My publisher hasn’t requested I do anything this past week, so I thought I’d share some of the books that I enjoy, that formed the author I am right now.
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood. If you’d asked me before 2013 what my favorite book was, I would have had a different answer. Hemingway said ‘All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ This book if full of true sentences. It’s the story of an Englishman who lives in Southern California and works at a university in downtown Los Angeles. Christopher Isherwood was an English expat who lived in Santa Monica and worked at USC. True sentences.
While I love this book, the literary world seems divided. One of my friends, also a writer, read this book and absolutely hated the whole thing. Give it a try, I hope you’ll like it. Fiction, but really a fictionalized account of the author’s life.
Detroit by Charlie LeDuff. This is the story of Mr. LeDuff’s two years at the Detroit News, and what he learned about the corruption and incompetence in the city that’s become the example for everything that’s gone wrong in America. It’s also a story of self-discovery for Mr. LeDuff and a lesson in ‘no matter how bad you think it is, the truth can be much, much worse.’ Non-fiction.
Dune by Frank Herbert. This is the space opera saga that David Lynch made into a pretty terrible movie, and that the SciFi channel made into a pretty decent mini series. The book, however, explores economic, political, and social themes while building an entire marvelous universe. My actual favorite book of the series is Chapterhouse Dune, but that’s the sixth book in the series and way down the rabbit hole of fandom. If you want to read the series you have to start with the first one, Dune. Fiction
The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien. This is the second book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the shortest. It was The Hobbit that really got me reading sci-fi and fantasy all those years ago, but it was this book that sealed the deal. You really should start with The Fellowship of the Ring, but speed through that one to get to this one. Fiction.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. This is the author’s first novel, and, wow is it good. It’s historical fiction with a fantasy element, the story of the immigrant experience in the USA just before the turn of the 20th Century, and it’s an allegory of man and woman coming together despite vastly different experiences in society. Fiction.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I used to work as a waiter and a cook, and Mr. Bourdain’s book was like going back to work at the restaurant on a slammed Friday night. A great, completely true account of his time working as a cook and a chef. It’s a tragedy that he took his life recently, I know he had volumes more books like this one in him. Non-fiction.
Promethea by Alan Moore and JH Williams III. I’m a comic book guy – or used to be – and this is by far my favorite series. Alan Moore posits a heroine of the Immateria, or the imagination, who’s lived in many incarnations tied to mortals. The comics came out almost 20 years ago, and you can probably find them in comic shops, but the collected editions are available and the best way to catch up on the entire story. You can spend $10-$15 for one of the regular editions, $20 for one of the anniversary editions, or over $100 for one of the Absolute editions. Graphic novel.