A Book That Makes Us Laugh

This week R. J. and I are sharing a book that makes us laugh.  Over the past year I’ve found that writing comedy is not an easy task, so I respect any author who can do it well.

Again, for me (W. J.), there are a few, but this week I’m highlighting only one.   A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore is the most recent book I’ve read that made me laugh my ass off.  In fact, I read this book and then got the audio CDs and listened to it a month later.  There are certain authors that I prefer to listen to their books, and Christopher Moore’s one of ’em. 

Poor Charlie Asher is a Beta Male who loses his wife after she gives birth to their daughter.  He witnesses a man collecting his wife’s soul vessel and soon finds he’s become a soul vessel collector himself, whether he likes it or not.  The most hilarious parts of this book are not related to Charlie collecting soul vessels though.  His interaction with the supporting characters like his relationship with his young daughter are some of the most hilarious parts of the book. 

In my life, I’ve (R. J.) found very few books that make me laugh out loud, and it seems that the ones that do all have come from British authors. Maybe it was the fault of my parents making me listen to too much NPR as a child, but I find the dry, sarcastic humor (or should I say “humour”) of the Brits as the height of written comedy.  So, for my book that makes me laugh, I’d have to choose Douglas Adams’ masterpiece, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as my favorite. The way that he weaves absolutely insane situations into the life of poor straight-man Arthur Dent always brings a smile to my face. Not to mention, the analogies he uses to set up scenes are also outstanding. I will never forget the phrase, “The great yellow ships hung in the air in exactly the way bricks don’t.”

A Book We Have To Read More Than Once

This week R.J. and I are sharing a book we have to read more than once.

I can’t decide on one though.  Most of the books I’ve read more than once are about writing. When it comes to fiction, the Dune series qualifies. I’ve read Dune twice and am making my way through the series. The more I read, the more I love it and could read it over and over again. Besides that, I’d really like to read the Harry Potter series through for the second time. Or maybe listen to it on CD. Why these series?  I get so wrapped up in the intricate plot of the Dune series, and with Harry Potter, I fell in love with the characters. This is kinda funny, considering I’m a horror writer and my selections are not in the horror genre.  For that genre I’d have to answer with The Books of Blood by Clive Barker.

For R.J., “reading books twice is nothing new.   I always feel it’s like spending time with an old friend I haven’t seen in a while. Anyone who knows me knows I never give away a book, and I have about 60 feet of bookcases in my basement to prove it.

“For sheer re-readability, nothing compares to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I’ve re-read “Eye of the World” at least ten times over the last 21 years, and amazingly I keep finding more things that he put in to foreshadow future events that didn’t have a payoff until books that didn’t come out until 15 or more years later. In fact the first book still has a scene that has all of WoT fans out there chomping at the bit for answers.

“A book like that is a gift that keeps on giving. I know that Harry Potter contains a few references that can be carried forward from the first book, but Jordan intertwined his foreshadowing with an amazingly complex world (over 3500 named characters) that means every read through lets you find new and surprising details you had missed the first, second, and even tenth time you’ve read it.”

Now it’s your turn.  What book(s) do you have to read more than once?

A Book That Changed Our Lives

On Fridays, for the next few weeks, R.J and I will answer a short question about books.  This week’s question is about a book that changed our lives.

R.J. chose Lord of the Rings, primarily because it influenced his decision to write fantasy.  It’s a hard decision because neither of us can say that any one book changed our lives.  Reading horror taught me I wanted to write in that genre, especially after reading Pet Cemetery.   Lonesome Dove taught me that I could actually cry hysterically while reading.  Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jane Austin taught me to love classic literature.  But one book that changed our lives?  How could one book change our lives when each book provides a little something that affects us in both positive and negative ways.  And so this quote somehow seems appropriate for today’s question.

“It’s not books you need, it’s some of the things that once were in books. The same things could be in the “parlour families” today. The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through the radios and televisors, but are not. No, no, it’s not books at all you’re looking for! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”

-Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
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