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May 30, 2013 / milesandhisfavorites

My Favorite Books. Period.

I suppose my top fifteen favorite books ever list MAY have been a little forced.  I put the entire works of Rick Riordan as the #1 spot, for Mara’s sake!  (Not the Buddhist demon.  Skyrim.)  So I suppose I’ll give you my definitive favorite books, with a rundown of some of my favorites, and finishing with my favorite book of all time.  Let us begin!

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I’ve heard Carrie described as a revenge story.  It really isn’t.  It’s a story about a girl whose tormentors get what’s coming to them.  Okay, that’s KINDA revenge-ey, but unlike most revenge stories, the ending is about as far from happy as you can get.  SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS the girl dies, the entire town is destroyed, and from the looks of it, it could easily happen again.  However, just because this is a twisted, disturbing, not-so-happy ending story, doesn’t mean it’s a bad one.  While *CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED* is my favorite Stephen King book ever, Carrie is certainly the most disturbing one I’ve read, and that just makes it all the more memorable and haunting.  And maybe a LITTLE revenge-ey.

War!  Romance!  Kings!  Unbelievably complicated politics!  This, and much more, makes George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga a true fantasy epic.  And of course, my favorite is the first one, A Game of Thrones.  Any attempts to explain this book in detail would make my brains ooze out of my nostrils Egyptian-style, so here are the basics, if you didn’t know it already:

  • There’s a girl named Daenerys who is forced to marry a nomadic warlord so that her brother can use the warlord’s armies to take back his kingdom.
  • A guy named Ned is invited to be the assistant to the current king of that kingdom, who is a fat drunk guy who used to be awesome.  Said king dies and is replaced by his monstrous kid son.  (Well, not really HIS, but again, that’s for later.)
  • Beyond the massive Wall, an army of strange, supernatural creatures is forming, but that’s for later books.

And again, much more!  The strength of this book comes from how interesting and well-written it is, and how engaging the characters are.  I either like or despise most characters.  For instance, I like Arya and Bran Stark, and adore Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister.  On the flip side, I mortally despite Septa Mordane and Sansa Stark (though I am slowly feeling more sorry for Sansa).  Look, point is, these books have me hooked the whole way through, but the first one is definitely the best.

As if I haven’t said this before, I LOVE the ’50s and ’60s.  The classic images of suburbia and Chuck Berry music just never get old.  On the other hand, intense discrimination and the fact that we needed Engel v. Vitale.  So I naturally loved Stephen King’s 11/22/63 for those reasons.  That alone made it worth reading twice, but when Stephen writes something, he goes all the way.  Not only does this book have an incredible setting, it also has one of the best romances and most touching endings in any King novel.  I’ve already reviewed this in some detail, so I won’t go too much further, but it’s time travel done right with a perfect setting, a perfect romance, and a perfect ending.  And that’s more than enough reason to go check it out.

Ah, relevance, you strike again.  It’s the it-could-be-tomorrow future, and San Francisco is the victim of a terrorist attack worse than 9/11.  Naturally, this means to keep us safe, the government turns the city into a police state!  Because hasn’t that worked so well in the past… I’m getting a head of myself.  Seventeen-year-old Marcus Yallow, who along with his friends, witnesses the attack, and is subsequently kidnapped by the Department of Homeland Security.  After getting out, he unites hackers, hobos, and the international media to bring the government down, using technology and some booze.  If I had to put everything I loved in this book into one word, it would probably be satisfaction.  Depending on who was running it and what they were doing with it, I’ve tolerated or even liked the government (Barack Obama, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln), or I’ve despised it (Bush, FDR, yes I don’t like FDR at all).  And to see Constitution-defying security measures being taken out by a bunch of teenagers is satisfying as heck, at least to me.  That, plus creativity and a sense of fun makes this a modern classic.

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Speaking of creativity and a sense of fun, here we are at The Last Olympian!  This is just about my favorite Rick Riordan book.  Why?  It’s epic, funny, interesting, and creative.  We have everything from taxi-cab-esque pegasi to a a New York City frozen in time.  While in my opinion, the series doesn’t hold up as well as when I first read it, it’s still impressive how Riordan creates these relatable and modern mythological worlds.  First Greek, then Egyptian, and apparently he has a Norse one in the works.  Given my recent fascination with Scandinavia (thank you, Bethesda Games!), I’m heavily anticipating it.  Until that happens, gods be with you!  Wait-we aren’t done yet!

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My favorite movie of all time is still 1960’s Inherit the Wind, but that was only VERY LOOSELY based on the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial.  THIS book follows the story of fifteen-year-old Frances, a girl living in the small town of Dayton, Tennessee.  She has a crush on a young schoolteacher.  Unfortunately, that schoolteacher is John T. Scopes, who, as part of an ACLU (love those guys!) test case, is being put on trial for teaching evolution, which at the time was against the law in Tennessee.  And so, young Frances is thrown into a world of religious fanaticism and hometown loyalty, in which she is forced to choose between the life she’s known and the possibilities out there in the big, wide world.  This book is as good as it sounds, and I love it for one main reason (Although it’s still well-written and fun): the reader gets to step into the world of the Scopes Trial.  Frances personally meets such major figures as T.T. Martin (okay, he really isn’t all that significant, but you can probably Google him and get some interesting results) and H.L. FREAKIN MENCKEN.  That guy was awesome, and you can quote me on that!

All right, we’ve gone through some of my personal favorites.  (Runners-up are Jurassic ParkArtemis Fowl, Monkey Girl, World War Z and I guess Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, because J.K. Rowling is great.)  Now, it’s high time we get down to what we’re all presumably here for.  My favorite book of all time is:

Words quite simply don’t do Stephen King’s The Stand justice.  Realistic, immersive, epic, apocalyptic, creative, relatable… none of these words on their own can describe this book.  So I won’t try.  So, what’s the story?

It is the year 1980 (or 1990, depending on whether or not you go with the extended cut, which I think is better).  A fatal virus escapes from a military facility in California.  How?  A soldier, his wife, and his young daughter escape just as a computer malfunction releases it.  They eventually find their way to the town of Arnette, Texas, where they start the spread of Captain Trips, killing the vast majority of the world population in just a couple of weeks or so.  The rest have to scavenge to survive, and are drawn to two figures in their dreams.  There’s Mother Abigail in Nebraska, and later Colorado, urging the survivors to join her and build a peaceful society.  The other is Randall Flagg, the Dark Man, the Walkin Dude, etc, who is literally one of my favorite characters of all time.  He builds a vicious, strictly run society in Las Vegas, and the two communities quickly become both aware of each other and somewhat hostile, and the stage is set for a final stand in the ruins of America.  Holy mother of…

While the ending is excellent, as is all of the book, my absolute favorite is the early middle, where everyone is on their own and sort of going on a road trip.  I am not ashamed to admit I kinda wish I could just play apocalypse, scavenging for supplies, improvising my way through life, and eventually starting a new society, with me as the leader.  But that’s not the point.  The early middle, and come to think of it, all of the middle, where a new society is built in Boulder, Colorado is interesting and incredibly escapist, at least to me.

But that doesn’t distract from what I think of The Stand as a whole, and while, again, words can’t do it justice (I urge you to go out and read it RIGHT THIS BLOODY INSTANT, AND YES, I AM TALKING TO YOU), I can try to sum up why I love it in a short little blurb:

Stephen King’s The Stand is a dark and entrancing story, with everything from allegory to sociology, disturbing insanity to hopeful optimism (same thing, but whatever).  It is the greatest apocalypse story ever told, one of my favorite pieces of fiction, and it is easily my favorite book of all time.

Plus: RANDALL FLAGG.  I might do an entire piece on that guy, because he is AWESOME.

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