Once again pardon my unseemly absence. I've been very busy working on all sorts of projects, some of which will hopefully help to promote my status as a writer and all-round creative chap.
Anyhoo, to make up for it, I have a new blog post (YAY!!!) except it's exactly that: a standard blog post (BOO!!!). Seen as how it is World Book Day 2012 today I thought that it might be fun to give you all a run-down of my top twelve favourite books. I'd say I chose twelve because 'I like to go one step beyond' but alas that catchphrase has already been taken. Plus I just like books too much to keep it to the standard ten.
Anyway, without further ado:
12. "The Mighty Fizz Chilla" by Phillip Ridley
AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'Milo Kick is no longer Mum's little 'angel'. Five months ago something happened - something only Milo knows - that changed him into a 'monster'. Unable to cope, Mum sends him to stay with Cressida Bell, an old family friend, who lives by the sea. Gradually, Milo becomes obsessed with stories about wild Captain Jellicoe who lives in a nearby cave and who, in turn, has his own story to tell. It is a story that will change Milo's life forever. It is the story of Mighty Fizz Chilla.'
MY OPINION: Now this one takes me back. This was the first book I ever 'truly' read. I mean, I've read books before but they were mostly through recommendations by family and/or school. "The Mighty Fizz Chilla" was the first book I actually chose to pick up for myself. Despite noticing some narrative weaknesses and inconsistencies over the years, it still remains a memorable and much-loved children's book to me. After all, how could you NOT be hooked in by a cover like that?
11. "Simon Armitage: Selected Poetry" by Simon Armitage
AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'This selection provides a perfect introduction to Armitage's work as well as offering a timely retrospective of one of the brightest stars of contemporary poetry. Made by Simon Armitage himself from his poetry to date, Selected Poems includes work from six published volumes, from Zoom! (1989) through to the poem commissioned for the Millennium, Killing Time.'
MY OPINION: The works of Simon Armitage mark my first timid steps into adult free-verse modern poetry. He's the first poet who I quickly came to respect, without the handicap of being long since dead. After picking up a GCSE Poetry Anthology, I was first introduced to his refreshingly punchy style with the poems "Hitcher" and "Kid". Needless to say the irony and black humour of both of these lured me well and truly in. Now I proudly carry Mr. Armitage's work around with me almost everywhere I lay my hat, though that could be due to the fact that he signed it not too long ago. VALUABLE COLLECTOR'S ITEM!!!
10. "The Men Who Stare at Goats" by Jon Ronson
AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the US Army. Defying all known military practice – and indeed the laws of physics – they believed that a soldier could adopt a cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them. They were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren’t joking. What’s more, they’re back and fighting George Bush’s War on Terror. Often funny, sometimes chilling and always thought-provoking, The Men Who Stare at Goats is a story so unbelievable it has to be true.'
MY OPINION: Okay, I'll admit it: in this case I watched the movie before the book and (surprise, surprise) I eventually came to prefer the book. Which isn't to say that I didn't like the film: in it's own way it became an entirely different beast though with a notably wobblier plot. However, I'm not wearing my 'Big Film Critic' hat today so I'll just say that it was both fun and shocking to spot all the bizarre yet real-life concepts that eventually became plot devices in the film. Add that to Mr. Ronson's very more-ish Gonzo Journalism style and you have one of my favourite non-fiction novels to date.
9. "1984 (Nineteen Eighty Four)" by George Orwell
AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.'
MY OPINION: Tell me who hasn't read this book and NOT had nightmares about it? Just me? Really? Can't say I believe that..."1984" is one of those classics that keep you paranoid to the end. Will Winston continue to get away with it? Will Big Brother ever find out? Just who CAN be trusted in this new dystopic world? Suffice to say, this book had me at the edge of my preverbial seat throughout. I even finished it at 4am one night just because I HAD to know what was going to happen next. If that's not a mark of truly brilliant literature then I really don't know what is. I didn't get a good night's sleep afterwards though, obviously.
8. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson
AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared off the secluded island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger family. There was no corpse, no witnesses, no evidence. But her uncle, Henrik, is convinced that she was murdered by someone in her own family - the deeply dysfunctional Vanger clan. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist is hired to investigate, but when he links Harriet’s disappearance to a string of gruesome murders from forty years ago, he needs a competent assistant - and he gets one: computer hacker Lisbeth Salander - a tattoed, truculent, angry girl who rides a motorbike like a Hell’s Angel and handles makeshift weapons with the skill born of remorseless rage. This unlikely pair form a fragile bond as they delve into the sinister past of this island-bound, tightly-knit family. But the Vangers are a secretive lot, and Mikael and Lisbeth are about to find out just how far they’re prepared to go to protect themselves - and each other.'
MY OPINION: This book came recommended to me by a friend who loves the Crime Thriller genre. Before reading "The Girl" I was only vaguely interested in murder mysteries; now I can't get enough of them. Though I started off reading the book with generally slow-moving interest, soon enough I gradually became engrossed by the intricate nature of both the plot and main characters, particularly Lisbeth Salander, as described in the title. If you love crime novels and haven't gotten round to this one yet then just what's been stopping you?
7. "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Earth" by Grant Morrison
AMAZON DESCRIPTION: 'In this groundbreaking, painted graphic novel, the inmates of Arkham Asylum have taken over Gothams detention center for the criminally insane on April Fools Day, demanding Batman in exchange for their hostages.Accepting their demented challenge, Batman is forced to live and endure the personal hells of the Joker, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and many other sworn enemies in order to save the innocents and retake the prison.During his run through this absurd gauntlet, the Dark Knights own sanity is placed in jeopardy.'
MY OPINION: 'The lunatics have taken over the asylum...' and that's roughly the plot premise. Considering this is the first graphic novel on my list, I'd say I've been very well behaved. I absolutely LOVE graphic novels, comic books or whatever society dictates you should call them now, and "Arkham Asylum" has a very special place in my heart. The story is deliciously gothic and unsettling to a tee, the artwork is haunting in its unearthly shading AND it was the inspiration of my favourite videogame ever. Not too shabby for a glorified picture book, eh, literature snobs? Oh and by the way, BATMAN ROCKS!!!