Aaaaand, I’m back with more of my favorite literature. First, a little more backstory. There was a time in my mid-twenties when I couldn’t read any serious fiction. I still read my beloved mysteries, but I eschewed literature. I didn’t have any particular reason–I just wasn’t feeling it.
Much as I am not now. Now, granted, I don’t go to actual bookstores that often because I prefer to order online, but when I do, I am dismayed at the drivel that is being published. So much dreck and so little silver (fucking hate gold). There is very little to interest me. I don’t give a damn about any of the books people are reading right now. I really don’t. They all look the same to me, and they fucking bore me. I do not read literature to be bored, people.
Is it too much to ask that authors write something original? I would rather an author take a huge risk and fail magnificently than write carefully-crafted books that are well-written, safe, tidy little journeys, and fucking boring! We are not Victorian, England. Fuck that shit. No, seriously. Fuck that shit. On the flip side, don’t write something shocking just for the sake of being shocking. I fucking hate that shit even more. I am not easily shocked, and I resent people trying to push that button. Just write an exuberant, dark, fantastical, engrossing, intriguing story, and I am there, damn it! On with the show.
Ok, so that isn’t the title song. It’s Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side as an exhortation to all the writers out there to let their freak flags fly. Here is the actual title song/video of the day.
Since I am grumpy with mainstream literature right now (not that I’m ever really happy with it), I am turning my back on them. I don’t think there is a mainstream book I’ve read that would even make my favorites list, anyway. Oh wait, there is one. It will be number one on the list. The others will be random, as is my want.
Oh, and I have to explain a bit about my love for graphic novels. I never read them as a kid because, as with television, movies, and music, they were not a part of my cultural upbringing. I saw the Superman movie when I was a young girl, and it gave me nightmares for weeks.
Anyway, it was only within the last five or seven years that I have been reading graphic novels. Natasha turned me onto the Sandman series by the brilliant Neil Gaiman, and I was hooked. I became a comic book whore, except more discriminating.
And now, on with the list.
- The Giver by Lois Lowry. This is a Young Adult novel with some pretty adult themes. Sober ones. It won the Newberry Medal in 1994. It is about a boy who discovers the memories of his society. More than that, I will not say because it’s best to read this book without any preconceived ideas.
- Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. This is an engrossing novel about two cousins from India who have an unbreakable bond. It follows them in California and in India as each deal with an arranged marriage and many familial secrets. I like most of her novels, but this one is her strongest. The sequel, The Vine of Desire, is good, but not as strong.
- Sandman by Neil Gaiman (link is to the Volume 1). This is, without question, the greatest graphic novel ever. I will not countenance any argument–yes, I will. I am curious to see which graphic novels other people find seminal. I know this has been around forever, but as I said, I’m a latecomer to the world of graphic novels. I have read the whole series plus all the spin-offs, and I am eternally grateful to Gaiman (who is a serious hottie, too) for creating the Endless and their fantastical realms. I wrote a novel based on the Endless characters, and when I tweak the ending to my satisfaction, I’m going to see if Vertigo will let me try to get it publish (or publish it themselves).
- Midnight Nation by J. Michael Straczynski. A graphic novel that blew me away. It’s about spirituality, but not in a ooey-gooey kind of way. It’s dark, grim, and downright bleak. My kind of story.
- The Tattoo Murder Case by Akimitsu Takagi. This is a Japanese murder story, and yeah, it has tattoos galore in it. It’s grim; it’s noir; it’s stylish; it’s fiendish; it’s devilishly engaging. If you like Asian culture, beautiful women, and intrigue, this is the book for you.
- All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe. Another Japanese mystery novel, but not so noir this time. This one is more heartrending, bitter, and poignant. It does have Asian culture, beautiful women, and intrigue as well, though.
I also like several mystery series. Quickly, they are: Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone series. Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot series. Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series. Anything by Laurie R. King. Carol O’Connell’s Kathleen Mallory series. Those are but a few of the series I enjoy. The problem is, most series should end after seven or so books. These are a few that have endured past that mark.
This is but the tip of the iceberg of the books I have enjoyed. I have piles and piles of unread books just begging to be fondled. I don’t do the Kindle because I like the tactile feel of paper in my hands. I like the smell of ink on the page–no matter how illusory it may be. I like bending the spine gently so that it doesn’t break. I like dog-earing the corner of the page I am on or simply to place the book face down on the open page. I like to read while I’m on the can. I like to read when I’m taking a bath. Yes, I’m old-school, and yes, many trees are dying to feed my obsession, but I will not stop reading actual books for anything.
Books were my first true love. They will most likely be my last as well.
Aw, crap. I was gonna tell you why reading so many Asian female writers when I was in my early twenties was earth-shattering for me. Well, simply put, I didn’t think I could be a published author before that, not really. Much like not seeing any Asian people in movies or on TV subconsciously told me I couldn’t be an actor, the lack of yellow pigmentation in the writing world signaled that, no, Minna, you can’t do that, either. Once I discovered that other Asian women had, I realized that I could do it myself as well. And now, I will.
*Stereophonics. I fucking hate clowns, but this song is teh awesome. There is a song called Lady Writer by Dire Straits, which is more apropos, but it is not teh awesome.