Monday, January 7, 2013

A Reading List for Thinkers and Dreamers

[Wrote this as a list for a friend needing recommendations for reading. She told me to "overload" her, so I did. Feel free to use any of read any of these yourselves. I could have included pictures, of the book, but I'm not gonna. Better to click on the links of the ISBN numbers.]

Setting up a recommendation list requires a bit of organization.   Because I’m not sure what you’ll like, or what you’ve read in the past, (and because, I’ve read books in other Genres that I don’t usually read and have thoroughly enjoyed them, so sometimes it’s good to read outside the box), I’ll split it up into 5 areas.  Christian, Fiction, Kid’s, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Other.  Of course, the Kids books are ones that they might be able to read, but that you’ll enjoy, too.  I’m gonna put ISBN links into this document  that will take you to the book on Amazon.  If you have an e-book reader, that might be the way to go, or getting them used would also the economical.

Christian Genre.  Unfortunately, I’m not very good at recommending Non-fiction books of Christian type.  I know what we sell at Lifeway, and what’s popular, but that’s about it.  The only Christian author I’ve read that wasn’t fiction is C.S. Lewis, whose book The Four Loves (9780156329309)was really good.

As far as Christian Fiction, you can’t go wrong with C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, although I would read them in the order the movies have come (or would have come) out (2,4,5,6,1,3,7).  I also highly recommend George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind (9781604594522). I once was sick, and had a rather high fever, and I picked up this book and read it all in one day. George MacDonald’s books are really good, if you can find the other ones edited by Michael Philips (North Wind is good in any form).  Also, I would read the classic Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, at least the first half.  The classic tale of Christian’s journey from home  to the gates of Heaven is one that is centuries ahead of its time, an outstanding read. And one you can get for free as an e-book through Amazon or Gutenberg project. (9781456569334).

The Song of Daniel  by Philip Lee Williams. (0345364694) Williams is a retired professor of Creative Writing at UGA, and lives in Oconee County. I so loved this book, but it is quite out of print now, but easy to get. It takes place in Athens, and deals with a young man who takes care of the cemetery and a College Professor.

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon (9780143034902) A mysterious bookstore in Barcelona, Spain, holds all of the worlds forgotten books.  The main character finds a copy of “Shadow of the Wind” in the stacks and, enthralled with the book, searches to find other books, or the author himself.  He finds a stranger who is destroying all the copies of the book, who then threatens Daniel’s life.  A gothic book set in 1900’s Spain.  Continued in two other books.
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury (9780553277531) my favorite book!! Lyrical, nostalgic, amazing!!!
I’m sure there are other regular Fiction titles I have stuck in my head someplace, but they aren’t coming out, so I’ll leave this for now.

Science Fiction – Fantasy
Orson Scott Card – Most anything, really. Every time (well most, Pathfinder was a dud) I read his books, I read for hours, then I go to get something to  eat, and I go back to my room wondering what really amazing TV show I had just been watching, and I realize it was in my own head, through the words on the page.  His lesser known works are really good.  Try Homecoming: Harmony (which starts with The Memory of Earth)( 9781568650890)and Songmaster (9780812524864)

Anne McCaffrey – The Dragonriders of Pern (9780345340245) (or Dragonsong, 9780689860089) Dragons, music, and a great storyline through many, many books. What’s not to love!

Arthur C. Clarke – Songs of A Distant Earth (9780345322401) was a great sci-fi book, and I love Clarke as an author.  His Islands in the Sky (9780140305357), written in the 50’s, predicted everything that man has done in space since, and probably will do in the future. And with Stephen Baxter, he wrote The Light of Other Days, (9780812576405) which, while the plot is weak and the ending akin to Spielberg’s A.I. ,unneeded, brings about hypothetics that fundamentally changes the way we think about everything. 

Other books that, looking at my bookshelf in my room (which is where I keep the books I really like), I would recommend:  Steven Warnock’s The Magog Gambit (9781466435438), Vanishing Point (0312852134) by Michaela Roessner. (I love apocalyptic novels, such as this. I loved Dean Koontz’ The Taking (9780553593501) and Pat Frank’s classic Alas,Babylon (9780060741877)). Also check out The Legacy of Heorot by the Sci-fi team Niven, Pournelle, and Barnes (9780722164075). 

As far as Fantasy, I don’t usually read fantasy for fantasy sake, but there is some good stuff out there, now out of print. Dragonworld (9781596872332)was made back in the late 80’s, and the sequel was made as a video game. Riddle of Stars, by Patricia McKillip, was good too (B00005XT24).

One last one, if you’re up for it.  Take Plato and put him in a science-fiction setting, and you get Neal Stephenson’s Anathem.  The book is best when the plot is non-existent. In fact, it’s one of the few books (Clarke & Baxter being another) where the plot gets in the way, but it’s fantastic to sit, read, and contemplate. (978-0061474095) Don’t get the Mass Market though, the print is tiny! Get the hardcover, looks great on your bookshelf.

Kid’s Books (for Adults too!!)
Get these for your kids, and read them yourself! They’re amazing!! Better than most books above!!
Christopher by Richard M. Koff.  Only book he ever wrote, and I absolutely loved it as a child. Now long out of print, but every kid should read it! (0553153633)

Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe (9781421527734) Take any RPG, and put it in book form, and start it in real world Japan. A fabulous book, one I know you’ll love. (He wrote a book novelizing Ico, from the PS2.  I have to have it!!!!)

Under Plum Lake by Lionel Davidson (0394512529) A boy is led underwater to a strata of worlds underneath ours. In a short 100 page book with imagery not unlike a supposed LSD trip, I literally could not put this one down. The only book he ever wrote like this.

The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen. Most known for writing The Hatchet, this one is survival with a hefty dose of Science-Fiction thrown in. Very good for those who don’t like to read. (0375873236)

As far as series go, I have two suggestions: D.J. Machale wrote a 10 book Pendragon series (having nothing to do with King Arthur) that is amazing! Plot twists that I didn’t see coming, and I actually haven’t read book 9 or 10 yet, cause I don’t want it to end.  The First book, The Merchant Of Death is linked here: (9781416936251)  And Diane Duane wrote a 9 book “Wizard” series, with the first book So You Want to Be a Wizard, which deals with other planets, wildlife, pollution, death, cancer, Ireland, and using Wizardry to keep the world in balance. A great series: (9780152049409)

Some great non-fiction books to read:  Dove by Robin Graham (9780060920470), a memoir about Robin, who, in 1965, sailed around the world, and found loneliness, love, and ultimately, God.
Anything by Neil Postman, which is the basis for a lot of my thinking, and helps to see the world via how we communicate, through TV, Internet, images, etc… His most known book is Amusing Ourselves to Death (9780143036531)

Hope this helps.  If you need more, I can recommend another 200 or so books.  J

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