Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Words That Inspire Me (Some Must Reads)

I love books as you can imagine. I judge a mall or shopping complex by what bookstore it has..... and it if doesn't have one, then I want to get out of there as soon as possible. Even if I am just clothes shopping.

Over the years, I've stumbled upon some pretty cool authors and their books that I couldn't put down and truly enjoyed. So, here is a list of a few of my top favorites.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac 

Kerouac is one of my personal favorites, especially with his unique writing style. When I discovered that he wrote On the Road by hand, all on this massive scroll without any spaces between the words, he was truly my hero. Since reading On the Road, I found several of his journals and it helped inspire me to start keeping a journal and doing whatever it took to keep working on my craft of writing. One of the many reasons why I've started this blog.

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

I remember reading a very short story that was part of the book in a high school English class of mine, and just reading the short story wasn't enough. I couldn't find this book anywhere, and then while combing through this old and dusty used bookshop (which has now long been closed), I came across an old copy of the book by strange happenstance. It's now one of my favorites, since Anderson has created an entire town and each chapter centers upon a different person in the town, mostly surrounding the one main character.

Into the Wild by Jon Kraukauer

I feel very strongly for this book because I feel like I can truly connect to what Chris McCandless felt about the world around him and life in general. I sometimes have this urge to go out and explore the world like he did.... except, I have no desire to head up into the vast Alaskan wilds to live off the land. I'm more of an armchair traveler and I don't like to take risks, so maybe that's why I deeply enjoyed the book - he went out and actually did something, despite dying in the process. Also, I was inspired by Kraukauer, for his journalistic talent in being able to trace where McCandless was. His work inspires me to try to become that sort of writer/journalist.

Anything written by Bill Bryson

I first came across Bill Bryson's work before I headed off to Iowa back in 2003. He's originally from there and he wrote a bit about the state, and from the hilarious stuff he had said about how they drove, that was my stereotype when me and my parents drove to Des Moines to check out the college campus that I was hoping to go to. Ever since coming across someone who had their blinker turned on and driving super slow in the right lane while on the interstate, I couldn't help but enjoy the work of Bill Bryson, a humorous and enjoyable writer.

The poetry of Galway Kinnell

I took a poetry course at my community college, once again, just for the heck of it, and had to watch this ridiculously boring interview documentary in which a bunch of poets were put together and talked about the written word and whatnot. Of the people that were featured, I held a special interest for Kinnell and his work.I can't really explain it, but his work is very interesting to read and simply, it reminds me of some of my work.

Rivertown and Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler

I was seeking a new travel writer to follow and came across Hessler's work in National Geographic. Soon after reading about Hessler's time in China, I've been hooked on the country. It's now on the top of my list of other countries that I'd like to one day visit.

Books by Steven King

How can one not be into King's books?! Especially the following books that are filled with classic short stories written by the master himself:

- Four Past Midnight (four short stories, all very intense and fun reads - especially The Longoliers, which was made into a TV miniseries back in the 1990's.

- Different Seasons (four short stories, three of which were brilliant, especially since they became movies - Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, and The Body (which was renamed Stand by Me for the movie)

- Under the Dome (a massive novel that totally reminds me of the Simpsons movie where Springfield is comically put under a glass dome. Yet, this story is more dramatic, thrilling and a true page turner.)

The works of John Steinbeck

Just like Kerouac, I'm really into how Steinbeck writes. One thing to remember when reading some of his work though, you have to keep an open mind when reading it, since it tends to get a little deep. Obviously, some Grapes of Wrath and Mice and Men are major sellers, but I liked a few of his other stuff even more. Be sure to check out his following works that are my most favorite:

- About Ed Ricketts found in Log from the Sea of Cortez ( I didn't even read the book, just the little chapter that was all about Ed Ricketts)

- Tortilla Flat

- The Pastures of Heaven

- To a God Unknown

- Travels with Charley - (this is an interesting read, since it's a non-fiction account of his travels, and I found it curious to get his perspective on the world at the time, from politics to the mass market world that we now live in. One thing to note while reading this book, is that Steinbeck was very ill during the course of his roadtrip and his wife was worried about him dying at any moment, due to a heart condition he was suffering from.

The Best American Travel Writing Series

Due to my obsession with travel writing, this is my favorite book series, which comes out every year and features about a dozen travel writers and their best travel writing piece that was published in a magazine the year before. It's how I've been able to find more travel narratives by travel writers to read.

The poetry of WH Auden

Here's another poet that I discovered by accident when I took my just for fun poetry course at my community college.

A Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow - Tim Brookes

This was my very first travel narrative that I ever read, all due to reading a small sampling of it out of a National Geographic magazine. Been obsessed with reading travel narratives ever since.

J. Maarten Troost

I came across his work a while back and suddenly became fascinated with his work, since he is on par with how Bill Bryson writes, but a lot funnier. He currently only has three books out, all of which I read in a matter of a few short weeks, and hoping he's in the process of writing another one.

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