Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Craters in my mind

Working on my novel-in-progress has really hit home to me how very difficult it is to write a book. I know, DUH! But seriously, how many of us as readers zip through books and yet fail to understand how much blood, sweat, and tears (and time!) went into their creation?

I was always a reader, but only in the past decade have I become a writer (yes, unpublished writer, of course). So now I want to give props to ten (in no particular order) of the fiction books that really made an impact on my brain:

1. The Sound and the Fury, by Faulkner. I read this book in high school and was blown away. Then in college I took a course that compared Faulkner and Garcia Marquez, and was even further impressed.
2. 100 Years of Solitude, by Garcia Marquez. See above. But also, it was recommended to me by my cousin, who is always a good source for cool books! Plus, magical realism, anyone?
3. Corelli's Mandolin, by Louis DeBernieres. I credit my husband with tipping me off to this read--I fell totally in love with this story (and my hubby) while reading this book. It has it all, like Casablanca: war, love, revenge, honor, beauty...
4. Classics of the Macabre, by Daphne du Maurier. A collection of wonderful short stories. Take a look at the illustrated version, if you can get it. This helped me want to write short stories myself.
5. Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. This book has my very favorite atmosphere. Creepy, mysterious, yet compelling.
6. Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. I wrote an entire post about this book (see below). The man is a genius poet with a mad sense of humor. Wow.
7. Pigs in Heaven, by Barbara Kingsolver. I loved her voice so much. She is also a good one to watch for how she uses setting.
8. The House With a Clock in its Walls, by John Bellairs. Young reader mystery--loved it. Plus, Edward Gorey and I were introduced through his book covers. See the weblinks to the right for their fan pages.
9. Curtain, by Agatha Christie. I grew up loving all her mysteries, but this book showed me that you CAN kill off your darlings.
10. The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. I love haunting tales, and this one really stuck with me. Great use of suspense and subtle tension.

What are your favorites?

9 comments:

Moon Child said...

I see you're a reader of classic literature, so rare these days. Of course those are what all aspiring authors need to read anyway. Might as well learn from the masters.

Lady Antimony said...

I adore Corelli's Mandolin, it's one of my favourites, along with Man in the Iron Mask & The Three Musketeers (Dumas) and Crime&Punishment by Dostoevsky. There are lots of others that I love but the list would go on forever!

raisingmarshmallows said...

I'm happy to see Fahrenheight 451 finally make someones list. I love that book!

Nikki

laurenastevensblog.com said...

You are so right - sooooo much work goes into writing a book from concept to print and beyond! Thanks for the list... I'm annoyingly busy reading "How to Blog/Write/Publish" etc etc right now, so these are refreshing suggestions!

shelly said...

1984, Brave New World, Animal Farm, The Alchemist,The Four Agreements.....I'm sure there's others...yup...Too Kill a Mocking Bird...I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings...

The Desert Rocks said...

Interesting list. If only there were more reading hours available. I'm in the middle of two books right now and I don't like that. I want to read one at a time, and then it's not that hard to work on the one I'm writing.

Betsy said...

I know, I wish I had more time for reading too--and I of course thought of 5 or 6 more that I didn't put on this list that really struck me:
East of Eden by Steinbeck, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston, and The Bluest Eye by Morrison, and Invisible Man by Ellison.
There are so many AMAZING books out there...
And I appreciate all your comments, readers!

William Kendall said...

Turn of the Screw... I love that one.

Elisabeth said...

Two novels that really made an impression on me were Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. And a longtime favorite that I always go back to is Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley, a novel about Elizabethan-era English explorers.

Although I'm a huge fan of Agatha Christie, I've got to admit that Curtain was the one novel of hers that I didn't like.