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Avox in Arcadia

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The Kairos 30-Day Meme: Twenty-Eight Favorite Novels

This is a queued entry and does not reflect my current status. A new post will appear each day this month, but to preserve novelty, the categories that I used won’t be listed publicly beforehand. If you’d like to use my template, let me know and I’ll privately send you the complete list of categories so that you can rearrange and swap them out to suit yourself.

If you don’t want to bother with the entire meme but still want to play, it is highly encouraged to list some of your own favorites for today’s category in the comments.

Day Twenty-Eight: Books

Hurrah! It's book day! Rejoice, bookworms! We're going to talk about books! Books books books!

Brave New World by Alduous Huxley

...And count 1984 as a bonus, because everyone associates these two and I read them around the same time. Choosing this one as my favorite wasn’t exactly a figurative coin toss, but I did have to fill up a few spaces in this list by picking a few out of a hell of a lot of excellent classics that everyone loves regardless of their literary tastes.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

I didn’t know what to expect when I first read it but I liked it from the first page. It’s all about mothers and daughters, and coming from mixed cultures, and really, every kind of relationship that people have.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov is an author I discovered fairly recently and I definitely need to read everything he’s written, but so far I’ve only got two down and this is the better one. It’s horrifying, moreso than its reputation had led me to believe (although you may have heard differently; all I know is that everyone expects it to be scandalous. Scandalous is not the word I would use), but also witty and emotionally gripping, and the writing style kicks ass.

The Sun,
the Moon, and the Stars
by Stephen Brust

I have a lot of problems with the narrator, and I recall feeling disappointed by the ending because I wanted some kind of major revelation, but I’ve never read anything so true to the creative process of visual art. And honestly, that includes the feeling of disappointment that nobody is going to hand you a major revelation.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Not gonna lie, the title is still my favorite part, or at least, the part of the text that extrapolates the title. But my second favorite part is the definition of “kitsch” and one character’s personal war against it, and my third favorite part is the transgender dog. Okay try to tell me you’re not curious.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I’m not gonna dis the movie, I quite liked the movie, but please don’t let this be one of the ones where you feel like you don’t need to read the book because you saw the movie. Pi has more to tell you. Pi says, “I have heard almost as much nonsense about zoos as I have about God and religion,” and you need to hear the rest of it.

The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

This is a series of ten books. The first five are better, the second half is still very much worth a read. It’s classic fantasy that for some reason many fantasy readers seem to have never heard of. The premise is hard to explain but “epic” doesn’t begin to cover it.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Probably the most famous Toni Morrison book, and deservedly so. Painful, but with flashes of hope and joy and mad symbolism, making it one of the books that made me realize “magical realism” is another favorite genre for me.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

This is my most recently discovered book on the list, I think, having first read it a few years ago. I still haven’t gotten over how good it is. Like, I’ll hear the title and just shake my head and think, “Damn. How could that book be so good?”

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Apparently all of us read this when we were kids, and the characters are kids, but I don’t think of it as a kid’s book. I hope nobody ruined the ending for you before you read it. And I hope someday it gets a really good adaptation.

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

Eh, you write a paper on something, you end up getting kind of attached to it. I got an A on the paper. I think it was because of my speculation that Mrs. Moore is already figuratively dead in the last chapters and it’s her memory that the natives venerate. Also, as far as academically assigned English literature goes, it’s really entertaining!

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Before I read this book I had some pretty deeply held beliefs that I no longer had when I finished it. Where it stands now...maybe I’ve finally reverted, but I had to put serious thought into why I felt the way I did and whether I had the right. The story still weighs on me, it’s that intense.

Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

I’m happy to say I’ve never seen the movie, which is supposed to be terrible. The book, on the other hand, is amazeballs even though it contains practically nothing that ever interests me. Well, except there’s a pine marten, so that part’s right up my alley. And it’s set in the Greek isles, which I love (as a setting; I’ve never been there). And there’s magical realism. But anyway, it’s a WWII book and I suck at history but to experience the lives of these characters as they play out is an unforgettable privilege.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This has a good shot at being the weirdest book you’ve ever read. If that isn’t recommendation enough I don’t know what to tell you. The ending gave me a new phobia. The visions of love and death and family are dizzying.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

You know there’s a reason the musical is so good, right? Well, aside from the music and all that other stuff. This story is timeless and majestic and super exciting except for the history tract in the middle but hey at least it’s educational. It’s also really long! Remember that’s a feature and not a bug when you’re talking about a good book!

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This was the first thing I read by Barbara Kingsolver and it took me a while to return to her, but it’s such a self-contained, enormous story that it was hard to think anything existed outside of it. My mother and I read it around the same time and talked about it a lot, and we don’t tend to like the same type of books so it was kind of special. It’s about a missionary family in the Belgian Congo.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I don’t know if I agree with the way Neil Gaiman portrays America. I know I don’t agree with the way he portrays gods. But I don’t think any other writer, even one who shared 100% of my beliefs, could have pulled this off. Does everyone feel as lost in his world as I do? Maybe that’s the whole point.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Another college Lit course book, but this one was my senior thesis (along with The Sound and the Fury, but that was mostly there to support the book I cared more about). I also read part of it for a different Lit class about a year beforehand, and I’m still kind of pissed at the instructor for assigning the most spoilerific chapter -- yeah, how often does a classic make me feel that?

The Hitchhiker's Trilogy by Douglas Adams

Geek staple, modern British humor staple, unashamed sci-fi, unashamed pure comedy, but it does have a heart if you look close (some might even say a Heart of Gold). As teenagers we never tired of quoting this series. I think I had a little bit of a crush on Ford. Hell, I probably still do.

The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis

Okay, but it’s such a different kind of sci-fi than the entry above, and it actually is a trilogy. Be warned that if you only just tolerate the religious themes in Narnia for the sake of the adventure, you’ll find them harder to ignore in the fiction he wrote for adults. But for me that doesn’t diminish the adventure, just makes it more complex and at times hellishly frightening.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

I could have gotten away with putting this in my list of favorite children’s books, but to be frank I don’t really think children should read it. Not because it’s going to turn them into atheists (I missed most of that on my first read and I was like eighteen years old), but because it demands some maturity of thought, despite the characters being children. I’ve already told you what I love about its setting, and the style is so beautiful you have to take frequent breaks just to bask in a particular sentence or scene.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

And speaking of children’s books. The first few qualify but you can’t divide the series and you can’t ignore the kazillion adult fans (many of whom did not grow up with Harry). Even more than the books themselves, I think what I love most about this series is that it’s phenomenally popular and it deserves its hype. In these days of Transformers V and Fifty Shades of Grey, that’s something to cherish.

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Ugh ranking these last few is agony. Every single one of them deserves to be my favorite book. I read Watership Down as a child, and then I reread it, and then I reread it again, and I’m fairly sure it’s my most reread book ever even now that I haven’t picked up a copy in at least fifteen years. I don’t even like rabbits that much.

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

Doing my reread I’ve really been able to approach this series without the bias that I had when they were OMG the best thing I have ever touched with my hands and saw with my eyes, and I like being able to notice its flaws, but I also like realizing that they’re built on more than extensive worldbuilding and the epic serial length that beckons to geek bookworms. They’re intelligent and exciting and even sometimes wise.

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Considering that my favorite author did a retelling of my favorite myth, this ought to be #1 no question, but it hasn’t been that long since I found it and I don’t get the chance to reread as much as I used to when most of my favorites were chosen. I think I was also reluctant when I heard that it was sympathetic to Psyche’s sisters...well, it would take a lot of discussion to explain that remark, but long story short, this is probably C.S. Lewis’s finest work. Incidentally, it’s set in pre-Christian times. The last page is devastating; steel yourself before you get there.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

*points* I don’t care what you say! *swivels, keeps pointing* And I don’t care what you say! *points with both hands* This is the finest epic fantasy series of our generation! Secret Targaryens are everywhere! Dothraki don’t name their horses! Wildlings don’t name their children for the first two years! Arianne is practically illiterate! Butterbumps is wicked fat! Ghost is mute! Finest epic fantasy series EVER!

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

God it’s like I don’t have an original thought in my head. Yes, I like books, I like fantasy, of course my favorite is The Lord of the Rings. I haven’t even read it in ages, I am so very fuzzy on so many details, but I love it. I love everything about it. I love its history and I love its “history” and I love the characters and Middle-Earth and hobbits and the Eagles which are not a classic rock band, they are a sentient race and thus honored with a capital letter, and everything Tolkien has done for us by writing this jewel among stories.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

“He’s got everything a hoss should have, and everywhere a hoss should have it. He is de mostest hoss that ever was.” Man O’War’s groom said that, but substitute ‘hoss’ for ‘book’ and it pretty well describes The Last Unicorn.
Tags: #1, 30 day meme, a book i read, a movie i saw, harry potter, middle-earth, randland, six steps to neil gaiman, the last unicorn, westeros

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