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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ten Books that You Might Enjoy

Kent Haruf: Plainsong

This is a lovely story about the adventures of the good folk of Holt, Colorado. Haruf paints a vivid portrait of rural life, and is amazingly able to turn everyday life dramas into arresting reading. The sequel is called Eventide and I look forward to reading it soon. With titles like those, Haruf must either be a musician or an Episcopalian or both.

John Irving: A Prayer for Owen Meany

This is undoubtedly the most poignant book I have ever read. A true tale of selfless love and friendship, told as only the American Dickens can tell it. A must read for all literate people

Armisted Maupin: The Night Listener

Maupin is one of the only authors I know who can be equal parts sad, funny and mystery writer. The master of the plot twist, this book is a total mind fuck, but it is also one of the most memorable books I have every read.

Sheri Reynolds: The Rapture of Canaan

Though I am utterly loathe to admit that I loved one of Oprah's book selections, this is a real winner of a tale, especially if you're a liberal in the conservative dungeon of the south like I am! A wonderful tale of a young girl who overcomes the brainwashing of her near cult-like religious community to find true redemption and salvation. Fabulous.

Alice Walker: The Color Purple

Perhaps it's a bit of a cliche to list an Alice Walker tome, but she is one of the finest writers in print and this is masterful story telling. One of the few times when a movie is as good as the book, this series of letters to God is a profound portrait of the African-American experience in the old south.

George Orwell: 1984

Unquestionably the most terrifying book I have ever read. I can't remember when a story stuck with me for so long, or disturbed me so deeply. Not for the weak-kneed!

Liam Callanan: The Cloud Atlas

This book was one of those splendid little accidents that I found at the public library. Set in Alaska during the Second World War, it is a fictionalized account of the balloon bombing campaign, wherein the Japanese attempted to bomb the US west coast by means of bombs attached to hot air balloons. It's a great tale coupled with some rather fascinating history.

Peter Ostwald: Glenn Gould: The Ecstacy and Tragedy of Genius

Psychiatrist and long-time Gould friend has written a fascinating biography of one of the twentieth century's greatest and most controversial musicians. In spite of his profession, the book is thankfully sparing of too much psychoanalysis. Rather, Ostwald tells the story of his friendship with the Canadian pianist, relying on his profession only to add insight into one of the most eccentric personalities in music. A great read, and a sad story indeed.

Christoph Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician

Without a doubt, this is the most readable indepth biography of the greatest of all composers ever written. Wolff approaches his subject from the point of view of Bach's amazingly well-rounded personality. From his authority in the field of organ construction to his foibles at diplomacy and church politics, Bach was a man of thorough learning and scholarship. A must read for all music lovers.

Grahame Green: The Power and the Glory

A true classic, this tale of a priest in troubled times is so real that you almost feel the need to shower after you have read a chapter. Beautifully descriptive, and powerful to the last word, this is a book that deserves a shelf life outside of high school literature classes.

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