Showing posts with label favorite. Show all posts
Showing posts with label favorite. Show all posts

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What’s your favorite book?

I was an English major in college. I read a lot of books, some good, some terrible. I’ll admit though, I’ve been reading for enjoyment since I was about ten years old. I know, I’m a dork right? Ha. I remember standing in the book store at the mall (back when book stores were a dime a dozen) and agonizing over which book to spend my meager allowance on purchasing. Back then it was Dr. Who stories. Later I graduated to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. I’ve always been a bit of a Sci Fi and Fantasy nerd. Heck, I read Tolkien when I was 12. High School brought on a bunch of ‘classics’ that I’d rather label garbage. In college I read even more material, much of it terrible, but also some incredible gems.

One of my favorite books of all time is Possession, by A.S. Byatt. Read that in my Junior year of college. I’d say that’s number three on my all time favorite list. Number two is a non-fiction book about the human mind and how it constructs myth and morphs it over time. When They Severed Earth From Sky, by Barber and Barber will undoubtedly force you to change your perspective on religion, history, myth and the meaning of societies’ values.

My all time favorite book is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Surprisingly, I did not read this book in high school or college. I read it after that, while I was in the Navy.  Imagine the irony of that sort of thing, reading a book about military and societal insanity, while in the military, serving during a time of societal upheaval in the wake of 9/11. Regardless of when I read the book, it stunned and captivated me. I was intrigued and perplexed at the same time. Each character vividly came to life from the written page; each possessed disturbing yet personal quirks that made them ‘real’. I also identified with the central conundrum the book presents; that of the struggle to conform or rebel against society’s rules while being true to yourself. 

Other people that have read Catch-22 agree with me; although others have said it can be incomprehensible. The narrative is fractured a la Pulp Fiction. I think that’s what I like about it most. The story is non-linear. To me that’s like life. Yes we move through time in a linear fashion but for the most part our minds meander and oscillate from the past to the present and drift off into the future occasionally, all in a day’s time. I think the beauty of a story like that is you aren’t stuck in a traditional beginning, middle, and end. Each chapter could be the conclusion or the start; it’s all in how you look at it. That’s the real gift, the gift of perspective.

Another interesting note about that book is this. Joseph Heller taught English composition at my Alma mater, Penn State for two years. I remember being on campus. Every day after class I passed by a sign outside one of the buildings. This sign was dedicated to Joseph Heller and it made mention of his tenure at Penn State and his acclaim for writing Catch-22. After first reading that sign I told myself that one day I would read his book. Although it took me ten years to fulfill that promise, I did. Consider it a conceit that I believe one day I will publish a quality novel like Mr. Heller. And I too will have a sign somewhere on Penn State’s main campus illustrating that fact.  

If you remember I’m always saying if you change your perspective, you’ll change the world. Well, here’s another example. What’s your favorite book? Do you even have one? If you don’t I’d challenge you to pick one of mine, if just for a good example and read it. You might get something out of it, if you dare.

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are welcome. 

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