I was asked, challenged rather, by a friend recently on Facebook to help promote literacy by posting seven books I have loved over a week. The instructions were to not give reviews, reasons or comments, just post the cover of my “book of the day.” Then pass it on or pay it forward by challenging another friend to name his or her favorite book.
It wasn’t hard for me to come up with seven. The hard part was culling the non-seven.
I was 19 when I first joined the Book of the Month Club, and an early selection back then was “The Shining” by Stephen King, who sort of became my favorite author over the next couple of decades and beyond. As much as I loved “The Shining,” “The Stand,” “The Dead Zone,” “Misery,” “Dolores Claiborne,” etc., I didn’t have any of them in my top seven favorite books. But if I was choosing all-time favorite writer, it’s easily King.
Another book not on my list was “Silence of the Lambs,” by Thomas Harris. I bought it in 1988, having never read “Red Dragon,” but having seen the film “Manhunter.” I remember wishing that they would make a movie out of that second book.
“Lonesome Dove,” was a huge favorite also not on the list. If I’d have gotten eight picks it would have made the cut.
Others that meant a lot to me that didn’t make it were “The Godfather,” “Deliverance,” “The Bright Hour, “Dead Solid Perfect,” and “The Hobbit.”
I got to read a lot of great books in high school. One day I came into a class and saw a guy with his nose in a paperback I’d not heard of, called, “The Exorcist.” There was an image on the front of a creepy looking, out of focus girl looking up at us. The guy reading it, Robert Brown, noticed I was staring and said, “You won’t believe this @#$#.” He was right.
Around six months later I was carrying a paperback of my own around school. It was “The Betsy,” by Harold Robbins. I had read “The Carpetbaggers,” the year before, which was better. The problem was that instead of a creepy little girl on the cover, there was a face of lusty looking full grown blonde. I was noticed reading it by the guidance counselor, who told me to report later to his office, with the book.
When I showed up he took the book from me and put it in one of his desk drawers. Then he told me they didn’t like or allow pornography in the school. I wondered, if that were the case, why it had gone in his drawer instead of the trashcan that was sitting right there. Then he told me I ought to be thinking about a career in the military when high school ended.
“OK, I sure will,” was my too rapid response. He just stared at me for a few moments before telling me to get out.
A few years after high school I did almost join the army, but then I saw “Animal House” and developed serious reservations when it said Neidermeyer was killed by his own troops. So I never signed up.
When I was in the guidance counselor’s office that day, I had, by then, read “The Exorcist” myself, which was about a million times better, and more graphic, than the book I was in trouble for. I thought about giving up Brown, to deflect some of the heat from myself, but never did. Besides, this was a Catholic high school and Blatty’s classic probably would be required reading one day anyway.
The seven I did choose on the FB challenge were: “Secretariat,” “Naked,” “Ava’s Man,” “Night of the Grizzlies,” “Dune,” “Watership Down” and “In Cold Blood.”