Speaking of Great Books

So let's talk a little bit about those books. I spend most of my daylight hours trying to get kids to read anything. Seriously, I'm happy if they pick up Auto Mechanics Today. So when I get home, I usually give in to the media gods and hoard myself a big ol' helping of boob tube. I don't read much for fun anymore, although I know I should.

So I'm going to make a few lists. The first one, which I'll share with you today, consists of books I'd like to revisit because they are JUST THAT F*&)(&$% AWESOME. Folks, these books with rock your world, turn your pockets inside out, take you out for dinner, and smack you upside the head. Some are old, some are new(ish), and some are just plain classic.

I read this one during my freshman year of college. I had never felt so....sexy. For an old dead white dude, this guy gets romance--like, rocky, tumultuous, love-your-body romance. There isn't any bodice-ripping, or flowing Fabio hair, because Lawrence sticks to the real details of love. He perfectly describes the feeling of loving someone so much you'd sort of like to bash his brains in. Sick? Sure. Awesome? Uh....yeah.

Most of my friends have heard me shouting about this one for ages. Yes, it was made into a (overwhelmingly mediocre) movie a years or so back. I was actually surprised that Saramago signed on to that project; the whole book relies so heavily on imagination. It is, after all, the story of an entire population that goes blind. As a reader, you're asked to experience the same blindness--encountering every smell (and boy, there are some doozies--human excrement, rotting bodies...), every touch, every sound for the first time. I read this while watching coverage of the SuperDome post-Katrina and couldn't help making a connection. Does the government always turn a blind eye to the true horror of a catastrophe? Saramago thinks so, and the book makes a pretty convincing argument.

This is pure, unadulterated trash, but I simply can't help falling in love. This is like Mad Men, but even soapier, even sillier, and even fashion-y-er. Pillbox hats? Sweater sets? Pearls and mink coats? Martinis and Marilyn Monroe and smoking at booths near the big band? Yes, please!

And apparently, I really like nude women on the covers of my novels. Honestly, I had a hard time picking my favorite Hemingway novel. Yeah, I know he's a total misogynist, and I know his women are caricatures, but the back-and-forth between Catherine and Lt. Henry is so truthful; I've fallen madly in love with every wine-soaked conversation in this book. Speaking of wine-soaked, my last recommendation:

Again, Fitzgerald has written WAY too much good stuff to call a "favorite," but the pure passion behind this one really knocks me down. The drunken arguments alone--WOW.

If you haven't read any one of these (or Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex, which is STELLAR), pleasepleaseplease pick it up. These books will. change. your. life. I'll be back next week to tell y'all about the books I want to pick up for the FIRST time. Any recommendations?


Mo February 4, 2010 at 4:32 PM  

You've read Barbara Kingsolver, yes? I'll glady let you borrow any of my books I have by her. She is a phenomenal author. Also, as before, John Irving. I love that you love Valley of the Dolls - the book, most def. not the movie! I will look over my bookshelf this evening because I KNOW there are amazing books I am leaving out (but you've probably already read them)

Anna-Maria February 4, 2010 at 5:53 PM  

Thanks, H2, I'd agree with the ones of these I've read and the others are certainly on my "to read" list. However I was so taken with Saturday that I went to UIC library this morning and took out all the McEwan books I could find. Right now I'm enjoying his "Short Stories" and embarassed myself LOLing on the train. God, it's delicious to read :-)

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