|I may have bitten off more than I could reasonably swallow.|
These books aren't going to read themselves, so let's cut the introductory fluff and get right to it then:
8. The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
|As far as I'm concerned, these are the best covers ever bound.|
|This is how we DVR'ed back when the world was young and dinosaurs ruled the earth.|
I'd sing the songs along with the television. I'd climb over the furniture while the dwarves were in the lonely mountain. I didn't miss a minute of it.
|Except for this guy; I hid behind the couch for him.|
|And this is why I'm arachnophobic to this day.|
And a sequel!
|And they all came in one convenient box!|
And that's when Tolkien ripped out my still beating heart and stomped on it.
In short, The Hobbit tells the story of a little guy who goes off with some dwarves to regain their treasure. On the way, the little guy finds a magic ring that makes you invisible. The Lord of the Rings tells about the little guy's nephew who has to go on a journey to destroy the ring in a volcano. Amid all the walking to and from treasure, the little guys learn that they can affect the great events of the world, but even if they win, they will be forever changed and not all for the best.
The Lord of the Rings wasn't the first time I encountered a story with a sad ending (The Empire Strikes Back did that for me), but it was the first time I encountered a story where the heroes win and are so depressed in spite of this victory that they can't live in the world anymore.
Sometimes you can get exactly what you want and still be miserable, and there's very little you can do about that.
7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
|My high school English teacher told us there|
was a naked woman on this cover in order to
encourage us to read it. When I found it,
I wanted to punch her.
Fitzgerald's book is a searing indictment of the roaring '20's and the decadence of the Jazz Age. It is such a successful and scathing critique, in fact, that anyone who reads the book cannot help but want to go back to the 1920's, and sneer at everyone reprovingly while guzzling bathtub gin and seducing flappers.
On top of all of this, it tells the story of a gangster who's in love with an air-headed rich girl who's married to an asshole of a rich guy who's sleeping with a poor idiot who's married to a loser who kills the gangster in a swimming pool.
In fact, Daisy (the poor little rich girl) and her jerk of a husband, Tom, both sit idly by and let Gatsby die because at the end of the day, they don't see his death as their problem (even though they are both to varying degrees responsible for the events leading to it).
Which brings us to my favorite quote form the novel, and the most important life lesson I ever learned in high school:
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.After reading that line, I knew with a certainty bordering on the religious, that I did not ever want to be that kind of careless. I never wanted anyone to think of me the way Nick Carraway, the narrator, thinks of Tom and Daisy. I didn't want to be Nick Carraway either, the poor sod who has to clean up everybody else's mess, and I certainly didn't want to be Gatsby, who is eaten up and spit out by other people's carelessness.
|Though, he does manage to look suave and debonair while he's being digested.|