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Writer's Block: Book worms unite!

What are the three best books you have ever read and what are the three worst? What made them so good or bad?

Best:

This is hard to answer, as there are many, so I will do the ones I specifically remember reading for the first time:

1-Huckleberry Finn. I was nine when I read this book, and I had never encountered anyone so cool in all my life. I wanted to be Huck more than anything ever. I mean, he was cool enough to fake his own death. That takes balls, man.

2-White Fang. I was nine when I read this one, too. I was truly drawn into this animal's struggle and how he was only what he'd been made. (Social Darwinism FTW!)

3-Um...having a hard time here...Ender's Game. Dude! Who didn't want to be Ender? EDIT: My Side of the Mountain. Yeah, I wanted to be Sam, too. The whole running away and living on my own thing did it for me as a kid (I think I read this book at about thirteen years old), and as an adult nothing has grabbed me as well as these did when I was younger. Nothing has made me just yearn to be the character so much. But Ender's Game stays, too, and for the record, I read that at twenty-seven.

Worst:

1-The Great Gatsby. Just kill me. Kill me now rather than make me read this book. I thought maybe I just didn't get it as a kid, but no. I've tried to read it as an adult, and just...no. Never. Kill me now.

2-Wuthering Heights. If I'd rather death than read The Great Gatsby, I'd rather the most painful torture imaginable than read this. Worst. Book. Ever.

3-and as if one Bronte wasn't enough, I've got to go with the one book in school I couldn't finish. The one book I cheated on. The one book I Cliff Noted. Jane Eyre. I thought surely it couldn't be as bad as Wuthering Heights, and maybe it isn't, but after Emily nearly killed me, I wasn't going to give her sister the same chance. She had to prove to me she was worth it. She didn't. I gave her a sporting chance, but after a few chapters, I just couldn't finish it. Gone with the Wind falls into the rare "didn't finish" category, too. Read about half. It never got good.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
ncb1
Nov. 28th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
With you on the Bronte sisters. But add Doystoyevski (did I even spell it right?). I had to read The Brothers Karamozov in high school. Incomprehensible.

Add Stephanie Meyer's The Host to the list too. Very good premise, an alien race of symbiots taking us over by burrowing in our brains and taking over our thoughts and personalities but it was horribly executed. I couldn't finish it and neither could several people I lent it to. Total waste of $.

I just plain love anything Mark Twain wrote. From Huck Finn to A Connecticut Yankee and the less well known Puddin Head Wilson. Biting social satire disguised with lots of adventure and humor.

Just read Ender's Game last year and loved it. Who wouldn't want to play games in zero G? Lots of thoughts snuck in about psychological manipulation, leadership and plain old "lets get the bad guys who may take over earth" thrown in.


Edited at 2009-11-28 09:02 pm (UTC)
jackwabbit
Nov. 28th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
Like most kids, I hated my childhood (at least I think most kids do?), and Huck Finn was my idol. I wanted to escape so badly (although to be fair, that was mostly angst and melodrama along with a touch of true hatred from my sister and some toeing the line of okay by my mother) and nothing seemed a better way than faking my own death.

However, I was not as brave as Huckleberry Finn. Dammit.

Oh, dude! I just remembered another book! I should change it out for Ender's Game! My Side of the Mountain. Oh, I wanted to be Sam, too! Catching a theme here?

It was hard for me to answer that question, because I loved a lot of books, but I picked those that just made me yearn to be in them more than anything, and My Side did that, too. Sigh...
lothithil
Nov. 28th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
Nice list! My favourite books as a kid were James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl, No Flying in the House, by Betty Brock, and Bambi: A Life in the Woods, by Felix Salten (BTW... most definitely NOT the Disney Version).


Orson Scott Card is one of those authors that I both love and hate. He takes me to the very edge and sometimes he tosses me over. The Ender novels are in the 'Love' category!
jackwabbit
Nov. 28th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
Re: OSC. I like Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and I'd probably like Ender's Revenge, but I don't care for most of his other books, and frankly, after Ender's Game, I think he suffers from stellar early success with diminishing returns.

I liked James and the Giant Peach, too. I also loved The Black Stallion books and the Ramona books. (The original The Black Stallion almost made the cut, but not quite. Alec still lived with his parents.) Let's see...Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys...and then I discovered Star Trek.
lothithil
Nov. 28th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
Hee hee! Anything Horse or Dog in the library--before I was 10, I read 'em all! Burned myself on them, in fact.

But you're lucky! Our library had no Trek at all... I had to move on to historical fiction after I'd exhausted the puny Sci Fi selection. I was hauling around The Bastard and The Rebel by John Jakes when I was 13--you should have seen the look on my English teacher's face when she told us to read something of the (dreaded) White List, and I waved JJ under her nose.

She handed me a copy of 'The Hobbit'... my introduction to fantasy literature. Bless that woman!
jackwabbit
Nov. 28th, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC)
I, too, burned out a bit on horse and dog by about the same age. Other than London, who of course isn't really about dogs.

And yes, I was very lucky to live here by age thirteen:

http://www.fortworthgov.org/library/branches/

I could ride my bike to one branch, and read a regional node (huge) within ten minutes by car. Yeah...urban living isn't so bad as some make out.

Incidentally, The Hobbit was life-changing for me, too. Not like it was for you, obviously, as I'm not much of a Ringer, but I remember not being able to put it down and for a hard sci-fi type like me, it opened me up to fantasy.

Oh, and I read North and South/Heaven and Hell/Love and War in my early teens. Also, I got into some WWII historical fiction hard for a while there.
jackwabbit
Nov. 29th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
Hey, random, but playing on the FW library site reminded me of something. The first time I went here, I discovered Clive Cussler.

http://www.fortworthgov.org/library/branches/central/

My sister took me. It. Was. Awesome.
lothithil
Nov. 29th, 2009 12:04 am (UTC)
OMG! I'd love to have had access to something like that!

Clive is wonderful! I discovered him much later, but he's kept me riveted! *sighs* Dirk & Al!Love!
jackwabbit
Nov. 29th, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)
I love Fort Worth with all I am.

Some places I've lived have affected me more than others, but probably none so much as Fort Worth (it's not Dallas, people!), which I lived in or around from eighth grade to age thirty, off and on.

I wouldn't change that. Fort Worth is a lovely city, and I wouldn't trade my education there or the Southwest Regional Library for anything (central is awesome, but I didn't go there often due to its total downtown-ness). I am indeed grateful.
jackwabbit
Nov. 29th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)
Oh, and Clive? Yes. Long live man love, right?

SPOILER IF YOU'RE NOT UP TO DATE ON CUSSLER!





I haven't liked the newer books quite as much as the older ones, but the kids are alright. Even if he gave them fanfiction names.

(Really, Clive?)
lothithil
Nov. 29th, 2009 12:18 am (UTC)
It is taking me some doing to get into the newest books... but I will. They lie upon my 'to read' pile, silently begging for attention. *grins*
jackwabbit
Nov. 29th, 2009 01:55 am (UTC)
Dude. My "to read" pile is huge right now. I feel your pain.
ncb1
Nov. 29th, 2009 01:41 am (UTC)
How could have missed the whole Black Stallion series? I inhaled them all.
Fortunately my grade school in Wilmington, NC had a really good library because it was originally a neighborhood school that went from grades 1-8 (no kindergarten in public schools in those days, I went to the local Presbyterian Church for that). I think I was in the last 8th grade class.

Unfortunately the school burned down and the library with it a year or two after I graduated high school. It was rebuilt but it was never the same and only grades 1-4.

My other refuge was the public library down town. I quickly abandoned the childrens section upstairs for the main collection.

And I was introduced to historical fiction. John Jakes was a favorite author along with NC writer Inglis Fletcher. My grandmother had several of her books (autographed) and I read every one and all the others I could get my hands on.

She wrote about a fictional family in eastern NC from the first attempts at settlement of the area by John White and the Lost Colony (even before Jamestown) to just after the Revolution. I was very familiar with the region and history because my family is from the area she wrote about and I could easily visit sites she mentioned and even some family names she used were familiar.

And I still read every horse book and good historical fiction I can get my hands on.



Edited at 2009-11-29 01:42 am (UTC)
lothithil
Nov. 29th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)
On the subject of historical fiction... do you know Bernard Cornwall? Very recommendable! :-)
jackwabbit
Nov. 29th, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
I don't think I do...bad wabbit!
lothithil
Nov. 29th, 2009 07:26 am (UTC)
There is a British TV series starring Sean Bean (pictured in this icon) as a British Officer named Richard Sharpe who leads a team of riflemen in the war against Bonaparte in Spain.

The show is very good... the books are remarkable. For a lover of historical fiction, I would heartily recommend them!
jackwabbit
Nov. 29th, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
Re:
That does make it fun, no?
cleothemuse
Nov. 29th, 2009 01:48 am (UTC)
Never read Ender's Game (I know, losing geek points), but YES!!! to all the others, especially My Side of the Mountain. (And "oys" of agreement on the "dislikes", too.)
jackwabbit
Nov. 29th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
I can actually still remember direct lines from My Side, and see them in my head. I've only read it once. It was just that good.

Now, about Ender's Game...you are not yet the age I was when I read it, no? There is time, young Padawan, should your path take you there.

Also? My sister has become a Twilight fan, and she told me my sister-in-law wants the books for Christmas. O.M.G. Kill me now. Now, I'm usually desperate for gifts for my sister-in-law, but I'm not that desperate. I couldn't be seen buying that!
cleothemuse
Nov. 29th, 2009 02:18 am (UTC)
One of my sisters is also obsessed with Twilight and has her nine year-old daughter convinced it's the Best Thing Evar. She even roped the seven year-old boy into taking part in her "Cullen baseball team" group Halloween costume, which looked to me like one baseball fan and two ratty blond mops in ill-fitting clothing.

I get a kick out of wearing my "And then Buffy staked Edward. The End." shirt around my sister. Heh.

Methinks I really need to pull out that list of books my flist gave me earlier this year and get my niece some GOOD books for Christmas.
jackwabbit
Nov. 29th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
The Twilight craze truly terrifies me, and I sure hope it burns out quickly. And I, too, will be doing good books, I think for the nieces and nephews. As for the sister-in-law, she also likes House and wants it on DVD. Yeah...that I can do.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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