Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers and other bookish bods to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles and new bloggers.
Today's guest is Steph from the blog Steph & Tony Investigate!
Steph, a Canadian, is currently living in Nashville, where she is NOT pursuing dreams of becoming a country legend, but is instead attempting to complete her doctoral degree in psychology. While reading is perhaps her deepest passion (much to her co-blogger and husband Tony’s chagrin, not to mention their two dogs), she also enjoys cooking, knitting, traveling, learning languages and writing (strictly in English, alas).
Although she says there are many things she has come to like about living in the United States, the general population’s apathy towards literacy is not one of them. A friend once dubbed her the Grammar Warden after catching her correcting entries in a hostel’s guestbook while in Prague; this is a title she wears proudly.
Without further ado, here's Steph's Triple Choice Tuesday selections:
A favourite book: All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
Asking me to pick my favourite book is a bit like asking a mother to pick her favorite child, I reckon: you have your preferred child, but you’re not supposed to admit it. Just kidding!
Seriously, though, picking my favourite book out of the many volumes I’ve read has lead to a good deal of agonizing on my part. I’m not one to succumb to peer pressure, but I’m always so impressed with the titles others have picked for Triple Choice Tuesday that I may have inadvertently made this task more grueling than it needs to be. I suppose I could have just named Pride and Prejudice (a strong contender) and called it a day, but I loathe being so predictable. So, like Darcy’s infamous snub of Lizzie at Sir William Lucas’s ball, back onto the shelf my beloved Austen went. Instead, I picked All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, a rather dramatic departure.
Despite winning the Pulitzer back in 1947 and being (in my opinion) one of the best books ever written, I find that All The King’s Men gets very little love or attention in the book blogging world. This surprises me because I think this is a novel that truly has a little something for everyone. Set in the American South during the 1930s, All The King’s Men chronicles the life and times of Willie Stark as he ascends in the world of politics. But according to the author himself, the book was never meant to be about politics, and can easily be read in a broader context.
Alongside Willie’s bid to ultimately become governor, we are given insights into the ties that bind, the search for self, the human condition at its best and at its worst, the driving force of passion, and the intricacies of morality. It has romance, mystery, scandal, suicide, murder, and some fairly awesome speeches. The various characters’ lives intersect, forming an intricate yet robust skeleton to the novel, which is fleshed out by Warren’s writing, which will rock you at your core. This is such a wonderful, powerful book that is not only timeless but is a prime example of the power of the written word.
A book that changed my world: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Unlike my favorite book choice, picking a book that changed my world was something of a no-brainer. My first reading of One Hundred Years of Solitude was something of a revelation. It was my first Marquez novel, true, but it was also my first exposure to magical realism, and I don’t think it’s overstating the case to say this book blew my mind.
One Hundred Years is such a sprawling novel that completely ensnared me as it curled up onto itself. The scope of it all was awe-inspiring, and I was just completely unprepared for how beautiful and tangled it would be. I loved the thematic recursion that occurs throughout the novel, and the elements of the fantastic that Marquez weaves in made the entire thing approximate being lost in a fairy tale. I think that’s why I responded so strongly to this book: because it reminded me of being a little girl and being completely swept away into a book and the world that it was offering up.
And of course none of this could be achieved without Marquez’s writing, which was just so precise and so perfect and so seemingly effortless, it is mind boggling.
This is one of those rare books that is truly flawless and that transforms you as you read it. I closed it feeling as though my eyes had been opened to a whole host of new possibilities regarding the potential of fiction, and for that I’ll always be grateful.
A book that deserves a wider audience: The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton
There are truly so many books I think deserve a wider audience, but, in the end, I chose The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton, because while it got a little bit of buzz last year when it made the long list for the Orange Prize it never seemed like enough people really took notice of it. I was really bummed when it didn’t make the short-list, and when it didn’t really wind up on any “best of” lists for 2010. It’s not just that The Rehearsal is a remarkably strong debut novel, it’s a damn good book to produce at any point in an author’s career.
I really admire writers that tackle difficult topics, and I especially like ones that look at the cunningness and ruthlessness of girls. Give me a Cat’s Eye or a Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and I am a happy camper. Catton’s novel is a delicious investigation into girls on the cusp of womanhood, a high school sex scandal, and the ways that the lines between fantasy and reality often blur.
The Rehearsal is a daring and challenging read that is brilliantly realized and doesn’t pull any punches. I would love to see it gain a wider audience since I really think we should be encouraging and rewarding authors who take chances and provide us with bold fiction. It kind of makes me sick that someone younger than me has produced such an accomplished novel, but let’s not hold that against her!
Thanks, Steph, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
What do you think of Steph's choices? Have you read any of these books? I've not read any of them, but as luck would have it, all three are in my TBR. I guess that means I need to bump them up to the top, thanks to Steph's recommendations.