Hello gentle-people it is I, your great an (sometimes) benevolent Chester or as some of you know me as -----, regardless, that is then, this is now and WELCOME, to be BE all to END all top lists that are the most...listiest...I, among other things, am quite the bibliophile. Well I figured I would share my most precious of things, a list of my top 20 literary delights. They will tantalize your senses, seduce your inhibitions. Make you laugh, Ha ha Ha! Make you cry, boo hoo hoo, hell they even may make you wet a little, Oh La La. Now as this is my personal favorite list, I have read these books, front to back, or back to front if you're Japanese. This list is my gift, a gift to all the little people, and big people, and bright people, stupid people, and any other peoples I can't think to add. Now the list is not in any particular order but you can be assured the top 5 at least are the most important of importance. Well off to the list, buckle in kids, it's gunna be a bumpy freaking ride.
1. Alice in...PSYCH Hahah oh too obvious, to think that Alice in Wonderland would be first my pets, no no that's far too predicable, and of something I am most assuredly not. Anyways to the list!
1.(The Real) The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.
What can I say about this piece of ink and paper treasure. It is a classic, tried and true. It changed my life duckies, I kid you not. Of course everyone should know hopefully the basic premise. It has to do with a young beautiful man, who's picture is being painted by an enamored artist. Of course, the painting is beyond gorgeous and the youth then has his mind corrupted by the artist's friend, an unscrupulous lord. The youth becomes vain, paranoid, he shall age and wither, but his picture will remain young and beautiful. It drives him mad, and he curses the painting to age instead of himself. The piece really deals with vanity and sin and how easily one of utter perfection can be altered and given to evil...to be beautiful on the outside but hideous on the inside. But make sure you read the 1880 version not the 1881. People caught on quick to the little hints and homosexual "slights" in this tome. So they butchered the hell outta it and removed all the juicy bits. So make damn sure you get the right edition, otherwise what's the flaming point?
2. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt
This one might be a hard read to swallow, but its mostly based on true events. It's of a crime that took place in the distance lands of...Savannah, Georgia of the United States of blah blah blah. I don't want to give away to much, I feel that would take away from the surprise. The book has many interlocking parts, lots of characters, lots of side stuff going on, but it's all important, trust me. Also I am sure you will find at least one if not 3 characters you enjoy the most.
3. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
Again another classic, what a horrible dystopian world but sadly a world I think we are coming to, soon, very soon. It is hard to say anything about this that hasn't already be said so just read the damn book and enjoy it huh?
4. Camp Half-Blood chronicles/Kane Chronicles/Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan
Now ooh boy this one is gunna be a long one... We'll start in order I guess, in total there are...let's see..13 then 3 then so far it's at 3 working on a 4 at least 19 or more books here. So ok it all starts off with the Percy Jackson story that's what kicks this whole massive franchise/series off. Percy Jackson is a young boy, who finds out he has a Greek god as a father. Turns out as well that all the Greek myths and legends are real and if I had to aliken it to anything it would be like...American version Harry Potter but with Demi-gods instead of wizards. So it's young adult fiction but here's the kicker, the way this(the first 5 books in the Percy Jackson series), well they are written like a Greek tragedy or play. There is love, action, humour, it plays out like a fantastical Greek epic poem, fanciful places and enthralling characters. Ya it's told from the perspective of a young teenager but it doesn't make it bad in fact it kind of makes it more...whats the word, not relatable but more accessible? These are just kids, dealing with monsters and death, loss, it's just amazing. The Kane Chronicles was Riordan's leap into similar ideas as Percy Jackson but instead of Egyptian gods taking center stage and as you may have guess, Magnus deals with Norse gods. Also Riordan's worlds...well they are all connected. All these characters can, or have interacted with each other. The universe is massive with lots of interlocking parts. If someone told me I could only ever read one author or book series again I would likely pick this. With so many books I don't think it would ever get old. Not to mention there is countless short side stories he's written, companion books as well as a few of his books now have graphic novel forms and he even wrote about the classical Greek heroes from the perspective of Percy Jackson, so semi-modernized version of ancient Greek heroes and it was very well done.
5. Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carrol
Shocked as you might be to find the inspiration to my whole mad persona so far from top billing but there is a reason.
Despite the beauty and chaotic wonder of the books by the good Reverend Dodgeson(Yes Lewis Carrol was a fake name), in it's heart they are just really good children's books. They opened the door for me to read other things and expand my horizons.
6. Death: A Life, by George Pendle
I have to say this is by far one of the most humorous books I have ever read. It is basically a memoir of the grim reaper's "life". It is not for the faint of heart though. As it is a very satirical book, well pretty much nothing is sacred, from religion, history, pretty much everything is a joke but it is done I feel in a very, I dunno it's hard to describe. All I know is it one the few books that actually made me laugh out loud for real.
7. Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
This next one is a bit of a curiosity in and of itself. It is supposed to be narrated, hence written by a 15 year old boy with severe psychological disorders. It again is difficult to put into words the intricacies of this book. It opens to the murder of a neighborhood dog with a pitchfork. The boy seeks to find out who did it. It well I can tell you this much, out of all the books on my list, I honestly think this one might be the most beautiful. In a tragic way, but tradegy is almost always beautiful...
8. Inkheart Trilogy, by Cornelia Funke
This one would be classified as young adult fiction. But it is such a unique and lovely premise. For those of you who may have seen the movie. Ignore it, it was crap. The book has to do with a man who, whenever he reads out load from a book, parts of the book will come out, but something will go into the book. I mean books like this are often back shelved when it comes to more popular young fiction, Harry Potter, Narnia etc. But these books that are lesser known have tremendous merit. It is wonderfully written and the characters are ingrossing and the plot is easy to follow. The pace is a bit to quick at times, its like BOOM something happens. Still, a great read, something good to get young kids into the joys of reading.
9 Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
For those of you who recognize the name, Neil Gaiman is the author of many serious and books, from Caroline, to the Sandman graphic novels. I have always been a fan of his work and Good Omens did not disappoint. It is a parody of sorts, of the horror movie, The Omen. It is witty and funny. A true gem for any library.
10. Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
It has been many years since I read this book but it still remains a great book. Tragic story of a girl who was killed and her journey through her own personal heaven as well as following the lives of her family and killer as time goes on. It truly is an amazing story. So palpable, the pain the family feels, the fear the killer fears and all the emotions this poor girl is going through. So touching. The movie wasn't half bad but lacked the magic and passion of the book.
11. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Suskind
Quite the well written book. It has to do with a man who has a superhuman sense of smell and what he will do to capture a perfect scent...even if it means doing the unspeakable. The ending was a bit shit, the movie was surprisingly good I must admit. Pity about the shitty ending but I shall let you judge for yourself. The words woven up to and just before the ending are indelible but the ending left like the author just gave and was like, "well fuck it I dunno what to write" then downed a bottle of absinthe and hastily scrawled the conclusion on a soiled cocktail napkin...
12. Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World Paperback by Lesley Downer
Now I was all for memoirs of a Geisha, the movie looked great, and I liked the whole world and genre of Geisha. Problem was I read this book first...and this book takes Memories and beats it bloody within an each of it's life, like a disobedient concubine. I tried to read Memoirs I really did but everything about it bored the fuck outta me. Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World is a comprehensive analyse of the art, style and story of Geisha. What it was, how it started, how it progressed through Japanese history, even little bits about general Japanese history. All told from the perspective of Lesley Downer who went around learning all these things, gathering all the histories and stories behind it. You learn so much about them, that it opens your mind to the realities they faced and how despite best efforts its an art that is slowly but surely dying...It's tragic really, once you start reading, you're invested in it. You become apart of they're journey, all the while learning how it's not long for this world. It's like going on a walk with a friend who has a terminal disease. You're with them, enjoying the breeze, taking in the sights, partaking in jovial conversation...all the while knowing soon they won't walk this path with you again. If you are even remotely interested in Japanese culture, it's a great book to pick up. Even if you're not interested, pick it up anyways, I guarantee you will be by the end of it.
13. The Mind Parasites by Colin Wilson
Wiki classifies it as "a science fiction horror novel" ya I guess I can see how they'd come to that conclusion but I think it's far to vague and narrow to simply call it that. There is something quite remarkable about this book. My aunt gave me a copy, tattered, beat up, falling apart and worn out. I loved it. It's hard to really go to much into the plot without giving away to much of the story but basically it has to do with aliens...to a degree. It's a good book, made me think a lot. My only real gripe about it would be the ending. Again seemed tacked on and was like...ok I was more then willing to go on this crazy adventure with you but honestly you're really asking me to suspend my disbelief to a level I don't think is possible. Another downside in my mind was Wilson's excessive use of metaphor and similes. I mean like fuck, it got to the point after every line of him describing something, he was describing something else similar. It almost got insulting after awhile, it was like fuck do I get it, this like that, I made the fucking connection myself without you having to spell it out to my like a brain dead child CHRIST! But besides that it was an overwhelming good book, a little like if H.P. Lovecraft and H.G. Wells had a baby. This book would be their baby.
14. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Now before I get started, I am not gunna criticizes anyone's idea on how to raise your children. Everyone is different and in truth nobody will agree. Granted I personally would raise my children this way(if I had any) but if it works it works...and sometimes it does. This book is all about the story of Amy Chua, starting a family, raising her daughters, and all the perils of being a mother, and being Chinese. It's an interesting look into a realm most people don't know about. Tiger Mothers. Most have heard of helicopter parents well, tiger mother's beat those bitches senseless. Strict is putting it mildly. It's interesting because things change, and sometimes, shit doesn't work out how you want it too. This is something Amy Chua realizes. Overall the book has a semi-humorous tone, but it can be very serious at times. It's a very intimate look into a woman's family, all the wrongs and rights. It was very eye opening, and happily was never dull. I highly suggest you pick up a copy.
15. The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs This book is by far a comedic one. But it does however go into a lot of interesting areas of Christianity. The book is about a Jewish man (AJ Jacobs) living his life strictly to the code of the bible, or as strict as he can. It's written humorously because of some of the things that happen when you try and do what the Author is doing, you soon learn though how in depth and crazy parts of religion can be. Even if you don't like Christianity, it is interesting to read this from a fairly un-bias perspective.
16. I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains by Chuck Klosterman
This book was interesting on a number of levels, it's description and view of what makes a villain an villain. As well as the idea that people who are villains might not be all bad. I found it interesting because I have always been obsessed with the idea of villainy.
17. Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland
I know what you're thinking, "Alex? Someone wrote a book about you?" Ha ha ha fuck you and no. Again it another comedy but a much darker one then Death: A Life. Not by a much greater degree though. But something about this book was just so charming and ya it made me laugh. It literally is about a man who is a walking pile of garbage. Well not literally, metaphorically...basically the guy is a bastard and lots of crazy shit happens to him and he continues to be a piece of shit. As I've said, I found it charming and hilarious, the style of humour is distinctly British.
18. Diary of a Mad Diva by Joan Rivers
This book more then ever is the most important. It helps you understand the life of Joan Rivers, the things she has to do, her family life, her career. A little disclaimer. You have to have a strong stomach, and impressive will to read this. Joan never pulled punches and this book doesn't either. If you are easily offended or even offended at all, please do not read this book. However if you can manage to make light out of the most atrocious of jokes, please feel free to read. I know this one might not be for everyone, but most people who like her, will love this book.
19. Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-In-Training Book by Tom Jokinen
A rare find, largely because it relates to Canada and our...well our anything media, from books, to tv, to movie all of it is awful. Anyways we all die, we all have questions. What happens to my body, where do I go after death, as well as other metaphysical questions. This book answers the more physical questions as well gives a glimpse into the relatively hidden world of the funereal parlor, it's struggle with new-age burials, how the family run mom-an-pop homes are being taken over by big business. It's overwhelmingly good.
20. Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family by H.P. Lovecraft
I know I know, "Ches", you are likely saying, "As a ardent fan of Lovecraft, surely you suggesting you read the Call Of Cthulhu, are you not?". No in fact I am not. The Call of Cthulhu I feel is a story only a set number of people can truly appreciate and absorb. Lovecraft isn't for everyone and nor he should be. Pandering to your basic fears, pedantic and predictable. No No, Lovecraft terrifies on a more ephemeral level. Lurking into the deepest recesses of your mind. But talking about the book at hand or short story, this one within the first few paragraphs it hooks you, gives you a reason to dig deeper, find out, why and how or what. It gives you questions, so many questions but withholds the answers for you. I won't spoil the story, it's one of those things you should experience first hand. Just remember though, madness and insanity can something beheld in small wooden boxes.