Buy “Runway”




There will be a few changes around Writerland in 2010, the first of which is the introduction of contests! I’ll also be adding some non-writing posts in the next week, and in February … a new design! So let’s get started. The prize for January’s contest is your choice of one of the books below. All you have to do is tell me (in comments) what your all-time favorite book is, and why. And you must be one of my official Google Friend Connect followers over there in the sidebar. Easy! Then I’ll draw one name at random and e-mail you for your address to send you the book. The contest begins now and ends Wednesday, January 20, at midnight. (One note: The Secret Miracle is not due out until April but will be a fabulous book and I can pre-order it for you and hopefully get it signed.) And now the prizes:

Get Known Before the BOok Deal


Bird By Bird
The Secret Miracle

31 comments to Contest!

  • Oy, I can't do favorites… ONE OF my favorites is Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, though, 'cause it's the one and only book I've loved AND wished I had written, because it's "so me." (Meaning I've loved other books, but I didn't feel like they fit me so well that I could have written them.)

  • I need to give my own, too! It's East of Eden by Steinbeck. I'm continually amazed at how well written that book is. And my second is Lolita, although I haven't read it in years. There are so many good ones! I've read The Secret Life of Bees, but I can't barely remember what it was about 🙁

  • There's no way I could ever pick a favorite, but if I had to pick only one book that I got to read for the rest of my life, it would probably be Neuromancer by William Gibson.

  • meghan, is that you, saying that East of Eden is your fav, with Lolita as a close second??? Me too! East of Eden is my all time favorite, and Lolita is in the top ten. I always knew I liked you for some reason…I love East of Eden because the family interpersonal drama is so intense. The description of the mother was palpably frightening to me, as I read it as a 12-13 y.o. I reread it every decade, just about. Looks like it's time, again…movie is great, too, in a totally different way.

  • Yes! I LOVE East of Eden. It's my dream to write a novel so good! (Isn't it every writer's dream, though?) The descriptions are amazing, the characters are fabulous (Yes, Kate is FRIGHTENING!), the drama … I loved every page. I want to read ONLY books that good for the rest of my life! And Lolita has always been one of my favorites, and I was always so impressed that Nabokov wasn't even a native English speaker.

  • pat

    hands down MADD MAGIZINE IS MY ALL TIME FAVORITE. the even flow from front to back keeps me on the edge of my seat. does that count?

  • ed

    i would love to read "Novelist's Handbook: The Secret Miracle".

  • Katie Stilp

    My favorite book…that's a tough question. So many good ones to choose from. One of my favs is My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

  • My favorite is a series by Ted Dekker – the Circle Series. I love the imagery, the way I was sucked in and spellbound.

  • Pat – I'm not sure Madd Magazine counts as a book, but we'll keep you in the contest anyway 🙂

    Ed – I want to read it, too!

    Katie – I haven't read My Sister's Keeper, but I'll check it out one of these days.

    Steena – I've never heard of Ted Dekker either – Thanks for the suggestion!

  • ok

    The Mystery Guest, by Gregoire Bouillier. Totally hysterical, neurotic first person account of love lost, heartbreak and an insane mind. But there are so many more!

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I've read it probably a half dozen times since I discovered it in high school and I never get tired of reading it.

  • Carol Stephen

    Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

    I found this book at a time when I needed to find time in my life for me. The author compares shells found on the beach to different aspects and challenges of moving through life. It is a short and highly-readable book, one I have shared with friends, and go back to from time to time. A touchstone kind of book.


  • ok – I wlll put The Mystery Guest on my list! I love getting all these suggestions for great books (and magazines) that I've never even heard of!

    Carol – Thanks for your suggestion! Gift From the Sea sounds fantastic.

  • Whitney

    No favorites…but books that were profound for me – Lord of the Flies (8th Grade), Mists of Avalon (college), Anne of Green Gables (um, always 🙂 and of course, The Hobbit. I am eternally grateful for Jane Eyre which cemented a bond with a most forbidding nun-teacher in 9th grade, who scared the crap out of everyone with her coke bottle glasses and ever present frown. I was lucky enough to be allowed entrance past the wall to find that she was an incurable romantic underneath…she recommended another favorite – Christy, which they made a horrible TV series of that bombed but which lead me to romanticize my own trips to Appalachia…which proved to be anything but romantic. They were however profoundly life changing. Well the first year was. The second year with you Meghan seemed to be less so…(Sally not going? a younger group of people?) Owen Meany was ever present looming around every corner whilst reading that great book…as well as Hassan from the Kite Runner…I grieved for him as though he were my brother…The Electric Kool-Aid Acid test opened my mind…and for a good laugh, I always go back to The Princess Bride, which is even funnier than the movie…so many words wasted blatantly not answering the question. That's why I can never get a tattoo.

  • Whit, of all those books I've read Lord of the Flies and Jane Eyre, and I started Owen Meany, but that's it. (I'll always remember the two dresses that were left on the mannequins in the mom's room when she died.) I remember watching Anne of Green Gables on TV, but I'm not sure I read the books. The first books I remember reading were the Laura Ingalls Wilder books – my mom read them to me until I was old enough to read them myself. And there was Alice in Wonderland, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory – so many good ones! Thanks for the memories!

  • Aw Meghan, ONE favorite book? I have a hard time even settling on a top 5, but since you might say that the purpose of this post was to generate discussion and bolster reading lists, I will include some of my favorites and the criteria for their inclusion.

    There are, of course, a number of ways that one could put together such lists: pure literary merit (i.e. how much, as a writer, you admire that book), personal impact (broken down, as some have done, by period of life or education), ability to sustain and invite repeated rereading (Joyce's Ulysses may have literary merit, but I'd donate blood plasma before I reread it), sheer enjoyment, "desert island" appeal, transcending its genre, and other points. I try to take all of these into consideration–are there factors I'm missing? But to the inhabitants of my top mental bookshelf, in alphabetical order:

    East of Eden, Steinbeck: I feel scooped that EoE's already been mentioned multiple times, but I suppose that just speaks to the caliber of this group! It's always irked me that Grapes of Wrath steals the thunder, because sure, it has the edge in geographical grandeur, but the core themes and characters are equally timeless.

    Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry: "Oh, I'm not really into Westerns," you might say–and I'm not either. But the frontier setting is just the backdrop for universal themes of love, friendship, tragedy, and more, and the cowboy characters are no different inside than the people we meet every day.

    Lord of the Rings, Tolkien–towering intellectual achievement, founded a genre (fantasy) yet, like other great works, touches on themes bigger than its genre, and, of course, has given me different things at ages 12, 23, and 30 while being equally engrossing each time.

    Martin Eden, Jack London–wait, a Jack London book that's not about wilderness and wolves? Can he do that? Yes, and how; any struggling writer will resonate almost painfully at the protagonist's efforts to learn, write and be published.

    Once a Runner, John L. Parker Jr.–it doesn't have the literary merits of the others on this list, but it captures running (including training and competing) in a way that can only be done by someone who's been there. It wouldn't be of much interest to non-runners, but it's the one book that should be on every serious runner's shelf, and makes me want to get out the door every time I pick it up.

    Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson–prescient, deliciously satirical, imaginative, and up there with Oscar Wilde in terms of linguistic effervescence. His descriptions inspire countless "who THINKS of that/says something like that?" moments.

    The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway–many of the elements of this novel (idyllic settings, manly tomfoolery, emotionally stunted characters, "iceberg" writing technique) are common to Hemingway's other works, but in this beautifully lean work the wistful tragedy hits me the hardest. Maybe it's the unfulfilled potential.

  • Kevin O'Leary

    I'm going with "Lonesome Dove". Why? I don't know…I'm not very skilled at intellectualizing what I like. I loved the characters, the action and I couldn't put it down.

  • Meghan – here are a few:

    – Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin. The writing took my breath away at times. A great counterpart to my nonfiction fave: Low Life, by Luc Sante. These two books completely changed Manhattan for me.

    – Neuromancer, by William Gibson. I found a paperback version in a remainder bin outside my college bookstore. It made me think deeply about new ways of accessing information and the power of hiding/exposing information. Oh, and artificial intelligence. Thanks @greatdismal – I paid for all your other books, hardback, two of them twice and one of them (Spook Country) on Kindle and hardback!

  • Eunice

    My favorite book is the Wind-Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. I also loved Kafka on the Shore by Murakami. Other favorite books that aren't by Murakami include Waiting by Ha Jin, The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster, The Namesake by Jumpa Lahiri, The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee, Pinocchio (translated by Carlo Collodi) and The Curious Dog Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon. I've heard Revolutionary Road is amazing so look forward to reading that. I love all of these books because of the depth in storytelling, unique voices and unsuspecting journey that each protagonist goes through.

  • You guys are awesome with all your in-depth suggestions!

    Nate – I haven't read The Sun Also Rises in years, but I've always loved Hemingway. I love EOE, of course. Snow Crash sounds interesting, and does Lonesome Dove. I've never read The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings! Some day! And the others I'm not familiar with, but thanks for the extensive list!

    Josh – you're the second person who mentioned Neuromancer! I must read this book! And I think I owned Winter's Tale at one point, but never read it. Never heard of Low Life.

    Eunice – I LOVED Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and really want to read more Murakami. Havne't read Kafka by the Shore. Never head of Waiting, am only so-so about Paul Auster (I talked to him on the phone once, though). I love Jumpha Lahiri, and I need to read The Piano Teacher! I loved the movie Revolutionary Road and can imagine that the book must be great, too. Now, if only I had time to read the books already on my shelves!

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  • Denise Simard

    I can't pick one! My faves change according to my mood, I think.

    Feast of Love, Charles Baxter.

    Home Ground, Lynn Freed

    Like Life (stories) Lorrie Moore

    …and this week my fave memoir is Born Round by Frank Bruni.

  • Denise Simard

    See, and now I'm reading the lists of everyone else and I'd add the two Jhumpa Lahiri books. And The English Patient.

    How do people pick just one? Impossible.

  • Enrico

    Hi M-

    My favorite is Summer of Katya by Trevanian, a story set in the french countryside, a sort of romantic literary thriller. I also liked Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn, a historical Y.A. set in an island in Japan, and Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille which is similar but much better written and plotted than Gatsby.

  • In no particular order –

    Steinbeck – East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath

    Remarque – All quiet on the Western Front

    Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea

    Garcia Marquez – 100 years of Solitude

    Maugham – Of Human Bondage

    Shakespeare – King Lear, Macbeth, Merchant of Venice

    Cervantes – Don Quixote

    Hans Christian Andersen – Little Mermaid, Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl, Nightingale, The Snow Queen, The Red Shoes, The Steadfast Tin Soldier

    Saint Exupery – The Little Prince

    Oscar Wilde – The Happy Prince, The Selfish Giant

    Mark Twain – The Prince and The Pauper

    OK – I am gonna stop now – I cdn't really put one on my list – as you can see – So I decided to put down those that rushed into my mind immediately

  • The Little Prince is in my top 5! How could I have forgotten? And Jonathon Livingston Seagull – although I don't know if I consider that "literature."

  • Wuthering Heights for the vivid imagery of life on the English moors in the early 1800's.

    The Name of the Rose for the philosophy of Umberto Eco.

    After Dark by Murakami because it takes place entirely in one night and it's the best book I've read in the past couple years. Kafka on the Shore is also amazing.

    Just for fun, Slash's "autobiography" because I've always loved Slash, Appetite for Destruction came out when I was in 7th grade and I loved the descriptions of the Sunset Strip scene in the 80's.

  • Alta – I've never read any of those books! I REALLY want to read more Murakami, and I've always wanted to read The Name of the Rose because it was such a fabulous movie. And – who is Slash? I really don't know!

  • And Rob, that's two votes for Revolutionary Road! I need to read that!