Duane » Thu Jun 29, 2006 5:08 pm

The reason I'm a reader today is because of Jack London's "Call Of The Wild," given to me on my 11th birthday. That book changed my entire life. I had entire chapters memorized and even recorded it word for word onto cassette tape for a friend to listen to.

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Thu Jun 29, 2006 5:21 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.



Ooo! Ooo! Ooo!

Add Calvino's _Cosmicomics_ to my list.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus


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