Remember that guest post by Foxfier, readers? It inspired three more from yours truly, which you can read here, here, and here. Today, I thought I would list a few of my other favorite books, as there are many and we could all use some good entertainment these days.
With the Christmas season past, it might also be a good time to consider future gifts for book-loving family members one wishes to spoil rotten. 😉 Birthdays and other holidays are on the horizon (eyes calendar while praying Easter isn’t that early this year), so if you want to get a loved one something entertaining, a good book may just do the trick.
So let’s look at some old favorites, shall we?
The Weapon’s Shop* by A. E. van Vogt – I read this short story in a collection of sci-fi tales. This was one of perhaps two or three in the entire volume that I enjoyed, primarily because it was one of the few tales in the book that wasn’t downright depressing. Most of the others were disheartening reads. No wonder Star Trek took off the way it did. With that sci-fi atmosphere, something so optimistic and certain that humanity would not only survive, but thrive, it had the perfect opportunity to skyrocket in popularity!
Carry on, Mr. Bowditch* by Jean Lee Latham is a great book. Its focus is Nathaniel “Nat” Bowditch, the young son of a ship captain in Massachusetts. Known to history as the man who wrote The American Practical Navigator, modern navigation would quite literally be nothing without him. He found so many errors in J.H. Moore’s The Practical Navigator that he kept adding addendums to it. Eventually, this resulted in him writing The Practical Navigator, because to add yet more material to Moore’s book would mean writing a new one, anyway!
A real genius, you can learn more about Mr. Bowditch here, but I highly recommend Ms. Latham’s historical novel. It is fantastic – particularly in evoking the time period and reminding readers that there’s nothing more intimidating than a geek determined to prevent others from making minor errors. The whole reason Bowditch wrote The American Practical Navigator is because the errors in Moore’s book were getting people killed.
Readers, I think I found my inspiration for correcting and teaching how to write better fiction! XD
Men of Iron* by Howard Pyle is a classic for a reason. I actually need to reread this, because it has been a long time since I read it. That being said, I recall thoroughly enjoying it and I believe that anyone who loves tales of knights will find it fun!
The Book of Andre Norton* by Andre Norton is a difficult one to find. I first read it under the title The Many Worlds of Andre Norton, and it seems to be in danger of going out of print. If you can find a copy and keep your hands on it, readers, I highly recommend doing so. Not only does it have some stories by the Grand Dame of Science Fiction that you will not find anywhere else (I’ve tried, believe me), but it includes a valuable essay (or two, I can’t recall which now) by the author and others about her work. It is truly a jewel, and I am sincerely disconcerted by the idea that it might be out of print and no new copies are being produced.
The Scarlet Letter* by Nathaniel Hawthorne is probably an odd choice for this list. I know a number of people who think of it as a dour and depressing book, and while I would not call it particularly optimistic, I did not find it disheartening in the least. For my part, I thought it a very intriguing character study and a rather profound look at how grace finds us even when we hide from it.
But that is my opinion, and no one else is required to share it. If you didn’t like The Scarlet Letter, I am certainly NOT going to emphatically suggest you read it or give it to anyone else to read. Your prerogatives are your own, and they take precedence over any suggestion I might make. But it is a good book, in my opinion, and so I share it with you here.
Something Like an Autobiography* by Akira Kurosawa is an amazing book not only for how it introduces a reader to Mr. Kurosawa (and, thereby, his work) but for the glimpse it gives of pre-war and World War II Japan. Mr. Kurosawa himself is a fascinating subject, but his descriptions of his life and his country as it was from the time that he was a child to 1950 (the cut-off date he selected to end his autobiography) is fascinating. Reading it made me feel in some cases like we were sitting across from each other at a table, with yours truly listening as best she could to catch everything he had to say.
That, readers, is a very rare reaction from me. It takes a special kind of artist to make me feel that I am listening to a friend, not to someone rehearse their life and achievements. Along with his films, Kurosawa-san’s autobiography is something to be read and studied. To study such a man merely means you listen to him talk. He will tell you all that you want to know when and as it suits him to, and not a moment before.
“The Great Carbuncle” by Nathaniel Hawthorne – and yes, I am bringing up Hawthorne again. You can find this short story of his in Twice-Told Tales, which is available for free on Project Gutenberg. The story follows a group of adventurers in search of a jewel that the Native tribes call the Great Carbuncle – a gem so luminous that it can be mistaken for a star, as it is hidden high up in the mountains and typically veiled from sight.
Each adventurer has their own reason for wanting to find the Great Carbuncle but, for my part, I found the story of the young couple and the tale of the Cynic to be most effective. The rest of the characters are all fairly standard, but the young couple was intriguing and the Cynic downright enlightening. I already had no interest in cynicism when I read “The Great Carbuncle”; completing the tale, I found even less reason to entertain the notion of becoming one. The Ancient Greeks’ term of “dog” for cynics is much less emphatic than Hawthorne’s skilled portrayal. If you are a writer, I highly recommend reading this story, as it will help you understand why certain characters behave in the manner that they do and why others do not.
The Romance of Morien* by Jessie L. Weston is a translation of an old Dutch romance featuring Gawain, Lancelot, and a young newcomer named Morien. I had boatloads of fun reading this book, which you can find for free on Project Gutenberg as well as for sale on Amazon. If you think you know the Legends of King Arthur, think again. This prose translation of the romance will shed light on some old favorites while introducing you to new ones!
Marymae and the Nightmare Man by A.M. Freeman is a book I was privileged to review both here and at Upstream Reviews. You can read either review to learn more about my opinions of it and the plot, but suffice it to say that I think it will make a great gift for any child who wants to go on an adventure!
The City* by Dean Koontz is a great coming-of-age story told from the hero’s point of view. He starts out at the end, spends most of the middle on the events that shaped his life, and then shows us precisely where he lives and how happy he is. Though the city is never specified and the historical period is not over-emphasized, the novel draws a good picture of the late 1960s and makes a grand story out of a young boy and his love for music.
The Hundred and One Dalmatians* by Dodie Smith is the book that inspired Disney’s famous 101 Dalmations* film. I always loved the movie, so finding the book was a dream come true for this author. Reading it was eye-opening, as the story and characters vary a fair bit from those in the movie. Cruella has a Persian cat whose kittens she drowns, Perdita is the wet nurse for the fifteen puppies at the heart of the adventure, and Pongo’s wife is named Missis.
As for the Dearlys, the husband has the good fortune to have solved the British government’s tax problems and has a lifelong exemption from paying taxes for it. Looking at that, I can see why Disney made him a songwriter – it is less fantastic and more believable to most people than what was originally in the book!
Unfortunately, I didn’t like the sequel novel – The Starlight Barking – as much as The Hundred and One Dalmatians. It isn’t a bad book, but it really isn’t a good one, either. There is nothing wrong with it at all, but I found it inferior to the first. You may decide as you will whether or not that makes it worth reading for yourselves.
Finally, we have Sitka* by Louis L’Amour. This action-packed tale occurs primarily on the high Pacific Northwest seas as Jean LeFarge, born and raised in the Eastern States before becoming a frontiersman, sets out to become a captain trading furs and other goods from Russian-owned Alaska to San Francisco. Set prior to and around the purchase of Seward’s Folly, LeFarge finds himself in love not only with the sea and Alaska, but with a married Russian aristocrat.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a sordid romance. LeFarge and the lady have more honor and self-respect than to dally on the side and put her husband to shame. Though the hero gets the girl, he gets her honestly and not through trickery. At the same time, he seeks to help Seward forge the future of the United States, since Alaska has more to offer than the politicians in Washington, DC, seem willing to believe. In the immortal words of Louis Pasteur, “They must see!” and LeFarge intends to be the reason they do!
Well, readers, I hope that list was as enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to write. I have to get back to work now, but I hope you had fun with this. More lists will likely be forthcoming, as entertainment shared is made more inspiring than if it were restricted to oneself, but for now I must sign off. Have fun, and enjoy your day! 😀
*These are Amazon affiliate links. When you purchase something through them, this author receives a commission from Amazon at no extra charge to you, the buyer.
If you liked this article, friend Caroline Furlong on Facebook or follow her here at www.carolinefurlong.wordpress.com. Her stories have been published in Cirsova’s Summer Special and Unbound III: Goodbye, Earth. She has also had stories published in the Planetary Anthology Series. Another story was released in Cirsova Magazine’s Summer Issue in 2020, and she had a story published in Storyhack Magazine’s 7th Issue, Cirsova Magazine’s 2021 Summer Issue, and another may be read over at Ember Journal. Vol. 1* and Vol. 2* of her series – The Guardian Cycle – is available in paperback and ebook as well. Order them today!
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2 thoughts on “More Reading Suggestions”
Howard Pyle! There’s a name I haven’t heard for a long time….
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Another fascinating list, thanks! You have an unpredictable variety of favorites. 🙂
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