Books that resonate

After I wrote my review of Norwegian Wood it occurred to me that I could extend it to a discussion thread. We’ve already discussed Great American Novels, but for this one put questions of literary merit aside (as well as questions of American-ness) and instead think about books that seemed to contain part of your own essence. Books that, because of characters or setting or writing style, captured some element you find in yourself. What book would you give someone to help them understand you better? In short, what books resonate with you? I’ve already said Norwegian Wood was this way for me, now I want to hear your picks.
This topic could easily be extended other media as well: movies, music, art…

6 thoughts on “Books that resonate

  1. Mason

    Hmmm… not sure. I could mention some of the Weis-Hickman Dragonlance novels (and if I have to be specific about which ones, that I’ll say the original Chroncicles, but if we’re talking about characters, I don’t need to specify), because part of me has some resemblance to Tasslehoff and part of me has some resemblance to Raistlin—somehow I possess an “endearing” combination (that I, and perhaps many others, would like to think is rare) of cynicism and playful incorrigibility.
    A couple Harlan Ellison short stories really resonated with me in this way. Not that I can think of which ones at the moment…
    One specific aspect of the Dunwich Horror resonated with me: the synchronization of the bird caws with the heartbeats of people about to die. I just thought that in particular was incredibly well done.
    I’d love to mention the Hitchiker series here because I loved it so much, but I don’t know if I particularly identified with anybody. Well, maybe in my “finest” hours, I can be a bit like Marvin, but I don’t think I’m that bad.
    My mind is tugging me that I am missing something major. Unfortunately, I’m trying to think but nothing is happening. Maybe when I’m less tired and less distracted?

  2. Justin

    Any Discworld book involving Unseen University, particularly Ponder Stibbons and the rest of the High Energy Magic gang. 😀 The young wizard in Reaper Man (or was it Mort?) who became “Master of the Queen’s Bedchamber” has much appeal, though sadly I’m just not that cool… As time passes no doubt I’ll start identifying more with the Bursar.
    Cryptonomicon, of course. UCSC astro grad in a relationship with a sociologist. Thankfully I have no inclination to go haring off to the Philippines anytime soon… A more superficial match than the UU guys, I guess. The Puritan scientist guy in Stephenson’s 17th century series was pretty good too, though he got way too little page time (too many pages devoted to Dumbass Half-Cock the Syphilis Boy over on the Continent, so I ended up dropping the series).
    It’s been a while since I last read it, but I don’t recall identifying much with the protagonist in Banks’s Player of Games (you’d think that would be a great match for me!).
    Ah, Mesaana from Jordan’s Wheel of Time. Again, essentially zero page time, but if I were pushed into a 100% teaching position, I’d turn to the Dark Side too!
    Like Mason said, I’m sure there are tons that I’m not thinking of right now…

  3. Arcane Gazebo

    Justin: I have never felt any strong identity towards Neal Stephenson heroes, which is a bit odd since they tend to be nerdy academic types. Jack Shaftoe was actually my favorite character by far in the Baroque Cycle. :)
    The book I just finished, Cory Doctorow’s Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, really captured something about the experience of being weird, being an outsider… I have been contemplating writing a post on this in conjunction with my review of the book.

  4. Mason

    Oh, and I suspect I may identify with a character from an upcoming novel, even though he’s destined to die in Chapter 1. (Do I get to pick who plays me if there’s a movie version?)
    I can’t believe even this didn’t come to mind when I commented earlier.

  5. shellock

    this thread is probaly dad by now but Richad Bock’s book Illusions (tale of a reluctan mesiah) resonated with me. other books of his too.
    I also love the hitchikers sieres not that the characthers resonate with me but the obsurity of the universe

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