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Old 12-13-2012, 09:07 AM   #1
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What novel blew your mind?

There's a thread for overrated novels, and there's a thread for books that you pitched across the room. But I'm really interested in the opposite. What books have you read that just blew your mind?

For me, the answer is simple: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I had very little expectations for this novel, and it just left me gasping. It has maintained its spot as my favorite novel for years. quan ao nam han quoc quan chip binh sua so sinh vay cong so chan vay cong so trang phuc hoa trang cho be
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:25 AM   #2
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:32 AM   #3
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Siddhartha
I've never even heard of that book. I just reserved it from the library.
quan ao nam dep quan lot nu do dung so sinh cho be vest cong so ao so mi nu trang phuc hoa trang
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:59 AM   #4
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2061 by Arthur C. Clarke, specifically the scene when the doomed astronaut starts broadcasting the reason why his ship was destroyed. It made my hair stand on end. And it happened again when I read the book years later because I had forgotten that scene, so it totally "gotcha"ed me again.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel, because I'd never read a book that suddenly reassembled in my mind like that before. When the protagonist says, "And so it is with God," and then starts crying, that was like a key that unlocked a massive puzzle. Suddenly I knew what was really going on with that character, and what had really happened to him.

Sailing to Sarantium and Last Light of the Sun, by Guy Gavriel Kay, because they both had scenes that opened by introducing a character the reader had never met before and ended with me on the edge of my seat or in tears because I cared so deeply about what was happening to that character. As a writer, Mr. Kay's books are a master class in how to get the reader emotionally engaged.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:25 AM   #5
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Watership Down by Richard Adams. I started it five or six times and could never get past the first chapter. It was just too much for me -- a story about rabbits. Then I finally made it through Chapter 2 and hated to put it down from that point on. It will always be in my top five.

In no particular order:

Watership Down
Sounding by Hank Searles
Watchers by Dean Koontz
Lord of the Rings by some English guy
Wolf's Hour by Robert R. McCammon
and and honorable mention to Raylan by Elmore Leonard because it literally changed my life as a writer.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:26 AM   #6
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Siddhartha
God, I so detested that novel. But that's not disrespect to you, Will. It just did NOT grab my reading gonads, in such a profound manner it's hard to express.

But, the ones that have done so, I call "Holy Shit Novels". Those would include:

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain. The first major novel I ever read, at the age of about thirteen.

The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas. It may have helped that I actually did read 50 or 60 pages of it sitting on a rock along the shore of the actual Chateau d'If, offshore Marseilles, the legendary site where Dumas' fictional Edmond Dantes was imprisoned.

A Separate Peace, John Knowles.

The Inheritors, William Golding. He's mostly famed for Lord of the Flies, which is also extremely powerful, but this second novel is far too greatly neglected.

The Man Who Laughs, Victor Hugo. The comment made for Golding, above, also applies to this neglected masterpiece.

Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton. This, and not the novel claiming the name, by Theodore Dreiser, is "The Great American Tragedy".

Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad.

A Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, of Nantucket, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe's only novel, a masterpiece of creepiness too little read.

The Time Machine, H.G. Wells. The greatest SF novel ever written.

Mildred Pierce, James M. Cain. The greatest "noir" novel ever written.

The Ox-Bow Incident, Walter Van Tilburg Clark. The greatest "western" novel ever written.

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Old 12-13-2012, 10:28 AM   #7
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A Farewell to Arms was the first book (and only) I actually felt actual anxiety for the character while reading. I'm torn if I should even read it again because there is no way it will meet the standard I set for the book.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:37 AM   #8
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I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier. Well-written, tense prose, has an almost surreal quality to it at times. Once I finished, my mind was in a flurry of thoughts and questions bordering on anxiety. I was 14 then. I still love the book.
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:01 AM   #9
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God, I so detested that novel. But that's not disrespect to you, Will. It just did NOT grab my reading gonads, in such a profound manner it's hard to express.
I understand, it's not everyone's cup of tea, and I'd have to say in my younger and more vulnerable years it played a large role in my life.

Another "not everyone's cup of tea" would be a visual novel called Cross Channel. I sat for an hour, completely baffled of how it unfolded and ended. I was crying, angry, overwhelmed and just taken in. Something about Romeo Tanaka and every single character he puts into his stories baffles me. It took me 150 hours to read that with a Japanese to English dictionary, and it was worth every second.
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:36 PM   #10
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American Gods.

I know a lot of people find it rather ho-hum, but I could read that book 100 times over and never get tired of it.

When I finished American Gods for the first time, I pretty much lay crumped on my couch for about 30 minutes, distraught that I couldn't unread the story so that I could experience it for the first time all over again.

I really, really like it.
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:59 PM   #11
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To Kill A Mockingbird. I was twelve when I read it and I didn't know what racism was before then. I spent my childhood in Indonesia, where there was (and still is, but to a lesser extent now) racial tension between the native Indonesians and the Chinese-Indonesians, and up until I read TKMB, I didn't know that judging someone by the color of their skin's wrong. Reading TKMB was like a wake-up call, a smack to the face which I desperately needed. It really did blow my mind. I'm pretty sure I would be a very different person if I hadn't picked up the book that day.
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:44 PM   #12
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Sophie's Choice. Incredible.

Also, Les Liasons Dangereuses, which is an incredible work. That one blows me away for its age and structure, too, though. It's just as good today as it was in its time, I think. The structure part is literally that: just a writer thing Wow.
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:50 PM   #13
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The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I loved it when I was 10, and I love it even more 10+ years later. It gives me chills.
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:58 PM   #14
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... the Killer Inside Me, by Jim Thompson.
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:37 PM   #15
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Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:38 PM   #16
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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I read it when I was 13 and it left me in awe. It is still one of my favorite books. It also solidified my draw to books that are dark.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:46 PM   #17
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The girl in times square, Paullina Simons.

It's a book I can read over and over and always get the same feelings
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:01 PM   #18
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So many I could mention, but I'm thinking today about a novella, Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. I think the combination of two meticulously described alien landscapes, Antarctica and what lies hidden in its heart, grabbed my imagination with rare power and tenacity. Or, in the vernacular, I was all like, cosmic cool!



Re one of the choices above, I remember writing a paper comparing Mountains and Pym. That was a fun all-nighter.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:14 PM   #19
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The Once and Future King by TH White.

So much more than fantasy.
So much more than the myth.

Incredible.

I may have to add to this later... that was just the first one, when I was about 16.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:26 PM   #20
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not sure any did, although some books certainly stood out:

the Portrait of Dorian Gray almost certainly would have, for Lord Henry alone, but I find dated English to be a slog for me. Call me stoopid....

Frankenstein would be in the same camp...incredible, lyrical writing, but again, a slog.

Rebecca and it's cousin, Bag of Bones, both--I read Bag first and it was the sole reason I even considered writing....then I read Rebecca and again found it dated, but loved the amount of atmosphere in both. If there was a "blew my mind" book it was Bag of Bones, not because it was uniquely great but because of the way it changed what I wanted to do personally.

Red Leaves was a relatively "literary" (for me) but I liked the story and the twists a lot.

The October Country was one of the few books that left me just plain envious.

Agyar left me highly impressed with the economy of subtlety
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:38 PM   #21
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A Month in the Country, by JL Carr. It transported me, body and soul, to summer. No book before or since, has done that for me.

The Prydain books by Lloyd Alexander. Masterful characterization and worldbuilding.

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Pope.

The Man Who Loved Mars by Lin Carter. It's dated pulp, but the wounded hero wrenches your heart.

Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend and A Christmas Carol, by Dickens. Someday, if I live to be 300 years old, I might be able to create characters and atmosphere the way he did.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:58 PM   #22
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Perdido Street Station. Started one afternoon, finished it the next, put on my shoes and drove to the bookstore at about ninety to get The Scar. It was like a three-day acid trip. I think I actually had a hangover. Every other page was something I would never think of, or that I wished I'd thought of, or occasionally that I had thought of, but he did it so much better. A friend of mine described it as the author not caring if you suspend disbelief or not. You don't buy beetle-headed women? Then don't read the book.

And I don't even like depressing books, as a rule. You have to be really damn creative for me to read a world that grim just so I can watch the baroque scenery go by.
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:46 PM   #23
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The Brothers Karamazov was captivating. I couldn't believe it when it was over!
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:51 PM   #24
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So many I can't begin to count them, but the very first was Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

I read it while in grade school, during a recess break, I think, and I can still remember looking up form the book because I actually smelled blood. That book made me realize how much power fiction can have.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:17 PM   #25
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There're too many to list, so I'll just put two of the most blewmeaways here:

Dina's Book
by Herbjorg Wassmo.
Ég heiti Ísbjörg, ég er ljón by Vígdis Grímsdóttir. (Not sure if it's been translated to English, but the title means something like 'My name is Isbjörg, I'm a lion")
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