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.


L is for Lord, Lamb, and Lullaby

After struggling to find books for the last two letters of the alphabet, I have a glut of novels I’ve read for the letter L, including The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), Less Than Zero (Ellis), The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Lewis), The Lost World (Crichton), The Lottery (Jackson), and The Little Sleep (Tremblay).

While the first two selections were never in doubt, I found myself having to make a tough call for the final spot. In the end, what it came down to was what I would pick up right now to read again, so I ended up leaving Lolita (Nabokov) and Life of Pi (Martel) on the outside looking in.

Lord of the FliesNumero Uno:
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
If I had to name one book to take with me on a desert island, it would be, ironically, this one. The allegorical themes of human nature and loss of innocence aside, the story, characters, and writing are unforgettable. SPOILER ALERT: If by some bizarre reason you haven’t read this book, I’m going to ruin it for you right now, so you might want to stop reading. I can still see the pig’s head on a stick surrounded by flies, Piggy getting killed by the boulder, and Simon’s body floating out to sea – which is one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever read. My favorite book of all time. I’ve got the conch!

Second in command:
Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk
Had I not read this novel in October of 2002 while on a plane to Paris, I don’t know if I would have ever written Breathers. While I’d written short stories that were dark comedy, I’d never considered turning one of them into a full-length novel prior to reading Lullaby, which spoke to me in a way I’d never been spoken to before. Smart, dark, and at times laugh-out-loud funny, this is my favorite Palahniuk novel and one of the most influential books I’ve ever read.

Last but not least:
Lamb, Christopher Moore
If Lullaby is my favorite Palahniuk novel, this is my favorite by Moore. Subtitled as The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, it recounts the lost years of Jesus through the eyes of “Levi bar Alphaeus who is called Biff.” I found myself laughing, enthralled, educated, appalled, and thoroughly entertained all at the same time. You’ll never look at Christianity the same way again.

Book that made me eat more vegetables:
Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite
In 2000, while training for a sprint triathlon, I cut back on my consumption of meat because eating it weighed me down and seemed counterproductive to my training. After the triathlon, while reading Lost Souls, which contains scenes of vampires drinking wine bottles of blood, I cut into a medium rare steak, took one bite, and realized I had no desire to eat meat any more. (Though, to be honest, I will eat a double chili cheese burger from Tommy’s when I’m in Los Angeles. And bacon smells good.)

Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 5:43 am

What I Read On My Summer Vacation

Okay. So I didn’t really have a summer vacation. And the list of books that follows includes everything I’ve read in 2009, but it’s just what came into my head first.

The idea to blog about this came about from a comment on one of my posts that suggested I include a link on my web site about what I’m reading. Well, I looked into placing a flash widget from Goodreads on my site, but it turns out WordPress, on which my web site is based, doesn’t accept flash widgets. Seems kind of discriminatory, if you ask me. What’s wrong with flash widgets? What did they ever do to WordPress? Does the ACLU know about this?

So until I figure out the best way to include some kind of link to what I’m reading, I figured I’d just blog about it.

First up is what I’m currently reading, which is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

I’m glad I didn’t know about this book before as at first glance it seems to be at least a cousin to Fated, my next novel, in that God and Death and a number of other immortal entities are characters. Not sure if that’s where the similarities end, but I’m definitely looking forward to finding out.

Although I try to devour a couple of books a month, I’m a little behind, but so far in 2009 I’ve consumed:

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
World War Z by Max Brooks
Fool by Christopher Moore
Jailbait Zombie by Mario Acevedo
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Something Missing by Matthew Dicks
Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk
The Deportees and Other Stories by Roddy Doyle
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard
In the Woods by Tana French

The reads I enjoyed the most were Water for Elephants, Beat the Reaper, and Fool, though both In the Woods and Sharp Objects had such believable characters and page-turning plots that they have to be included in the top five.

The most disappointing reads were Something Missing and Pygmy – the first because I just couldn’t seem to get caught up in the story or the character and the second because, well, the broken English of the protagonist used throughout the entire novel prevented me from enjoying the narrative. I appreciate what Palahniuk was trying to do and applaud the message of the novel, but if it had been any other author, I would have put it down before the fifty-page mark.

If I had to pick a favorite so far this year, it would be Water for Elephants. Great narrative and style, compelling story, wonderful characters and setting, and a protagonist you genuinely cared about.

Favorite book of all time? There’s a handful that would be in the running:

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
The Stand by Stephen King
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

But if I had to choose one book to read over and over, my desert island novel would be, ironically, Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

So long as I had the conch.

Filed under: Just Blogging,The Writing Life — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 8:10 pm