Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ten Books That Had an Impact on Me

When the below suvey/contest/game thingie first circulated online, there existed multiple headers for it ('Ten Books That Affected Us the Most', 'Ten Books That Changed My Life', 'Ten Books that Impacted me the Most', etc.).  When I finally found the time to undertake the challenge, however, I preferred to compile my list using the fourth contest header I had seen ('Ten Books that had an Impact On Me').  I did this primarily because A.  I found the other headers to be a bit dramatic (I'm not sure I've ever read anything that I'd feel comfortable saying 'changed my life') or B.  I knew there to be a very good chance that my list would be very different depending on what era of my life I had been exposed to a given book (different books have different effects on us at different times in our lives).  Before undertaking the challenge, I also made sure I jotted down my titles relatively quickly;  taking too much time to hone my list, I reasoned, might unfairly muddle my decisions by allowing me to focus on my very favorite works of literature instead of those that actually affected me the most.

Anyway, here is what I came up with (again, without having given the matter too much thought):

1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
3. Watership Down by Richard Adams
4. Edgar Allen Poe:  ‘The Tales’ (The Gold Bug, The Fall of the House of Usher, Murders in the Rue Morgue, etc.)
5. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
6. The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
7. ‘The Complete Calvin & Hobbes’ by Bill Watterson (though I realize that this is more of a compilation than a book)
8.  The Witches by Roald Dahl
9.  Grimm’s Fairy Tales (more of an assemblage than a book, I know, but great literature nonetheless) 
10. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Honorable mentions:

Beowulf (very much impacted, even though the title is not technically a ‘book’)
The Odyssey by Homer
The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson (though I suppose this is more of a compilation than a book)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
Calvin and Hobbes:  ‘Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons’ by Bill Watterson (more of a compilation than a book, and the reason why I felt obligated to include a more complete compilation of his work above)
Calvin and Hobbes:  ‘Revenge of the Babysat’ by Bill Watterson (more of a compilation than a book, and the reason why I felt obligated to include a more complete compilation of his work above)
Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (more impressed by the work than ‘impacted’ by it)
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (more impressed by the work than truly ‘impacted’ by it)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

BBC's Top 100 Best-Loved Novels of all time?

Below is a (supposed) list from the BBC's Top 100 Best-Loved Novels of all time. I stumbled across the list online a couple of years ago, along with the explanation that a friend of the poster's 'literacy teacher had printed it out for the class.' Apparently that teacher had also found information that said the average American will have only read 6 of the following books by the time he/she dies (watching the movie doesn't count - you have to read the book). 

At last count, I've got 16 of these books read (28 if one counts the books that I'd started reading but never finished)*.  Looks like I've got some serious reading to do, but for now I guess I can say that I've read more than the average American! :)

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

*Book titles in italics indicate books I've read at least once.  If an author's name appears in italics, but the title of the book is not, then it indicates that I've read some of the book.  In some of these 'partial' cases, I felt as though I'd read the entire book at some point in the distant past but ultimately harbored enough doubt about it that I didn't feel comfortable counting it as 'read'.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Master

"As children, we all live in a world of imagination, of fantasy, and for some of us that world of make-believe continues into adulthood."  

 -Jim Henson

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


"Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead."

 -Gene Fowler

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Recent Reading

Recently finished the classic THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and enjoyed it immensely.  Doyle's a master of character and I marvel at how effortlessly he manages to convey personality through action rather than description.  The 'completeness' of the story and characters surprised me - I had not read any of the earlier Sherlock stories prior to this one but it didn't seem to matter.  I picked up on subtleties that I ordinarily would have absorbed only by reading his earlier Sherlock stories. Unlike the works of many of Doyle's contemporaries, I never once found the book to be overly dense or difficult to read.  In fact, the prose flows so smoothly, that I'd even venture to say that it could have been written by an author today.

Next up I plan to revisit the classic THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame, and after that, I plan to delve a little deeper into the works of George MacDonald (whose fairy tale stories are said to have inspired Tolkien and C.S. Lewis . . .).

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Worthy Words

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.  Don't settle.  As with all matters of the heart, you'll know it when you find it.  And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.  So keep looking until you find it.  Don't settle."

-Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Blind contour sketch in Sharpie (less than one minute)

Knocked this drawing out in the car tres quickly en route to the public pool for an exercise session. 

It's not a very good drawing (nor is it a good likeness of the subject) but that's to be expected with these sorts of renderings.  You see, in a contour drawing one does not typically lift the tip of his or her pen or pencil from the surface of the paper until the drawing (or a portion of the drawing) has been completed and in a 'blind' contour drawing, the artist does not look down at his paper until either a section of the drawing - or in some cases, the entire drawing - has been completed.

This particular drawing, come to think of it, is more of a 'partially' blind contour (I looked down at my story pad a couple of times).  I do these little drawings a lot, actually, primarily because contour and blind contour drawings are great exercises for training one's eye to more accurately 'see' the forms one is trying to record . . .