August 19th, 2005


It’s my friend Kat’s birthday today!

Happy Birthday, Kat!

Here’s how you, faithful blog reader, can be a part of it. Last night, for her birthday party, everyone gave her a book (or two) as a present. It was supposed to be a book that meant a lot to that person, and they were supposed to write in the front of it why that book was important to them.

(Apparently Gwyneth Paltrow did this and it’s a fantastic idea. That doesn’t mean you should name your kid “Apple,” though.)

Anyway, to be a part of Kat’s birthday, leave the name and author of your favorite book in the comments section, along with why it’s an important book to you. I’ll collect them and make sure she gets the list. I know you don’t know Kat, but do it any way. She will think you are fabulous.

12 Comments on “Birthday!”

  1. Brian Arnold says:

    I so hope I can remember this idea, so I can get people to do that for me. That'd be awesome. Then again, I really like asking for just cash. :D

    Anyhow, here's my suggestion, especially since I sorta know Kat. I mean, I've talked to her on the phone a time or two, that's got to count.

    "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut is one of my top five favorite books of all time. I found this great summary over at SparkNotes.

    Billy Pilgrim, the novel’s protagonist, has become "unstuck in time." He travels between periods of his life, unable to control which period he lands in. As a result, the narrative is not chronological or linear. Instead, it jumps back and forth in time and place. The novel is structured in small sections, each several paragraphs long, that describe various moments of his life.

    I will also say that, should Kat choose to check out this book, that she's required to read at least the first three chapters. I absolutely love pretty much everything that Kurt Vonnegut has written, but in his novels, the first chapter is usually really hard to get past. Once you're past that point, it gets a lot better, but it can be kind of hard at first. Don't give up on it. If she gets 3-5 chapters in and she's still not satisfied and moves on, well, my apologies.

    Since I can, I'm going to make a few other recommendations.

    Another piece by Kurt Vonnegut, or rather pieces, would be "Welcome to the Monkey House". It's a collection of shorter works of his that are quite powerful. I don't want to say much more, aside from that it includes Harrison Bergeron, which is one of the best short stories ever.

    Another great author in general is Michael Crichton. I've been a fan of his for years. Both "Timeline" and "Prey" are excellent reads. "State of Fear" was alright, but it wasn't great by any means. "Timeline" might possibly be my favorite book of all time. I love how it mixes quantum physics with medieval history, in part because I love both subjects. Don't let the horrendous movie deter you from the book. It's a great read. "Prey" is also awesome because of how it explores topics in Artificial Life, and does so while also being fairly scary. It's also in my top five books.

    So, those would be my recommendations. I'm amused that this comment is longer than the initial blog entry, but I had a lot I wanted to say.

  2. the obscure says:

    Book: "The Great Gatsby", by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

    Reason: the power of the last paragraph (beginning with "Gatsby believed in the green lights . ."), and the way the rest of the book leads up to it in such a unified, purposeful way.

    Quote #1: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

    Quote #2: "At least a dozen men, some of them little better off than he was, explained to him that wheel and car were no longer joined by any physical bond."

  3. Kat says:

    Brian … You will be pleased to know that I rarely give up on a book. I could rattle off many a book that I didn't like, but read all the way through.

    Outside of the countless novels assigned during school that I avoided reading, I can think of only five books that I could not finish.

    Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Paradise by Toni Morrison, Atonement by Ian McEwan, Fork in the Road by Denis Hamill, and some weird novel I got from our friend Matt that starts with a middle-aged couple that is murdered while making babies out in a field, then works its way backward from different perspectives to examine their 20+ year relationship.

    Including the perspective of a dung beetle whose day of soaking in the sun was ruined with their bodies fell and cast shadow over him. And even that one I read more than half of before giving up and just reading the last page.

    Ob … Unfortunately, Great Gatsby falls under the aforementioned category of books I was assigned to read but couldn't.

  4. The obscure says:

    Hey Madmup, need to keep yer eye on that one. Couldn't finish Great Gatsby? In all my days!

    Alternate selection #1:

    The Glass Menagerie/Tennesee Williams

  5. Angie says:

    Kat has emailed me on Purdue, so, yay! Happy Birthday to a wonderful woman who gave me lots of information on a prospective college choice!

    "The Virgin Suicides" by Jeffrey Euginides

    It's a quick read, and a very emotional one at that. The movie doesn't even do the book justice, and while it may get graphic and depressing, it's an amazing read.

    Then again, I've met people that hated it.

  6. Kim says:

    Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus. Its a picture book, but its awesome, and my copy is from my mom's childhood. I dont know why I like it so much, I guess its one of those Inspirational Oprah types. It wouldnt take you longer then an hour at most to read it.

  7. HP says:

    Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl.

    A delicate watercolour of a novel, lightly written. The British countryside of the 1950s is almost real enough to touch. The relationship between Danny and his father is a kind of magic, really.Yes, it's a "kids" book, but that shouldn't be allowed to put people off reading it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    hmmm… toughie. East of Eden, Steinbeck. It's a sweeping epic taking you through lifetimes of good and evil, just skim the scenery.

    Also, I love manga. Most of it that I've read.

    I'm reading His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman right now- slow going, honestly.

    And my favorite books are probably The Song of Fire and Ice series by George R. R. Martin. They're racy in spots, but otherwise, some amazing fantasy.

    Oh, this is Laura, dave's sister in law, found you through him. This is Mark that I've met, right?

    I xanga and I have a myspace. Maybe I'll add one of these to my collection…

    And, as usual, I have given far too much information.

    and just for that guy who talked about The Great Gatsby (a great book, one I had to teach 9th graders years ago) another quote: "Her voice was full of money."

    I love that.


  9. Kim says:

    This is directed to hp, and its a Mitch Hedberg quote:
    "Any book is a kids book if the kid knows how to read!"
    Shouldnt it work the other way around?

  10. hp says:

    It totally should. Some of the best books ever written are for children and young adults, it'd be a darn shame to miss out on them.

  11. Meags says:

    I also loved The Virgin Suicides, book and movie. One of the few movies that didn't totally butcher the plot of the book. (Don't get me started on A Walk to Remember… grrr…)

    I've read so many books, it's really hard to think of one that's meaningful. One exceptional book I read is called The Tanglewoods Secret by Patricia St. John. I can't remember any of the plot, but I do know that it was a sad and powerful book for the younger kids that it was marketed at. I still have it somewheres. One of the best scenes (that I still vaguely remember) is when she runs away from home and spends the night in a church, and then the preacher finds her the next morning and talks to her about Jesus and her life. A good portion of her books were made into movies, but I doubt many of them are still in print.

  12. MadMup says:

    Everyone: thanks! I'll make sure Kat gets the list!

    Laura: Yes, I am the Mark you met. Howdy!

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