by William Hohmeister
Friend and fellow contributor Jeremy wrote a summer reading list and I decided to join in. It took me a while to make it, partly because as soon as I try to remember the name of something I like – books, movies, friends – I forget it, but mostly because I spent a lot of time reminiscing about the Pizza Hut summer reading program “Book It!”*
Here is my list of recommendations and books I want to read.
Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, by Box Brown (Link 1). It’s a graphic novel autobiography of Andre Roussimoff, better known as Andre the Giant, or Fezzik, if you like The Princess Bride. On the set of The Princess Bride, Andre supposedly racked up a $40,000 bar tab; that story sets the tone for the (often apocryphal) nature of the stories in the book. Andre is as much legend as real person, but the book does an excellent job of showing all sides – the charismatic wrestler, the incredible giant who seemed beyond belief (especially to me as a kid), and the person who suffered from acromegaly, which turned him into an old man at 40 and then killed him.
Want to read:
The Power of Myth. It’s a series of conversations about mythology with Joseph Campbell at Skywalker Ranch. Essentially everything I like in one place. I have it, but have yet to crack it open (I am a distractible reader).
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson (Link 3). It’s a mostly-true memoir by the Bloggess (Link 4). It’s funny, sad, revealing, and awesome. It also has a picture of a taxidermy mouse wearing a black and red cape and holding a tiny skull on the cover.
Want to read:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. There’s a joke that goes, as soon as you write a paranormal/strange/fantasy story, you’ll find out Neil Gaiman already wrote it. He has written a lot, about some strange, great stuff, and I have never been disappointed by his books.
First, I’d like to back Jeremy’s recommendation and say that The Dresden Files is a great book series.
I started with Grave Peril (Link 5) (the third in the series) and have been reading them out of order ever since. When Skin Game finally (finally!) comes out, I intend to pick it up immediately. Also, fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, James Marsters (Spike) narrates the audiobooks.
Want to read:
This is sort of a cheat, because I have read several of the books in the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald (Link 6), but not nearly as many as I want. No bookstore seems to have them.
I learned about MacDonald through Stephen King. King described reading MacDonald’s books while lazing in college, and I thought that sounded pretty good. McGee is part mercenary and part knight-errant, a beach bum with a sense of honor and a moral code. The books do not have an overarching plot; the common tie is the titular character, who can be equally brutal, philosophic, womanizing, and touching. Any book in this series will give you a good read.
Preacher, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (Link 7). Graphic novel is a fancy word for comic book, but throw your fancy words and uppity literary notions aside. Preacher is not safe for work – probably even to look up on Wikipedia. The story’s about Jesse Custer, Tulip, and Cassidy looking for God – capital G, because he’s a character too. They want to have harsh words with him. The concept is interesting and the story is always compelling, but the heart of the books is the relationships between Jesse, former preacher, Tulip, gunslinger and failed assassin, and Cassidy, vampire. It has plenty of gore, nudity, and profanity, but it also has a guy called Arseface.
Want to read:
Thor, by J. Michael Straczynski (Link 8). I started this years ago, but never finished. I don’t understand comics continuity – too many titles, too many mega-events – but Straczynski got me interested in Thor, and after his run on Spiderman I’ve wanted to pick up more of his stories.
Instead of a single short story, I recommend signing up for Daily Science-Fiction’s newsletter/daily story. They email you a flash fiction story every day, and the quality is generally high. My most recent favorite involved a velociraptor made up of nanobots taking care of a child during the end of the world.
Want to read:
The End is Nigh edited by John Adams and Hugh Howey. It’s a collection of various authors, with the premise of a setting just before the end of the world – whatever form of apocalypse each writer chose. The End is Now and The End Has Come are set to come out in September, 2014 and March, 2015, respectively.
Therefore I Geek. (Link 11) They write objective and opinion articles about all things geeky and nerdy. If you want an interesting place to start, try this article on magic (Link 12).
*All nostalgia comes with a grain of salt. I may remember things wrong or maybe just made something up – I had to ask a friend what the program Pizza Hut ran was called. Everything I write, however, is as true as I remember it.
I was a proud member of Book It as a kid, and so were most of my friends; in fact, it was one of the few things that gave me a chance to talk about books with my friends. Not that they were dumb or hated reading, but I was the reader, generally, of whatever group I was in. I was the child happier to sit in shade at the park with The Chronicles of Narnia than to play baseball.
Harry Dresden image by zmajtolovaj/deviantart