If You Could Save Only Eight Books… Part Two

1 Dec

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve invited some of my favourite bloggers to share with us the books that they’d reprieve from their collections if they could save only eight of them. First up is Lauren Sapala. Lauren has an excellent blog crammed with practical advice and inspiring ideas for writing. It can be found at laurensapala.com. Before choosing her eight books, I asked Lauren to tell us a little about her writing.

I started by asking her how long she’d been writing. “Since I was a child,” she told me, “but I started seriously writing in 2006.” To date she’s written four novels and a short story collection and is working now on a fifth novel. I asked her how she’d describe her writing style and subject matter. “I write dark autobiographical fiction, and dark literary fiction. My writing deals primarily with addiction, alcoholism, and psychological dysfunction.” And where did she see her writing heading in the future? “I see myself writing literary fiction exclusively,” she said. “I may revisit the autobiographical material, but it will be much more ‘fictionalized’ than it ever has been before.”

Lauren cites her major influences as Marcel Proust, Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Andre Gide. Her fascinating list contains a book that’d be in my top twenty and another by one of my favourite authors. There’s even a Hungarian author on there (I’ve read a few books from that country myself just recently). Below are the eight books that Lauren chose.

Lauren 1 (1)

Lauren contemplates the eight books that she’s been keeping under hat…

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey. 

Chosen for: Hero Worship.

The protagonist McMurphy is larger than life and almost unsinkable.

Our Lady of the Flowers – Jean Genet

Chosen for: Beauty

Divine is a ragged drag queen hooker who only gives her heart away to pimps and criminals. One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.

The White Album – Joan Didion

Chosen for: Time and Place

All about California in the 1960s. The Beatles make an appearance, Charles Manson shows up, etc. Riveting and eye-opening.

2666 – Roberto Bolano

Chosen for: Complexity of Interwoven Narrative

I cannot even attempt to explain this extraordinary book. But it’s magic and everyone should read it. If you only read one book this year, this should be it.

The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Chosen for: Layered meaning

I’ve read this book a few times and my experience is that it changes according to whatever stage of life the reader is in. Also, Dostoyevsky’s insight into the human spirit in this particular narrative is mind-blowing.

Cane – Jean Toomer

Chosen for: Transport of the Soul

This is another one that I can’t describe. I’ve never read anything like it. It’s the only book Toomer ever wrote, it’s about the American South in the 1930s, and it’s beyond beautiful.

Book of Memories – Peter Nadas

Chosen for: Richness and Texture

Hungarian history, dark and perverse family dynamics, violent desire between lovers—this book is a feast of emotion, pain, and suffering.

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

Chosen for: Spiritual Guidance

A classic that I put off reading until the age of 35, and now I wish I had read it sooner. The outer structure of the narrative carries us through the four seasons, and the deeper levels of the book carry us through the cycle of life.

As I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s an eclectic and intriguing list – and just in time for your Xmas shopping lists too. I’d like to thank Lauren for sharing her choices with us. Happy reading!

Photo © Lauren Sapala 2013


189 Responses to “If You Could Save Only Eight Books… Part Two”

  1. Abdul-Rafay Shaikh December 5, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Reblogged this on A-Rafay Shaikh and commented:
    Just a Reminder to read these Books

  2. Sick of People Blog December 6, 2013 at 2:55 am #

    An idiots choice would be all the Ann Coulter books.

    • Paul Sutton Reeves December 6, 2013 at 7:08 am #

      I couldn’t possibly comment, SoP! Does that mean Ann Coulter would choose Dostoevsky’s ‘The Idiot’?

  3. Mr MakingUsmile December 6, 2013 at 3:27 am #

    Half of my books would be from John C. Maxwell. Thanks for making me ponder….


    • Paul Sutton Reeves December 6, 2013 at 7:05 am #

      And thank you for commenting – that’s at least half of your books I wouldn’t know, then!

      • Jose Lamas Gonzalez December 6, 2013 at 7:11 am #

        You been missing out Paul. Definitely should checkout books by John C. Maxwell, will definitely change your life.


  4. touchdownohio December 7, 2013 at 2:43 am #


  5. goulart December 7, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    I could choose eight books only if LOTR were allowed to count as one… which it should, because that’s how Tolkien wrote/intended it. If it had to count as three, this would be quite an impossible list for me to make. I agree with Dostoyevsky making the list, but I’d have to pick “The Brothers Karamazov.” Just me. Interesting post…

    • Paul Sutton Reeves December 8, 2013 at 9:32 am #

      Hi and thanks for commenting. As I mentioned in Part One, multiple volume collections aren’t allowed or I’d have taken the ‘Gormenghast’ trilogy or ‘To the Ends of the Earth’. We have to make it tough, you know! Good to have a Dostoevsky in there. If I’d taken one it would’ve been ‘Crime and Punishment’.

      • goulart December 8, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

        But it wasn’t *supposed* to be multiple volumes! Well, it’s impossible then.

      • Paul Sutton Reeves December 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

        Ah well, in the scenario, you’re meant to grab the first eight books that come into your head, otherwise you get left behind!

  6. thedavid01 December 8, 2013 at 3:53 am #

    Gone the Wind..a historic novel which addresses more of the Irish immigrant experience in the Civil War era, also City of Light about Buffalo,NY in the 1900s..the first American city with electric street lights and the dynamics of power…

    • Paul Sutton Reeves December 8, 2013 at 9:27 am #

      Hi and thanks for commenting. I’ve not heard of those – interesting!

  7. Preethi Raj Nair December 8, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Women in Love by D.H.Lawrence which talks about a man’s confused sexual orientation. And A Tale of Two cities by Charles Dickens on the French Revolution. Oh! Eight is too small a number.

    • Paul Sutton Reeves December 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

      Hi Preethi and thanks for commenting. A fan of the classics, then? Eight only – that’s the game!

  8. amnaakkas December 9, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Reblogged this on amna akkas.

  9. amnaakkas December 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    It was worth sharing!

  10. thankyouforposting December 11, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    This article is so good, I like this blog, Thank you very much for sharing

  11. glamourgal959 December 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    This is fantastic. I love finding books lists with titles I have yet to read! Thanks! Our Lady of the Flowers was very good. Agreed!

  12. orthodoxmom3 December 12, 2013 at 4:09 am #

    Great list!!

  13. rimamandwee December 12, 2013 at 4:11 am #

    Reblogged this on rimamandwee and commented:
    As often as I hear about people making lists of favorite albums, favorite movies, favorite songs within a genre, it is not often that I read about a list with a circumstantial twist: these are books that would be saved. My favorite part is the “chosen for” commentary. I love everything about this notion, and I will now begin to contemplate the books I believe are worth saving.

    • Paul Sutton Reeves December 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

      Hi Rima – thanks very much for commenting and for re-blogging this. The idea came out of a scene in my current work-in-progress – hence the blog post. Good luck with your list – report back if you wish!

  14. guineapigpearl December 14, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    What fantastic idea and answers ! INSPIRING

    • Paul Sutton Reeves December 14, 2013 at 10:23 am #

      Hi Mr/Mrs/Miss Guinea Pig. Thanks for your comments and for re-blogging the post. That’s a lot of children’s books you’ve got there!

  15. guineapigpearl December 14, 2013 at 8:18 am #

    Reblogged this on guineapigpearl and commented:
    I came across this blog and thought what a brilliant idea so I decided to copy him and do the same but for children :
    1.Dogger by Shirley Hues
    2.Framed by Frank Cotterel Boyce
    3.Ruby Redfort by Lauren Child
    4.Not now Bernard by David Mkee
    5.Cosmic by Frank Coterel Boyce
    6.Mr Stink by David Walliams
    7.The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman
    8.The Wolves of Willoughby chase by Jane Aiken

  16. DianaC December 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Really fascinating list! I have not heard of some of them, but now I shall definitely check them out! Also, this set me thinking which books would I choose, great idea!

    • Paul Sutton Reeves December 16, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

      Hi Diana and thanks for your comments. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. If you decide which books you’d take, do come back and tell us!

  17. amadenthusiast December 18, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    1. A comprehensive English dictionary – it’s the only language I speak at the moment

    2 The Elements of Style, by William Strunk. – so we can write more to replace what’s been lost.

    3. Anything I’m currently writing – selfish, I know.

    4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – so we don’t end up in this mess again.

    5. Anything by Kurt Vonnegut – so I can remember how to laugh

    6. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu – so I can think objectively

    7. Weaveworld by Clive Barker because I absolutely love that book

    8. The Doors of Perception by Huxley because I haven’t read it yet.

    • Paul Sutton Reeves December 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

      Idiosyncratic, Mad Enthusiast, idiosyncratic… but thanks for commenting!

  18. siberie2013 December 19, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    If i may add a few? Master and Margerita by Bulgakov and the Prophet by Khalil Gibran! Idiot is one of my favourite books.

  19. Shenay December 21, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    Reblogged this on Viva La Memoirs.

  20. dshah96 December 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    Glad to meet such passionate readers. My all time favorite is The Missing Rose by Serdar Ozkan. And currently, I am reading Dan Brown’s Inferno.

    • Paul Sutton Reeves January 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

      Hi there and thank you for your comments. I don’t know Serdar Ozkan.

  21. amyishyper December 30, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    I would save all the Harry Potter books (yes, seriously) as well as The Tales Of Beedle the Bard by J.K Rowling.

  22. thisyearinmusic January 10, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Tough choices!

  23. Alan Grime January 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    Would the Bible count as one book? When I first saw this, I didn’t see that multiple volumes in one did not count. I thought I had it all figured out until I saw that!

    • Paul Sutton Reeves January 10, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

      I think that you could have the Bible if you wished, Alan – or the Qu’uran or The Communist Manifesto or The Origin of the Species. They’d have to be pocket editions, though!

  24. evamarasca January 12, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    I think I shall read some of the books…on my list I would definitely have E.M. Remarque, Haruki Murakami, Neil Gaiman, Isabel Allende, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Douglas Adams I and can’t really decide on the eighth one! Possibly Shakespeare…or Terry Pratchet

    • Paul Sutton Reeves January 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

      I’d be with you on some of those, Eva, and not others. I’d definitely take Shakespeare over Pratchett!

  25. caughtwithinpages January 15, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    Fantastic list.

  26. imagesister February 15, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    Great post really enjoyed reading this- food for thought

  27. bluestbibliophile March 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    What a great concept! Here’s my list: The Bluest Eye, In the Time of the Butterflies, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Color Purple, Mama Day, A Lesson Before Dying, Half of a Yellow Sun and Zenzele.

    • Paul Sutton Reeves March 3, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

      Thanks for commenting. I only know the Lee and Walker titles there – I wonder who wrote the others…

  28. ssukumaran March 20, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

    Reblogged this on ssukumaran.

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