Monday, April 18, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge: Day One

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 days I'll be answering one question about books.

Day One: Your favorite book of all time

I always feel like trying to pick a favorite book is like trying to pick a favorite child. So, I'm going to pick three.

-The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Okay, yes, this is actually five books, but it's in one big giant book so I'm counting it as one. Douglas Adams is one of my favorite writers of all time. He's a brilliant satirist and an all-around amazing author. These books have spawned radio shows and movies and have created a loyal fan base who always know where their towels are. Sometimes when I'm in a really bad mood I pick this book up and I turn to a random page and just start reading--instant mood booster. I do, however, have one complaint: Zaphod Beeblebrox is my favorite character in the series and you never find out what happens to him because he sort of disappears after the third or fourth book. (It's been a while since I've read them all the way through.)

If you need another reason to love these books, listen to this song (The Eagles "Journey of the Sorcerer") while you read them:

It was used as the theme song for the television series and a shorter, adapted version was used for the 2005 film (which had some good points and some bad points).

-A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Anything that I say about this book will not do it justice. And I don't want to say too much about it because this is my Reread of the Month for May so I'll be reviewing it in a few weeks anyway. I will say, however, that this is, in my mind, one of the best novels written in the 20th century. Anthony Burgess tells a compelling story of violence, brainwashing, and human nature in general. He uses nadsat, a language he created using Russian words, English schoolboy slang, and made-up phrases, with such skill and it was amazing to me how quickly I caught on to what was being said. This is a dystopian novel that will always be as relevant as it is terrifying. Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation was actually not that bad but I suggest reading the book before watching the film. It gives you a better understanding of the sparse bits of nadsat that Kubrick throws in and goes much deeper into Alex's character than the film ever could.

-Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

This is one book where I broke my rule: I watched the movie first. I'm a big fan of Robert Carlyle and so I watched the film because of him, not realizing that it was based on a novel. When I finished the movie (and loved it) I immediately went out and grabbed a copy of the book. It is an incredible novel--just as filthy, disturbing, and darkly hilarious as the film. Although the book is not linear by any means, the main story follows a group of friends from Leith in Scotland who are heavily involved in heroin use. It is a harrowing portrait of drug addiction and, contrary to what some people would like to believe, does NOT in any way glorify heroin. It shows the depravity that heroin causes and the depths that users will go to get their next fix. The characters that Welsh has created are at times funny, tragic, and scary. They are not heroic in any sense and some aren't even sympathetic. I think one of the most difficult things about this book is that it is written in a Scottish dialect and I found that it was easiest to read it out loud to understand exactly what was being said. The downside to this is that I couldn't really read it in public; the upside is that I can now do a pretty convincing Scottish accent.

Now that I look at it, I seem to really like books that get made into films.



  1. Have you listened to the BBC Radio 4 Hitchhiker's Guide? It takes me right back to my childhood and I always try and catch a bit when it's repeated over here.

    I struggled with A Clockwork Orange - I wouldn't have understood any of it if I hadn't have seen the film!

    I did a high school dissertation on Trainspotting, we were encourage to read Scottish authors and it was just when it got big.

  2. I haven't heard it, actually. I've seen most of the episodes of the TV show (a friend of mine had them) but neither it nor the radio show are ever played here in the states. :(

    I loved A Clockwork Orange so much that I was actually nervous to watch the film. I shouldn't have been. Malcolm McDowell is so amazing as Alex and Kubrick is such a surreal film maker that I felt the film was (almost) perfect.

    I'm always surprised by how many people have never read Welsh's book or seen the film. Some choose not to because of the subject matter but others that I've mentioned it to are like "I have no idea what you're talking about." I'm thinking of making a list of other Scottish authors and digging into their books. I got into a huge Scottish culture kick after watching Trainspotting and the television series of Hamish Macbeth and I'd be interested to see what else is out there.

  3. This Hitchhickers guide I have heard of in passing but never read or seen.

    A clockwork orange omg no lol I put this on my day 2 least liked book. Isn't it funny how opinions differ so much, I also recently found someone who LOVED Moby Dick, this just boggles the mind lol

    I really liked Trainspotting both the book and the movie, did you read the follow up Porno?

    Glad so many are taking part, looking forward to seeing your upcoming days x

  4. I would suggest reading Hitchhiker's Guide before watching the film. The movie is okay, but there were parts of it that were changed that I liked much better in the book.

    I saw that you'd put Clockwork Orange down as your least favorite. I think it's one of those books that you either love or hate. I've never had any interest in reading Moby Dick, although I have heard a few people say that it's actually really funny. The majority of them say that it's really boring, but to each their own, I guess. I had heard really great things about Nabokov's Bend Sinister and I end up hating it. It really is interesting to see how much love and hate the same book can generate.

    I started reading Porno and then got caught up in a giant paper. Eventually I'm going to pick it up again because it seemed really interesting and because I inexplicably love Begbie and was looking forward to seeing what had happened since the end of Trainspotting. I've heard that one of the reasons why Porno was never made into a film is that Ewan McGregor didn't want to do it. Robert Carlyle and a lot of the other cast members would love to make the sequel but you really can't have someone else playing Renton. It just wouldn't seem right.

    I'm looking forward to it, too. I'm really interested in seeing what other people say.

  5. I love, love, love all three of those books, they're definitely up in my top 10 faves of all time. Especially A Clockwork Orange, the Nadsat is amazing, second only to Elvish in LOTR (in terms of commitment, I prefer Nadsat for actual language) in my opinion.

  6. Thanks for the follow!

    I was reading A Clockwork Orange for the first time while I was working with a friend of mine at the library. I somehow managed to forget that she wouldn't be able to understand a word of what I was saying and I read her a sentence that I thought was absolutely brilliant and she thought I was nuts. If I could study Nadsat as an actual language, I'd do it.