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What's on your book shelf? by Sophia Aldous

December 18, 2013

Usually, I don’t hearken to computer games, at least not since my fellow elementary school classmates and myself used to squabble over who got to shoot at pixilated buffalo and deer in The Oregon Trail game during our allotted computer time. Facebook frolics such as Farmville are beyond me, considering that if I actually wanted to bail hay and milk cows, I know several people whose doors I could just knock on as opposed to clicking a mouse.
Plus, I always thought that Candy Crush was what happened when I forgot I had a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in my back pocket before getting into my car.
However, a new tagging fad has popped up in my news feed, one that caters to my bookwormish tendencies. To participate, one must list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way throughout your life. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard - they don't have to be the "right" or "great" works, just the ones that have touched you. Tell me what your favorite book(s) are at Sophia@statesmanexaminer.com.
And go!
Watership Down by Richard Adams-Fraught with harsh realities and original mythology, this book about a group of rabbits attempting to find a new home amidst man-made and natural threats set the bar for epic tales of adventure and danger, as far as I'm concerned. It had me on pins and needles reading it as a kid; thoroughly fascinated by the world Adams created. It’s lost none of its luster for me as I’ve gotten older.
The Bible-You don’t need to be of a religious bent to find this book awe-inspiring and engaging. True, there are certain passages in it that I just don’t get (Why can’t we wear wool and linen mixed together, Deuteronomy? I’m pretty sure everyone violated that particular stipulation in the 70s). But I could no more deny its influence in my life than I could my parent’s. I own four copies and I come back to them periodically.
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris-Terrifying and compelling, Harris created two of the most innovative characters in 20th century literature with Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. Probably the only thriller I’ve read where you know who the killer is the entire time you’re reading it, and you know it will more than likely have an outcome where the heroine triumphs, but I defy anyone not to be engrossed through every page.
The Death of Superman by Mike Carlin, Dan Jurgens, Roger Stern, Louise Simonson, Jerry Ordway, and Karl Kesel-It blew my little elementary school mind that Superman could die. Granted, they brought him back, but this 1992 comic book, which I lugged all over the place with me, from school to vacation road trips, was still quite the big deal for an eight-year-old.
A Good Man is Hard To Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor-A collection of short stories that are dark, funny, twisted and deep. Just awesome Southern Gothic. O’Connor’s ability to fuse her own influences into fiction always felt profound to me without being pretentious or overly gloomy.
Dorothy Parker- I didn’t put a title with this particular author, because I love pretty much everything she wrote that I’ve gotten my hands on. Her wit is both cutting and hilarious. In my opinion, so much humor nowadays is used to insult people in ways that are common and crude, and I can’t help but think how Parker would be able to wipe the floor with these half-baked barbs if she were still around today. My Aunt bought me a copy of The Portable Dorothy Parker and it’s one of my most treasured books.
The Shining by Stephen King-I thoroughly enjoy King’s work, and always have since my friend, Cedar Reimer, introduced me to this book when I was a pre-teen. I had heard my parents talk about the 1980 Stanley Kubrick movie and was eager to read the story that inspired it. Suffice to say, it scared the daylights out of me, and I loved it. Though I felt compelled to always read it with my back against a wall so I wasn’t out in the open. You know, just to be sure (if you haven’t already, check out King’s sequel Doctor Sleep).
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo-A beautiful tale of bravery, honor, love, and death-by-soup, DiCamillo’s verse flows and enthralls, never feeling too cutesy or maudlin. Yes, it’s a “kids” novel, but I’m not partial to age-range when it comes to books; a good story is a good story. And this is a fabulous story.
The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker- A nonfiction self-help book written to provide strategies to help readers avoid trauma and violence by teaching you various warning signs and precursors to violence. I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone, whether it’s the parents who are afraid to let their kids ride their bikes over to the city park, or the young adults headed off to college or moving away from home. It reads like a thriller while providing valuable information.
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck-A classic, American author takes his 10-year-old poodle and goes on the ultimate road trip, writing his observations of the ever-changing landscape of the United States in the late fifties. It’s like you’re sitting in the cab of Steinbeck’s camper, having coffee with him in a diner, and listening in on the conversations he has with everyday citizens from California to Maine. Just thinking about it makes me want to hop in the car and go right now!
*Don’t forget to share your favorite reads: Send a brief description of your book(s) of choice and how they have touched your life. We want to hear form you!

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