The Fifth Big Fifty, Books I’ve Read

A pretty integral part of my character has a lot to do with the fact that I was an absolutely voracious reader, all the way back as far as I can remember.  I couldn’t possibly remember all the books I’ve read in my life, but I can suggest a couple good authors.

The original hardcover copy. I felt like I was reading a dusty old tome like in the movies.

This may seem almost cliché, but I’ve read everything that Stephen King has written except for Under the Dome, Lisey’s Story and Cell.  The summer of 1995 I was getting ready to start my freshman year of high school and had never read a Stephen King book before.  I have no idea how I ended up with a copy of Salem’s Lot, I think it was my Uncle Gary’s and it somehow ended up at our house, but I found it bright and early one morning and decided to crack it open.  Salem’s Lot is a 439 page vampire story written in 1975.  Somehow a bored 14-year-old managed to get lost in a book written six years before he was born.  I read that book cover to cover, that day.  I was hooked.  I’ve read the seven books in the Dark Tower series at least three times each. I LOVED Black House and The Talisman, two books King co-wrote with Peter Straub.  The Stand, The Shining, The Green Mile… to name all the Stephen King works that have absolutely entranced me throughout the years would be to list his library.  I’ve been mesmerized for 16 years now.

I’ve read the first five of the Temeraire novels by Naomi Novik.  I’ve never, ever liked dragon stories, but after downloading the first of this series for free on my Nook, I got hooked again.  The series begins in England, during Napoleonic wars in Europe.  Novik fights these wars on land and at sea, just like they were fought in real life, but she also gives the militaries and tribes of the era an air force.  Maybe a living, breathing, thinking air force, but an air force none the less.  It’s been a fun, riding along with Captain Lawrence upon the back the dragon Temeraire, and I’m looking forward to having some extra time soon to continue the journey.

Staying in the fantasy type genre, I must mention the first 11 books in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.  There are currently 13 books in the Wheel of Time series, with a 13th and final novel not yet published, but 11 were all that Robert Jordan made it through alive.  Brandon Sanderson was chosen to write the last novel, titled A Memory of Light, but he ended up having to split it up into three different tomes.  I have nothing against Brandon Sanderson, I haven’t read any of his work, but the way that Jordan filled the world with characters and events cannot possibly be adequately mimicked within the same works.  I’ve never in my life been overwhelmed with the expanse of a story, yet there were moments in the Wheel of Time series that left me itching to start back from the beginning to reread it all to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  I did, too.  Three times.  Then, with one book left in the series, Robert Jordan died of complications from cardiac amyloidosis in 2007.  I suppose I don’t want to read how Branden Sanderson ends the Wheel of Time because, however he chooses to end the story, that’s not the way it was supposed to end.  Robert Jordan took the ending with him.

Let’s move on to something a bit more light-hearted with Robert Parker’s Spenser Novels.  Robert Parker has a huge library of works, but for some reason I latched onto the Spenser novels, and I’ve read almost every one of them.  Spenser is a private detective who, along with his good friend Hawk, are genius badasses who run around and solve all the tough cases.  Parker does a great job at developing the stories and characters that run throughout the whole series while still involving you into the plots of each individual novel.  That and there’s lots of wine, beer, swearing, women, action, beer, women, wine, violence, beer and funny one liners everywhere.  The Spenser series might not sweep you off your feet, but it may knock you down with the giggles.

That’s some of them.  Right now I’m in the middle of The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt.  Berendt also wrote Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and I downright fell in love with that book.  I can’t explain how Berendt writes other to say that he presents to you the cities and events that he chronicles in a way that leaves you feeling like you live just down the road in Savannah, Georgia, or that you rent a palazzo that overlooked the fire that burned the Fenice Opera House to the ground in Venice, Italy.  Berendt classifies his books as nonfiction, as they chronicle the life and events that are the heartbeats of his work, but he has taken fire for possibly embellishing the facts too much to have his books hold up as nonfiction.  It’s an interesting literary argument, but I honestly don’t care who’s right and who’s wrong, the stories are too much fun to put down just because someone may have lied a little bit. 

I’m also trying to finish Cutting Costs: An Executive’s Guide to Increased Profits by the late Harry Figgie, Jr.  I work for a fantastic company that’s owned by Matthew Figgie, and if I want to keep climbing the ladder, I need to train myself to think like an owner.  Costs need to mean something.  No one has ever said “It’s not my money” and ended up running the place.

Sitting next to Cutting Costs is a book called Crazy, With the Papers to Prove It by long time Cleveland sports writer Dan Coughlin.  If you’re an old school Clevelander, your life isn’t complete until you’ve read this compilation of stories that all revolve around Coughlin’s time as a Plain Dealer sports reporter.  I’ve laughed at least once on every page.  (Except for the pages devoted to Art Modell.)

There you go, that’s my library, sorta.  I’m not bibliophile, but I’ve read more books that I can remember, love more authors than I can list and generally nosed around more stories than anyone cares to read about.  If I had to pick a favorite book, I couldn’t.  I can’t even pick a favorite author, or a favorite genre. 

Can you?



Filed under The Big 50

4 responses to “The Fifth Big Fifty, Books I’ve Read

  1. Huge King fan. Salem’s Lot was one of my first reads of his too. I’m a HUGE Edgar Allan Poe mark (even as early as 4th grade) and a teach suggested King and after coming across that I’ve read almost every one of his books twice.

  2. I admit to having the Complete Works of Poe, although I have no recollection of when I started reading him.

  3. capek

    just stumbled across this site following some links from your cfp page, good to see you doin some writing man, i also periodically check in on your 90 feet and running articles, keep it up. i gotta say though, if you give up on the WoT series just because sanderson took over you are doing yourself a huge disservice. while i agree that jordan’s style was undeniably his own, sanderson has done an exceptional job of not necessarily “mimicking” it, but at least paying homage to it. with a very few exceptions i find myself forgetting that jordan didn’t write what is written. and sanderson is working with jordan’s extensive notes, so while the storytelling is slightly different, the story is definitely jordan’s vision of how things will end. plus, from what i understand, the end of the series was in fact written by kordan himsef before he died. i’ll stop rambling now, my basic point is that you owe it to yourself to finish what you started, after 11 books and probably 9,000 pages of reading the story is as good now as it has ever been, in fact A Memory of Light is probably one of my favorite books in the series. so go out and buy it. right now.

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