All About the Books Meme – with Sean Cummings
Right, now it’s the turn of one of the gents! Sean is here to take part in All About the Books, so please do let him know your thoughts on his choices!
1) One Book That Changed My Life
This is a tough one because I’m often torn between some brilliant fiction novels, memoirs and non-fiction. I think the one book that changed my life was probably The Drowned and the Saved by Italian holocaust survivor Primo Levi. It’s a collection of essays – a serious examination of Levi’s experiences during that terrible time in human history. The writing simply can’t not move you – it is of the highest literary quality (as all of Levi’s books are, frankly) and gives the reader an utterly spirit wrenching contemplation on the very worst of humanity and in some rare cases, the very best. It is a must read for anyone with the courage to confront and acknowledge that we did this to each other – we’re still doing it to each other right up to this day.
2) One Book I’ve HAD to Read More Than Once
The Stand by Stephen King – it is the benchmark for post apocalyptic. Period. End of story. It is surreal, it is survival, it is even a tiny bit of hope. It’s good versus unspeakable evil and a dark and terrifying read. I re-read it every five years or so and ask myself if I could be even one tenth as good a writer as King, what would my books look like.
3) One Book I’d Want on a Desert Island
Niagara by Pierre Berton. I’m fiercely proud of my country even though our politics drives me nuts most days. I love Canadian history and Pierre Berton was one of Canada’s premier historians during his life. His books were written in such a way that historical figures jumped off the page. This particular book takes you back to a time when one of the most densely populated sections of North America (and now one of the most industrialized and thus, the most polluted) was nothing but forest, wildlife and First Nations peoples. This book is written so damned well that you can actually hear the scream of an eagle or the chattering of finches in the trees as you tread across unspoiled land that no white person had ever set foot on. A wonderful, wonderful read.
4) One Book That Made Me Laugh
Monster by A. Lee Martinez – This guy is an incredible writer. He’s quirky, he’s a geek (like me) and in this book we have a pest control agency run by Monster – a guy whose girlfriend as a mean streak a mile long and all hell breaks loose when a Yeti is found in the freezer section of the local grocery store. Hijinks ensue not to mention a mystery filled with laughs and thrills at ever turn. I highly recommend this book. (Or anything written by A. Lee Martinez)
5) One Book That Made Me Cry
I’m not one for crying when I read a book but one book that leaves you with a bittersweet feeling is Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon. Published in 1991, this is a coming of age story about 12 year old Cory Mackenson who witnesses a car driving straight into a lake. It turns out the driver is a murder victim and Cory along with his friends come to the faith-shattering realization there is evil out there, even in the tiny town of Zephyr Alabama. There’s magic in this story too. And a message about growing up that leaves you pining a little bit for your childhood. From the book:
“We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get it the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.”
6) One Book I Wish I’d Written
Robert R. McCammon again and this time it’s Swan Song. This is up there with The Stand as one of the benchmark novels for anyone who wants to write post-apocalyptic fiction. It was the first novel I’d read by McCammon and like The Stand, this is a novel that is epic in scope. There has been a nuclear war and the last survivors of the cataclysm – the future of humanity rests on the shoulders of a former professional wrestler known in his day as “Black Frankenstein”. A little girl with a gift, Swan, a girl whose home life fairly resembles the apocalypse in its own little way, must survive at all costs for within her is the ability to heal the blasted lands and poisoned earth. It’s Black Frankenstein’s mission to protect her from an unspeakable evil and so begins an epic journey through the wasteland of what once was the United States of America. It’s a brilliant novel, I read it again last year for the first time in more than twenty years and it still sent a chill down my spine.
7) One Book I’m Currently Reading
I’m currently reading Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis. A different take on urban fantasy where the main character doesn’t possess any magical qualities but as a cop, he’s got to deal with a string of murders where the victims are supernatural beings. Very procedural type of story and a unique take on urban fantasy.
8) One Book I’m Intending to Read
On my TBR list is vN by Madeline Ashby. This looks like a hell of a read from the book blurb and the cover art absolutely must win an award. I honestly can’t see anyone who loves science fiction not picking up this book to read the back cover blurb based on the cover art alone. Really looking forward to this one.
Some great answers, I think you’ll agree? Any of these books now jumping onto your to-read list?