Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Awesome List

This week I read two amazing books: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Greene, and Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. Both were books that I'd come across recommendations for several times, but had just now read. Actually, it was someone here on the Prosers that convinced me to give The Fault in Our Stars a try. I tried to look up who it was, but the search feature wasn't helpful. :(

Anyway, recommendations are a tricky thing. So much depends on individual taste. For example, some people might say of me, "Well, she likes Star Trek and Downton Abbey and Harry Potter, but she also thinks that Black Sheep is one of the finest examples of film making in the last decade.”

I’m actually not entirely kidding about Black Sheep. It’s the best B-movie I’ve ever seen. They went for purposely funny instead of accidentally, and it actually works. But you see what I mean. There are a large number of people who are troubled by that amount of gore, and others who might rightly have zero interest in a horror movie about ravenous sheep. Farmers, for instance.

 So it seems to me that the perfect recommendation should be not just your favorite, but also something so unbelievably awesome that no one could really deny it. I mean, the perfect recommendation should be something where you might sort of secretly believe someone would have to be somehow deficient not to like (not that you’d say it). (Note, I don't actually think there's something wrong* with you if you don't like these. I'm just trying to make a point).

And thus, here is my awesome list, things where I think you absolutely can't go wrong. Some are funny, some are sad, some are a bit of a pain to get through. This list was going to be longer, but then I would envision someone telling me they didn’t like Monty Python, or Fullmetal Alchemist, and I could sort of understand that reaction. 

But there's the other side too - this kind of list shouldn't just be awesome things,but also awesome things you love. For example, I think anyone who doesn’t like Indiana Jones (at least the first one) is kind of silly, but I don’t love it with every piece of my heart. Lots of pieces, but not all of them. And along the same lines, the two books I mentioned above came very close to making it, but not quite. Honestly, I think I'm still processing them, and will need to read again. But not too soon, because I already cried too much over them in the past week.

So these are things made of pure, unfettered awesome, in their own ways. If you haven't encountered them yet, go forth in great haste to your library or bookstore!

Princess Bride

Have fun storming the castle!


(Not the easiest book to read, and not the quickest read. But once you get it, it’s genius beyond imagining)

Diana Wynne Jones

I already blogged about her here.

Terry Pratchett

(I’ve been meaning to do a post on him for ages)

Girl Genius

Previously blogged here.

I mean, I loved it so much, I named my cat Kaylee. Note close resemblance:


The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay

(The book, NOT THE MOVIE)

To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee

The Last Unicorn, Peter Beagle

Wow, that’s really a lot shorter than I thought it would be. Honorary mention, perhaps, to A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, because it’s awesome and lovely and heartwarming, but a bit uneven in pacing.

What makes up your awesome list? Please share!

(*Unless we're talking about the Princess Bride, because really, there's no excuse not to love that movie).


  1. Everything on this list that I've seen/read, I absolutely loved. Which means I need to read/watch the rest of your list.

    Truly an awesome list.

    And I have to say that I'm still so upset that Fox cancelled Firefly. Seriously, those guys had no idea what they had. It could've been epic.

    1. You have the world's cutest cat in that dress. The only thing I'd add is Doctor Who... The New Who.

    2. Which makes me wonder, MaryAnn, which you have and haven't seen/read before.

      I really should put in a description of The Power of One, but it's one of those books that doesn't sound great when you describe the plot. I mean, it's about an English boy in apartheid South Africa who learns to box. But it's so much more than that - about hope and strength and perseverance, not to mention desert plants.

    3. Thanks! Kaylee was Not Impressed. I did that about a week after I got her, so maybe that's made the rest of her life with me so far seem extra joyous. XD

      Not sure why it's not letting me directly respond to Sheena's comment... Anyway, Sheena, I've had a hard time getting through Dr. Who. I'm aware this might mean I'm mentally deficient. It's not that I haven't liked what I've seen so far (I'm only on Season 2!). I think it's one of those things where I'm always meaning to watch more of it, but then something else comes up. I need someone to sit me down and force me to watch it.

    4. Sabrina, just because your curious. I haven't read/seen Catch 22, Girl Genius (I know you did a post on Girl Genius but I still haven't checked it out), Sherlock, The Power of One, and I've seen the movie the Last Unicorn, but I don't think that counts.

      Oh and I've never read anything by Terry Pratchett although I've heard so many people go on and on about how great he is. I've never been that into satire (is his stuff satire?) or humorous stories. I like humor in stories, but just a little. I prefer more serious stuff.

  2. I am so glad you had the opportunity to read The Fault in Our Stars. That book was tragically beautiful. Definitely not what I had anticipated but I was rather impressed with John's ability to jump into that and really make it work.

  3. Actually, I read a lot of "cancer books" as a kid (Lurlene McDaniel, etc), so parts of the plot were very familiar to me. And yet, the writing was amazing, and the characters beyond fantastic. Oh hell, now i'm almost tearing up again.

  4. I think it was Sarah who convinced both of us to read The Fault In Our Stars, although it might have been me after Sarah convinced me. Amazing book.

    I have also had trouble with the search bar--like it doesn't work at all anymore. Is that what happened with you? Someone with an abundance of time on their hands should fix that. Not tonight though. :D

    1. That sounds about right. And I would try to fix the search bar, but I wouldn't know where to start.

  5. I was quoting Princess Bride today, actually. (Monty Python, too.) Just out of curiosity, am I the only one that watched Princess Bride first, then years later read the book, and hated it? (The book, not the movie.) That almost never happens, but I think in this case, the book was just too much in conflict with the beloved movie from my childhood.

    I would totally add Full Metal Alchemist to the list. Who wouldn't fall in love with Ed and Al? They are so adorable, and their story is so sad!

    I'm sure I have a few others I'd put on my own list, but I'm just too tired to think of them right now. Fun post, Sabrina! :)

    1. I definitely read the Princess Bride long after first watching the movie. I didn't hate it, per se, but I didn't read it more than once.

      I suppose I don't add FMA mostly because not everyone tolerates anime very well. But maybe that should be their problem, not mine. :D Which version do you prefer, by the way - the first anime, or Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood?

    2. I haven't seen Brotherhood yet! I know it follows the manga more closely, and eventually I'll get around to watching it, but right now I'm happy with the way the original ended. Which one did you like better?

      I guess I didn't hate the Princess Bride book, but I wasn't impressed with the pseudo-historical style the author took. I don't mind when an author addresses the reader directly, but I wasn't expecting it. At all. So it was jarring and way less fun to read, because he did it ALL THE TIME. I know it was supposed to be funny, but I'd kind of set up in my mind what the story should be like. (Again, because I'd seen the movie a million times already.) Plus, you know, I had a giant crush on Fred Savage when I was 8, and there can be no Princess Bride without Fred Savage. :)

  6. The Princess Bride is pure awesomeness, no doubt. I loved the Fault in Our Stars enough that I bought a copy after I returned it to the library, but I don't know when I'll have the guts to re-read. It left me shattered for a good while afterward. Probably the book that has stayed with me the most of any book I ever read ever was The Unbearable Lightness of Being (and please oh please don't watch the movie). But I often wonder if it would have struck me the same way if I'd read it at a different time. I've met very few people who read it, let alone liked it.

    I finally saw Firefly a few months ago. I love Buffy so very, very much that I had put it off, afraid of either (a) not liking it because it wasn't Buffy, or (worse) (b) loving it and then being furious it was over so quickly. Yeah, I ended up on (b).

    Awesome list, Sabrina! There's a lot I need to look into now...

    1. What is it with horrible movie adaptations? The movie for The Power of One traumatized me so badly that I refused to read the book for almost a decade (to my sister's increasing frustration).

      The Fault in our Stars made me very sad, but Code Name Verity was even more tragic. Maybe because I guessed how The Fault in Our Stars would end almost from the beginning? Not that it was less sad, just that I prepared myself. If you haven't read Code Name Verity yet, you definitely should. It's a slow start, but definitely worth sticking with. No doubt.

  7. I read the Princess Bride first (before the movie even came out - how's that for dating me!), and loved it. I was pretty young, and didn't get all the parody/humor. In fact, I remember going to the library maps and trying to look up the countries. *snort*

    Great list!


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