You Would Be Surprised or Some of My Favorite Books, Non-Genre Edition

I recently joined a book club.

Granted, we have not had our first meeting yet.  In fact, I haven’t even started reading the first book yet, but I am still quite excited.  Part of what has me so excited is the chance to discuss literature with other intelligent people.
1  Another thing which has me excited is that this is not a horror/sci-fi/genre based discussion group.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Here’s the thing.  I don’t spend a whole lot of time with other people.  I’m pretty isolationist, when it comes to my dealings with the outside world.  When I do venture out, it is usually to be with other like minded people.  We naturally start talking about things that we are interested in.  Those shared interests usually revolve around horror or speculative fiction.

In other words, I get to talk about horror a lot.

This will be a chance to talk, in a rather geeky way, about non-genre books and I couldn’t be more excited.

All of this
4 got me thinking about books which people might be surprised to discover that I enjoyed.  Naturally, this lead to me thinking about how great it would be to share some of these titles and authors with you, and hence, this list was born.

It is by no means all inclusive.  In fact, I may do another, similar list later when I think “Oh crap!  I can’t believe I forgot about [insert title of awesome book full of awesomeness here].  Because I’m trying to focus on books which I think you would be surprised to find that I liked, I will not be including any of the wonder horror, mystery, science-fiction, or fantasy books which are on my list of best things I have ever read.

So, in no particular order, the list.

Born Free Joy Adams
This is one of the books which
must be next to my bed, no matter where I am living.  I fist encountered the beautiful, true story of the bond between the author and Elsa the lioness while I was in elementary school.  The school library had two copies of the book.  By rotating which copy I checked out, I managed to keep a copy out for a whole year.

Emma Who Saved My Life Wilton Barnhardt
Part of my love for this book may have been that it was published at exactly the right time for me to read it.  I was the same age as the main characters, I was going through some of the same hardships, it was easy to relate.  The novel follows the Gil, a young man from the midwest, as he tries to break into acting in New York.  Equally moving and hilarious, the book follows Gil and his connection to Emma, one of the central people in his life.

Lonesome Dove Larry McMurtry
I know I said that this was going to be a genre free list and this is technically a western, but screw that.  Anyone who sees this as just another western has definitely never read the book.  Lyrical descriptions, amazing characters, and a setting as big as the West itself make this one of the best books I have ever read.

Shogun James Clavell
If you like historical fiction, you will love
Shogun.  I’m sure that everyone is familiar with the story, so I won’t bother to describe it.  The other books in the series are good, but none of them match the original.

Space James Michner
This one is probably not much of a surprise, given my love for science fiction, space flight, and science in general.  A big nutcracker of a book,
Space is definitely worth the effort.

The Accidental Tourist Anne Tyler
If you are only familiar with this story from the movie adaptation, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.  The book is so much richer and vibrant.

Desert Solitaire: A Season In The Wilderness Edward Abbey
Again, probably not much of a shocker for anyone who knows of my love of nature, this collection of observations made by the author of
The Monkeywrench Gang rivals the works of Henry David Thoreau and John Muir.

Love Medicine Louise Erdrich
That title could have easily been replaced by any of a half dozen of Erdrich’s other titles (particularly
The Beet Queen, Tales of Burning Love, Tracks, or The Bingo Palace).  I have never not enjoyed one of Erdrich’s books, but Love Medicine was the first time she delved into the lives of the families living on the reservation and it remains one if not the best.

Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men: Searching through Scotland for a Border Collie Donald McCaig
Virginian herder McCaig, author of the wonder
Nop’s Trials and Nop’s Hope, chronicles his journey to Scotland to find the perfect Border Collie.  The reader is introduced to the reality of herding, breeding, and the beauty of Scotland.  A perfect book for those who enjoy travel and/or dogs.5

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee Dee Brown
This should be required reading for every American History class.  You will never think of “Cowboys and Indians” the same again.

Wow.  I accidentally came up with a list of ten titles.  Who knew?  Now stop reading this post and go pick up one of the books I mentioned.  You’ll be glad you did.

1  Yep, I put myself in that category.

2  At least I do tonight.

3  Which is

4  And some other stuff which has been happening 

5  Dog lovers should check out the other two titles mentioned as well.  Some portions of
Nop’s Trials are a bit difficult to read due to content.  Each book tells a story from the viewpoint of a shepherd and the dog.