Castle Librarian

Archive for December, 2013|Monthly archive page

Lasting Impact Fiction Books

In Book Review, Reading on December 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm

A friend on Facebook posted a “hey, list the 10 fiction books that have stuck with you” post and tagged me. I can’t just list the titles and authors without explaining why the books are memorable to me. So, here is the list with elaboration.

The City of Darkness by Ben Bova c1976 – This is the book that started it all. I read it when I was in jr high school and it got me hooked on reading. I had struggled to learn to read in elementary school to the point of having to have a one on one tutor for a while. My family didn’t sit down with me daily and read to me, so it was a struggle when I got to school. (If you have small children, please buy a butt load of picture books and read to your child EVERY DAY. It will pay off.) So, Ben Bova’s juvenile novel about a sterile civilization achieved by sealing off the undesirables under domes in the large cities hit a cord with me and I became a rabid reader (although always a slow reader) from that point on.

The Dueling Machine by Ben Bova c1969 – Another Bova book makes the list. Once I find a good author I tend to read more of their books. I would have said I read a lot of Ben Bova, but I just looked at his bibliography and he is way too prolific for me to keep up. I connected with this book because the character who saves the day is an awkward geek. Not the typical hero. (Also, Bova was writing about virtual reality long before the Star Trek holodeck came into being.)

The Crystal Singer by Anne Mccaffery c1982 – Mccaffery is another author I’ve read many times. The Restoree would have made this list except that I re-read it at the age of 30 and realized how sexist it was. But, when I was in the midst of puberty, it hit a cord with me. The Crystal Singer is much more feminist and I’ve recently read in again in the audio book version. It holds up. It is the first of a trilogy. The main character discovers that her music career won’t be what she expected and she chooses to enter a dangerous and permanent career of cutting crystal which requires perfect pitch. It may be a bit of a stretch, but as I am job hunting and considering returning to the States or continuing to live abroad, I see how this book correlates. I’m not done with the adventure, yet.

Mind Song by Joan Cox c1979 – By now you might be noticing a tendency toward science fiction. It’s true. This one is very strange. The reality in the beginning of the book is not the reality in the end of the book. The author orchestrated a complete turn around. I lost my original copy somewhere along the way, so hunted through used book stores until I found another copy.

The Ship Who Sang by Anne Mccaffery c1985 – There are several “Ship Who” books and this was the first one I read and the best, in my opinion. The premise is that children who will be born mortally deformed are encased in a life support container and installed in machinery, like rocket ships and serve as the controlling device, so to speak. They are paired with human partners – brain and brawn. I’ve always been a sucker for unrequited or tragic love and this is the ultimate star crossed lovers story.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman c1973 – You are probably familiar with this title, but if you have only seen the movie version, you are missing out. READ THE BOOK! The movie doesn’t include the Zoo of Death or Fezik’s origin story or any of the satire.

Enemy Mine by Barry Longyear c? – This was originally a novella in a science fiction magazine. That is how I encountered it. It was wonderful and poignant. The movie version slaughtered the story. The author reworked and extensively expanded the story in The Enemy Papers, a massive tome that I managed to conquer despite the heavy war theme throughout. I’m a pacifist, so it was a struggle, but worth it. I recommend the novella and novel, but, by all means, skip the movie.

Killing Children by ? Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact magazine Nov 1978 – I’m cheating a bit with this one, because it was a novella in a science fiction magazine not a stand alone book. It was, however, a powerful story that amazed me. Unfortunately, I no longer have my copy of this magazine and Google Books won’t give me a peek at the contents page, so I don’t know the author’s name. The story is about a man who has been locked up for strangling his girlfriend to death and details his weird journey back to sanity explaining why he did it. It took on a lot of taboos and stretched my brain.

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles c1969 – Not just to prove that I have read more than science fiction, but because this is a story that sticks in my mind. When a college classmate saw me reading this book he made a remark about her being a prostitute. This guy had seen the movie and that was the conclusion he had drawn. In reading the book, my conclusion is that the male main character is actually the “prostitute,” although prostitute isn’t the right term since it was not a money transaction. The woman knew exactly what she was doing and why. She wanted a child without losing her freedom. The man is the one who throws away the things he values for his desire to have this woman.

Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce c1999-2002 – This is a juvenile fantasy series with a strong female character. I remarked to my husband that the first book made me cry. He asked what it was about and I said it was about a girl who was a Bible major in college where girls weren’t really allowed to be Bible majors. He completely understood. The real plot line is about a girl who has entered training to be a knight in a society where this is not fully accepted. A previous girl went through knight training disguised as a boy and has become famous as a heroic lady knight. Kel, the heroine of this series is the first to go through training without disguise and she faces bullying and prejudice.