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Abernaith's Five by Five


From Abernaith's (Growing) Reading List

These are the books Abernaith likes best. Sure, she can live without them, but she can't not want to read them when they're lying around in the open. Well, metaphorically speaking of course, since almost all of these she's encountered in e-book format. Viva le e-book.


The Five by Five books listed are subject to change, or in my terms, liable to be booted out. My reading list is growing (like a garden-variety weed, really), and so it's more than just possible that the book I lay my eyes on tomorrow will outshine even the very best I have in here.




1. The Persian Boy by Mary Renault


Who wouldn't love Bagoas? Especially after reading this. You get hooked into his life from the very first page, and the subtle intricacies of his world, seen from the eyes of a timid boy turned into a refined and cultured citizen during Alexander the Great's reign. Too bad he was a eunuch, you say, shaking your head. But, taking a closer look, you realize that the character Mary Renault has created, plucked from the bottomless pit of history's footnote caricatures, has blossomed beautifully, heart and soul. And it's hard not to see what he sees in Alexander--his quiet reflections and gentle confessions, through tender loving eyes.


I'm not into sordid drama types. I like Sidney Sheldon's work, but I don't think it's anything special. But, put in the words *Historical Fiction*, and I'd gobble it up even if it were the sappiest romance story on Earth. That's what I like about this book. Mary Renault made Alexander the Great my hero, and her Bagoas was the perfect foil to my conversion.



2. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett


How can you not love this book? I mean, seriously, how can you not love this book???


It seems to me that Good Omens has only a humble following, but they're all dedicated to the core, and I'm proud to be one of them. If you go to Amazon.com, you'll find a lot of lukewarm reviews. People tend to hit on the Britishisms first thing--claiming that the jokes are too British, the characters are too British, the whole setting is too British. Oh well. Hard luck to those folks, 's what I say.


Good Omens is not about "Apocalypse, The". Rather, it's a pun about "Apocalypse, The Several". Since the dawn of time, people have been throwing around theories of how the world were to end, ranging from Prophetic, to Foreboding, to Just Plain Weird. So it's just a matter for two certain writers, by the monickers Gneil and Pterry, to throw in as many crazy predictions as they can into a big cauldron to make a suitably strange brew of a plot. Obviously, it turned out as a fine soup to me. The characters are all quacky, really quacky, but my most favourite pair would have to be two certain supernatural agents, who work for Heaven and Hell respectively, and who happen to have a peculiar accord, which started a long, long, long time ago in the Garden of Eden, to evolve, oddly, as a duck-feeding ritual in St. James Park.


Real fun. Totally. Who else but Mssrs. Gaiman and Pratchett could come up with a book called "The Nice and Accurate Predictions of Agnes Nutter", an "An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards", and my most favourite haiku in all the world:

Late frost burns the bloom

Would a fool not let the belt

Restrain the body?


3. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

4. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

5. The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett


CREAM OF THE CROP: Five Most Impressionable Books I've Read


1. 1984 by George Orwell


This is perhaps one of the most influential books I have ever read to date.


I was born in a time of relative peace, and am fortunate to have never experienced the deprivations of war. I have not an inkling of what would really happen if another world war were to break out, moreso a world where the bad guys win. George Orwell's world is just that: a 1984 where the whole world is in the grip of three relatively self-sufficient superpowers, who all rule with soul-crushing dictatorships.


1984 follows the life of one Winston Smith, who has been having "out of the box" thoughts contrary to what is promoted by Big Brother, the image of a dictator that is supposedly behind all the machinations of Mr. Smith's daily life of communist drudgery.


At first, I was drawn to Winston. He was a small but bright spark in a world full of grubbiness and dull, dirty shades of grey. He wasn't by any means a proficient filibuster, but he was getting there, and you could just feel the hope building within him, brick by brittle brick, that life once again is filled with meaning, and that luxuries do exist--to love, to hate, to be free.


I suspect that that's when Mr. Orwell's book caught me in its vice-like grip. The feverish promises of hope are addictive, and every little moment of freedom that Winston Smith experiences is like a balm to my soul. It brought out all the masochist in me, to watch as Winston suffered for his 'secret life', for all the struggles and confusions he had to face. It positively shattered my soul to see his spark, once bright and infectious and full of hope, get smudged, inch by painful inch, until at the last all the light has bled out of him and it's as if, as his soul was raped and ravished, mine was violated as well. In the end, when all that is left is the grey facsimile of the man who once wanted to be a rebel, my mind is left in the cold, and it really feels so very hollow.


I think that the book's message is very effective, because in the grey and hollow end, you start to think, "Yes. The fight is worth it. I must never give up." After all, it's what, in the end, all that a certain individual named Winston Smith really had--the only kind of freedom that he could ever get his hands on, that he could ever only taste. I believe that this, above all things, is what makes the book so powerfully provocative.



2. Call of the Wild by Jack London

3. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams


The breadth and depth of Mr. Adam's psyche (or perhaps I should say "psychosis"?) has turned my philosophical world into a topsy-turvy frenzy. The whole series, composed of 5 fantastic books (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe, and Everything; So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish; and culminating in Mostly Harmless), have been wrapped up like a present, shaken like a box of fragile crystal, stomped on, thrown in the recycle bin, salvaged the next day amidst mildew and rot, and then sorted out so smoothly and roundly just like a fresh, shiny watermelon, only to crack open under the heavy Hammer of Reality. And, surprisingly, it All. Makes. Sense.



5. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

A Note on the Ratings

    If you are baffled by the ratings I dole out, worry not, for I am just as baffled as you. Once you look at the pretty quills though, I don't think it's that hard to figure out what's Good and what's Even Better. It's quite elementary my dear, if you'd only gauge the quality by the perfect score, which is 5 Golden Quills.
    For more info about the way Abernaith rates her reads, please visit the Site Information page.


bored people have come and gone through this page,

slipping away like light through the jalousies...


Have a confession? Did you like this site? Or do you hate it, and hate the guts of whoever came up with it?

So. Come tell me: abernaith@gmail.com. Or, you could drop by my new guestbook c/o the beautiful people of Ur I.T. Mate Group.

People who give feedback are good, conscientious people.


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