The best books I wish I never read so that I can read them again for the first time

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a bonafide book lover, not a critic. The difference is huge. After getting my degree and writing my book, I developed a sense of how hard authors work to put their art out there. I'm so happy that people put the effort in, even if I don’t find it fun or connect with it on a higher plane. Still, I have my books that I keep going back to because they are just so well-crafted on multiple levels. To me that is what separates the big experiences from the forgettable ones. Does it inspire? Does it stick in the craw? I know when those two answers are yes.


I wrote...

Appletown Nightmare

By Douglas Brannon,

Book cover of Appletown Nightmare

What is my book about?

Herman Glüber is an unethical, athletic, homophobic, cocaine-using, impeccably groomed dealmaker at a Seattle venture capital firm. Herman has just closed a deal on an asset he’s particularly excited about—an apple orchard on the banks of the Wenatchee River that can be sliced into valuable lots—but he encounters a tarot card reader who gives him a dire warning. Madame Laverne Korzha de las Bulgarias tells him that there’s something wrong with the deal, that someone he looks up to will turn into a monster, and that someone will die.

Another problem is the appearance in Seattle of an invasive species of beetle that feeds on electricity. The beetles may well turn Washington into a version of their native region of Inner Mongolia: a technological desert known as Deadland.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Ice Trilogy

Douglas Brannon Why did I love this book?

Unfortunately, I rarely cross paths with anyone who has read this book, which is actually three books packaged together. It is a pulsing cross-genre masterpiece. The wild ride goes from Tolstoy’s Russia to the site of the Tungsten Meteor crash, to places I had no idea existed. An incredible glimpse into the complex Russian psyche, and fun as hell.

By Vladimir Sorokin, Jamey Gambrell (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ice Trilogy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Review Books Original
 
In 1908, deep in Siberia, it fell to earth. THEIR ICE. A young man on a scientific expedition found it. It spoke to his heart, and his heart named him Bro. Bro felt the Ice. Bro knew its purpose. To bring together the 23,000 blond, blue-eyed Brothers and Sisters of the Light who were scattered on earth. To wake their sleeping hearts. To return to the Light. To destroy this world. And secretly, throughout the twentieth century and up to our own day, the Children of the Light have pursued their beloved goal.
 
Pulp…


Book cover of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Douglas Brannon Why did I love this book?

I will always recall reading the end of this book as being one of the most powerful emotional moments that I have ever had in connection with a piece of art. Clarke’s capacity for such precision in the imagined realm culminates in an experience that is otherworldly. It’s magic in its purest form.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of…


Book cover of House of Leaves

Douglas Brannon Why did I love this book?

I get that Danielewski is not for everyone, it would just be nice if a few more people signed up for this experience. It is so worth the price of admission. His books—House in particular—are intimidating because they obviously adhere to a unique format. That being said, they’re just books. And if you start at the left side of page 1 of House, you will be pulled right down into the lightless bowels of the Hell.

By Mark Z. Danielewski,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked House of Leaves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A novelistic mosaic that simultaneously reads like a thriller and like a strange, dreamlike excursion into the subconscious.” —The New York Times

Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth -- musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies -- the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations,…


Book cover of White Teeth

Douglas Brannon Why did I love this book?

I learned a lot from reading this book. The scene with the ammonia and the hair falling out; and then pulling out the extensions…I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for years. It’s so sad. I am a huge fan of Zadie’s. I even love the books she hasn’t written yet.

By Zadie Smith,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked White Teeth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most talked about fictional debuts of recent years, "White Teeth" is a funny, generous, big-hearted novel, adored by critics and readers alike. Dealing - among many other things - with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle, it is a life-affirming, riotous must-read of a book.


Book cover of Cloud Atlas

Douglas Brannon Why did I love this book?

Those who have read this book understand why it belongs in a class all its own. It takes a lot of effort to get into a novel. Mitchell is such a badass yarn spinner that he bates you into 6; before finishing them off in rapid succession. The second half of Cloud Atlas is pure, unadulterated, hard-earned joy that you have to be a real reader to appreciate. That Mitchell nails the arc of the whole group of stories, at the same time each one is finding its own meaning and climax, is frankly hard to describe.

By David Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Cloud Atlas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Six lives. One amazing adventure. The audio publication of one of the most highly acclaimed novels of 2004. 'Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies...' A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified 'dinery server' on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation - the narrators of CLOUD ATLAS hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great…


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Shahrazad's Gift

By Gretchen McCullough,

Book cover of Shahrazad's Gift

Gretchen McCullough Author Of Shahrazad's Gift

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a fiction writer and currently live in Cairo, where I have lived for over twenty years. I noticed that the way I started telling stories was influenced by learning Arabic and by listening to the stories of the people in the city. My interest in Arabic also led me to read Arabic literature, like A Thousand and One Nights.   

Gretchen's book list on books influenced by Thousand and One Nights

What is my book about?

Shahrazad’s Gift is a collection of linked short stories set in contemporary Cairo — magical, absurd, and humorous.

The author focuses on the off-beat, little-known stories, far from CNN news: a Swedish belly dancer who taps into the Oriental fantasies of her clientele; a Japanese woman studying Arabic, driven mad by the noise and chaos of the city; a frustrated Egyptian housewife who becomes obsessed by the activities of her Western gay neighbor; an American journalist who covered the civil war in Beirut who finds friendship with her Egyptian dentist. We also meet the two protagonists of McCullough's Confessions of a Knight Errant, before their escapades in that story.

These stories are told in the tradition of A Thousand and One Nights.

Shahrazad's Gift

By Gretchen McCullough,

What is this book about?

Shahrazad's Gift is a collection of linked short stories set in contemporary Cairo-magical, absurd and humorous. The author focuses on the off-beat, little-known stories, far from CNN news: a Swedish belly dancer who taps into the Oriental fantasies of her clientele; a Japanese woman studying Arabic, driven mad by the noise and chaos of the city; a frustrated Egyptian housewife who becomes obsessed by the activities of her Western gay neighbor; an American journalist who covered the civil war in Beirut who finds friendship with her Egyptian dentist. We also meet the two protagonists of McCullough's Confessions of a Knight…


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