Life as we DON’T know it: Dystopian and Post-Apocolyptic novels to read

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Through some internet browsing I came up with a pretty good list of books in the Dystopian or Post-Apocalyptic genres that I have not read yet.  These were suggested on various sites by columnists and bloggers.  If I read one I will update this list with the date read.  

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (1960)

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess  (1962)

A Gift Upon the Shore by M. K. Wren (1990)

Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin (1985)

Anthem (1937) by Ann Rand

Armageddon’s Children by Terry Brooks (2006)

Blindness by Jose Saramago (1995)

Cats Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (1963)

Crash by JG Ballard (1973)

Divided Kingdom by Rupert Thomson (2005)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (1968)

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (1949)

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954)

Idoru by William Gibson (1996)

In The Country of Last Things by Paul Auster (1987)

Iron Heel by Jack London (1908)

Logan’s Run by F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson (1967)

Lucifer’s Hammer by Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven (1978)

Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler  (1993)

Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (1963)

That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis (1945)

The Book of The New Sun by Gene Wolfe (1980-1983)

The Children of Men by PD James (1992)

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1955)

The Dark Tower by Stephen King  (1982-2004)

The Diamond Age, or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson (1995)

The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard (1962)

The Faber Book of Utopias edited by John Carey (2000)

The Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card (1989)

The Postman by David Brin (1985)

The Running Man Richard Bachman (1982)

The Sword of Spirits trilogy by John Christopher (1971)

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1895)

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (1980’s-1990’s)

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1921)

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (2006)


Books Read 2007-2010

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

I didn’t actively keep track of what I read for most of 2007-2008 but towards the end of 2008 I tried to remember what I had read and then I started my list.  I thought I would share it on here so others can comment if they would like on my reading selection.  Many of these books were required reading for my English Lit classes in college.  The first half of the 2010 list definitely is.  Once you get past Bounty, by George Saunders it has all been reading at my own leisure, which is nice, but I do miss the critical class discussions.


Wuthering Heights– Emily Bronte

The Age of Innocence– Edith Wharton

1984– George Orwell

The Red Tent– Anita Diamant

Good Harbor– Anita Diamant

The Picture of Dorian Gray– Oscar Wilde

Atonement– Ian McEwan

A Wrinkle in Time– Madeline L’Engle

The Other Boleyn Girl– Philippa Gregory

Flowers in the Attic– V.C. Andrews

Angels and Demons– Dan Brown

Lucky– Alice Sebold

Burning Bright– Tracy Chevalier

The Lovely Bones– Alice Sebold

Twilight– Stephenie Meyer

The Da Vinci Code– Dan Brown



My Antonia-Willa Cather

The Scarlet Letter– Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Bell Jar– Sylvia Plath

Brave New World– Aldous Huxley

Animal Farm– George Orwell

Fahrenheit 451– Ray Bradbury

Pride and Prejudice– Jane Austen

O Pioneers!– Willa Cather

Ashes to Ashes– Tami Hoag

The House of the Seven Gables– Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Queen’s Fool– Philippa Gregory

The Time Traveler’s Wife– Audrey Niffenegger

The Blithedale Romance– Nathaniel Hawthorne

Moby Dick– Herman Melville

Franklin Evans, or The Inebriate– Walt Whitman

Clotel, or The President’s Daughter– William Wells Brown

Ruth Hall– Fanny Fern

The Lost Symbol– Dan Brown

The City of Ember– Jeanne DuPrau

The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite– David A. Kessler

Open– Andre Agassi



Dubliners– James Joyce

Angela’s Ashes– Frank McCourt

Invisible Man– Ralph Ellison

Rabbit, Run– John Updike

The Ghost Writer-Philip Roth

Jazz– Toni Morrison

Angels in America– Tony Kushner

Oronooko– Aphra Behn

Billy Budd, Sailor– Herman Melville

The Metamorphosis– Franz Kafka

The Aspern Papers– Henry James

Ethan Frome– Edith Wharton

The Crying of Lot 49– Thomas Pynchon

Bounty– George Saunders

The Road– Cormac McCarthy

Animal, Vegetable Miracle– Barbara Kingsolver

The Handmaid’s Tale– Margaret Atwood

New Moon– Stephenie Meyer

Eclipse-Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn-Stephenie Meyer

Gone, Baby, Gone– Denis Lehane

And the Band Played On– Randy Shilts (half)

Shutter Island– Denis Lehane

The Song of the Lark-Willa Cather

The Deep End of the Ocean-Jacqueline Mitchard

The French Lieutenant’s Woman-John Fowles

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-Steig Larsson

The Girl Who Played With Fire-Steig Larsson

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone-J.K.Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets-J.K.Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban-J.K. Rowling

One Hundred Years of Solitude-Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Steig Larsson

Speak-Laurie Halse Anderson

The Hunger Games– Suzanne Collins

Gabriel’s Angel-Nora Roberts


It is so fantastic that I can read the titles of these books and remember where I was, where I lived, who I lived with, who I was friends with and what time of year it was when I read it.  I really value how keeping this list of books read will help me stay in touch with my past.  I don’t want my life to move along without me remembering how I got to where I am today.

The Reader

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink is a finely crafted story.  I love the way it is told.  I love the moral dilemma the reader is faced with.  I love the setting of the story.  I am fascinated by this character Hanna and want to hear her voice and her story.  Of course, we can only hear Micheal’s story because he is the first person narrator.  He is sharing this story with us as a part of his healing process and his growth as a person.  The presence of Hanna stays with him his entire life and he will never be without her.  She, unknowingly, formed him and his sense of self.

The film version is also beautiful, moving, powerful.  Kate Winslet is wonderful as Hanna and the young actor who plays the young Michael is equally brilliant.  There is just something about the simple telling of this story that I love.  The presence of books and literature moves me.  The fact that he records himself reading to her moves me.  Reading is beautiful.  Literature is beautiful.  Words, emotions, feelings, stories, people.  All of it is wound into this novel.

I would really love to learn and read more about people living in post-WWII Germany and how the young people from Micheal Berg’s generation dealt with what happened in their parent’s generation.  I remember the movie pointing this out particularly well when Michael is in seminar and their is another young man who is very angry at his elders for allowing such terrible things to happen.

5 Influential Books Read Before age 17

January 8, 2011 Leave a comment

After being inspired from this blog I came across today at The Simple Dollar I decided to follow in his footsteps and think back to 5 books that have influenced me personally the most in my 23 years.  I do not think I can place them in order from most to least but I will just put them down as I think of them.

1. The Stand (1978) by Stephen King

Read: 2003 or 2004 when I was 15 or 16

A good friend of mine at the time was into creepy books like this but was really into Dean Koontz books.  The copy I read was over 1000 pages.  I had never read a book that long nor had I ever read or even heard a post-apocalyptic story before besides random tidbits from the book of Revelations in the bible (also from this same friend).  I was totally engrossed and horrified by this story.  It is the epitome of the road novel. For me to imagine our country in ruins and only 1% of the population still alive was something I never imagined could happen before.  This may seem cheesy but it was a stepping stone in my life from innocence to experience.

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997) By J.K. Rowling

Read: 2001 or 2002 when I was 13 or 14

Harry Potter

I was a little bit behind the times when I first read this book.  Eighth grade was kind of old to be reading it for the first time.  Plus I did not really want to read it because everyone else really liked it so maybe I did not want to follow the trend.  However, I was hooked from the first book and checked out the same copies from the tiny local library countless times.  My love for this story goes on into my adulthood and am in the middle of reading them all again.  I don’t care if people look down on the books simply because of their phenomenal status or how much money they made or the somewhat annoying fanboys and fangirls of the actors in the movies.  The books are simply fantastic.  I feel like it is really my generation.  When I was 15 I read the 5th book and Harry and Hermione and Ron were also 15.  I felt like we were really connected somehow.  Haha.

3. A Wrinkle In Time (1962) Madeline L’Engle

Read: Not really sure the first time I read it….1999 or 2000 when I was 11 or 12 is my instinct.

I have read this book probably 5-6 times since adolescence and I think that I get a little more out of it each time.  I am pretty sure the first time I read it I was blown away, flabbergasted at the craziness that occurred in the book.  What the heck is going on?  Each subsequent time it just got better and better.  I recently bought the whole set of books but haven’t read them all yet…shame shame.

4. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950) by C.S. Lewis

Read: Not really sure the first time I attempted this…probably fifth grade, around 1998.  It was too difficult for me then so I suppose I really read it in the eighth grade, around 2002.

This book was a lot of fun for me to read and I have gone back to it several times.  Along with the previous book I bought the whole set but have yet to read the other books.  Perhaps because I read this in childhood and they had such an impact on me I don’t really feel all that excited to read the others.  It has big, interesting ideas that sparked my imagination.  It was very unlike other books I was reading at the time in elementary school.  Like The Babysitters Club and Goosebumps.  Haha.   Great Children’s Literature right there.

5.  Jane Eyre (1847) Charlotte Bronte

Read: 2005 when I was 17 years old and a senior in AP English class.

It was the first long classic that I read my self through and felt really proud of writing a real research paper on. The crazy wife in the attic totally got me!  This was one of the first books that introduced me to–symbolism.  Wow.  I loved Jane and her strength of character.

Books Can Speak to You

December 20, 2010 1 comment

Saturday I reread an old favorite of mine from junior high and high school that had opened up my world a tiny bit to the experiences other people have.  The way Melinda thinks in the novel felt so real that it seemed like I was absorbed into a journal.  It shows the simple, undeveloped thought of a 14 year old but still manages to go to new levels as we follow her through her year from Hell.

Title: Speak

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Year: 1999

Genre: Young Adult/Teens

Themes: Life Struggle, Rape, Depression, Social Status, Fear, Loneliness, Teachers, High School.

I really appreciate the genre of young adult fiction that actually means something profound to the people who read it.  It is books like these that change the way people view the world.  These books speak to the humanity inside all of us.  I commend the author for creating this work and helping to connect young people with their confused feelings.  So many have dealt with difficult things and do not know how to proceed with their lives.  Melinda was extraordinarily strong even though she became withdrawn and depressed.  She clung to what she could in her life.  It only takes that one special person to keep someone from going over the edge.  Her teacher, through very subtle ways, was that place of stability for her.  He gave her an outlet for her fear and anger and without being overbearing he helped her.  It is truly a sad story but you have a feeling Melinda will get through it and she will be okay in the end.

Steig Larsson’s Crime Thrillers

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

The Millennium Triology

I LOVED these books.  I read them each in less than 4 days.  And they are 500-600 page books.  Wow.  I have never been so sucked into a mystery before as I was throughout this trilogy.  Lisbeth Salander is one of the most interesting characters in modern literature that I have read before.  I am not going to say that these will go down as examples of the best literature of the age but their popularity and bestseller status may.

Finishing the third novel I don’t think I have ever cheered out loud as much I as I did when Advokat Giannini was bringing that bastard Teleborian down on the stand!

Eroticism of the Past

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles is a novel unlike any other I had read before.  The way he tells the story of 1867 with the hindsight of 1967 knowledge creates a lens with which to critically look at the social customs of the time.

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles (1969)

One of the aspects of this novel that stands out and begs for attention are the contrasting female figures of Ernestina and Sarah.  Ernestina is the suitable woman for Charles to be betrothed to but Sarah, the one who defies conventions is more sexually attractive to Charles.  She has something deeper within her than he can see in Ernestina and he cannot control it and he longs to.  This entire novel is about Charles’s efforts to achieve sexually and emotional gratification.  Ernestina does not appear to have any motive towards sexual gratifcation and Sarah’s gratification only comes from knowing she has conquered Charles by seducing him.

I would just like to pull out a few quotes I found interesting.

“…Ernestina was very prettily dressed; a vision, perhaps more a tactile impression, of a tender little white body entered Charles’s mind.  Her head turned against his shoulder, she nestled against him; and as he patted and stroked and murmured a few foolish words, he found himself most suddenly  embarrassed.  There was a distinct stir in his loins. There had always been Ernestina’s humor, her odd little piques and whims of emotion, a promise of certain buried wildness…a willingness to learn perversity, one day to bite timidly but deliciously on forbidden fruit. What Charles unconsciously felt was perhaps no more than the ageless attraction of shallow-minded women: that one may make of them what one wants. What he felt consciously was a sense of pollution: to feel carnal desire now, when he had touched another woman’s lips that morning!” (264).

The part I am most interested in is what I have put in bold. Here Charles is realizing his own selfishness and shallowness.  He is sexually aroused by Ernestina because he wants to have control over her sexuality and the idea of that power turns him on.  Depth of mind was not a value often looked for when men were choosing women to be good wives to them.  They weren’t a good investment.  A wife a man can mold to suit his needs was valued.  However, there is still that carnal desire that is not appropriate for a man to release onto his pure wife.  He must find a “woman” to fulfill these desires.  Thus, a prostitute or an already scandalized woman like Sarah.

This novel is brilliant and is chock full of commentary on how our society has developed in relation to social class, the passage of time, the changes in tradition, stereotypes, sexuality, gender, and money.  I thought it was amazing how Fowles incorporates theories of the great social theoreticians and rhetoricians into his work and at the beginning of each chapter.