Monday, June 07, 2010

The Book That Touched You Most


Parisians reading.

You can admire a book for its skill, for its compelling plot or characters, but what about the one in a hundred that really touches you in the deepest place.

I am going with NEVER LET ME GO, by Ishiguro and WINTER'S BONE by Daniel Woodrell. What books have touched you?

35 comments:

David Cranmer said...

Actually it's the one everybody is talking about this week, THE GREAT GATSBY (1925). Maybe a cliche choice but still my numero uno pick. Top lines: "He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream."

Hannah Stoneham said...

Gosh - what a challenge. There are quite a few - but special mentions to: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry; Wise Children by Angela Carter; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and White Teeth by Zadie Smith...

And you have got me thinking about others!

Thanks for this post...

Hannah

Loren Eaton said...

Anything on my Middle Shelf, really. A few of the big ones are Neuromancer, The October Country and Lord of the Flies.

Laurie Powers said...

I'd have to sit down and really think about books from the past, but I can tell you of one that recently knocked me off my feet: SO MUCH FOR THAT by Lionel Shriver, a novel centered around modern life in America and dealing with our health-care system. Shook me to my core in a lot of different ways.

Mack said...

Trustee From the Toolroom by Nevil Shute. It is a simple story about a man committed to do right by his orphaned niece. What impressed me is how well Shute showed that respect and influence can come from the most common source.

Keith Rawson said...

Without question AMERICAN PASTORAL by Philip Roth. Seymour Levov is one of the most tragic characters I've ever encountered in a novel and his relationship with his daughter (and her her fate) brought tears to my eyes several times through out the book

le0pard13 said...

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

R. T. said...

NEVER LET ME GO also affect me, Patti, but I think WISE BLOOD remains the hands-down winner for me; I will never forget the ineffable feeling that came over me when I finished the book, and no other book holds me so completely bound to it by its power.

Richard R. said...

FUP by Jim Dodge.

Charles Gramlich said...

The one that touched me the most may be "The Snow Leopard" by Peter Matthiessen. It was just an incredible book and I've never forgotten it. There are many others that have touched me at times as well, The Old Man and the Sea, The Sword of Night and Day, To Tame a Land. Many great books.

Anonymous said...

The late Ellen Nehr recommended Trustee From the Toolroom to me some years ago and it was a good one, but I wouldn't put it on this list.

I'm having a hard time of thinking of something but will keep trying.

Jeff M.

Richard R. said...

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes is one of the most touching, and heartbreaking books you'll ever read.

Todd Mason said...

What's coming to mind:

Novels: THE FEMALE MAN by Joanna Russ (the stifling of possibilities)
TROPHIES AND DEAD THINGS by Marcia Muller (the sense of wasted opportunities, personal and societal)
THE LONER by Ester Wier (YA division)

Short fiction:
"The Meeting" by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth (by two fathers of children with deficits, and what that could mean for them in certain circumstances)
"Country of the Kind" by Damon Knight (what's the place of the artist in utopia? or anywhere?)

Todd Mason said...

Kurt Vonnegut, BLUEBEARD (on why life as a whole is at least as important as any part of life)

Jerry House said...

The books that come to mind immediately are Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins, Place of Hawks, a collection of four novellas by August Derleth, and the Jack Taylor novels by Ken Bruen. The Robbins and the Bruen books are readily available, but I don't think the Derleth book has been reprinted since it originally appeared in 1935.

Todd Mason said...

Derleth's midwestern recent-historical fiction, Jerry?

Jerry House said...

My wife's choice is Crowned Heads by Thomas Tryon. Actually, this one affected her, rather than touched her. She read it -- or tried to -- when it first came out in 1976, and, after 34 years, still remembers how disturbing it was to her.

Frank Loose said...

The first book that comes to mind --- actually, it leaps to the front --- is The Heart of the Matter, by Graham Greene. I've yet to encounter another book whose main character and whose ending so gripped me.

Jerry House said...

Todd, these were four Sac Prairie stories set in Derleth's youth, mainly told by "Steve Grendon", Derleth's alter ego. Strong characters, evocative sense of place and time, interesting plots -- when Derleth was spot-on, he was hard to beat.

Todd Mason said...

Yes...when writing his own fiction, as opposed to what he thought others' should be, he was a very talented artist.

Rob Kitchin said...

ALONE IN BERLIN by Hans Fallada - simply brilliant.
NEUROMANCER by William Gibson - a new world.
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL by James Ellroy - blew me away at the time.
IF THIS IS A MAN by Primo Levi - humanity in madness.

George said...

I've been making lists all day about this topic. As many as a dozen books made my initial list. I tried to get it down to one title, but I've finally given up so I'm recommending two wonderful books that touched me most. The first is Henry James' PORTRAIT OF A LADY. Yes, I actually had a lump in my throat at the end of this one. And Jane Austen's PRIDE & PREJUDICE. Love the movie versions, too.

Lastyear said...

A Prayer For the Dying by Stewart O'nan.
Was by Geoff Ryman-a little known gem featuring L. Frank Baum and a young Judy Garland as characters.

Todd Mason said...

August Derleth: labor journalist, historical fiction and horror fiction writer of considerable power in his own voice, popular also for his Sherlock Holmes patiches about Solar Pons, fanatic about H. P. Lovecraft and author of any number of bad HPL pastiches and "posthumous collaborations" (the Pohl/Kornbluth story I cite above being a good "pc"--completed by the surviving author from a fragment among the dead writer's papers), and cofounding publisher/editor at Arkham House, as well as anthology editor for many other publishers over the years.

Todd Mason said...

Derleth's Arkham House published DARK CARNIVAL, the first collection by Bradbury, later revised to become THE OCTOBER COUNTRY. (Also the first collections by Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, Robert Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Ramsey Campbell, et many more.)

Todd Mason said...

TROPHIES AND DEAD THINGS was very clearly inspired by the near-simultaneity of the deaths of Abbie Hoffman and Huey Newton.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Huge error not to mention A PRAYER FOR THE DYING. A knockout.
Thanks, Todd. I will look for October
Country.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Hoffman died in Phi's hometown. Strange place to hide out. Population 1000.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Nothing will ever surpass the pleasure I felt when Darcy and Elizabeth hooked up--to use a vulgar term.

Todd Mason said...

Well, Hoffman was an activist again and touring as a speaker when he died. I spoke with him once.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Your impressions?

Kieran said...

Late again...

92 in the Shade by Thomas McGuane. It's everything a novel should be and then some...in fact...I reread it all the time, trying to recapture the madness and heartbreak.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Have never read that one, Kieran. Damn, I have gaps.

Todd Mason said...

Hoffman seemed slightly chastened by his fugitive years, but in the process of rebuilding his life as a localized environmental acitivist, among other things, much as Pete Seeger has been doing over the last couple of decades. His sense of humor and and disrespect for perversions of authority were intact. He liked to open his talks on that last tour with a rude joke about Jerry Falwwell.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Not good ends for most of the sixties radicals, I think. Funny to think of him living on the same road I lived on in 1965.