Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top 10 Books Out of My Comfort Zone

Time for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by our friends at the Broke and Bookish. This week, I, Connie, list 10 books I've read that were out of my comfort zone. I have to say, this was a truly fun list, as I reminisced about some straaaange encounters with books. Enjoy!

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye -- Though I do tend to stick to what we call "literary fiction," I do try to branch out and try to read what my friends and associates find interesting. This was the favorite series of a high school friend, and I have to say, this time branching off did not pay off. Unoriginal, uninspired, by-the-book, young adult fantasy.

Dawn by VC Andrews -- When I was about 9 years old, we had a family friend who worked at RandomHouse, and for some reason or another, would drop off boxes of random books at our house. This series was among those, and I remember innocently picking it up as a young girl and being shocked by the most twisted story I had ever yet read. Briefly, there's a girl (Dawn) who, at the age of 16, finds out her brother is not really her brother, so it's okay for them to be in love, in the meantime, her REAL brother, as it turns out, was her first boyfriend who later rapes her. YEAH.

The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith -- I have never been a big fan of mystery/detective fiction, and the fact that this was a best-seller turned me off for a long time -- like, 8 years. However, due to my small town library's limited selection of audio books, I recently picked this one up and found myself thoroughly enjoying it!

The Pit by Frank Norris -- A paragon of American Realism, much of this book is spent describing the ups and downs of the Chicago (stock) trading pit. Despite that daunting synopsis, I found it surprisingly easy to follow, and a pretty good story!

City of Glass by Paul Aster and The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon -- Is post-modernism really in anyone's comfort zone?

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut -- All right, class, this is a book about the World War I, but it's also about getting abducted by aliens.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand -- I see no need to elaborate on this one.

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach -- The premise of this book sounds odd, to say the least. A pilot meets another pilot, who actually is a messiah who left his job, and who then proceeds to teach the first pilot everything one must do to become a messiah. However, if you can get beyond the strange plot, this is actually one of the most philosophical and thought-provoking (though surprisingly simple) books I've ever read. One that I return to again and again.

And by far the number one book that was out of my comfort zone....

Candide by Voltaire -- This is the star of the bunch for me. In high school, I took AP French  Literature the year they decided to hire a new teacher, who had not read any of the books we were assigned and did not bother to for the entire semester. During class, we (meaning the only other student and I) read together out of the assigned books, struggling to understand some complicated texts in their original languages, without the benefit of any background knowledge or teacher to help us navigate the texts. This resulted in some interesting situations, such as us reading the entirety of Candide in Voltaire's original French and not figuring out until about 3/4 through that it was satire. Imagine our confusion at this strange tale as we looked up fesse in our well-worn French-English dictionaries to learn that the starving villagers had decided to eat one of each woman's butt cheeks. I have yet to reread the text in English, but I have a feeling that when I do, there will be quite a few laughs in store as I recall my own bewildered innocence encountering it for that memorable first time.