Thursday, October 09, 2003

Thursday Thirteen

This list topic was so good that, yes Manders, I will actually go to the trouble of putting on my own site.

"Thirteen Books (other than the Bible) That Have Shaped Your Thought"

Actually, I'm gonna tweak this a little to include shaping my approach to writing also.

(In no order, except for how they come to my head)

1. Shakespeare, Hamlet
Already, I hear eyes rolling. (Yes I can.) This play explores the themes of meaning, purpose, free-will, and loyalty. Hamlet is a young man at a crossroads, grappling with two opposed worldviews. I think that would make it relevant.

2. Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
A book that I wish I had written, this one challenged how I understood what a narrative is. Dared me to think and write outside the lines.

3. Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
Through the grasses and early morning dew you hear them, feet barely hitting the ground. "The boys of summer, running." This book reveals the magic and mystery of the everyday, and makes you appreciate the simple beauty of childhood summers.

4. John Eldredge, Wild at Heart
This book really helped me understand what being a Godly man means. And it was really liberating.

5. Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
The ultimate American tragedy. For a long time, I identified with this play on a deeply personal level. I would find myself quoting phrases from it when I talked about the future, what I wanted and what I definitely didn't want.

6. Edmund Rostand, Cyrano De Bergerac
The one thing you can carry with you throughout your life is your honor.

7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Okay, so I'm a geek. This book (because it's a book, not a series, really) is the ultimate epic, conveying a tremendous sense of history and importance and reminding us that nothing good comes without sacrifice, and that loyalty can truly save lives. Sam is my hero.

8. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
" 'Tis a far, far better thing I do, than I've ever done before; 'tis a far better place I go, than I have ever gone." Loyalty and sacrifice, man. That's what it comes down to.

9. Steven King, On Writing
Probably my favorite book on the steps necessary to write as well as you are able. I've read it maybe two or three times.

10. Jane Martin, Keely and Du
Another play. While I was in this production, I really had to confront the dangerous power of dogma. And while my views on certain social issues didn't change, my understanding of perspective did. And I think it made me a better person.

11. Frank Peretti, The Oath
I haven't read this in years, and if i read it again, I may change my mind. But if nothing else, this book served notice that Christian writers can come up with super-cool creepy stories. And I think it proved that Christian novels don't have to have the happy-ending, total-redemption formula to be effective. And that was a relief. Cuz I write scary things.

12. Tim Lahaye, Left Behind
...Just kidding. Cuz it's so not true. Okay, maybe it affected me because I despise it so much.

I can't think of any more right now. I mean, there are more books that I liked, but I'm struggling to find any that "affected" me. Lemme go home and find a few more, then I'll get back with this. Cuz, let's face it, we both know some of these choices were kinda crap anyway.

Interesting to note: Only two *Christian* books made the cut, not counting LB which is up there purely for humor. Amanda had what, like, eight. I'm so unspiritual. No, really, it's just that I don't really read Christian books, I stopped seeking them out. Now I read what interests me, what is recommended by people whose taste I trust. Frankly, I think a good 60% of the Christian book market is crap anyway. Fiction and non-fiction. What's the use.

Also worth noting: a third of the list was made up of plays. I would have put more but I'm trying to stay within the bounds of the assignment, you know. I may whip up another list of just plays, so i'll feel better.

Let's do that now.

Thirteen Pl-- no, wait, hang on

Thirteen Plays that Dave thinks are Important for Being a Halfway Decent Person
Much better.

1. Shakespeare, Hamlet
2. Miller, Death of a Salesman
3. Rostand, Cyrano De Bergerac
4. Martin, Keely and Du
5. Eric Bogosian, Suburbia
6. Beckett, Waiting for Godot
7. Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author
8. Williams, The Glass Menagerie
9. Shepard, True West
10. Mamet, Oleanna
11. Wilder, Our Town
12. Miller, All My Sons
13. Beckett, Endgame

Ah, much better indeed.

(Notice, I said plays, not musicals, otherwise you'd get things like Godspell, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Chess, and a bunch of other stuff.)

There, two lists. I'm done.

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