Nothing Has More Staying Power Than Death
If you are a booky person who also happens to have a Facebook account, you’ve probably been tagged by someone and tasked with listing ten books you’ve read that “stayed with you.” Here’s the full request I received recently:
In your status line, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you. Tag some literary-minded friends, including me, so I’ll see your list.
While the novelty (ahem) of creating a list like this wore off for me a while ago, I was curious to see if I could pull some value from this one beyond a social comparison. Here’s the resulting list, assembled from the first ten books that came to mind.
- The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys by Chris Fuhrman
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
- The Thief of Always by Clive Barker
- Burger Wuss by M.T. Anderson
- Like the Red Panda by Andrea Siegel
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Blood & Popcorn by Perri Pagonis
- Maps & Legends by Michael Chabon
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I considered detailing specifically what element from each of them stuck with me, but after reviewing the list a bit, I noted a few trends that I think together say more about me as a reader (and probably a bit about me as a writer).
Almost every book on the list could be called a “coming of age story,” which has always been my default literary wheelhouse. All but two were written by a male and chronicle the exploits of a male protagonist; half of those also involve a male sidekick character. All but one were written and published in the second half of the 20th century, and more than half of them focus significantly on mortality.
If my reading habits were a Netflix subgenre, that subgenre would be "Dudes growing up and dying" -- which actually sounds like something I would post in my status on Facebook.