Heya all 🙂

It has been a really busy week for me personally, and I missed a day of blogging yesterday, but not for nought – it’s hard work being a family man, so I thought I would take the time today to answer yesterdays question on The Blog Tag, as well as the end of week Q&A 🙂 I also didn’t do the tag post from Tuesday as my Monday Book Review was also about my favourite book of all time, Beloved by Toni Morrison, so that was a two for one-er – apparently while missing a day or two I also over-delivered (it’s all about balance 🙂 )!

So without further ado, My list of my Top 5 Favourite Book (Series) of all time

– Wait a minute soztheo.me, it’s your Top 5 Favourite Books of all time?

– Did you not hear me, voice on my screen, I’m over delivering here, so without further ado, soztheo.me’s favourite:

Top 5 Book Series of All Time


1. The Discworld Novels – Terry Pratchett

Over the last two years I have been on a monumental literary journey into a world I have only ever visited briefly before. I read my first Terry Pratchett novel when I was a teenager. Over the years I sporadically revisited his writing. I was always entertained but I never got into the world of Terry Pratchett until I made the decision two years ago to dive into the world whole-heartedly, committing myself to reading the entire series.

Since then I have read nineteen of the forty-one published Discworld novels, tackling them in order, reading them in between (or in conjuction with) my other readings, loving each one as this ever expanding world continues to expand in partnership with the guided realms of my imagination. It is nothing short of completely inspirational to step into the immense world of another man’s hysterically funny and entertaining inspiration.

The Witches, The Wizards, The City Watch, Death… The realisation of all these characters and their melding into the illogical-except-for-in-the-Discworld themed novels, has me absolutely in awe everytime I reach the end, and commence another journey set on a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A’Tuin…

May he Rest in Peace, and while he rests may his brilliance forever live.

(28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015)

“Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.” – Terry Pratchett


2. The Vampire Chronicles; Lives of the Mayfair Witches Series – Anne Rice

It all started with a movie… The first time I ever went to a movie by myself was when I was a young impressionable 14 year old lad, the movie was Interview with the Vampire and in the viewing I was exposed to a type of story telling I had never experienced before. I loved horror movies from a very young age. As a child I grew up with entertainers for parents. I grew up watching Michael Jackson’s Making of Thriller Beta video. I grew up in a world of stage make-up. I knew that what happened on screen was the work of experts. I watched the classics, Dracula et al. However, I had never seen vampires and villains, anti-heroes, like Louis, Lestat and Claudia. I had never seen horror so grandiosely humanized and humour; so gothic; so macabre.

As soon as the movie ended I went to the bookstore and bought the book. I devoured it, a vampire upon its prey, and the love affair began. Astoundingly intricate and breathtakingly ambitious are the best ways I can think right now to describe the shared universe of the Vampires and the clan of the Mayfair Witches – two worlds from separate series that would later collide as the Vampire chronicles reached an end, from which they would again arise but a year ago. The style of storytelling that flies from the past into the present, from the metaphysical to the real. In one book we are engaging with the devil himself. In another we are re-experiencing mortality. We examine through the studying of ancient records, the lives of an entire family-lineage of witches. My favourite villain of all time, Akasha The Queen of the Damned, explodes out of these pages. Best of all, we bare witness to the creating of an entirely new mythology and rich history of vampirism, and in that we discovery the insanely rich tapestry which has born such pale spawn who will forever pale like Twilight, True Blood and Fifty Shades of Grey…

Fifty Shades of Grey? It’s strangely ironic, that this sad example of literacy, born as fan-fiction from the pale waffle of Twilight, is yet again pale against the erotic literature of Miss Rice… Look that up! The mind that birthed these is one of the most intriguing creations. When we read books or engage with any art form for that fact, it is actually the mind of the artist we engage with. It is really a footnote here, but:

1. The key Vampire Lestat is a literary representation and manifestation of Anne Rice’s husband Stan Rice;

2. Anne Rice wrote Interview With A Vampire while dealing with her daughter’s death from Leukemia – that’s blood cancer. #ArtIsPain

anne-rice4

“You do have a story inside you; it lies articulate and waiting to be written — behind your silence and your suffering.” – Anne Rice


3. The Sandman Series – Neil Gaiman

There are those who would raise an eye at the inclusion of a graphic novel series in any list pertaining to literature… Well poo to you :)! Graphic Novels have a well deserved place in literature, with the best of the best winning major literature awards, including a Pulitzer ( and that would be in 1992; Maus aka Maus: A Survivor’s Tale — My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman). But my personal, most fantastical, most magical, most mythological, most inspiring-al and ambitious of these works which beautifully marry art of picture and art of word has got to The Sandman Series.

Neil Gaiman is the best friend of fantasy and genre breaking storytelling, a man whose love of fantasy has him in the good company of Terry Pratchett (with whom he collaborated on Good Omens). In his masterpiece collection of The Sandman Series, he introduces us to The Endless, anthropomorphic personifications of nature’s most confounding forces, more powerful than even the Gods and as eternal as the universe. They are the siblings, Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair, Delirium and our chief protagonist in the tales, Dream aka Morpheus; who upon being released from a 70 year entrapment into a changed world, is reunited with his most dysfunctional of families. A family whose relationships with each other are as complex as the very idea of turning the seven forces they encompass into a dysfunctional family within the pages of a graphic novel collection spanning twelve multi-dimensional, multi-reality, truly-inspired story arcs. From the depths of Hell to the pages of Shakespeare, Neil Gaiman has comprised a collection of such grandiosity that the mind can only but be amazed 🙂

There’s It :)! 

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.” – Neil Gaiman


4. The Left Behind Series – Jerry B Jenkins and Tim LaHaye

This one is a guilty pleasure and I fully accept that many will argue it’s place on any list, but it’s my guilty pleasure, a series of books I quite literally enjoyed reading.

"And then I met Jerry and he's such a creative fiction writer, and I don't know if there's ever been a team put together the way we are - where one person does the theological way out and suggestions, and the other person goes into the cave and does the fiction writing." - Tim LaHaye

“And then I met Jerry and he’s such a creative fiction writer, and I don’t know if there’s ever been a team put together the way we are – where one person does the theological way out and suggestions, and the other person goes into the cave and does the fiction writing.” – Tim LaHaye

I am a human who was raised as a christian, spirituality is a deeply personal journey for every human on this planet. It has fed wars and hate, but each individual, at least at some point in their lives, has engaged with their understanding of the world and the amazement of existence. As a christian child I have been raised on Bible stories. The bible is an amazing collection of faith, reason, answers, historical reference and mystery, and the question of my own spirituality is deeply tied into the christian faith in which I was raised. The final book in the Bible is one of great fear and reckoning, Revelations is about the end times, about the wrath of God upon a world that has forsaken him, in which he withdraws himself and his arc-nemesis is allowed to do with the world as he will.

In light of this I am quite disgusted by how much I enjoyed this series (like I said, guilty pleasure). There is not an original thought in these books, and I would not necessarily recommend them to anyone else (although admittedly I have, to a select few). They are a fictional interpretation of the cryptically mystical final chapter of one of the oldest and most powerful of books. They tells the story of those Left Behind, in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world, as per the bible. It centers on a band of survivors who realise that the mysterious new world is a result of God’s will, and in that they seek to redeem and survive as the Anti-Christ rises to power. The books can get heavy on the christian rhetoric, they are written with a strong agenda, but for me they are engrossingly easy reading, and most probably as well written as Fifty Shades of Grey. In the past in my ruminations I have likened them to a soap opera, once hooked I had to see what would happen to the characters next, I did really enjoy these books, but they are rubbish and yet, like I have reread most books I enjoy, even now as I type, as I take stock of the absurdity that I am publishing a post of books I enjoyed and that these are on the list, I shrug my shoulders in acknowledgement of the fact that I will read them again…

And No! These books do not factor into my continuing journey of spirituality…


5. Harry Potter – JK Rowlings

This one is about respect, for appreciation of the journey, this one is for the ideal of the American Dream (as lived and achieved by a non-american),this one is for Enid Blyton, this one is for Roald Dahl :)!

I have had the same relationship with every Harry Potter movie, except for the last two: I hated every single one of the movies on the first watch and then every time I watched the movie again, I enjoyed it. It’s bizarre! I only picked up the books after the sixth movie was released, so before the last two which I enjoyed, funny that. For me, it’s all about the imagination unleashed within the world of Hogwarts, it’s a beautiful thing, it’s about the legend and legacy created, and as someone who believes in reading the books after watching the movies (because then you are never disappointed), I am a huge fan of the work. 

If I am 100% honest, I am enjoying JK Rowling’s new Cormoran Strike series much more (check them out), but it is with the Harry Potter books that JK Rowling earns my respect, and why it owns this spot, on this list, today. What exists within the Harry Potter universe is nothing short of inspiring, the product of a storyteller, and what she has done in curating a massive audience to the literary world is nothing to be sniffed at. Fact: JK Rowling is the reason that an entire generation of reader’s exists.

"Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It meets a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts that is something on which to pride yourself but poverty itself is romanticized by fools." - J. K. Rowling

“Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It meets a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts that is something on which to pride yourself but poverty itself is romanticized by fools.” – J. K. Rowling


And there you have a list of my 5 Top Book Series, now while these books really do exist in the fantastical, if you look at my choice of reading for stand alone novels, there is a vast difference in subject matter, but that, I believe, is for another day, for now, lets get to the Q&A for the week.


Questions

1. Do you have a specific place to read? Generally I read before I go to sleep, it is not very often that I will read while not in bed (before I go to sleep), when that does happen I must be alone, or on holiday, I enjoy reading when on holiday.

2. What book/s can you re-read without getting tired? As I generally read before I sleep, I do welcome getting tired, the disadvantage (especially at the end of a book) is that I can land up reading and not being able to put the book down – so sometimes reading can take me beyond tired.

3. Who is your favorite author? Toni Morrison

4. What is your favorite non-fiction book? Malika Oufkir and Michèle Fitoussi (2001), La Prisonnière (Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail) – one of the most astoundingly heart breaking and rewarding reads.

5. What is your most memorable childhood book? Roald Dahl’s The Witches

6. What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant? I cannot tell you the significance, but the first two verses from The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll has been in my head since I first encountered it as a child.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

7. What books did you hate reading in school? I am ashamed to admit it, but the most difficult book for me to enjoy, and maybe it’s because it was presented to me as school work, and it has always been one of my favourite books to get halfway through, having tried many times even before it was prescribed reading, I really do love the universe and mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien, was The Hobbit.
8. Do you read before bed? Yep.
9. How many books is on your book shelf? I can’t count, but kindle has changed my life
10. What genre of books do you prefer? Epic Storytelling
11. Can you read while there is noise around, like music or T.V? No
12. Have you wrote any books? The stories are there, the worlds exist, they’ve been constructed and are authored in my brain, but not yet.
13. You walk into a book store, what do you walk out with? Children’s Books – it is now important to grow a love of books in my sons.
14. Worst book you ever read? It has got to be Gone Girl. I hated everything about it, which is the genius of the book really, because I hated all the characters but that is what kept me reading until the end, and I was engrossed, and it shocked me, but i hated it as much as I hated the characters… And it is so terrible I will recommend it to everybody, because that is the brilliance of it.
15. Do you have any collections of books? I collect Graphic Novels and book series like those in my list.
16. Do you have a library card? Yes, but I do not use it.
17. What is the last book you read? The last book i completed was Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett.
18. How many books do you read per year? It is inconsistent, last year was a great year, i can’t even recall how many books I read, but it was over forty, I was devouring them.
19. If you could write a book what would you title it? Haha! Wouldn’t you like to know!
20. Why is reading important to you? Reading is an excercise of appreciation, it’s about escapism and inspiration, like all art, like movies, it’s about being entertained and evoked emotionally.


Quick Fire

Book mark or Anything that can hold your place
Trade paper back ?(big book) or Paper back (small book)
Novel or Biography
Read the book or Watch the movie first
Romance (Surprise, Surprise – but not schlockmance) or Science-Fiction


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