Thanks for inviting me to share some of my favorite books with your readers. I’m going to try and offer a variety, since I’m an eclectic reader.
1. ‘Pride & Prejudice’ by Jane Austen is a classic novel that is more than a romantic love story between Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett; it also is a commentary on the society of the times. It pokes fun at how mothers and fathers “conspired” to marry off their daughters to men for wealth, rather than, dare we call it, affection. Austen’s classic style and sense of humor may be difficult to uncover upon first read, depending on how familiar readers are with older styles, but it is well worth the extra effort to uncover the sarcasm and insight she offers about a period in history she knew so well.
This is a novel that I’ve read over and over completely and read just bits and pieces that I consider so witty I just want to revisit them. In fact, my copy of the novel became so warn, it detached from the cover and the binding began to disintegrate, forcing me to obtain a second copy. I also find that my love of Austen’s characters in this novel has transformed me into a sequel and spinoff junkie.
2. ‘A Coney Island of the Mind’ by Lawrence Ferlinghetti is a showcase of the best poems from the Beat Generation of poets, poems of protest, lyric enjoyment, and entertainment. In many ways, some of these poems represent a vivid cornucopia of images and sound to wake up the reader and ensure they re-examine the world around them.
One of my favorite poems in this volume is “Dog.” As a dog owner, who often personifies her pet, I can completely see my dog acting in the same way the dog in the poem does. For instance,
“The dog trots freely in the street/and sees reality/and the things he sees/are his reality.”
However, this is not just a dog, but a metaphor on some level for the working man, though Ferlinghetti does not make this abundantly clear to the reader until the latter portion of the poem.
“He’s afraid of Coit’s Tower/but he’s not afraid of Congressman Doyle/although what he hears is very discouraging,”
“He will not be muzzeled/Congressman Doyle is just another/fire hydrant/to him.”
I like the simple language the poet uses to set the scene of a dog walking down the street and illustrate what he sees, but it is how he views the world that cause readers to pause and reflect. Ferlinghetti is my go-to poet when I need to laugh or just think about society, but in a fun way, and I always recommend him to non-poetry readers because his style is so accessible
3. ‘You Suck’ by Christopher Moore displays the lighter side of vampires with two young teens as the main, blood-sucking characters – Jody and Tommy. Beyond learning what it means to be a vampire and avoiding an older vampire, Jody and Tommy deal with the young relationship they have, his friends worry about him and how much he’s pulled away from them, and of course, the allure of drugs, sex, greed, and more.
Moore’s writing is sarcastic and comical, allowing readers to release their stress and laugh at the follies of man/vampire. These novels are even better on audio as narrators create characters with their voices, voices that readers can identify with and know intimately.
Vampires should be this hilarious. I love serious vampire novels, particularly those where vampires are not afraid of their new state and embrace the need to feed, but Moore provides me with that and laughs.
4. ‘Phantom of the Opera’ by Gaston Leroux is the novel that Andrew Lloyd Webber based his musical upon, but this novel is far from the light-hearted, romantic drama Webber created. Leroux’s journalistic background enabled him to write about the Phantom in a style that could be seen as objective. Readers uncover the facts of the Phantom and his antics within the Paris Opera House. The stories told by the supporting characters continue to paint his darker side, and readers will become lost in the labyrinth of the underground catacombs of the opera house along with the narrator. While the basic story is the same in the Webber musical, this is a novel that I would consider a “dark and stormy night.”
If you enjoy dark novels that fill you with tension at every corner, Leroux’s work is for you. I’ve read and reread this novel, and like Pride & Prejudice I continue to enjoy sequels about these characters to see what other connoisseurs of the novel thought they could add. Although this is considered another classic novel, I think the notions of betrayal, obsession, love, and alienation are themes that every writer tackles. Unlike, the flowery descriptions of literary novels and other genres, Leroux relies on his journalistic background to provide an “objective” look at a terrifying ghost/man whose obsessions become his passion and only focus.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed these selections, but there are so many more books I could mention, including Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat; Christopher Pike’s vampire series, which is being republished in collected volumes called Thirst; and any poetry written by Yusef Komunyakaa. I want to thank all of you for reading about these books and also thank Book Chick City for inviting me.