S.G. Browne

10 Books That Have Affected Me

There’s a meme on Facebook to list 10 books that have affected or stayed with you. You’re not supposed to dwell on your answer but just list the first 10 books that come to mind that have meant something to you for one reason or another. Perhaps they inspired you. Or terrified you. Or resonated with you in some manner that is personal.

I may have done this list previously. I’m sure it varies depending on my mood, or if I’ve read anything recently that became embedded in my DNA, so here is my current list of 10 Books That Have Affected Me (in no particular order):

*      *      *

1) Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

2) Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

3) Lord of the Flies by William Golding

4) St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

5) Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

6) The Stand by Stephen King

7) Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

8) The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

9) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

10) American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

*      *      *

That’s my list. Feel free to share yours.

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Fiction Friday: The Best Books You’ve Never Read

Following up on my blog post for The Best Films You’ve Never Seen, below is my list of The Best Books You’ve Never Read. Admittedly, you might have read one of them. Maybe even two. But I’m guessing no one else has read all five of them. Or even three. Prove me wrong. And feel free to share your own gems.

Kockroach, Tyler Knox
Taking Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and flipping it upside down, this story about a cockroach who wakes up one morning to discover he’s a man in 1950s New York has everything you want in a noir novel – organized crime, a love triangle, and an inhuman antihero with a relentless survival instinct. Good fun.

The Little Sleep, Paul Tremblay
Another noir novel, this one takes its title from Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep and features a South Boston P.I. who nods off at the wrong times and suffers from hallucinations. Blackmail, corrupt politicians, and a narcoleptic detective. What more do you want? (If you like this one, check out the sequel, No Sleep Till Wonderland.)

Geek Love, Katherine Dunn
The not-so-heartwarming story of a family of carnival freaks. Art and Lily Binewski, the owners of a traveling carnival, decide to breed their own freak show by using experimental drugs to create genetically altered children. Dark, twisted, beautiful, and bizarre, this novel about a singularly dysfunctional family will stay with you long after you’ve finished.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Mary Roach
The most likely book of the bunch to have been read, and the only New York Times bestseller on the list, STIFF is a wonderfully informative and delightfully humorous look into what happens to the human body when nature and medical science take over. Roach knows how to make non-fiction entertaining. (This book was an invaluable inspiration in the writing of my novel Breathers.)

Vamped, David Sosnowski
Martin, a suicidal vampire, living off blood derived from stem cells since humans are nearly extinct, finds salvation in the form of a six-year-old human girl who escaped from a preserve. Initially intending to snack on her, Martin instead finds himself growing fond of her company and becomes an unlikely guardian. An original vampire tale written with warmth and humor.

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G is for Great, Geek, and Ghost

We’re here just past the quarter way point through the alphabet and we hit the best collection of titles to date, including one of my favorite literary reads of all time and another book that I see on the Employee’s Favorites shelf at a number of bookstores.

Titles like Great Expectations, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Green Mile didn’t make the cut, while I’ve never read Gone With the Wind, The Godfather, or The Golden Compass. I did have to leave Good Omens off the list, but since I’m limiting this to the top three reads, sometimes I have to make some tough calls.

Though to be honest, the first two on this list were never in question. And the third was a seminal read in the early stages of my writing. So no real contest there, either.

On to the selections of my Favorite Books that Begin with the Letter G:

Numero uno:
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
One of my favorite books of all time, Gatsby is often on the list of most over-rated novels of all time, but I loved the story and the characters and the eloquent, descriptive writing. A marked contrast to Hemingway’s stark prose, but a style I much prefer. If I ever find myself in the midst of reading uninspiring novels or stuck in my own writing, I will always pick this up and read through a few chapters to remind myself what good writing is supposed to look like.

Sloppy seconds:
Geek Love, Katherine Dunn
The Binewskis are a married carny couple who set out, with the help of amphetamines, arsenic, and radioisotopes, to breed their own exhibit of human oddities in order to save their traveling carnival. Narrated by one of the children, this is the most unique dysfunctional family you’ll ever meet. Dark, perverse, and imaginative.

And baby makes three:
Ghost Story, Peter Straub
As I mentioned, this was one of the novels I read in the mid-eighties that inspired me to travel down the path that eventually led me here. My favorite novel by Straub, Ghost Story is one of those rare novels that is both chilling and beautiful.

Favorite monosyllabic book:
Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss
Actually, only 49 of the 50 words used in Green Eggs and Ham are single syllable, with “anywhere” being the anomalous offender. I wish I still had the copy I owned as a kid.

And as always, if you have your own favorites, feel free to share them.

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Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 2:52 pm