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What Are Your Favorite Books?

Hey gang.  I do so much yakking about the books I love, but I rarely get a chance to hear from you.  I’ll start the conversation real quick.  Here are my four favorite books of all time.  They are actually beyond my powers to review–that’s whey they’re my favorites–but I’ll put links to the Amazon reviews in case you wonder what anyone else has to say.

My favorite books

Please tell us your desert island, if-I-only-had-a-couple-of-books-for-the-rest-of- my-life-books in the comments sections.

I can’t wait to see what you all come up with.


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  • Sandy Sommer, RKC July 9, 2009, 8:05 am

    Confederacy of Dunces, Kennedy

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Thompson

    Travels With Charley, Steinbeck

    Lonesome Dove, McMurtry

    • Josh Hanagarne July 9, 2009, 3:52 pm

      Sandy, I’m about to start reading Lonesome Dove again for about the zillionth time.

  • Boris July 9, 2009, 9:36 am

    The Secret History- Donna Tartt

    Catch 22- Joseph Heller

    The Time Traveler’s Wife- Audrey Niffenegger

    Mere Christianity- C.S. Lewis

    • Josh Hanagarne July 9, 2009, 4:00 pm

      Boris, have you ever read A Grief Observed? that’s my favorite Lewis, but maybe I’m just a sad sack.

  • Casey July 9, 2009, 10:18 am

    Hey Josh, love the site! I just stumbled on it and have been going through the archieves. I’m a little north of you up here in Ogden! I’m putting the finishing touches on my own site which is similar to yours, haha I may be coming to you for some advice!
    Anywho my picks in no particular order:
    Riding Rockets – John Mulane
    Enders Game – Orson Scott Card
    Cardinal of the Kermlin – Tom Clancy
    Dauntless – Jack Campbell

  • Megan Horton July 9, 2009, 11:45 am

    The Witching Hour. YAY! Josh you left one off your list…..babydolly? Come on. Fess up

    • Josh Hanagarne July 9, 2009, 3:57 pm

      Ok, Megan. I give. Now everyone knows that I love Baby Dolly (And Baby the dinosaur movie). What’s not to love about those “glistening,chubby cheeks?”

  • Megan Horton July 9, 2009, 11:45 am

    Oh and the Stand

  • Vanessa July 9, 2009, 12:29 pm

    Hmm this is sorta a tricky question since some of my all time fav books I never want to be stuck on a deserted island with alone. Ok then, Stranded favs:
    The Count of Monte Cristo
    Song of Solomon
    Memoirs of a Geisha
    Love in the Time of Cholera
    The Tale of Genji
    Pablo Neurda’s love sonnets

    • Josh Hanagarne July 9, 2009, 3:55 pm

      Vanessa, I fixed the spelling. Think no more of it. Did you read Toni’s latest? I haven’t met anyone yet who’s read it and want someone to recommend it to me because I’m lazy. Bravo on that Neruda. did you read The Book of Questions?

  • flagmonkey July 9, 2009, 2:44 pm

    A Confederacy Of Dunces – Toole
    Filth – Welsh
    Trainspotting – Welsh
    The Beach – Garland

    • Josh Hanagarne July 9, 2009, 3:53 pm

      Marc, did you read Welsh’s latest? I haven’t picked it up yet. Never heard anyone rave about it.

  • Chris July 9, 2009, 3:55 pm

    If I liked a book once, that doesn’t mean I want to take it to a desert island and re-read it forever…I suppose I’d have to start with a guide to edible desert flora and fauna.

    • Josh Hanagarne July 9, 2009, 3:58 pm

      Fair enough. Ignore the island. Pretend you’re stranded on the moon but you have enough oxygen and edible moon berries to last you forever. What would you be reading?

  • Leah July 9, 2009, 3:57 pm

    To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee
    Charms for the Easy Life-Kaye Gibbons
    Special Topics in Calamity Physics-Marisha Pessl
    Straight Man- Richard Russo
    Bloodthirsty- Marshall Karp

    • Josh Hanagarne July 9, 2009, 3:59 pm

      Hey Leah! I was hoping that Richard Russo would make it onto someone’s list. Bravo! As an English major and sort-of-anti-academic, I applaud you for Straight man.

  • Jason Steeves July 9, 2009, 5:20 pm

    Any Joe Lansdale but if I had to pick one it would probably be Sunset & Sawdust because I haven’t got around to reading it yet.
    Dark Descent – Edited by Hartwell
    The Illuminatus – Shea/Wilson
    The Mind’s Eye – Hofstadter/Dennet
    The Ashley Book of Knots – Ashley

  • vanessa July 9, 2009, 7:01 pm

    I can’t say anything about Toni Morrison’s newest, I was actually referring to The original song of Solomon. I guess I should just put my number one book as the Bible, but it has to be the direct translation from the Peshitta, not the King James or anything else.

    And I’ll add The Inner life by Thomas Kempis.

    I might get really depressed and lonely up there so I should have Warrior or the Light and 11 minuets both by Paulo Coelho. Nothing lifts the spirits like a hooker with a heart of gold.

    And in case I get sick on moon-berries ill need Scientific Healing Affirmations by Paramahansa Yogananda.

    I really want my own copy of The Book of Questions. I want the edition with the pony on the cover. (Jordan: hint hint)

  • Boris July 10, 2009, 8:43 am

    I’ve read A Grief Observed, and others of his. I enjoy most of his writing.

    I must say, I found your list to be kind of eclectic. I’ve read Don Quixote twice (in Spanish), and half of Confederacy of Dunces. As to both, I’ve got to say, I don’t get it.

    I’ve not read Blood Meridian, but I did read The Road and watched No Country for Old Men (which I know is not the same as reading the book, but there you have it). I thought the story of The Road was much more interesting than the writing of it, and I felt he could have done more. A bit stark, I thought. I will give Blood Meridian a try.

    Do you like any Vonnegut? Have you read anything but Fight Club by Palahniuk?

    Catch 22 I love (obviously). Have you read Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man? You should.

    • Josh Hanagarne July 10, 2009, 12:17 pm

      Boris, I’ve read everything by Palahniuk. The only piece of fan mail I’ve ever written was to Chuck. He sent me a panda bear and a switchblade comb. Survivor is my favorite, then Lullaby.

      I love just about everything by Vonnegut. He and Twain are my favorite authors. I took the day off work when Vonnegut died and read Breakfast of Champions again.

      Potrait Of An Artist is the only Joyce I’ve enjoyed, and I’ve been through them all, even Finnegan’s Wake. The Road is stark, you bet–BM is stark and then some. I can’t wait to hear what you think.

      My list is certainly eclectic. For Don Quixote, it’s funny to me. Every paragraph on all 1100 pages and 500 years old. That’s all I need.

  • We Fly Spitfires July 10, 2009, 10:25 am

    Generation Kill (Evan Wright). Shamless plug but you can read my thoughts on my blog (http://blog.weflyspitfires.com/2009/02/03/generation-kill/). It’s a truly fantastic and scary book.

    The Drawing of the Three (Stephen King)

    The Eye of the World (Robert Jordan)

    Enemy of God (Bernard Cornwell)

    • Josh Hanagarne July 10, 2009, 12:14 pm

      I loved Generation Kill. Sad, depressing, felt very real to me as a non-soldier. Have you seen the show?

  • Daryle Dickens July 10, 2009, 12:26 pm

    The Stand (King)
    Preacher (Ennis)
    That’s all I would need to be happy.

    • Josh Hanagarne July 10, 2009, 8:51 pm

      Hey Daryle. I’ve read some of the Punisher books for some kids at work, but they turned me off to Ennis. How would you compare Preacher to the Punisher graphic novels?

  • David Cain July 10, 2009, 7:08 pm

    My favorite book is called The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester. It’s narrated by a British Expat who lives in France because he abhors the crude Engslish ‘cuisine’ and all it stands for, with its “rude gravies and aggressive pickles.”

    He’s brilliant and extremely cynical, and as the story goes on you can see a disturbing and dangerous narcissism reveal itself in him. Great read.

    Lanchester is such a fantastic writer, I should track this one down and read it for a third time.

    You actually read Finnegan’s Wake? Wow. What did you think?

    • Josh Hanagarne July 10, 2009, 8:54 pm

      David, as to what I thought of F’s Wake. I wish it was on audio. I believe all of Joyce is written for the ear and is brutal to look at with eyeballs for too long. Just my opinion. FW is musical goofy nonsense that’s fun for a while and is a killer test of “can you spot the reference?”

  • Boris July 13, 2009, 8:32 am

    Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man is excellent, no doubt, but I was actually referring to Joseph Heller’s Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man, a play on Joyce’s original title, to be sure. It is good, though, and I would recommend it.

    Just about everything by Sedaris is hilarious, so I wanted to endorse those recommendations as well.

    • Josh Hanagarne July 13, 2009, 8:49 am

      Oh! You know what, I have read that Heller. It’s the book about all the false starts, right?

      Have you heard the Sedaris box set? I’d never listened to him on audio before last year and was just blown away. It seems to me like he writes with performance in mind.

  • Daryle Dickens July 13, 2009, 6:47 pm

    Greetings Josh, The Preacher series has a lot more depth to it than anything Garth did with The Punisher. Stronger characters and it really grapples with some of life’s questions involving God and religion. With a good mix of dark humor throughout. Pick up the first book and see if it pulls you in.

    On a side note The Punisher will not be great until Marvel lets me write them.

    And on another side note you can guest write on my blog anytime.

    • Josh Hanagarne July 13, 2009, 8:25 pm


      I’ll give Preacher a try, thank you. I’ll find a way to force Marvel to let you write the remaining Punishers. And yeah, I’d love to guest post for you. I’ll take a look at what you have going on tonight and see if anything comes to mind. Awesome awesome awesome.

  • Ilaria/Swimturtle July 13, 2009, 7:59 pm

    Bleak House – Dickens
    The Iliad – Homer and Robert Fagles
    Moby Dick – Melville
    Bel Canto – Patchett
    Alexandria Quartet – Durrell
    War and Peace – Tolstoy
    Anna Karenina – Tolstoy

    the desert island is my favorite fantasy. i’m always thinking of my desert island foods, desert island books, etc.

    • Josh Hanagarne July 13, 2009, 8:26 pm


      Now that is an impressive list. We got fewer of the classic than I’d expected, but you’re classing the joint up now. I love the Iliad. It is the most macho book of all time.

  • Boris July 14, 2009, 11:03 am

    Illaria/Swimturtle. I would rather be stuck on a desert island than read your list. No offense.

  • Travis July 15, 2009, 1:27 pm

    Is anyone here a fan of the Dune series? I think Frank Herbert is a genius of a writer, especially with his integration of philosophy into his works.

    There’s definitely a reason why that series is considered “the greatest work of science fiction ever created”

    Aside from that, anybody here a fan of William Gibson?

    • Josh Hanagarne July 15, 2009, 2:04 pm


      I’ve never read Dune and think I’ll finally give it a try. I do like Gibson. Spook City!