Popspotting #113: â€œFavorite Booksâ€ (Aug. 24, 2011)
For Wildcard Wednesday, it’s back to books, as Jen shares her top five books of all time (for now, subject to change). She also shares an update on what she’s reading now… including a wildly popular young adult fantasy series that she’s perhaps the last person on Earth to read.
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)
- Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847)
- Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)
- A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving (1989)
Jen is always hungry for book recommendations, so please do tell… what is your favorite novel of all time?
This entry was posted by Ryan on August 23, 2011 at 4:32 pm, and is filed under Books, Podcasts, Wildcard. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.
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Great list Jen!
I loved Owen Meany also.Â Â Irving’s book The World According to Garp was also an entertaining and intense read.
I know you’re not a big SF fan, but if I had to come up with a book from the last generation or so that has some parallels to Meany in story, pathos, quality and in some cases characters it would be The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.Â Â While not as well written as Irving’s book (this was Russell’s first published), this story of first contact with a truly alien culture by a team of Jesuits is full of surprises and insights.Â I think Sparrow predated Meany by a few years, so I think the parallels are interesting but not intentional.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you get a chance to pick this one up.
I was going to say that I loved Owen Meany too and then recommend The Sparrow…weird. Â I never would have thought to compare the two though, and I have to take issue with The Sparrow being considered inferior writing to anything, John Irving or not! Â To be fair though, it has been a long time since I’ve read Owen Meany. Â 🙂 Â I love Mary Doria Russell’s writing; her characters are wonderful and still break my heart on a regular basis if I let myself think about them, and it’s been almost two years now since I read The Sparrow. Â
Facinating we came at the same conclusion but with a different perspective.Â Â I thought Sandoz and Owen are both tortured by their knowledge which brings the plots to a climax, even if the dramatic tension is driven differently.Â Â Also the time perspectives of both stories is convoluted but understandable.
I think the quality of both stories are similar.Â However Russell’s prose from the last third of the book became a bit of a slog for me (based on memory, it’s been 20 years since my last reading of Sparrow).
Finally I was wrong, the Sparrow came out 7 years after the 1989 publication of Owen Meany.Â I still content the parallels are superficial – it just led me to draw a conclusion that Jen (and Ryan) might find Sparrow a good read.
No, Jen is not the last person on earth who hadn’t yet read Harry Potter. I may finally take the plunge when the ebooks are published. I’ve been hesitant to take up Harry Potter because Harry bears a striking resemblance to Tim Hunter in Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic. http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/Comics/Books+of+Magic/
So how about some non-fiction titles?
“The Rest Is Noise” by Alex Ross is one book I’ve given as gifts to friends. I really got into it because I love the subject matter — modern classical music — but Ross writes in a way that would make anyone curious about the music he covers.
More of a suggestion for Ryan, but “Managing Humans” by Michael Lopp is an excellent book about management, mostly because it’s funny. I’d almost wager the focus on software engineering won’t interfere with the more general principles Lopp wants to convey.
And another non-fiction recommendation for Jen — “Appetite for Self-Destruction” by Steve Knopper. It’s a comprehensive history on how major labels put themselves in a position to be decimated by the Internet. Far better than Greg Kot’s “Ripped”.
Oh, and here’s a recommendation for the kids (not so much Katie) — “D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths” by Edgar and Ingrid D’Aulaires. I’ve always loved the illustrations in that book.
Interstellar Pig, William Sleator. Most Imaginiative YA Science Fiction ever written. Meaner? House Of Stairs also by him
Hello Jen and Ryan, and sorry for the delay in response…
I have to recommend a FANTASTIC new book (out in August 2011) that I just recently read entitled “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline.Â It is a science-fiction book that is set in 2044 where people spend all of their time plugged into a virtual world (think Facebook gone VR) with a visor and gloves.Â They play games, interact, go to school, work, etc. all in this virtual world.Â The real world has gone bad (overcrowding, pollution, energy problems), and our protaganist (a 17 year old living in one of these urban environments) spends his days plugged in.
The designer of thir VR world has passed away and left an “Easter Egg” hidden somewhere inside the Virtual World.Â The first person to find it will take over his company and become super-rich.Â The challenge here, though, is that this designer grew up in the 80s learning to play classic videogames (and listening to 80s music, watching 80s filsm, etc), so to win the game you have to KNOW your 80s trivia.
As a sci-fi novel, this is the perfect blend of future, present and past.Â The 80s pastiche was a wonderful addition and made me nostalgic for my youth while the sci-fi element (especially the “it could happen tomorrow” premise) left me breathless.
I’ve seen the novel described as a nerd-gasm.Â I can only agree.Â Jen (and you too Ryan), you won’t be able to put this one down.Â
Read it and enjoy!
Now off to read the next highly anticipated August 2011 release (the Magician King by Lev Grossman, the sequel to his more adult version of the Harry Potter storie, the Magician).