I got tagged in a “ten books that have stayed with you” challenge post. Being me I couldn’t just do it on Farce Book like everyone else, so I’ll sort of do it here. There are plenty of books that have stuck with me in some way or another, mostly just elements of books or phrases. While thinking about it I at first couldn’t think of any but now am having selecting only ten so I will do about eleven in random order.
1: Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence. This book is an amazing fusion of ethnography, geology, history, memoir, journal, self exploration, geography, military theory, psychology, and a lot of things I’ve left out. A bibliography lead to me to discover its existence and luckily City Lights had a copy one time when I was in. The movie Lawrence of Arabia is loosely based on this book but misses the rich, eccentric details the author slides in while telling his experience during the Arab Revolt nearly a Century ago.
2: Marlborough: A Life Winston S Churchill. This is cheating as this is a four volume series not a single book. The author pays homage and perhaps massages some facts while writing of a distant ancestor. I’ve read quite a bit of Churchill’s writing and lots has stuck with me, I chose this series for the mix of academic worthy history and adventure. John Churchill starts life after the English Civil War and helps shape events until the early Eighteenth Century, from son of a forgotten Cavalier to Duke, with a mix of ability, patronage, and luck.
3: Pyramids Terry Pratchett. Most likely not the best Discworld book but one of the few I’ve read and the only one I ever owned a copy of. What really stuck with me is the pyramids stop time and the old priest/first minister kept insisting the young pharoah needed a sister to marry. I’m guessing the book was inspired by the Ptolemy family in Egypt.
4: Winter Len Deighton. I like books that follow people through time and this book follows a Berlin family from 1899 to 1945. It is also the prequel to a ten book spy novel series that is set in Berlin and London during the Cold War. The choices made by members of the family ultimately put them on opposite sides of ideological conflict.
5: Soldier ‘I’ SAS Michael Paul Kennedy. The career of a soldier during the Seventies and Eighties. This book introduced me to Britain’s 22 Special Air Service Regiment and a fascination with elite forces. I could have added several of the books I’ve read about the SAS, but this is the one that lead me to read the others.
6: The Art of War Sun Tzu. I’m the type of person who studies military strategy, tactics, history, et cetera only to get better at playing games created by people unfamiliar with anything but the hardware. This book is older than the New Testament and is still relevant today because nations such as China and Russia still use it as part of their military instruction.
7: Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien. Hey, I’ve seen the original single volume version. When I try to read this my mind wanders off into my own fictional world and I start looking for note paper to remember the ideas before they run and hide. The Hobbit only made me want to eat and I will need to read the Silmarillion again sometime to better understand it.
8: Excalibur Bernard Cornwell. This is the third book in a series about the Arthur Legend by one of my favourite authors. A very realistic Dark Ages historical novel with a bit of magic and transformation thrown in. In this version Arthur never becomes king and Merlin has a very strange obsession with cheese, the crumbly kind.
9: Ulysses James Joyce. This was a surreal read, especially as I read a free copy online instead of in one of those quaint paper things. Someday I may sit down and read it again, the free copy on my iPod. The first time I read Hitchhiker’s Guide was on my Palm Pilot so when the book described the guide it was also surreal. I should mention that I’ve left my favourite author off this list but I can’t pick the Le Carré novel that stuck with me the most. Was I going somewhere with this?
10: Surfacing Margaret Atwood. I confess this is the only Margaret Atwood book I’ve read so far. The journey of self discovery stuck with me and a few of the ideas of contrast between urban/rural, Ontario/Quebec, and generational differences. Another book I should reread sometime to get more out of. iTunes just started playing Building A Mystery from Sarah McLachlan’s Surfacing Album.
11: Nameless Agency E.N. Stephens. This yet to be published book is the first book I have completed a draft for, narcissistic and self serving I know. J. Michael Straczynski reminds people that art is never finished only abandoned, and this book is not yet abandoned and won’t be until it is publishable. The book is about the creation of a fictional Canadian foreign spy service tasked to infiltrate a drug cartel to discover who their high level agent is in Ottawa and who they’re selling the information too. I guess I should get back to writing the sequel while waiting for feedback.
There I did eleven and will now nominate three people who wish to do this.