Bookshelf

Fact: A ton of books have been published in the past 20 years or so.

Another Fact: A lot of them suck.

That said, I figured I’d put my two cents in. And I know my two cents are part of a whole slew of two cents that–if translated into actual dollar amounts–could solve the U.S. budget issue, but bear with me as I indulge myself (click on any of the book covers to be taken to their Amazon.com page):

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Books That Make Me Want To Write

Tom Perrotta – The Wishbones

|Tom Perrotta’s books mostly have similar themes — people struggling to mesh their personalities with societal expectations — and he’s great at what he does. That said, this happens to be my favorite of his novels. Might have something to do with the music. It usually does.

Charlie Huston – Caught Stealing

| First in Huston’s “Hank Thompson” trilogy, the book grabs you from the beginning with an engaging narrator who suddenly finds himself in possession of a key to a box that’s the cause of a lot of violence. Head-bashing and shooting galore. Great pulp-noir novel.

Nick Hornby – High Fidelity

| Again, it’s all about the music. Nick Hornby’s great at creating characters through the use of their first-person voice, but in my opinion High Fidelity does this the best out of all his novels. A man struggling to figure out why men do what we do by (naturally) tracking down all his ex-girlfriends.

Chad Kultgen The Lie: A Novel

| You can’t really tell whether Kultgen’s being serious or not in his second novel. Which is part of the appeal. College story about two guys and a girl who find themselves entangled in a web of deceit, sex and money. Highly offensive and entertaining as hell.

Mil Millington – A Certain Chemistry

| Another British author writing about the stupid things people do to mess up their personal relationships, things they can’t explain even as they’re doing them. Never gets old, especially when it’s written as energetically and humorously as this.

David Sedaris – Me Talk Pretty One Day

| David Sedaris is famous for his humor, and he doesn’t disappoint in this book of vignettes. Dude is hilarious.

Max Barry – Jennifer Government

| On the surface, Max Barry’s novel is a movie waiting to happen, complete with car chases, federal agents and money-hungry corporations that (literally) rule the world. Dig deeper and you’ll find one of the best satires you’ve read in the past decade.

Hubert Selby Jr. – Last Exit to Brooklyn

|Don’t know what two words could describe Last Exit to Brooklyn better than raw and rugged. A grim portrait of the alleys of Brooklyn. There were points in here where I was almost sick to my stomach, and yet I kept reading. And I’m damn glad I did. Yeah. It’s one of those books.

Chuck Palahniuk – Rant

| I know some people will wonder why Rant is here and not Fight Club. Palahniuk’s early novels are all undoubtedly genius, but I put Rant here particularly because of the title of this list: Books That Make Me Want to Write. The multiple character viewpoints in here do a really good job of telling a story so complex it necessitates a second read just so you can have a bunch of those “ohhhh…that’s what that was” moments. Time travel and morphed rabies viruses. Great reading.

Josh Bazell – Beat the Reaper

| This guy’s primary job is as a physician, but after reading this you might think he needs a permanent career change. Beat the Reaper’s protagonist is a former mobster turned witness-protection-program-inductee turned doctor. If that doesn’t make you want to read it, then consider what happens when this dude gets found by the people that want to kill him.

Christopher Buckley – Thank You For Smoking

| Another great satire of corporate marketing, you never quite know who or what Thank You For Smoking is making fun of: tobacco companies, people who hate tobacco companies, lobbyists, or the government. Maybe all of them.

Max Brooks – World War Z

|Another great, complex story told in multiple viewpoints. Only this one concerns a zombie apocalypse, two words that carry so much weight when stuck in the same sentence.

Denis Hamill – Long Time Gone

|In summary form, this seems like your basic crime novel. Hamill does a great job of interchanging back story with present-day action though to really bring the reader in to this story of crimes committed across generations.

Paul Neilan – Apathy and Other Small Victories

|Nothing much to say about Neilan’s book other than it’s hilarious. Like, truly hilarious. The type of book where you might just start bending pages so you can bring it to the next dinner party and read passages aloud to your friends.

Jonathan Tropper – Book of Joe

|Great dialogue, great pacing, great everything in my opinion, all of Tropper’s novels are great reads. Book of Joe stands out though because of its deft handling of both serious and comic subject matter, never giving you too much of each at any given moment.

David Eggers – A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

|Though classified as a true story, Eggers voice and tone as well as his melding of both fiction and nonfiction make this an enjoyable read whether you’re looking to read a novel or a memoir. Funny as hell and inspiring, the story of how Eggers took his little brother under his wing after their parents’ deaths.

Bret Easton Ellis – American Psycho

|Single-handedly the most disturbing book I’ve ever read, by far. Amazing prose though, and one of the most effective social commentaries I’ve ever read. Not for the faint of heart (though I’m assuming most people have heard and been prior warned).

The Road – Cormac McCarthy

|A more personal take on post-apocalyptic America, following a man and his son as they fight to survive while following a road south. Amazing descriptions set the tone perfectly.

Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland

|Coupland is known primarily for Generation X, but I feel like he really found his calling in this, a story which takes school shootings and explores the psychological impact of everybody involved.

Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut

|My favorite of all Vonnegut’s novels. Funny, apocalyptic, Vonnegut. ‘Nuff said.

The Stand – Stephen King

The book and the man who first got me thinking about trying my hand at writing. Epic apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic tale. End of the world, viruses, good and evil, creepy stuff.

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2 thoughts on “Bookshelf

    • I actually need to update this with a couple of other ones I’ve read in the past year that got me. But all of these are really good, and a pretty wide range of subjects too. Definitely recommend.

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