Did I mention that you need to make a list as long as the number of days of the challenge? It occurred to me that I may have left that part out. Anyway!
Day 4, books! As you might imagine, I'm a big reader. I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't read, anything I could get my hands on. This means I read some pretty questionable stuff when I was little (Jackie Collins, anyone?). There are only a couple of books I ever read that I couldn't even finish; a book has to be pretty terrible for me to not even want to know how it ends! Luckily, the thing with books is, it's very hard to crack into my top 10. Most of the books on there are ones I've read at least ten times (usually more), or only once but they affected me and my own writing in such a deep way, I can't stop thinking about them.
The first book I remember loving so much I couldn't stop reading it until it was finished was Charlie & The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. In fact, I loved it so much, I started it right over again when it was finished, reading it twice in a weekend.
I know that American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is (or was, anyway) controversial, but I love the depths Ellis sinks into the mind of a madman. Whether or not Bateman is actually doing the things we read in the book is irrelevant. The long, rambling chapters on Genesis and Huey Lewis + the News and Whitney Huston... the minute attention to detail... the failure of anyone around him to recognize anyone else... these are at the heart of the book. I love the pace, I love the tone, I love the twisted voice of the narrator. This book also contains one of my favorite and most repeated quotes, "Disintegration - I'm taking it in stride."
During my undergraduate studies, I was forced to take a composition course wherein we were required to read a lot of really boring books. By the time we got to The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro, I was prepared to hate it. Instead, I was immediately riveted. It was my introduction to linked short stories, and I was entranced. Here was a way to get to a novel without all the intimidation of writing a novel! Munro's writing is also just incredible. This is one of her earlier books, and she just gets better and better with every new collection. If you appreciate really good writing, really good craft, pick up some Munro.
Closing out my list is one of the newer additions to my top ten, Blindness by Jose Saramago. I think I cried about five times reading this book. There are moments that are sad, moments that are heartbreaking, moments that are just so full of emotion that there's nothing to do but cry. The entire thing has the most enchanting, ethereal sort of voice, a contrast to the barbarism that happens in a lot of the book. I recommend this book to everyone I talk about books with. And now I'm recommending it to you!