five books that changed my life

i decided today, well, about five minutes ago–lots of fives hanging around me–that id keep this thing alive and be a bit more active, though it seems less and less people are coming to read my little jottings. anyway, probably a lot more of this incoherent rambling and sharing of things i like than just retelling of what im doing. i dont find it terribly interesting, to be honest. i mean, i suppose thats my fault. i should jazz up my prose and what have you, but i grow weary from it. anyway, the topic at hand.

i wanted to insert images of these books, the artwork, but it wouldnt work. anywho. oh, these arent in order of importance, but in order of biography. that being, my biography and chronology of reading them.

1. ender’s game by orson scott card

really just the entire series, more so the later ones, those being : speaker for the dead, xenocide, children of the mind. ender’s game brought us here, though, so i’ll leave it at that. such a great book. the series really had a profound impact on me when i was still just a young snapper. from an action/thriller young adult novel to philisophical pondering and quandries of love and faith and humanity. these books cover a lot of ground and id recommend all of them. ive not read them in several years, but ive always meant to revisit them. maybe next summer or this winter.

2. the lord of the rings by jrr tolkien

i honestly dont think i need to justify this in any way. these books are fantastic. i felt a lot there and put an entire year into them, reading them over and over and delving deeper into the world with the silmarillion. turin turambar remained my favorite character for years after that. these books are tragic and beautiful and hopeful. grand in scope and amazing, despite what literary elitism would have you think.

3. crime and punishment by fyodor dostoevsky

im sure just about all of you have heard me talk about this book. but this book literally changed my life. even still, theres nothing more important thats happened to me then the day i was told to read this book back in high school. raskolnikov was a part of me, is a part of me. always. i wept into this book, it sent me on a year long existential crisis, broke my mind, my soul, rebuilt it all, hopefully stronger, at least i like to think so. ive read this four times and keep wanting to pick it up one more time, or eight more times. ive not read it in a few years, though. mostly because it shuts me up for weeks. it crowds my mind and i get confused and start treading dangerous territory where life and words mix to close. something i’ll always hope to one day be able to do, but will surely fall short. to make words on a page more important than twenty odd years of experience. that is writing.

4. the phinneas poe trilogy by will christopher baer

im sure ive told tons of you about this, too. its a weapon, itll hurt you, bleed right onto the page. so dark, so intense, frighteningly comfortable in there. probably more than i should admit given the subject matter. but phinneas’ voice in my head felt so right, felt like home, like me. poetic and powerful, sentences like gunshots in a garden. theyll break you down and pitch you deep underground, back into the dark recesses of your mind. i love these books. but, yeah, never knew fiction could be like this.

5. the book of lazarus by richard grossman

ive not much talked about this, though it may be the single greatest thing ive ever read. maybe ever written. well, at least in the last ten or twenty years. i’ll not get into that battle, though. this book has everything i want in a book, everything ive ever needed. experimental and contemplative. a book of the dead, a ballad of unforgiveness, songs seeking salvation, and the pain of life stuck between heaven and hell. its told through several characters and they each have their own distinct part ranging from aphorisms, to poetry, to a noir novella, to a seventy page sentence fragment–by far the greatest thing ive ever read in my entire life, so readable and brilliant, twisting and swirling and bringing you everywhere words can and should take you. everything i hope to recreate exists in balancing this and crime and punishment, combine them together. that same effect, i mean.

all sorts of honorable mention belongs here. pretty much everything stephen graham jones for being the most immediate influence on everything i put down and hope to be able to accomplish. and then theres guys like dr seuss and maurice sendek. neil gaiman, too, that guy can do anything and he gives me hope when i look at his books. camus, too, hes a big one, and bukowski and rimbaud, my hero. then theres things like the greeks and oedipus and orpheus, always orpheus-right up there with rodya-and shakespeare and egyptian mythology and odin and thor and yggdrasil and the trickster and parts of the bible that burn just right. but, yeah, keep it close and concise. or try to.

thats about it, i think.


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