Thursday, September 11, 2014

Top Ten Books

So there's that rash spreading on Facebook wherein you tag some friends and force them to tag other friends...and it's all about your ten most "influential" books. I'm doing it in a blog so I can describe why I like the books without the overstimulation of Facebook churning in the background. My, that site can be distracting...

I choose to interpret "influential" as being the books that changed something about the way I think. They are in order of appearance into my life:

1) Drawing Blood // Poppy Z Brite -- This is probably my favorite book of all time and I cannot separate how much of this is because of the quality of the work itself versus the impression I made of it when I first read it. This is a book about wayward youth and the listless darkness of the goth soul. If that sounds laughable, perhaps you're not a real goth. Poseur! Poppy's prose is exquisite and I still reread this book at least once every couple of years. It's like a comfy cardigan that's never too frayed as far as you're concerned, thankyouverymuch.

Fun Fact: The copy my bff Kim and I first read still resides at the original library in which I checked it out for the first time. That very book has been read by all the tortured goth kids of Joplin over the last two decades.

2. The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching // Thich Nhat Hanh -- I spent a lot of my teenage years searching through spirituality and religion for something that "fit". I researched absolutely everything from Satanism to Astrology. This is the first book about Buddhism I ever read and I was hooked. The tenants of Buddhism are still important to me and if I ever need to refocus on a way of thinking that really centers me, I go back to Buddhist texts. This is the book that taught me drishta dharma sukha viharin, a phrase I've never forgotten and might get tattooed on my body someday which means "dwelling happily in the present moment".

3. Queen of the Damned // Anne Rice -- Rice is maligned pretty much everywhere these days, but I buy her version of vampires. I like 'em verbose, beautiful, and full of religious guilt. This book truly celebrates Akasha, the baddest villainess in all vampire popular mythology. The book outlines the birth of vampires in Rice's world, the most compelling vampire origin tale I've ever read (and I've read a LOT of vampire books). I have a very beat up paperback copy of this book. If that doesn't say, "Book, you are good enough, you are smart enough, and gosh darnit people LIKE you!" I don't know what does.

4. High Fidelity // Nick Hornby -- I like my fictional characters in three simple varieties: a) a music-obsessed weirdo, b) a gay or gender-confused weirdo, and c) a goth and/or supernatural in a dark way weirdo. This book fulfills category A. I'm not sure what else to say about it. You've seen the movie...the book is better, but the movie is my favorite movie of all time...so, it's pretty fucking good. Now I want to read it...

5. Hardcore Zen // Brad Warner -- This is my second favorite book about Buddhism told from the POV of a straight edge punk that loves Japanese monster movies and sitting zazen. If Warner hadn't pointed out how punk Buddhism is in this book, I might have had to do it...'cause Buddhism is soooo punk, yo. This book talks about Buddhism in plain language.

6. Love is a Mixtape // Rob Sheffield -- My favorite kind of nonfiction is a music memoir and this is the ULTIMATE music memoir.

7. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies // Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith -- Ultimately, what I love about this book is the Austen part of it, but I have to admit that before this book caught my attention, I hadn't read Jane Austen. I know! Despicable, but true. I've since read the real "Pride and Prejudice" several times and damn if that isn't a classic!

8. How Not to Write, by Someone Who Doesn't // Delilah Des Anges -- Del is a dear friend I met in a vampire chat room back in the '90s. This book is the most frank and to the point writing guide ever and I really appreciate it. Just shut up and write, bitch! My output has been slightly larger because of reading this book. Go buy it.

9. Hunger Games trilogy // Suzanne Collins -- These books are probably the most powerful fiction I've ever read. I read them during the winter of 2011 after the tornado and I cried SOOO much while reading them. I'm not a big fan of tragedy, usually ever, but Collins' dystopia seemed so real that I couldn't walk away. Katniss is the character I relate to most of any fiction character I've ever met...except the bow and arrow stuff.

10. Ready Player One // Ernest Cline -- This book is just the most fun dystopia of all time.


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