"Those" Books…

So in 2002 my husband came home from work and he told me about this book he’d heard about on NPR, Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. When it came out, we grabbed it and when he finished it, he handed it to me and said, “Read the first chapter.” And I did. And the second and third and so on until I’d devoured the whole thing. And then I read the first chapter again twice more.

I’ve loved everything else he’s written both with Takeshi Kovacs (the protaganist from Altered Carbon), Market Forces (also one of the most amazing opening chapters I’ve ever read) and now, Thirteen. Thirteen arrived three days ago and is taunts me from my husband’s side of the bed all thick and hardback – promising a fabuolous read and a new world. I send him hints about it and he pretends to ignore me, hogging it to himself and reminding me I ordered it for him.

You know when you read a book and it changes *everything*? You read it and you’re blown away by everything about it? That’s how I felt when I read the opening of the book. It’s beautiful and terrifying and blunt and there’s not a word wasted. I’ve read it more than once and it hits me the same way William Gibson does because like Gibson, there’s an intense beauty in the stark backdrop revealed. It’s lush in its economy, if that makes sense.

I have these go to books, either for a scene or for the feel or just the entire package. These books that challenge me as a writer and a reader, books that bring me something each time I read. Altered Carbon and Market Forces most definitely from Morgan (and you can ask most everyone who knows me, I recommend Morgan all the time). William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Pattern Recognition. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Neverwhere. The opening chapter of Anil’s Ghost. Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Frank Herbert’s Dune. Asmimov’s The Naked Sun and Foundation. Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye and The Handmaid’s Tale. Mary Doria Russel’s The Sparrow. Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Jeanette Wintersons Oranges Aren’t the Only Fruit – these are just a few.

Do you have any books that changed you in some important way?

3 comments to “"Those" Books…”

  1. Charlene
    July 1st, 2007 at 6:20 am · Link

    I don’t know if they’ve changed me, but I love it when I get my doors blown off. Neil Stephenson did this with Snow Crash. I love it when I read a book that does something so well that it takes my breath. I love to see brilliant writing.

  2. rhian
    July 1st, 2007 at 8:57 am · Link

    Books that have had an earthshaking effect on me and changed my perceptions of myself or the world include (in reading order)
    1. James Michner’s The Drifters
    2. Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
    3. E.L. Doctorow’s The Book of Daniel
    4. Anthony Burgess’ Clockwork Orange
    5. Terri Windling’s Bordertown Series
    6. Truddi Chase’s When Rabbit Howls

  3. Ann(ie)
    July 1st, 2007 at 9:19 pm · Link

    Sometimes reading becomes almost like a religious experience for me. I have faith in the written word unlike anything. Some books that have rocked my world include:

    A Canticle for Leibowitz
    The Diamond Age
    American Gods
    Good Omens
    Pillars of the Earth
    Dreaming of You
    The Silver Metal Lover
    Tales from the Flat Earth

    I fell into such love with Tanith Lee in my early twenties. I inhaled everything she’d ever written. She writes with such opulent sensuality. God, I could go on forever.