Appropriated from the Facebook meme, 'Ten Books that Stayed with You' – I wanted to share some of the books that stuck around after I read them.
I’ll try include some ‘additional data’ with my thoughts below, data which will border on useless trivia, but I’m going ahead with it anyway. Not sure either how accurate my memory is for some of the reading dates, but I should be pretty close!
In no order whatsoever:
Hogfather – Terry Pratchett (1997)
For me, one of his funniest. It’s a ‘fish out of water story’ with Death filling in for Santa Claus – what else needs to be said, how amazing is that premise? I always laugh when I read it and the change of font for Death’s voice is a perfect touch.
Read: About five times
Reread: Very much so
First Read: Teen years
In Cold Blood - Truman Capote (1966)
Riveting. Again, questions of ‘why’ often pack more punch than ‘who’ or ‘whether.’ I knew who committed the crimes before reading, of course, but discovering something of ‘why’ was much more compelling. Morbid too, perhaps – but also fascinating to see Capote’s fixation as a writer.
Reread: Not sure I need to, impact lingers
First Read: 2010ish
On the Road - Jack Kerouac (1957)
Vivid prose – sometimes the sentences are like climbing mountains, but there’s always a good view from the top. I think this is a book which, despite the sexism, is well worth the read. It captures the road, it still seems to drive people to travel and is just as valuable for its historical aspects.
Reread: Planning to
First Read: 1999
Tintin in Tibet – Herge (1958-59)
Perhaps the most emotional volume in Herge's Tintin series, this one is the one I want Spielberg & Jackson to make into a film. What a risk it would be – but if it works, it would be damn amazing. Powerful, direct storytelling.
Reread: Will do
First Read: 1995
The Hobbit – Tolkien (1937)
Classic in every sense of the word. The storytelling is very sharp, focused and SO much is packed into this slender book, it’s thrilling. The mystery, the betrayal, those spiders! riddles, Gollum – all good.
Reread: Hope to this year
First Read: 1991 (read to me in Primary School)
Tyrannus Nix? - Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1969)
A long, scathing poem bursting with social, political and personal imagery, word play and attacks. The kind of stuff I sometimes wish I could write, but am all too aware that I’ve no chance of achieving.
Read: A few times
First Read: 1997
I Want to Go Home - Gordon Korman (1981)
Another book that still makes me laugh when I read it. The kind of long-term camp arrangement, with counsellors etc is not something I’ve ever experienced as a kid – they’re not as predominant in Australia as in North America – but I could relate to the characters and the plot was a heap of fun. (Not a fan of the reissue cover.)
Read: 20+ I’d say
Reread: Over Christmas I reckon
First Read: 1993
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami (1994-1995)
Complex, surreal, pop-culture references, history, mystery, metaphysics and oddities abound – I can’t even come comes to summing it up. If you’re already a fan of Murakami then you don’t need me to, I guess. I think about this book often and it’s fair to claim that it’s influenced my novel, The Fairy Wren, in that I loved writing about a character searching for someone.
Reread: 2015 – I’ve been meaning to for ages
First Read: 2007
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – PKD (1968)
Amazing. From the Mood Organ to the premise itself to the powerful ending and the questions it raises about personhood, this is required reading for a Speculative Fiction fan. I remember first reading it for a class at Uni and coming to a tutorial and asking my teacher about Rachael’s motivation, as in ‘what’s in it for her?’ which, despite how silly that seems now, I seem to remember it starting a good class discussion at least!
Reread: Will do
First Read: 2006
Space Demons - Gillian Rubinstein (1985)
Another favourite from childhood – I still read this and it’s the perfect balance of character and story – the very idea of being sucked into a video game is pretty damn cool. Loved the follow-up Skymaze too and eventually came to realise that, the character conflicts became my favourite parts the older I got.
First Read: 1991
Bonus: The Black Cauldron – Lloyd Alexander (1965)
Bonus: The Red King – Victor Kelleher (1989)
Love to hear what you thought of any of these if you've read 'em, or what your own list would look like!
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Ashley Capes is an Australian writer of fiction, poetry and very occasional non-fiction.
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