- CRITTER TALK
- NEWS I FIND INTERESTING
Books so wonderful that when you come to the last word, you rise, stretch, and then read them again. The following books are so well written and so beautifully composed that they inspired me to write.
1) A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
If you have never read Christopher Moore’s work, you are missing something wonderful and rare. The Author Guy, as he calls himself, is funny, really funny. But there’s something more, especially with A Dirty Job. This book got me through the death of my mother. It’s hilarious and silly and touching and emotional and gorgeous, in every possible way. It doesn’t hurt that Christopher Moore is also a really nice guy, who takes time to respond to his readers and maintains his humility even in the face of his enormous popularity. A Dirty Job is a perfect book.
2) Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub
For those of you familiar with The Talisman, you know Jack Sawyer as a child, who enters a terrible and fantastic land to save his mother. In Black House, Jack is an adult, a retired police officer now living in a small Midwestern town, fighting his own past, and dealing with a terror that mimics a decades old serial killer. This is King and Straub at their best. Don’t read this in the dark.
3) Ulysses by James Joyce
Is Ulysses a tough read? Hell yes. Is it worth it? Oh yes. Joyce is a poet of the first magnitude, using syntax never seen before, forcing words to go in directions you’d never imagine. Stephen Dedalus, Joyce’s protagonist in Ulysses is everything you could ask for in a literary character, and is commonly thought of as a harsh self portrait of Joyce in his twenties. You may not get through it in one sitting, or even five, but you will be forever moved by Joyce’s words.
4) The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Set in the early 1960’s, The Help details the lives of African American maids working in Mississippi. Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan aspires to be a writer, and she comes up with a brave and crazy idea: interview the maids in her small Mississippi town. Minny and Aibileen are the two most prominent characters in The Help, and you follow them to work, to church, you watch with horror as they are discriminated against time and time again, and you weep for the pain they endure. This is an astonishing first work, and Kathryn Stockett tells the story of Minny, Aibileen and Skeeter with great power and talent.
5) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This is a book from my childhood that I read over and over again. The story of Francie Nolan, her family and her struggles is one of the most touching ever written. You discover Katie, Francie’s pragmatic mother, trying to raise Francie and her brother, Neely, in abject poverty, without ever letting them know they are poor. Francie’s father, Johnny, is so handsome and debonair; he sings to Francie and to her, he is magic. Johnny is tragically flawed and Francie, even at the young age of eleven, realizes that there is something different about her family. The sights, sounds and yes, even smells of early 20th century Brooklyn breathe life into one of the most profoundly touching books ever composed.
6) No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
No Country for Old Men introduces readers to one of the most evil characters in literary history, Anton Chigurh. Anton is a hit man, tracking down missing money from a drug deal gone bad. His favorite weapon is a captive bolt pistol, he speaks philosophically about life and death, and never shows emotion. He is a killing machine, with eyes as “blue as lapis…Like wet stones.” Sheriff Ed Tom Bell serves as narrator, a WWII veteran who has seen a lot, but has never seen the violence Anton Chigurh brings with him wherever he goes. The film adaptation of No Country for Old Men won four Academy Awards, including best picture. The book is better.
Do you have a book that inspires you, which you read over and over again? If you do, please share it with MMA!