Search This Blog

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Five Books You Can Read Again and Again

It's been awhile since we've talked about books around here.  At least it seems that way.  We're going to put the Southern California posts on hold for a week or so and mix things up a bit.  

Over the holiday, I got to spend some quality one on one time with my daughter.  We had four days together with no one else around and during that time, we did our best to get out of the house and have some adventures. One of the things my daughter shares with me is a genuine love of music.  Our favorite bands rarely overlap anymore, but we both tolerate and even occasionally like the other's taste.  We're also prone to asking each other, "Have you heard this song?" or "Do you know about this band?"    

As we were driving around L.A. a couple of weeks ago, I asked my daughter the music lover's million dollar question.  

What is your Desert Island list? 

She surprised me by saying that she'd given that a lot of thought and it wouldn't just be her favorite songs.  It would have to be songs that she couldn't easily replicate in her head the way she hears them.  In other words, she may know all of her favorite songs by heart, but she'd only take the ones with her where that certain guitar tone or specific vocal tremor is something she couldn't sing back to herself.

It made me rethink my own Desert Island song list but that's for a different post.  It also got me thinking about my list of Desert Island books.  What are the five books that I would take with me if I knew that I could never read any other book ever again? 

It's a tricky question.  You can ask me to summarize the stories of the vast majority of the books I've read and I can tell you with no problem.  However, I'd never be able to replicate the way they were written or how they were told.  So after some thought, here is my Desert Island List of the five books I would squirrel away with me if I were going to be dropped off at a Desert Island.  

Also, for you book nerds out there, I would insist that all of these be hardbound and Smythe sewn on quality paper so they wouldn't disintegrate from overuse.

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson

This book quite literally changed my life. Thompson's writing style just jumps off the page. It's a book that flows with an almost evangelical feel when read aloud (which I did for my wife when we were first married - she actually asked me to). I tend to reread it annually and have read it over thirty times in my life.  It changed the way I look at the world for better or worse. I'd take it though because there are certain turns of phrase in those pages that consistently put a smile on my face. 

2. The Stand - Stephen King

This is one I've read probably 8 - 10 times in my life. What sucks me in is King's incredibly vivid characters. Every time I get to the finish, I feel sad because it feels like saying goodbye to family.  Also, every time I reread it, I come across something else I forgot from the last time I read it.  That's easy to do when a book is over 1,100 pages I suppose, but I've read my share of long books and this one is something else entirely.  One note:  I would insist on the unabridged version shown. 

3. Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury was my first "favorite author".  I remember reading short stories of his in our English classes in grade school and while my favorite book of his will probably always be Something Wicked This Way Comes, the one I'd bring with me to that island is Dandelion Wine.  The pictures that he paints of small town life in this book are pure, unadulterated art. The first time I read it, I was filled with a nostalgia for a time I didn't even live through. It moved me to tears at one point and there are places in those pages where I still choke up reading it again today. 

4. Hardboiled Wonderland and The End of the World - Haruki Murakami

Murakami is a genius.  If you haven't read anything by him, I'd say you should start with something different.  Probably his most famous book to American audiences is Kafka on the Shore.  It's a fantastic read, but Hardboiled Wonderland and The End of the World packed way more of an emotional punch for me.  I don't want to say anything that might spoil it for those who have never read it. It's probably the most original book I've ever read in the way its structure plays out from beginning to end. The final pages are devastating. 

5. Foucault's Pendulum - Umberto Eco

This is a tough one.  I knew I'd have at least one of Eco's books on this list but which one?  I adore Baudolino.  I have a huge admiration for The Island of The Day Before and The Name of the Rose, but Foucault's Pendulum is something that speaks to the inner occult mystery geek in me.  On its face, it's about three friends who begin creating a fictional conspiracy theory for fun as they pass the time in their day jobs.  Underneath it's about fanaticism and the dangers of playing with beliefs.  It was one of my major inspirations in trying to come up with something unique when creating the monster in my book The Wash.

So there you have it.  These are my five Desert Island Books.  Let me know what yours are in the comments.  I'd love to check some of them out.  That's right, I'm using this post just to find new books to read.

One quick note:  if you haven't already then please sign up for my mailing list.  It will be the fastest way to find out about promotions for my upcoming books and stories.  Plus, you get a previously unpublished short story just for signing up.  I'm only going to bug you if I have something exciting to offer or share.  

I promise.

And finally, if you're looking for something for yourself and haven't picked up The Wash yet, you can do so on Amazon.  If you've already read it, I'd love to know what you thought of it, good or bad.  Feel free to drop me a line at

1 comment:

Lisanne Harrington said...

This is going to take some thought. I'll have to get back to you!