Stories that Stick

Happy Friday everyone! Casey Wyatt here.

With the holiday season in full swing, I wanted to share some of my favorite books in case you’re looking for gifts or something different to read in all your “free” time.

Either because of the characters or the adventure, these are the stories that have stuck with me over the years. Sometimes, I re-read them (except for #6, explanation to follow), other times, the memory is enough to make me smile.

By no means, is this a list of all my favorite books. Absent, but no less loved, are The Lord Of the Rings trilogy, A Christmas Carol and all of Harry Potter. Instead, I wanted to offer more obscure titles that maybe you’ve never encountered. And I do admit that some of these have a sci-fi/fantasy bent (but I can’t help that!).

1.In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker – a 24th century cyborg named Mendoza time travels to Elizabethan England to the garden of Sir Walter Iden. While there, she falls in love with a monk name Nicholas Harpole. While there’s a romance, this is really speculative fiction and is the first of an epic series about the mysterious Company – Dr. Zeus, Inc.

2. Spring Moon: A Novel of China by Bette Boa Lord – I first read this book as a teen. I distinctively remember that you could choose among an assortment of different colored covers. I choose a pink one with red lettering (which I still own). At the time, I knew next to nothing about China, let alone about the turmoil at the turn of the twentieth century. But I never forgot this tale about Spring Moon and how she survived her country’s massive social upheaval. I re-read this book several years ago and it was still as poignant as I remembered.  If you are a fan of Lisa See, check this book out.

3. A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes – this book was out of print for many years but returned in the early 2000s, when I first learned about it. This story is a dark comedy about a group of siblings on their way home to England after their Jamaican plantation home is leveled by a hurricane. Along the way, their ship is hi-jacked by pirates who have no idea what they are in for. And it begs the question, who is more wicked? The children or the pirates?

4. The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett – A wacky variation of the story about the guy in the in the red suit. In the land of Discworld, Hogswatchnight is in danger when the beloved Hogfather goes missing.Death’s granddaughter has the task of finding him before disaster ensues. With appearances by a down on her luck tooth fairy, a nasty assassin, and Death himself, this is a satirical holiday tale like nothing you’ve read before.

5. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote – A short story that I read in high school English class. Young Truman recalls holiday visits with his aunt and their annual mission to find ingredients to make fruitcake. I believe this tale sneakily contributed to my fascination and enjoyment of fruitcake. Yes! I admit it. I like fruitcake!

6. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – This book scares the crap out of me. Written in fast-paced, first person, documentary style, this story is so plausible, it’s freaky! And, since Brad Pitt will be starring in the movie version (which I am sure will bear no resemblance to the book), you might want to check this out. If you read Stephen King, you can handle this. Don’t be put off by my nightmares! I’m just a big scaredy cat when it comes to zombies

7. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley –  Everyone has a book that they read a zillion times as a kid. This was mine. I took it out of the library so often that I knew its exact shelf. My love of Beauty and the Beast traces back to this book. And I suspect my love of romance too.

Who wants to share their favorite (not as popular) stories? And what books are you looking forward to reading in 2013?

13 thoughts on “Stories that Stick”

  1. I love your list of books. Thanks for sharing.
    I don’t blame you for number 6 – zombies scare the hell out of me too.
    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    1. Happy holidays to you too Janna! You can be sure World War z will be one movie I won’t be seeing. The trailer freaked me out – all those zombies – swarming like bees – eek!!

  2. If any of your books would make me smile, it would be the “fruitcake” one. Casey, do you really like fruitcake? No, not me, but reading about the finding the fruitcake ingredients would be likeable. A cake adventure. Sounds perfect for me, I don’t like Zombies or mysteries, or any other scary story, so fruitcake works. For my favorite books as a kid, there weren’t too many, but “Alice in Wonderland” and “Heidi” were good reads. In fact, in the book club I belonged to as a young mother, we all read and discussed “Alice in Wonderland.” I don’t remember the discussion, but I did enjoy the reading. Thanks for a fun post.

    1. Ah Gail! The fruitcake story was a short story written by Truman Capote for the New Yorker back in the 1950s. After years of wracking my brain trying to remember who wrote the story, I discovered it the libary when I checked out a collection of his short stories. I wanted to read Breakfast at Tiffany’s and there it was! I was so happy to read it again after so long and I still enjoyed it. As to Alice in Wonderland and Heidi – loved and read them both.

      Did you know that Lewis Carroll aka Charles Dodson was also a mathmetician? Alice and Through the Looking Glass is loaded with mathematical references.

  3. I think I remember that Truman Capote story! I’m pretty sure we had to read it in high school English. (and I don’t mind fruitcake, either!) One of the lesser-known stories that has stuck with me is The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. It is set nearby in Wethersfield, Connecticut in the early colonial period and is about a teenaged girl transplanted from Barbados to Puritan New England. I probably read it ten times as a kid; I recently bought it for my Nook, and it was every bit as wonderful as I remembered it. Another book that I just can’t let go of is more recent: The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. This is a delicious dark Gothic novel about an antique bookstore owner called in to write the biography of a reclusive literary genius. In the process, she uncovers a web of secrets and lies that runs generations deep. The writing is just so beautiful, and the story is so twisty and compelling, it’s one of the few recent books I own in both hardcover and audio, and one of the few recent books that I have already reread–and will read again. This is the author’s only book, and there has been no word about when, if ever, she’ll have another out. That’s one of the joys-frustrations of a literary novel–you just never know when your favorite author is going to put out something new!

    1. I love the Witch of Blackbird Pond. I didn’t actually read it until my kids were in elementary school. Somehow I missed it growing up! And I did like the 13th Tale too.

  4. Great topic, Casey. And Suze, I loved the Witch of Blackbird Pond! As for stories that have stuck with me, I have to say, Barbara Kingsolver’s PRODIGAL SUMMER has remained vivid after many years. her writing struck a chord in me early on. Something about her writing style truly moves me. Books I’d like to read in 2013 are too many to name…I’m just hoping I’ll have more time for reading.

    1. I hear you on finding more reading time! I ususally try to read a half hour before bed but often I end up reading longer than I should!! My TBR pile is so much bigger than the time I have!

  5. More books to add to my stocking stuffer list! Thanks, Casey. 🙂 Plus thanks Susannah for the reminder about The Witch of Blackbird Pond – I haven’t thought of it in years, but loved it as a teen. It will be a perfect gift for my 17 year old daughter. I might also suggest Hyperion by Dan Simmons, an oldy but also one of my favorite Sci-Fi books.

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