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This is a question Books

We love books. Tell us about your favourite books and authors, and why they are so good. And while you're at it - having dined out for years on the time I threw Dan Brown out of a train window - tell us who to avoid.

(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:40)
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When I was in year 5
My teacher decided it was a good idea to read the class a book called "Fanny and the Dinosaurs".

Why she thought reading a book to a bunch of hyper children, where the word "fanny" was repeated over and over, I don't know.

I don't remember much of the book, just giggling all the way through story time.
(, Mon 9 Jan 2012, 11:18, 2 replies)
Fun With Milk And Cheese by Evan Dorkin.
It does exactly what it says on the cover.
(, Mon 9 Jan 2012, 10:42, 13 replies)
I don't usually re-read books ....
but I've read Barbara Vine's "Asta's Book" 3 times in about 3 years. I've recommended it to various people but no-one has taken me up on it. Anyone out there in B3taland read it and can confirm (or otherwise) my opinion of its unputdownable excellence.
(, Mon 9 Jan 2012, 10:24, 2 replies)
Three Books:
The Quiet American - Grahame Greene
UBIK - Philip K. Dick

I read these at least once a year, sometimes twice.

I would also recommended World War Z as it is a fun read.
(, Mon 9 Jan 2012, 9:42, 1 reply)
Point Horror.
Oh, what was I thinking? Used to devour these, aged 13, or so. Why I thought crappy slasher stories, aimed at pre-teen girls, were a good read, I shall never know. I should have stuck with the Hardy Boys.
(, Mon 9 Jan 2012, 9:31, 4 replies)
Mixed bag
I love reading, however i used to hate it. Was absolutly crap at english literature at school. The height of my reading then was The Beano and Dandy.
Then near the end of my school years my Dad gave me one of his books. "The Magician" by Raymond E Feist. Su-perb!!! still one of my favourite books to date. I still remember the days and nights i lost sitting in my room with a cup of tea reading that book, wishing I was Pug.

I have lost count the number of copies i have bought over the years due to moving and lending out etc. There are currently 3 different versions of this book in my room right now!

When i fancy something a bit different i have read the likes of "Hotel Rwanda and To Shake Hands With the Devil" Both amasing books from both sides of the event.
(, Mon 9 Jan 2012, 6:09, 3 replies)
Just remembered one from many moons ago.
I read them with such interest and, still to this day, I would read them over and over again. I am of course talking about The Railway Series by Rev W Awdry, Now to most people this is just Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends but to me it is so much more. While the television series (which I watched when I was a little 'un) focused mostly on Thomas, I was more interested with the other engines, The people and the places of the Island of Sodor and the stories behind them. I know for a fact that when I have kids I will be sharing the stories with them and reliving those good memories.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 21:18, Reply)
Fairy Tales
Four Years Old
Scene: Sister Aloysius's reception class; a small parquet floored room in a provincial convent school.

I am standing next to Sr Aloysius, she holds a dog-eared copy of 'Janet and John: Out to Play' on her lap.
"Look, Mother.
Look at my horse.
It can go up and down.
Up and down I go."

Thinks: This is dull but perhaps we'll listen to 'The Sound of Music' soundtrack and perhaps Christopher Smythe will let me use his crayons.

Six Years Old
Scene: A small village library. Late summer sun streams in through the high windows and pools in large warm rectangle. Dust motes hover and play in the shaft of light and a gentle haze of B.O. and three day old socks lift from the red corded carpet.

I am sat cross-legged at the edge of the sunlit square. In my hands is a large orange hardcover book, the cloth binding is slightly grubby and the pages are thick with ragged edges. Behind me on the low wooden bookshelves stand the last two weeks of adventure; one golden yellow, the other forest green. As I turn the page of 'The Orange Fairy Book' by Andrew Lang I begin reading 'The Story of the King who would see Paradise'.

Over the next few years I make my way through the bazaars of Baghdad, fly past minarets of the Ottoman empire, fight off pirates with scimitars in the South China Seas, take tea with wolves and princesses, and disappear every day from my bedroom in a small semi in a rural village.

Perrault, the Grimms, the Arabian Nights; all of them had a place at some time on my own bookshelves.

Scene: The back seat of a number 609 bus. It's late afternoon, dark, cold and it's raining persistantly.

Steam rises from my dark green gabardine raincoat and brings out the odor of long since smoked Embassy No.1s that's holding together the seat covers along with bus tickets and cast off Bazooka Joes. My school bag holds a mix of English Literature set texts and contraband books; 'Flowers in the Attic', 'The Amityville Horror', 'Lucky', and 'Full Circle'.

University years (and there were a lot of them) saw loads more set texts mixed with The Big Pink Stiff One and other such modern classics. I could give lists of all the worthy books I waded through; all the Russian literature, the great English classics, the Americans, the French, Spanish, blah, blah, blah. So what? None of them gave me as much pleasure as those fairy tales read as a child.

And now? I spend my days immersed in literature but for pleasure I read any old junk including Lee Child, Chick Lit, JK Rowling; but then I like to listen to James Blunt and Will Young.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 21:03, 3 replies)
An update!
I've actually had to stop reading "The woman in Black". I spent the whole of Friday night/Saturday morning dreaming I was Arthur Kipps and I was trapped in Eel Marsh house by fog. I kept waking up sweating then realising it was a dream, letting relief slip over me and then falling straight back into the nightmare again.

It could have been something to do with drinking red wine before sleeping (red wine has never agreed with me in various ways) but I didn't feel particularly terrified by the book it just decided to slip over into my dreams causing the worst night sleep I've ever had.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 19:55, 2 replies)
My grandmother
Spent the last ten years of her long life trying to ensure that everyone around her was as miserable as she was. She did, however, leave us with one unforgettable quotation. When told that I'd bought my Mum a book for Christmas, she exclaimed " A book? What do you want a book for? You've got a book!"

Back on-topic - I'm making my way through the collected (from charity shops) works of Bernard Cornwell. They're not bad at all and mostly chopped into handy-sized chapters for picking up and putting down. Lots of historical facts spun round fiction in each, lots of blood and guts, scurrilous baddies and heroic dalliance with pretty ladies.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 19:50, 2 replies)
For fantasy fans
I highly recommend Clive Barker's Imajica. It's fabulous, and a little bit dirty in places which is also a bonus.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 19:22, 12 replies)
A Mouse and His Child
When I was little, the Disney Channel would show a variety of animated films that weren't from its parent company (that's where I saw Nausicaa for the first time and didn't realize til decades later--the color-changing Ohms gave me nightmares for years!) One of the films I saw was a Sanrio-produced film called "The Mouse and His Child", a strange, often dark but touching story about a mouse father and son wind-up toy that are plucked from the safety of the little toy shop they inhabit and expelled into the dangerous wide world outside.

I found out years later that it was based on a children's novel by Russell Hoban, the author of the Frances the Badger series and apparently also Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas. It was out of print for years, and when it was finally republished in 2001, I rushed out to buy it. Murder, robbery, deceit, philosophy, pathos, "science", adventure and the desire to become self-sufficient makes "The Mouse and His Child" one of my favorite stories.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 17:42, 1 reply)
If he were alive today I would hug Kurt Vonnegut til he squeaked
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 17:19, 5 replies)
I read anything and everything
.. that I can get my hands on (except Mills and Boon/Barbara Cartland type shit - I do have my limits). I usually have several books on the go at once - one for reading in the bathroom, one in the kitchen, a couple in the bedroom, one in the living room. I'm not fussy, I do have my favourite authors and will read some books several times over and get something new out of them every time.

However, I have to agree with the various comments about the Harry Potter books - the first one wasnt too bad really, a bit simple but they are children's books after all. The later ones though, they were the biggest pile of dross I've ever read. I nearly gave up on them after being presented with a couple of pages containing a description of the crumbs from Hermione's toast. I had to continue however, morbid fascination as to whether the books could get any worse... they did. I didn't even give them to a charity shop as I usually do with stuff I know I'll never read again - they got binned.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 16:31, 4 replies)
Cosmos by the late, great, Carl Sagan
Not the most intellectually challenging, I know, but that was the point of the book and I was only 12 years old when I read it. It opened my mind up to the scientific method and increased my burgeoning curiosity about the universe.
OK, I didn't quite make it to the stature of Brian Cox or Martin Rees and I didn't even study cosmology. But I have had jobs where I've had to do real scientific experiments (conceived and designed by me) to add weight to a hypothesis, and the sense of satisfaction from doing such undertakings in a proper valid and repeatable manner is something I'll take to my grave :)

Thank you Mr Sagan!
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 14:19, 2 replies)
I'm not the biggest fan of Richard Dawkins...
Not that I don't respect his work, it's just that he's so damned aggressive towards belief he comes across as just as much of a raving zealot as those he rages against.

So it was with great delight that I saw his works in WH Smith arranged tastefully in the New Age section. Right next to the Angel Healing cards and Psychic Sally's books.

Just the sort of thing that would probably make him foam at the mouth with rage. :D
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 13:11, 101 replies)
Big hard ones
Part 5

James Joyce- Ulysses
Forced myself to read this when I was a pretentious 15 year old. Much of it sailed right over my head. The beauty is that once you have done that you can dip in and out a section at a time. Each re-reading opens new meaning without the stress of plot and the writing is genuinely breathtaking.

William Faulkner- The Sound and the Fury
The same events recounted by three different characters. The first section is the hardest but persevere. The transformation which comes as the third recounting unfolds is like nothing else I have ever encountered

Lawrence Sterne Tristram Shandy.
This one can drive people nuts. It's rambling, dilatory, often amusing, occasionally dull and very few ever finish it. Give it a go anyway and even if you don't finish it's worth dipping a toe into. You will discover how soon after it's birth the novel became self-reflexive. Many devices which one would expect to be modern have their origin here.

Salman Rushdie- Midnight's Children
A case in point, Rushdie freely admits a debt to Sterne. Genuinely believe this one will have the longevity to make it read by generations to come. Just marvelous. (Oh and to all you book burners out there the Satanic Verses is excellent. It's primarily a satire on England, as you would find had you actually read it rather than taken received opinion as a bounden duty to murder someone. It's called free speech you God-bothering shits, grow up and get used to it.)

Fyodor Dostoyevsky- Crime and Punishment
In translation I'm afraid. Could have picked almost any of his but this was the one that got me started with him. Picked it up with little idea what to expect and expecting the worst imagined a slow grind. Surprised to find that I could only put it down when I reached the end 13 hours later.

I could add more but let's change tack a bit
Big hard ones I read but having read recall almost nothing about

Rabelais-Gargantua and Pantagruel
Wondered what Rabelaisian meant. I now know and it wasn't all bad but I should have just used the dictionary definition.

Thomas Mann- Joseph and His Brothers
Having got something from The Magic Mountain I gave this a go. I can't imagine how I got to the end. It's bloody enormous and almost nothing from it has been retained. If anyone read this and enjoyed it do tell me why.

Again there's a long list of books almost entirely deleted from my cortex. These two can represent them all as a list of near amnesiac recollection would be tiresome.

There's a third category, stuff I never got round to but let it lie for now.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 12:46, 5 replies)
Years, ago, when I worked for Waterstone's
I used to order in this book to other branches, to be marked for the attention of various friends there.
No copy lasted longer than a fortnight on the shelf before being sold.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 12:31, 1 reply)
Harry Potter...
... I thought it was okay, actually.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 12:16, 3 replies)
I don't want to live on this planet any more.
This is larger than the "general fiction" section.

(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 10:50, 6 replies)
Not Cloud Atlas, anyway
Over-written, self-indulgent pretentious shite.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 9:43, 11 replies)
I've never been anything but cynical about self-help books.
Although I did read Alan Carr's quit smoking book. It didn't work.

But the most ridiculous one I think I have seen is when I sat opposite a woman on a train reading 'If you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat'.

I believe it was followed by 'If you want to learn to fly, you've got to jump out of the window' and 'If you want to die in peace, you've got to connect the hose to the exhaust'
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 9:41, 4 replies)
The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst
This gets one to itself as its one of a kind. Genuinely astonishing account of delusion, deception and descent into madness.

Lifted this from Amazon-

"A virtuoso demonstration of the soul's anatomy." New York Times Book Review

"One of the most moving and disturbing books I have ever read. I don't think I shall ever forget it." Washington Post

In the autumn of 1968, Donald Crowhurst set out from England in an improbable-looking plywood trimaran to compete in the first singlehanded nonstop round-the-world sailboat race. Although his previous sailing experience was limited, his boat unready, and the electronic gadgetry of his own design unfinished and untested, Crowhurst had managed to persuade first an affluent backer, then the contest judges, and, finally, England's media to regard him as a serious contender. Sailing south through the Atlantic, he radioed reports of record-breaking sailing performances. In the South Atlantic he announced that low battery power would require him to maintain radio silence through the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Eleven weeks later he broke his silence to tell the world he had rounded Cape Horn and was sailing north for England, the elapsed-time leader of the race. Then tragedy struck. Eight months after his departure, Crowhurst's Teignmouth Electron was discovered adrift in an eerie mid-Atlantic calm, intact but without her skipper.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 5:54, 4 replies)
How to Good-bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way
Always been intrigued by the, title any readers?

(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 5:24, 8 replies)
I read a book once.
Green it was.

(from Porridge)
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 3:32, 2 replies)

My favourite book of all time is 'Hunger' by Knut Hamsun, closely followed by 'Earthly Powers' by Anthony Burgess and 'Love in the time of cholera' by Gabrial Garcia Marquez.

'Homage to Catalonia' and 'Down and out in Paris and London' by George Orwell, 'Love on the dole' by Walter Greenwood and 'The ragged trousered philanthropist' by Robert Tressell are all wonderful books that immediately spring to mind.
I don't really have a genre or type of book that I like but I do like a book to be well written and I don't mean that in a highbrow sense but in a way that makes them accessible.
A work of fiction should be able, for its duration, to immerse us and allow us to cast aside reality and suspend our disbelief, whilst we can explore concepts we find alien or distasteful without fear of reproach from its pages.

(Just reread that and it does sound like really pompous guff but I am going to leave it because I happen to think it is true.)

BTW I also love the Kindle and mainly because it allows my failing eyesight to read comfortably again - I still cannot part with my 7,000+ books though that clog up my small flat!
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 1:35, 3 replies)
I have several favourites
The wasp factory was weird and wonderful.

David Eddings as a teen was just fantastic. The Belgarion was so ingrossing.

The Faraway treee was one of those childrens books I could pick up today and be quiet happy reading too
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 1:32, 4 replies)
Ray Bradbury The October Game. 48 hours. still no takers For god's sake, at least one person found this as nasty as I did?
From a Ray Bradbury collection of short stories called The October Country. Behind the cut is a little gem of a nightmare. It's very good, very short and very, very nasty

Don't take my word for it, read it, tell me I'm wrong
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 1:25, 1 reply)
Last Chance to See - Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine.
I lent a copy of that book to a class mate in my first year at Uni way back and got it back 3 years later after everyone in that year group had read it.

It was properly battered, its cover half off, ear marked throughout, pages yellowing and some of it held together with sellotape.

Just the fact that 15 to 20 or so people read it and passed it on saying, "it is Sutit's book, he wont mind you borrowing it but make sure he gets it back" or similar makes this book my favorite. Countless times I almost bought a replacement thinking it had been lost or nabbed.

So that has to be my favorite book on my shelf and not because it is a bloody good read, (even though it is).
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 1:17, 1 reply)

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