Happy Wednesday everyone! I must confess something before I get started on today’s post. I am sitting here at four o’clock in the morning and have nothing ready for today or the rest of the week. Oy. If you’ve kept up with me the past couple days, you know that my old computer died by fire in late July and, unfortunately, all my drafts and notes went with it…so I am scrambling around trying to find some interesting things to talk about and get some posts out there for you darlings to gawk at.
Thankfully today should be relatively easy for me because it’s Writing Prompt Wednesday, one of the new themes here on the Daily Hottentots. Each Wednesday I am going to pick one writing prompt from websites like Creativity Portal, Plinky, Language is a Virus, etc. and use the first prompt that I get. This should get very interesting because at some point I will explore short stories, poetry, opinion pieces, and whatever else these prompts spark in my imagination.
Today’s prompt from Creativity Portal is right up my alley—write a top five list of books that changed/influenced my life. I am a bibliophile. I own more than 3,000 books (fiction and nonfiction) and have read most of them; some of them I have read more than a few times, especially if the book’s author is F. Scott Fitzgerald. Out of all those books only a handful, believe it or not, has had any real impact on my life as far as the way I think and behave. Now I am going to share with you what those books are. Are any of your favorites on this list?
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ladies and gentlemen, this is my all-time favorite piece of literature. Narrator Nick Carraway tells the story of an eccentric rich man named Jay Gatsby and his ill-fated love affair with the beautiful blonde Daisy Buchanan. Set on Long Island, it gives the reader a peek into the lives of the idle rich in the 1920s and gives us that perfect unhappy ending that was common in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s stories.
I first read this novella when I was still in grade school and it (along with everything else F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote) was at least somewhat responsible for my obsession with the 1920s. I get my hair bobbed just the way the flappers in the 1920s got their hair snipped at the barber shop, collect clothing from the era, and fancy myself a jazz baby who was born about seventy years too late. *sigh* All I am missing is the loads of money that the Buchanans and Gatsby have.
4. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
A People’s History of the United States is one of the best known (if not the best known) American history books published in the past several decades. It chronicles the history of the United States from the time Christopher Columbus made his ocean voyage in 1492 on up to the modern era. Some people have criticized it as being revisionist nonsense, a load of rubbish. I, and many others in this country, consider it an honest look at the people who made this country what it is—the natives, the slaves, the workers who went on strike, the immigrants.
It angered me…some parts made me cry. It made me want to go out and do something to change the world. It turned me into a radical.
3. An Inconvenient Book by Glenn Beck
I know, you’re probably thinking, “What the hell?” after seeing that a Glenn Beck book made it on my list. I am the anti-conservative crusader so it seems unusual that a conservative commentator’s book would make the top five, doesn’t it? Well, I didn’t promise you a top five favorite list, I promised you a list of books that changed my life in some way, and this book has done just that.
In An Inconvenient Book Glenn Beck vomits a ton of delusional BS. He goes into detail about why global warming isn’t real, gives some friendly Mormon advice on how to handle marriage and family, attacks Muslims, and calls universities across America “Socialist enclaves.” He makes it perfectly clear in this book that he is dead set against higher education. But you probably already knew that he is considering how ill-informed and undereducated on everything he appears to be on his radio and television program.
After reading this garbage, I turned my back on anything that smacked of conservatism. It made me even more left-leaning than I already am. I’m sure that is not what Glenn Beck intended to happen with any of his readers, but it did with me. I suppose I should thank him for being so insane. Every time he opens his mouth, my side looks better.
2. The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry
This, my darlings, is a work of historical fiction, but it really makes you think. It is centered around the famed lost Library of Alexandria and secret societies that control people and their religious beliefs. One interesting thing that this novel brings up is the possibility that the Bible’s translations are flawed. When you think of this novel, think of something that is along the same lines as The Da Vinci Code.
Though it is a work of fiction (Steve Berry, a practicing Catholic, likes to remind his readers that it is fiction), it makes you question organized religion and the politics surrounding it. After reading this book, I became more critical than ever of the Catholic Church and religions that attempt to create God in man’s own image.
1. Padraic Pearse Short Stories selected and adapted by Desmond Maguire
Padraic Pearse’s name isn’t well-known these days even though there are streets in Dublin named after him and a museum dedicated to him in Rathfarnham at the site of the old St. Enda’s school where he was once headmaster. Who was he? In addition to being headmaster of St. Enda’s, he was a playwright, poet, barrister, and ringleader of the 1916 Easter Uprising in Ireland. On May 3, 1916, Pearse was executed at Kilmainham Jail for his role in the rebellion.
The five stories in this book, in both English and Irish, are simple character driven tales set in rural Ireland and Dublin. There’s not much of a plot to them, but they are beautifully written and it’s a pleasure to read something from someone who was gifted in so many ways and fought so hard for freedom in Ireland.
I grew up hearing tales about Padraic and his younger brother Willie (they were very distant relatives) and reading his writing inspired me to take up writing poetry and short stories at a very young age. The love of reading and writing has always been with me thanks to him.
And that about wraps it up for the very first installment of Writing Prompt Wednesday! Are any of your favorite books on this list? If you had to choose five books of your own, which ones would you choose? Let me know by leaving a comment below. And please feel free to spread the word about the Daily Hottentots, which is officially back in full swing! I look forward to your feedback.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald Envisions The Great Gatsby (silverbirchpress.wordpress.com)
- The New Yorker Publishes F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story Previously Rejected in 1936 (newsfeed.time.com)
- F. Scott Fitzgerald and Maxwell Perkins (silverbirchpress.wordpress.com)
- Glenn Beck: American flight attendant “made me feel subhuman” (star-telegram.com)