Monday, November 07, 2011

A Challenge From My Wife…Or My Favorite Books

My wife recently issued me a challenge – she asked ‘what are your favorite 5 or 10 books’. On the surface it doesn’t sound like much of a challenge, but she knows me well enough to know that for me it was quite a challenge.

I’m terrible with lists of this sort – my mind simply doesn’t work in terms of favorites. I immediately said I needed qualifiers for a list like that – her response: ‘I knew you’d say that’. I needed to know what she was after – most entertaining books, books that ‘moved’ me the most, that lingered the longest, etc. – because a list of each of those qualifications could be very different. What about series? I may like a series enough to want to include it on the list, but that could be several books long and full of caveats.

So, I pestered her some more – basically she wanted to know what books I enjoyed the most so she could read them and appreciate more about what I like and get to know me better. After 10 years of marriage, I found this very touching – we’ve always shared books, but it’s generally more like ‘I think you’ll really like this book’. This time it’s all about the books I like.

I also got her to cut out series – she doesn’t have much free time, so she just wants books that can stand alone. Awesome, that cut things down considerably.

So, where did I go from there? It was tough and I thought about it quite a lot. But honestly, once I got into it the list began forming rather easily. Now, it’s a list with lots of variety. And some of these are books that I haven’t read in many years, so if I were to read them today I’m unsure if I’d truly place them on the list. Also, some of the books that I really enjoy are because of the ways they may subvert or build from ideas in hundreds of other books that I’ve read – my wife is not as well read in the SFF world to ‘get it’. However, I decided it didn’t matter and just went with my gut. She will probably learn a lot about me – some of it will bewilder her, some of it will amuse her, some of it will be expected, other parts less so. And now you get to too, if you so choose.

I ended up choosing 8 books. Another day may have been more or less and other books may have made the list with some of these being left off. But here is the list at the moment (in no particular order, so I’ll go alphabetical).

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville (Book Depository, Powell’s Books, Indiebound)

I thought about giving reasons, but I’m going to keep them to me for now. I’ve linked reviews where available , so you can get an idea (note, some of these reviews are quite old and I would hope that I've improved a bit in my reviewing skills since then). Obviously it’s a very eclectic list – some are probably expected, others are probably not books your familiar with. I’ve ‘enjoyed’ each in some way, though in very different ways. But I’m sure I could find common threads in each if I were so inclined. Anyway, there you have it…as close to an absolute best of list that you’ll ever see from me. Enjoy!


Mad Hatter Review said...

Very interesting list. If my wife asked for a similarly styled list it would look very different than yours. I actually tried to do something like this with my wife a couple years back, but on a lesser scale. I finally got her to read The Shadow of the Wind (she loved it), Lost Horizon(she didn't care for it), and American Gods (loved it) so that worked out well enough.

But one of the first things that drew my wife and I together was the love of books. At that point in my life I was a wider reader than I find myself to be now. Meaning I read a lot outside of genres. One of the first books I lent her was The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi, which is about an boy growing up in 1970s London working out his sexual identity during the punk scene. To say she was surprised that I read this type of book is an understatement. That book still sits on our shared shelf of beloved reads.

Bryce L. said...

My wife doesn't love me enough to read ONE SFF book let alone 8. Consider how lucky you are my friend. :)

I still emailed her a link to this post to show how deprived I am.

Aubrey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carl V. Anderson said...

That would be a difficult challenge to be sure. Very sweet of your wife to come up with the idea. I am fortunate in that I've often either gotten my wife to read my favorite books or, more often than not, I've read them aloud to her.

Now if you could convince your wife to right a post about her thoughts about the books as she reads them, that would be really cool.

Aubrey said...

Just so anyone who read my last comment knows - it was a joke. I realized my awful dry sarcasm does not transfer as well in text... I know my hubs loves me haha. And I HAVE read 2 books that he's recommended (The Pillars of the Earth - does that one count?, and some book about monsters).

Neth said...

@Carl - no way I could convince her to write anything about it. She doesn't have the time. Frankly, she doesn't have the time to read the 8 books I gave her. I would guess it'll be another 10 years before she's read them all - hopefully she'll at least get to a couple of the shorter/novella length books on the list.

@Mad Hatter - that's one of my problems with lists, if I did this again in a week or a month or a year or one morning before I had my coffee, it'd probably look a lot different. Also, the absence of series makes a big difference - but those are tough, but some of my favorite series are favorites more from naustalgia than them actually being very good.

@Bryce and Aubrey - a nice sarcastic lover's spat is always welcome around here :)

Joe said...

That's a hell of an idea. I like your list and there's a chance I just might steal the idea for a post.

Aaaaand, some of those may go on my stupidly long reading list. I like having books hammered into my head for years before I pick them up. This helps. :)

redhead said...

my other half and I bonded early over a shared love of books. When I saw his bedroom bookshelves were double stacked with paperbacks, I knew he was the man for me.

but he read mostly fantasy, and I was an SF girl for so long. . . but 10 years of "I think you might like this" has made our bond over books even stronger.

Mimouille said...

It's really interesting to me as Mythago Wood, Perdido Street Station, Crack'd Pot Trail and The Forever War are also favorites of mine (truly), but The City of Saints and Madmen bored me senseless. The rest just jumped to the top of my to read list !

Mimouille said...

And the most success I had with my Fiancée was with Ender's Game and Simmons' Hyperion. She did enjoy the Forever war though.

Neth said...

@Joe - steal away. Most of my best posts have been 'inspired' by other blogs.


I think that City of Saints and Madmen appeals so much to me because I'm a scientist and I'm very interested in natural scientists. The whole appendix section, particularly about the giant squid, I found simply awesome. But then I'm used to reading dry, journal-type stuff (heck, I write that sort of thing every day).


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