- Alexander, Lloyd — The Black Cauldron
- Anthony, Piers — Letters to Jenny
- Cooper, Susan — Over Sea, Under Stone
- Proulx, Annie — Close Range: Wyoming Stories
- Kincaid, Jamaica — Lucy
- Christie, Agatha — The Unexpected Guest
- Dick, Philip K. — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
- Cooper, Susan — The Dark Is Rising
- Cooper, Susan — Greenwitch
- Shaffer, Peter — Amadeus
- Anonymous — Go Ask Alice
- Cooper, Susan — The Grey King
- Martin, Steve — Shopgirl
- Cooper, Susan — Silver on the Tree
- Gaiman, Neil — Stardust
- Gaiman, Neil — Coraline
- Le Guin, Ursula — A Wizard of Earthsea
- Le Guin, Ursula — The Tombs of Atuan
- Le Guin, Ursula — The Farthest Shore
- Le Guin, Ursula — Tehanu
- Merton, Thomas — The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith
- Alexander, Lloyd — The Castle of Llyr
- Zelazny, Roger — Lord of Light
- Card, Orson Scott — Ender's Game
- Clarke, Arthur C. — Childhood's End
- Grahame, Kenneth — The Wind in the Willows
- Dahl, Roald — James and the Giant Peach
- Lewis, C.S. — Out of the Silent Planet
- Lewis, C.S. — Perelandra
- Milne, A.A. — Winnie-the-Pooh
- Card, Orson Scott — Speaker for the Dead
- Bester, Alfred — The Stars My Destination
- Greene, Graham — The Power and the Glory
- Gaiman, Neil — Neverwhere
- Ballard, J.G. — The Drowned World
- Ballard, J.G. — Crash
- Joyce, James — The Dubliners
- Le Guin, Ursula — Tales from Earthsea
- Le Guin, Ursula — The Other Wind
- Asimov, Isaac — The Robots of Dawn
- Dick, Philip K. — A Scanner Darkly
- Stewart, George R. — Earth Abides
- du Bois, William Pène — The Twenty-One Balloons
- Wells, H.G. — The Time Machine
- Toole, John Kennedy — A Confederacy of Dunces
- Silverberg, Robert — The Book of Skulls
- Bradbury, Ray — Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ten, fifteen years—or however long it's been since I read Fahrenheit 451—is too long between Bradbury books. He is a fantastic storyteller.
Growing up I enjoyed the Disney movie version of Something Wicked This Way Comes, starring Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce. (I wish I could watch it again now!) So when I saw this book at a used book sale some years ago, I snatched it up. I've been meaning to read it in October ever since, but my intentions have a way of ending up by the wayside.
I relished nearly every moment of this book. Sure, the language can be a bit old fashioned at times, but this actually lends it a certain charm, and the story is so captivating, it would take more than a few anachronistic turns of phrase to derail it.
There is one passage that spoke quite vividly to me, which I want to share in its entirety:
"…Now, look, since when did you think being good meant being happy?"
"Since now learn otherwise. Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles and smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he's covering up. He's had his fun and he's guilty. And men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and smells. Times come when troughs, not tables, suit our appetites. Hear a man too loudly praising others, and look to wonder if he didn't just get up from the sty. On the other hand, that unhappy, pale, put-upon man walking by, who looks all guilt and sin, why, often that's your good man with a capital G, Will. For being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it and sometimes break in two. I've known a few. You work twice as hard to be a farmer as to be his hog. I suppose it's thinking about trying to be good makes the crack run up the wall one night. A man with high standards, too, the least hair falls on him sometimes wilts his spine. He can't let himself alone, won't lift himself off the hook if he falls just a breath from grace.
"Oh, it would be lovely if you could just be fine, act fine, not think of it all the time. But it's hard, right? with the last piece of lemon cake waiting in the icebox, middle of the night, not yours, but you lie awake in a hot sweat for it, eh? do I need tell you? Or, a hot spring day, noon, and there you are chained to your school desk and away off there goes the river, cool and fresh over the rock-fall. Boys can hear clear water like that miles away. So, minute by minute, hour by hour, a lifetime, it never ends, never stops, you got the choice this second, now this next, and the next after that, be good, be bad, that's what the clock ticks, that's what it says in the ticks. Run swim, or stay hot, run eat or lie hungry. So you stay, but once stayed, Will, you know the secret, don't you? don't think of the river again. Or the cake. Because if you do, you'll go crazy. Add up all the rivers never swum in, cakes never eaten, and by the time you get my age, Will, it's a lot missed out on. But then you console yourself, thinking, the more times in, the more times possibly drowned, or choked on lemon frosting. But then, through plain dumb cowardice, I guess, maybe you hold off from too much, wait, play it safe.
"Look at me: married at thirty-nine, Will, thirty-nine! But I was so busy wrestling myself two falls out of three, I figured I couldn't marry until I had licked myself good and forever. Too late, I found you can't wait to become perfect, you got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else. …"
I'm quickly approaching my reading goal for the year. I've already got my next two books lined up, but I'm thinking maybe I shoud put some thought into my fiftieth book. Do I go with A Canticle for Leibowitz, which has seemed more inviting since reading The Book of Skulls? Perhaps one of my favorite authors, Le Guin (The Dispossessed) or Lewis (That Hideous Strength)? I could play with numbers and read Dos Passos' Numero Uno or split the difference with my favorite number and Catch-22. Maybe I choose a sci-fi classic such as Frederik Pohl's Gateway or Gregory Benford's Timescape…or Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Or do I treat myself and buy something special for the occasion, maybe something off my wishlist? Choices, choices, choices. I'm looking forward to choosing.