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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, folks.  I'm a newbie (obviously) and I would like to jump into the forum with both feet.  This seems the place to do it.

The following is a list of my ten favorite novels, with capsule reviews.  Some of them are available for the Kindle.  Some are not.  I strongly urge those of you who have their interest piqued by my reviews of the non-Kindle titles to recommend them for Kindle inclusion.

(Am I being out of line?)
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
#10. The Tomb (Adversary Cycle/Repairman Jack) - F. Paul Wilson


F. Paul Wilson has become a mid-level success in the fiction realm over the last 25 years. Though he only occasionally breaks the bestseller list, he has developed a fanatical cult following. His novels range from sci-fi to horror to medical thrillers to mysteries to adventure stories... and often cross genre boundaries to include two or three of these genres at once.

The Tomb is the second in Wilson's Adversary Cycle, a six-book series which deals with the ongoing war between the forces of Order and Chaos. The first book in the series, The Keep, may be known to some patrons from the incredibly bad movie adaptation from 1983. In this second book, Wilson introduced his most successful and beloved character: Repairman Jack. Living "outside the system," Jack has no identity, no social security number, no official status whatsoever. A cross between Indiana Jones, The Equalizer and Sam Spade, Repairman Jack makes his living "fixing" problems for people who must seek help outside of legal channels.

Repairman Jack appeared in two of the Adversary Cycle novels, then was spun off into his own franchise. 2008 saw the publication of the thirteenth Repairman Jack book. You can visit Wilson's website at www.repairmanjack.com

 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
#9 The World According to Garp - John Irving


The book that started it all. Though not his first novel, Garp was a runaway breakthrough hit for Irving and started his 20+ year reign as one of America's bestselling authors. And after all this time, it remains my favorite of his novels.

Garp essentially tells the story of a man who just wants to be a good husband, a good father and a good writer, despite all the weirdness of his upbringing, his family and his circumstances. It set the tragicomic tone that became Irving's trademark for much of the rest of his career. Horrible things happen to good people... but Irving keeps us laughing through the pain.

It may not be Irving's deepest or most "truthful" work. It might not even be his best. But it remains my favorite after more than twenty years and several re-readings.

 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
#8 Lord of the Flies - William Golding


I actually stumbled on this book by serendipity as a teenager looking for novels by William Goldman. (see post below) And thank God I did! Apparently, Flies isn't taught much in high schools anymore, and I might have missed out on this classic otherwise.

Lord of the Flies tells a now-familiar story of a planeload of English schoolboys who crash land on an uninhabited tropical island. Without any adult supervision, the boys' veneer of civilization soon breaks down and they revert to savages, even to the point of hunting, killing and declaring war on each other.

The magic of Golding's novel is that it works on several different levels at once and manages to succeed brilliantly at all of them. It is a gripping adventure yarn. It is a sharp sociological analysis of social order. And it is canny religious allegory... all wrapped up in one short page-turner that you can get through in one or two sittings.

It used to be required reading for high school seniors. It should be again.

 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
#7 'Salem's Lot - Stephen King


I can hear the boos already, even from the quiet safety of my computer den. I don't care. I am an unabashed King fan and this remains my favorite, though it was only his second published novel.

I'm sure I don't have to give anyone a synopsis of the plot, so I'll just jump in and say why I so love the book--it's the scariest damn thing I ever read. Only The Exorcist equaled it in sheer terror factor, and Blatty's book has some pretty dry and clinical passages in it. None of that here... King grabbed me by the throat and the balls from the word go and never let go.

Unfortunately, the success of the book has somewhat spoiled it for later and future readers. I was lucky enough to have read 'Salem's Lot back in 1978, before everyone knew what it was about. And part of the terror of the book is that it isn't until the novel's mid-point that King reveals exactly what the menace is that is claiming this small Maine town. It is the fact that the reader doesn't know (though he likely suspects) what the nature of the growing evil is until this point that makes King's story so damn effective. Modern readers will never be able to experience that, and thus tend to under-appreciate the book.

 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
#6 Neuromancer - William Gibson


If you are a sci-fi reader, it is almost impossible not to have this book in your pantheon. Neuromancer is the novel that changed sci-fi forever, dragging the "New Wave" artistry of Ellison kicking and screaming into the computer age. It is the book that gave us the term "cyberspace" and served as the archetype for all "cyberpunk" fiction that followed.

Dense and poetic, Neuromancer is essentially a mystery-adventure set in a dystopian future where Asian mega-corporations control the world's economy. But to simplify the novel like that is to do it a huge disservice. In a relatively short novel, Gibson addresses the futures of Man, Technology, Industry, space travel, computers, the Internet, cloning and Artificial Intelligence. And he manages to do so in a neo-lingua more razor-sharp than anything Burgess or Huxley could have ever imagined.

A must-read for any Internet junkie, sci-fi fan, sociology buff or anyone who just likes smart, lyrical prose.

 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
#5 Dancing Aztecs - Donald Westlake


Despite almost never cracking the bestseller lists, Donald Westlake is one of the most successful American fiction authors of the last 40 years. He is primarily known for his "comic caper" novels, particularly his Dortmunder series, which tell hilarious stories of a gang of NYC crooks and their various heists. The Hot Rock, Bank Shot and Jimmy the Kid are all from the Dortmunder series and have been turned into movies of varying success. Westlake also writes the occasional screenplay, notably Payback (which he adapted from his own novel) and The Grifters, which earned him an Oscar nomination.

Though not one of the Dortmunder books, Dancing Aztecs sits as the jewel in Westlake's crown as King of the Comic Crime genre. It tells the story of a small-time hood who stumbles upon a plot to smuggle a priceless South American relic into the States in a crate with several plaster copies. When the real statue gets passed out along with the copies at a celebratory banquet, a madcap chase commences over all of New York as an ever-increasing number of people race each other to track down the Real McCoy.

Though many of the cultural references are now a bit dated (the book was written in 1976, do you remember The Hustle?), the humor remains untarnished today. This is one of only a few actual laugh-out-loud hilarious books I've had the pleasure to read... and re-read... and read yet again.

 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
#4 The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov

I don't really think I need to explain or justify this choice, do I? If there are any questions as to its inclusion, I'll come back and edit in comments later. But that doesn't seem likely to be necessary.

I will mention that I am speaking only of the first three Foundation books. And that it was these books which, as much as anything. led me to pursue a B.A. and Masters in Sociology.

Foundation

Foundation and Empire

Second Foundation


 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
#2 Boys and Girls Together


Even if you think you've never heard of William Goldman, you are quite familiar with his work. He wrote the books and screenplays of The Princess Bride, Magic, and Marathon Man and the screenplays for Misery, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Harper, The Ghost and the Darkness, Chaplin and the original The Stepford Wives among many others.

Boys and Girls Together is one of his earlier books and his epic magnum opus. It follows the stories of a disparate ensemble of characters from childhood to their late twenties, where they all collide in the world of Broadway theater. Each of the many characters is fascinating, though few are actually likable, and Goldman has a flair for razor wit dialogue that is unmatched on the printed page. By the time this group all gets together, you are really rooting for some of them and seething with hatred for others.

Sadly, Goldman wrote his last novel in 1984, packed his bags, left New York for Hollywood and has written only screenplays since. The literary world sorely misses him.

 

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This is an awesome thread. I can't wait to see your #1 choice. Thanks for taking the time to write these great reviews. They are much appreciated by me, and others as well, I'm sure.

One suggestion: Link to the books that are available on Kindle. That would make it much easier for us to jump in and make a purchase if one (or more) of your reviews piques our interest.

P.S. I don't know what the menace is in Salem's Lot. Should I consider myself lucky?  8)
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
#1. Watership Down - Richard Adams


I didn't discover this classic until I was in my twenties, And when I did finally read it, I was stunned and perplexed to discover that it is advertised and marketed as a children's book! While on the surface it may seem a simple and gentle adventure story, there is much more depth, terror, symbology and even theology here than meets the casual eye. No kiddie book this! It also immediately became my favorite book ever and I re-read it every three years or so.

I suppose part of the magic of the book is that it is multi-layered enough that it can be enjoyed as a simple adventure story by youngsters and appreciated for the deeper religious and philosophical musings it contains by adults. If you read it first as a 13-year old and then again as an 20-year old and then again at age 30, you'll discover three very different books, each deeper, smarter, more touching and more meaningful than the last.

Another factor that makes Watership Down unique is the way in which Adams presents his animal characters. Unlike other authors of animal stories, he doesn't fully anthropomorphize his rabbits. He gives them a language and even a mythology of their own, but still keeps them fully rabbits, making the reader meet the characters halfway. We have to learn to become rabbits as much as the rabbits become human. And by doing so... by accepting the rabbits as real rabbits rather than merely rabbit-shaped cartoons of humans, we sympathize and even empathize with them in a manner completely unique to the genre.

I know Watership Down isn't as popular as it once was. Younger forum members may have never had the chance to experience its magic. If you are one of the unfortunate ones, RUN, don't walk, to your bookstore immediately and purchase a copy. You can thank me later. Orrrrrr..... demand that it be released on Kindle.

 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
CS said:
This is an awesome thread. I can't wait to see your #1 choice. Thanks for taking the time to write these great reviews. They are much appreciated by me, and others as well, I'm sure.

One suggestion: Link to the books that are available on Kindle. That would make it much easier for us to jump in and make a purchase if one (or more) of your reviews piques our interest.

P.S. I don't know what the menace is in Salem's Lot. Should I consider myself lucky? 8)
I linked to every book, whether available on Kindle or only as a brick-and-mortar book. ;) Every title is a link.

I'm glad you enjoyed the thread, and I hope you aren't disappointed with my #1 pick.

P.S.: Read 'Salem's Lot before anyone spoils it for you!!!
 

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Bacardi Jim said:
I linked to every book, whether available on Kindle or only as a brick-and-mortar book. ;) Every title is a link.
Whoops! I totally missed that. :) Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed the thread, and I hope you aren't disappointed with my #1 pick.
From your review and the description on the Amazon page, there's definitely more than meets the eye. I'm intrigued. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that it's not on Kindle (I clicked the button to request it).

P.S.: Read 'Salem's Lot before anyone spoils it for you!!!
Once I get my Kindle, I may have to give it a go. :)
 

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Bacardi Jim said:
Hi, folks. I'm a newbie (obviously) and I would like to jump into the forum with both feet. This seems the place to do it.

The following is a list of my ten favorite novels, with capsule reviews. Some of them are available for the Kindle. Some are not. I strongly urge those of you who have their interest piqued by my reviews of the non-Kindle titles to recommend them for Kindle inclusion.

(Am I being out of line?)
Welcome, Jim. Thanks for jumping in with both feet and thanks for the interesting top ten list. I've read many of the books on your list and I think my favorites would be Watership Down and Garp.

Sorry, I don't do Stephen King, even if we are neighbors! (I'm in Maine.)

Good to have you here.

Leslie
 

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What a great list, and I especially appreciate your commentary. As is our practice here, I'm in the process of adding Kindle Store graphics to each of the posts, along with our KindleBoards affiliate links.

Great to have you here!

- Harvey
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks for the pics, Harvey.  :)

As to avatars, I already had one, just didn't get around to shrinking it down until today.  ;)
 

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Hey Jim! Welcome!
I also read 'Salems Lot back when it was new. I lived alone & worked late, so I got home around 2am, opened my windows for a breeze, (mid-summer, hotter than H-E double toothpicks. Well I had been reading for awhile when the screen fell in. That was probably the scariest moment of my life. Have been a King fan ever since.

I have had Isaac Asimov & Douglas Adams on my to read list, gotta get to it!
Lisa
 
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