S.G. Browne

10 Books That Matter To Me

Recently I was tagged on Facebook by a friend with the following:

“List 10 books that have stayed with you. Don’t think too hard about it – they just have to be books that touched you.”

She then went on to share her list of 10 books and tagged a handful of friends to see what their lists looked like. While I didn’t tag anyone, I did feel compelled to share the 10 books that came to mind without having to give them too much thought. But then I realized I wanted to share a brief explanation as to WHY the books mattered to me or how they touched me. So here we go:


Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
This is the novel that inspired me to write Breathers and sent me down the path of social satire and dark comedy. While several of Pahlaniuk’s early novels could also have made the list, this one stands out for it’s influence on the direction my writing took.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
My favorite of Vonnegut’s novels, it has it all: science fiction, satire, a dwarf, an original Calypso religion, granfallons, pissants, and the end of the world. What’s not to like?

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Lyrical in its prose and poignant in its message about the power of words, this is the one book I recommend and gift to everyone. A Young Adult novel that should be classified as Literary Fiction.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
I’m a sucker for novels that make social commentary on capitalism and Patrick Bateman’s stream-of-consciousness narration just sucked me in. Along with Slaughterhouse-Five by Vonnegut, American Psycho was one of the inspirations for Big Egos.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
My stranded-on-a-desert-island book (which I coincidentally read as a sophomore in high school while living on an island) and the first book to really stick with me. I’ve got the conch!

The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
While a number of books by King and Straub are among my favorite reads, this was the first time I ever got so caught up in the story unfolding within the pages that the world outside of the book ceased to exist. And I thought: I want to make people feel this way.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Great opening. Great voice. Great character. Chandler has a way with words that are all his own. This novel set the bar for hard-boiled crime novels and was influential in the writing of my third novel, Lucky Bastard.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
While every book on this list is unique in its own way, I’ve never read another novel that comes close to this one. Dunn’s story of a self-made carnival sideshow freak family is one-of-a-kind awesome.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
by Christopher Moore
My favorite of Moore’s novels, all of which are an inspiration to my own writing. Smart, funny, and addictive. If you haven’t read anything by Moore, you should start now. Preferably with this one. You’ll thank me later.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
This one surprised me a bit when it popped into my head, but only for a moment. One of my favorite stories of my childhood and of all time. I can still recite Max’s adventures word-for-word.


That’s it. That’s my list. If you have your own favorite books that matter to you, feel free to share them in the comments. And as always, thanks for reading.


C is for Catcher, Cat’s, and City

There are a lot of “C” titles that didn’t make my list of favorite reads. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Carrie by Stephen King. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk.

While I enjoyed all of them and more, I’m forcing myself to limit my choices to my top two or three, so it’s inevitable that some worthy reads won’t make the cut. But it’s not much of a list of favorites if I include everything, now is it?

So on to the winners:

First Place
Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
The fact that Mark David Chapman sat down to read this book after shooting John Lennon isn’t enough to keep it off the list, but I can’t think of this book without getting pissed off at Chapman, who apparently thought Lennon was a “phony.” Still, Salinger’s novel about teenage angst, identity, and alienation resonates nearly sixty years after its publication. Probably one of my favorite books of all time.

Tied For First
Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
The second Vonnegut novel to make an appearance here (and not the last), this is probably my favorite. Not only did he manage to skewer science, technology, and religion, but he created his own religion, the basic premise of which is that all religion, including Bokononism, is formed entirely of lies. Of course, if you believe these lies, you will at least have peace of mind. Nice, nice, very nice.

A Distant Third
City of Thieves, David Benioff
My most recent “C” novel that I’ve read, this one had great characters, a good story, and reminded me that the joy of reading is often the discovery of an author’s ability to craft words in such a way that makes you appreciate the beauty of the written word.

And the first Classic Literature Razzie goes to:
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
This was assigned for reading in my high school junior year Western Literature class. The crime was that the book was ever written. The punishment was that I had to read it.

Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , , , — S.G. Browne @ 10:36 am