What’s the Best Book You’ve Ever Read? #AmReading

Best BookWhat’s your ‘best book ever’ — this was a question I came across in a reading group. A lot of readers named the Potter series, some listed romance and scifi titles, and the rest came down hard on them, for not appreciating ‘the classics’ and ‘literary’ books.

To me, the word ‘best’ is subjective, in a relative world. What’s good for me could be utter trash for someone else. I’ve read all the Potter books, liked the first and couldn’t resist finishing the last few– but thought they could all use editing.

They are by no means the ‘best’ for me, but my ‘best book’ changes year to year. Right now, it seems to be ‘All the light we cannot see.’

What’s important is that there are books for every kind of booklover, and even those books we look down upon secretly ( I’ll admit to not being fond of E L James) are important and useful: because they get people reading/ engaged in stories. The very experience of immersing oneself in a story has far-reaching psychological and physical benefits, so I’m not going to trash any book at all.

We can all agree to disagree on what the ‘best book’ for us is, and leave it at that. The Potter books brought a lot of joy to a lot of people, and that in itself propels it to some kind of ‘best of’ list, I think.

From time to time, ‘best book lists’ crop up, like this one. Or another, of books you must read before you die, like this one. While opinion may differ on whether they’re the best– these lists can be an easy way to access good books– with so many books published each year, we’ll never read all the books in the world that we’d like to.

So what is your ‘best book ever’? Do you read books for enjoyment, insight, knowledge, escape? Would you recommend a book, or a list of books you’ve liked in recent years, so we can all add to our tottering TBR piles?

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What do the books you read say about you?

I’m currently reading September by Rosamund Pilcher, There but for the by Ali Smith, and The Summer Before the Dark by Doris Lessing.

All books by women, about women. All of them well-known, one way or the other.

I’ve never really thought about what my reading says about me– but I guess if someone were to judge me by the books I’m reading this week, they’d call me very focused on women’s issues.

What book/s are you reading this week? Do they say anything about you? If so, what?

When #Bookshops Become Extinct, where will you Browse? #amreading

Today I stumbled upon a Clearance sale for books, another bookshop closing down.

I bought me a few books, Damon Galgut among them, and then tried to think when I’d bought the last book. Couldn’t remember then, can’t remember now.

book sale books gone extinctAs I browsed the bookshelves I kept thinking that 50 years from now, this would probably be an impossible, exotic experience. Letting book covers draw the eye, inhaling the scent of new books, running fingertips on the spines big and small, catching a familiar author or getting snagged by an intriguing title. 

Very soon, it won’t happen.

Music books alternative

In 20 years or so, we’ll only be left with niche bookstores for the nerds, like we have Turntable stores nowadays. A whole lot of my readers have probably never seen a turntable in their lives– but I have some memories of good turntable music from my childhood.

All things pass, but the passing away of physical books from our world would be particularly painful. I can’t imagine a library without books either.

Perhaps, adults of future generations would be nostalgic about Kindles and iPads (‘Remember those flat boxes we swiped fingers on, no holograms, no 3-d experience?’ they’ll probably say)
When bookshops become extinct, where will you browse? The thought of it hurts me. How about you?

Do Your #ShortStories begin in Ideas or Images? #amwriting

 Short stories are my first love in fiction.

And today I found an author, David Constantine, who follows the exact process (if you can call it that) that I use to write a short story. The entire article is worth a read if you’re an author.

“I abide by Carlos Williams’ rule for the making of a poem – ‘No ideas
but in things’ – and apply it equally to the making of stories. My
stories never start in an ‘idea’, unless taking that word at its root
meaning: ‘something seen’, an image. But even then I should want the
other senses to be involved.

My stories start in some particular and
very concrete situation, real or imagined, in which I think I detect the
possibilities of an opening line
(I could show in every one of my published stories what its beginning
was – but I’d rather not).
I couldn’t write a story to prove or disprove
a thesis, support or demolish an argument, advance or hinder any
opinion or ideology. I do plenty of that sort of writing and I know how
unlike writing stories (and poems) it is.

I start a story because some
concrete image or situation prompts or pesters or forces me to. And I
don’t know where I am going when I start.
I’ve met writers who won’t
start the story until they know pretty exactly where they are going in
it, who work it all out in detail in advance. But that’s not my
procedure. Sentence by sentence in every new story I feel my way.”

Do you write short stories? If you do, do you plot them in advance or let them come to you? If you read short stories, which are your favorite ones?

Andrew Leon : Wednesday #Books : The House on the Corner

Today’s Wednesday feature book is The House on the Corner, a children’s fantasy by Andrew Leon.

Elevator pitch:

All children dream the improbable; some dream the impossible. What
happens when three children stumble into the impossible? Will it bring
them together, or will it tear them apart?

Teaser Excerpt:  

Before we went out the door, I asked, “Mom, what’s an imp?”

She frowned at me, “Where did you hear about imps, Sweetheart?”

“Elli said there would be imps outside tonight, and imps are mean because they’ve been constipated by demons from living too close to Hell.”
Everyone stared at me. I hate that. “What?” I said and made a frowny face.

“What did Elli say about the imps, Sweetie?”

“She said they’re constipated.”

Sam started laughing, “Contaminated! Imps are contaminated.”

“Huh?” I said. “Oh, yeah! Contaminated! She said they’re contaminated!”

Everyone started laughing. Everyone but me. “What’s contaminated?”

Tom said, “Contaminated is like when something is polluted. Pollution contaminates the Earth.”

“What does that mean? Imps aren’t the Earth.”

Mom knelt down next to me, “Contaminating something is making something that was good into something that’s bad. Like when you leave food out and it gets mold on it.”

“Ohhh…,” I said. “Then, what’s constipated?”

Tom and Sam started laughing harder.

That made more mad than when they were laughing before. “What! What does it mean?”

“Constipated is being full of poop,” Sam said and kept laughing.

“Maybe imps are constipated! Maybe that’s what makes them so mean!” laughed Tom.

Sam fell on the floor laughing, “They’re contaminated with constipation!”

Mom rolled her eyes and shook her head, “Boys… Just ignore them.” She opened the door and walked out with me.


 Buy: Physical book


If you’re an author and would like your book excerpt featured,
drop me an introductory mail with a link to your book at  atozstories
at gmail dot com. I’m now accepting submissions for features in January.