7 Jul

Adam’s Picks!

The fol­low­ing books have rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle in com­mon with one anoth­er with regard to plot, set­ting, writ­ing style, or real­ly any lit­er­ary cri­te­ri­on.  Some are short, some long, some sweet, some grave, most are fic­tion, one isn’t.  One thing com­mon to all of them is that I am absolute­ly in love with them.  I could pick up any of the­se books at the drop of a hat and not stir until I had fin­ished it.  They are some of my very favorite things to read and I hope you’ll enjoy them if you try any.

geek love

Geek Love by Kather­ine Dunn:  I read this book in a post-mod­ern lit­er­a­ture class in col­lege.  I went into the class not real­ly like post-mod­ern lit.  I found it over­wrought and vac­u­ous and large­ly com­plete­ly unin­ter­est­ing.  There were sev­er­al books over the course of the class that changed my mind and this was one of the first and best.  If you like sto­ries of freak shows and weird cults, this book is def­i­nite­ly for you.

secret history

The Secret His­to­ry by Don­na Tartt:  I had nev­er heard of Don­na Tartt before a good friend Jody hand­ed me this book, told me that it was one of her favorite things she’d ever read, and told me to read it.  This book inter­est­ed me from the out­set because the main char­ac­ter goes to col­lege and majors in Clas­sics and if a book about a Clas­sics major in col­lege sounds bor­ing to you, just trust me that the tip of this ice­berg does not begin to do jus­tice to the remain­der.  This piece by the Pulitzer Prize-win­ning author of The Goldfinch is absolute­ly a must read.


The Jun­gle Books by Rud­yard Kipling:  The Jun­gle Book and The Sec­ond Jun­gle Book were orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished sep­a­rate­ly, but are fre­quent­ly print­ed and sold as one vol­ume now.  This is one of those books that no film adap­ta­tion has ever even come close to touch­ing, so if you’ve seen any or many of the myr­i­ad film ver­sions of Kipling’s clas­sic work(s), just com­plete­ly for­get about them and pick up the book.  It’s fun, a great sto­ry to share with kids, and one of the most sur­pris­ing­ly emo­tion­al sto­ries I’ve ever read.  As an added bonus, the book is actu­al­ly a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries, which makes it per­fect as a bed­time sto­ry option or com­mute book!


The Hob­bit by J.R.R. Tolkien:  It is (hope­ful­ly) glar­ing­ly obvi­ous to any­one who’s read this blog even a bit (or talked to me in per­son) that I absolute­ly love Tolkien.  He is basi­cal­ly a deity to me.  The Hob­bit is a great Sum­mer Read­ing option because it’s light and fun and about a trip, which makes it the per­fect vaca­tion book!  Plus when the vaca­tion­ing is done and you’re ready for some­thing with a lit­tle more grav­i­tas you can grad­u­ate to The Lord of the Rings, The Sil­mar­il­lion, or even Unfin­ished Tales of Numenor and Mid­dle Earth!

fantastic fox

Fan­tas­tic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl:  First of all, every­one should have at least one Dahl book under their belt.  He’s a clas­sic children’s/young adult author for a rea­son, folks.  Fan­tas­tic Mr. Fox is my favorite Roald Dahl book because sto­ries about crafty ani­mals out­smart­ing humans are pret­ty much my life blood.  Plus, one of the char­ac­ters sub­sists on noth­ing but hard cider, which is how I aspire to live my life.


The Wid­ow Clic­quot by Tilar Mazzeo:  I’m not a huge oenophile (though I like wine a lot) nor am I an espe­cial­ly eager read­er of non-fic­tion, but this book hooked me.  The sto­ry of how Bar­be-Nicole Clic­quot Pon­sardin not only han­dled her husband’s com­pa­ny like a boss after he died but also com­plete­ly rev­o­lu­tion­ized the cham­pag­ne busi­ness, ran block­ades to sell her lux­u­ry wine, and basi­cal­ly was an all-around hero for, like 60 years until Death final­ly showed up and was like, “Come on, lady, you’re mak­ing me look bad here,” is one that I can read over and over again.  She was OG, man.


Lit­tle, Big by John Crow­ley:  The nov­el picked for the inau­gu­ral meet­ing of the KU Book Club (and also the sec­ond meet­ing when we showed up and dis­cov­ered that none of us had fin­ished it) has stuck with me in a huge way since then.  This book got me into read­ing tarot cards.  It also uses the ubiq­ui­tous idea of Faerie in a supreme­ly fas­ci­nat­ing way and basi­cal­ly is every­thing you could pos­si­bly want in a book.  I’ve nev­er real­ly been able to ver­bal­ize this until right now, but you know what Lit­tle, Big is?  It’s a Neil Gaiman nov­el from before Neil Gaiman was writ­ing nov­els.  I don’t know if Gaiman was direct­ly influ­enced by Crowley’s book, but I have to say, I’d kin­da bet on it.


I Love You, Beth Coop­er by Lar­ry Doyle:  I’ll be hon­est with you, I read this book because I saw the movie and real­ly liked it.  I saw the movie because Hay­den Panet­tiere was in it and I real­ly like her.  My moti­va­tions notwith­stand­ing, though, this book is excel­lent.  Any­one who has ever gone to high school will find some­thing to relate to here.  It’s fun­ny, heart­felt, and makes you glad you grad­u­at­ed years and years ago.

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