Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Shelf of Awesome

A friend of mine (Kat at Wit and Sin) posted about her Shelf of Awesome. Not merely a 'Keeper' Shelf, it's something a bit more. To quote her:
The Shelf of Awesome is a shelf of books that, in brief, inspire me. No, you won’t find any “inspirational” books on The Shelf of Awesome. By inspire I mean these books are the ones that always inspire me to write, to read, to imagine, to do, to love, to smile, and to find happiness. I’ll even let you in on a little secret: not all the books on The Shelf of Awesome are favorites of mine and some of my favorites aren’t on the shelf.
This made me start to think. What books would make up my own Shelf of Awesome. This is what I've come up with. These are all physical books that I own paper or hard copies of. Like Kat, perhaps later I'll add to it with some of the ebooks that make the grade too. Some of these fall into multiple categories, but I put them in the one that makes the most sense to me.

The Classics

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This is a classic for a reason. Smart and witty, it's a one that I return to again and again, each time falling for Jane Austen's sharp writing.

The Illiad by Homer
The Odyssey by Homer
These two together started my fascination with Greece. It's never stopped, and I credit these two novels with my continued fascination with all things in ancient (and more recent) history.

Poetry Some of my favorite bits are listed below. This is nowhere near a comprehensive listing of my favorites by each of these authors.

Robert Frost
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could

William Butler Yeats
When my arms wrap you round I press
My heart upon the loveliness
That has long faded from the world;
The jewelled crowns that kings have hurled
In shadowy pools, when armies fled;
The love-tales wrought with silken thread
By dreaming ladies upon cloth
That has made fat the murderous moth;
The roses that of old time were
Woven by ladies in their hair,
The dew-cold lilies ladies bore
Through many a sacred corridor
Where such grey clouds of incense rose
That only God's eyes did not close:
For that pale breast and lingering hand
Come from a more dream-heavy land,
A more dream-heavy hour than this;
And when you sigh from kiss to kiss
I hear white Beauty sighing, too,
For hours when all must fade like dew.
But flame on flame, and deep on deep,
Throne over throne where in half sleep,
Their swords upon their iron knees,
Brood her high lonely mysteries.

William Blake
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

Never seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind does move
Silently, invisibly.

John Keats
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

Edgar Allen Poe
In visions of the dark night
I have dreamed of joy departed
But a waking dream of life and light
Hath left me broken-hearted.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee

Favorite From Childhood
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Anne Rice - Yes, she deserves her own category.

The Vampire Lestat
Lestat just immediately jumped off the page, demanding to be heard, understood, loved. I couldn't help but give him everything he asked for.

The Queen of the Damned
Fascinating and rich, this novel is filled with the vampires' history - going back to ancient Egypt, one of my favorite times. I loved how it was written from multiple points of view, with Lestat returning 'full flair' at the right moment.

The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned
Ramses the Second waking up in modern day 1914. Cleopatra, his ancient love. Julie, his new love. Intrigue, romance, suspense. A whole new take on 'the mummy.'

Servant of the Bones
Rich with history and mythology this book follows a fascinating djinn that has been forced to do much evil, and is now looking for redemption. I think this is a truly under-appreciated novel by Anne Rice

The Witching Hour
The Mayfair witches are haunted by a mysterious ghost who shows himself to a select few. The intricate, complicated relationships between the ghost, Lasher, and the women of Mayfair bring them untold riches, and untimely deaths. This first novel in the trilogy is by far the best, and the one I re-read the most

First Fantasy

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I still re-read this rich, beautiful novel at least once a year. It's just a fantastic novel, a history with it's own history, people, languages and trials.

Other Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Eragon by Christopher Paolini
While it's easy to see where Paolini got his inspiration, this book tells a very interesting story of a young man, his dragon and the fight to save the world. I'm patiently waiting for the final(?) novel

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
This is the third novel in the Mercy Thompson series. Patricia Briggs hooked me with the first book, but Iron Kissed firmly put her in my favorites. It has an extremely interesting storyline that is filled with fantastic characters that she continues to add depth and layers to.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
I read this after The Lord of the Rings and loved every word of additional information I got about the history of Middle Earth. Bilbo's journey will forever hold a special place in my heart

City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams
A book I picked up completely on a whim, and couldn't put down once I started. Tad Williams built a whole new world - in our minds. Travel anywhere, be anyone, do anything - just hook into the 'net in this futuristic novel. Except just like the real world, the rich have more power, and the annonymity of the 'net gives them an almost free reign. I didn't know going into this book that it was the first of a (long) four-book series. I turned the last page and my eyes nearly popped out of my head at the cliff-hanger ending. I was lucky enough that the next two books were already out. This book is very heavy on description and internal thoughts, but I loved every moment spent with each character.

Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland
A rich fantasy world with magic, shieldmaidens, evil creatures, mages, swords, horses and a lot of interesting characters. For me the characters themselves are what I love most about this (continuing) series. They're so richly drawn that I'd love to know them in real life. They have doubts and loves, fears and ideas, they make mistakes and keep on pushing through, against all odds sometimes. With a strong romance wending its way through each trilogy, I dare you not to fall in love with Morgan and Miach.

First Romance

Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts
My first Nora Roberts. Definitely not my last.

Other Romance

Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward
Truthfully, I love this entire series, but I go back to this book time and time again for the sweet love story between Rhage and Mary. I especially love watching Rhage, a male that has a (rightly deserved) reputation as a philanderer, fall in love. You can't go wrong picking up a J.R. Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood novel.

Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
I have to add this one as well. Zsadist and Bella's story always gets me. It's so emotional, so heart-wrenching, so fulfilling. There are a lot of moments that make me tear up, still, after several dozen re-reads, and I love that I always finish the book not only happy, but content and sure in their love for each other. It's just such a touching story. I can't even begin to do it justice here.

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
*sigh* The first novel in Nalini's fantastic Psy/Changeling series. I fell in love with the world, the Changelings and even the Psy. Nalini is at the top of the game for world building and characters that feel like they could walk off the pages. Sascha is one of my all-time favorite heroines.

A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
By far my favorite by Judith McNaught, this book has an abundance of love, loyalty, betrayel, forgiveness and heart-wrenching moments. With it's hard, yet caring, hero...it's fiery, independent, loving heroine...the beautiful backdrop of medieval England and Scotland...it never fails to make me laugh, make me cry, and make me fall in love all over again.

Run For Your Life by Andrea Kane
A contemporary romantic suspense with a reunited couple that are thrown together in a dangerous search. She searching for her sister, he for the truth. Sparks fly, and love blooms anew. The plot is driven not only by things that happen, but by the thoughts, desires, fears and shared history of Victoria and Zach.

Dreams of Stardust by Lynn Kurland
Another book that I found entirely by chance. On a book-exchange shelf at a previous job I picked it up one day because I needed something to read. I didn't expect much, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Lynn Kurland weaves a sweet, romantic, funny tale with characters that seem very real. I immediately went on a glom of all her backlist, and follow her still. Closed door romances that aren't lacking anything by not having those steamy scenes so common in most romances today.

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
A plus-sized heroine that doesn't magically become skinny by the end, but learns to love her body, herself, and the hero. Min is smart and someone that I instantly related to. Her sharp tongue, sweet nature, and loving character just make it impossible to not like her. Cal, her hero, is definitely hero worthy, smart himself, strong, sexy and absolutely, irrevocably falling for Min. This is a sigh-worthy romance that I'm always happy to revisit.

Other Young Adult

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
A young boy that's a genius, in the true sense of the word, who's also a criminal mastermind and comes up with a cunning plot to relieve the fairyfolk of their gold. His plan is to capture one of the fairyfolk and hold them for their ransom. But when he gets his hands on Holly things start to take unexpected turns. Artemis Fowl is an anti-hero that you can easily root for!

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
The first book in His Dark Materials trilogy. Enter a world much like the not-too-distant past of ours, but it's a place where magic, religion and science are all closely enter-twined. Lyra Belacqua is an orphan, growing up at Oxford University, with her daemon - the manifestation of her soul in animal form. Lyra isn't concerned with much but entertaining herself with her close friend Roger. Her precociousness leads her to learn of dust, a thing that those in power would do a lot to hide, and she's suddenly thrust upon an epic journey. Searching for her kidnapped friend takes Lyra north where she meets friends and enemies alike, including gyptians, witches, an armor-clad polar bear, and a nefarious plot involving many more missing children. This book is rich with emotion and adventure.

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
A young boy as a magician-in-training, Nathaniel, is visciously betrayed and vows revenge. Devouring texts he finally amasses enough power to summon a djinn, Bartimaeus, to steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand and prevent his nemesis from his own designs. The story switches between third-person narration of Nathaniel, and first person narration (complete with footnotes that I loved immensely) by Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus is full of a wry wit that kept me grinning almost constantly when he was 'on-screen.' He alone is reason enough to read this, though it's filled with much, much more.

The One Two I Can't Figure Out Where To Put

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I read this book when it first came out, and absolutely loved the rich historical detail that Diana Gabaldon wove through the story. Sometimes a bit wordy, but that doesn't mean that every word isn't worth reading. Definitely an interesting look at the history, and people, of Scotland and England. I loved this book so much, and even though it's a true tome, I still pick it up to re-read. Side note - I didn't read, or even know, there were sequels to this book until the fifth book was out, so I definitely didn't feel like it was a cliffhanger ending. I have since picked up the following books, but am still working my way through them, as each of them is just as richly detailed as Outlander is.

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult
The first book I ever read by Jodi Picoult and I was absolutely amazed by her ability to make me truly think about where I fall on certain values and thoughts that I have. It's something that she does in every book I've read of hers. She'll easily show two sides to every story, and makes me think about both sides. I always walk away from her books with a new view on something.

The I-Can't-Pick-Just-One-Of-This-Series

Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning
I started reading Darkfever, the first book in this series, when it first came out in 2006 and have loved every minute of speculating since. The final book is coming out in January of 2011 and I'm so looking forward to the conclusion of this wonderfully complicated, intricate, fascinating series. It's mostly set in Dublin, Ireland and follow Mac's journey to find her sister's killer and she's suddenly thrust into a richly built world she knew nothing about, filled with fae, that are nothing like the fairies from our childhood tales, ambiguous characters and plots that Mac has to work through just to survive.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
A deftly written series in a magical world set just on the fringes of our world. If you haven't read these, or don't know about them, I highly recommend that you start now (the movies just don’t do them enough justice, though I enjoy them too). Following Harry Potter on his coming of age journey with fantastic characters that I love totally.

So, there you have it. My very own Shelf of Awesome (and yes I can fit all these on one shelf, if I really have to. ;) I hope you find something new here to pick and enjoy, if you do, please let me know! I'd love to hear what you think about any of these books.

And I'd LOVE to hear what makes your Shelf of Awesome!


Kat said...

At last!!!! I have a smaller list of books for something than you, lol.

*does little victory dance* :P

You already know what's on my shelf. I love that you have one as well. From reading yours and Nicole's I love what it can tell you about a person. I didn't realize how revealing it was, lol.

Angela said...

LOL! I started, and then I couldn't stop.

It is pretty revealing actually. Wow, I hadn't thought about that. I really enjoyed reading your's and Nicole's too!

brandileigh2003 said...

Harry Potter
The Light of Asteria
Twilight (It got me back into reading again hardcore-- don't judge)

That is an awesome list though-- I may have to put some more time and thought and do my own post!

Angela said...

LOL brandileigh - I read the Twilight series too, and anything that gets people back into reading is a good thing ;)

I'd love to read your list if you do one!

Nicole Sheldon said...

I love your list! We both have Poe and Homer, not surprised about that. Was however surprised about LE. Nice choice.

Nicole Sheldon said...

Wait a second Kat, what are we revealing?

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