Triple Choice Tuesday: Steph from Steph & Tony Investigate!

Triple-Choice-TuesdayWelcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers and other bookish bods to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles and new bloggers.

Today’s guest is Steph from the blog Steph & Tony Investigate!

Steph, a Canadian, is currently living in Nashville, where she is NOT pursuing dreams of becoming a country legend, but is instead attempting to complete her doctoral degree in psychology. While reading is perhaps her deepest passion (much to her co-blogger and husband Tony’s chagrin, not to mention their two dogs), she also enjoys cooking, knitting, traveling, learning languages and writing (strictly in English, alas).

Although she says there are many things she has come to like about living in the United States, the general population’s apathy towards literacy is not one of them. A friend once dubbed her the Grammar Warden after catching her correcting entries in a hostel’s guestbook while in Prague; this is a title she wears proudly.

Without further ado, here’s Steph’s Triple Choice Tuesday selections:

All-the-kings-men A favourite book: All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

Asking me to pick my favourite book is a bit like asking a mother to pick her favorite child, I reckon: you have your preferred child, but you’re not supposed to admit it. Just kidding!

Seriously, though, picking my favourite book out of the many volumes I’ve read has lead to a good deal of agonizing on my part. I’m not one to succumb to peer pressure, but I’m always so impressed with the titles others have picked for Triple Choice Tuesday that I may have inadvertently made this task more grueling than it needs to be. I suppose I could have just named Pride and Prejudice (a strong contender) and called it a day, but I loathe being so predictable. So, like Darcy’s infamous snub of Lizzie at Sir William Lucas’s ball, back onto the shelf my beloved Austen went. Instead, I picked All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, a rather dramatic departure.

Despite winning the Pulitzer back in 1947 and being (in my opinion) one of the best books ever written, I find that All The King’s Men gets very little love or attention in the book blogging world. This surprises me because I think this is a novel that truly has a little something for everyone. Set in the American South during the 1930s, All The King’s Men chronicles the life and times of Willie Stark as he ascends in the world of politics. But according to the author himself, the book was never meant to be about politics, and can easily be read in a broader context.

Alongside Willie’s bid to ultimately become governor, we are given insights into the ties that bind, the search for self, the human condition at its best and at its worst, the driving force of passion, and the intricacies of morality. It has romance, mystery, scandal, suicide, murder, and some fairly awesome speeches. The various characters’ lives intersect, forming an intricate yet robust skeleton to the novel, which is fleshed out by Warren’s writing, which will rock you at your core. This is such a wonderful, powerful book that is not only timeless but is a prime example of the power of the written word.

One-hundred-years-of-solitude A book that changed my world: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Unlike my favorite book choice, picking a book that changed my world was something of a no-brainer. My first reading of One Hundred Years of Solitude was something of a revelation. It was my first Marquez novel, true, but it was also my first exposure to magical realism, and I don’t think it’s overstating the case to say this book blew my mind.

One Hundred Years is such a sprawling novel that completely ensnared me as it curled up onto itself. The scope of it all was awe-inspiring, and I was just completely unprepared for how beautiful and tangled it would be. I loved the thematic recursion that occurs throughout the novel, and the elements of the fantastic that Marquez weaves in made the entire thing approximate being lost in a fairy tale. I think that’s why I responded so strongly to this book: because it reminded me of being a little girl and being completely swept away into a book and the world that it was offering up.

And of course none of this could be achieved without Marquez’s writing, which was just so precise and so perfect and so seemingly effortless, it is mind boggling.

This is one of those rare books that is truly flawless and that transforms you as you read it. I closed it feeling as though my eyes had been opened to a whole host of new possibilities regarding the potential of fiction, and for that I’ll always be grateful.

The-Rehearsal A book that deserves a wider audience: The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

There are truly so many books I think deserve a wider audience, but, in the end, I chose The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton, because while it got a little bit of buzz last year when it made the long list for the Orange Prize it never seemed like enough people really took notice of it. I was really bummed when it didn’t make the short-list, and when it didn’t really wind up on any “best of” lists for 2010. It’s not just that The Rehearsal is a remarkably strong debut novel, it’s a damn good book to produce at any point in an author’s career.

I really admire writers that tackle difficult topics, and I especially like ones that look at the cunningness and ruthlessness of girls. Give me a Cat’s Eye or a Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and I am a happy camper. Catton’s novel is a delicious investigation into girls on the cusp of womanhood, a high school sex scandal, and the ways that the lines between fantasy and reality often blur.

The Rehearsal is a daring and challenging read that is brilliantly realized and doesn’t pull any punches. I would love to see it gain a wider audience since I really think we should be encouraging and rewarding authors who take chances and provide us with bold fiction. It kind of makes me sick that someone younger than me has produced such an accomplished novel, but let’s not hold that against her!

Thanks, Steph, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!

I’ve not read any of them, but as luck would have it, all three are in my TBR. I guess that means I need to bump them up to the top, thanks to Steph’s recommendations.

What do you think of Steph’s choices? Have you read any of these books?

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14 thoughts on “Triple Choice Tuesday: Steph from Steph & Tony Investigate!

  1. The Rehersal has been sitting on my shelf for ages and this reminded me that I need to read this soon. All the Kings Men is a book that I have vaguely heard of but I had no idea what it was about.

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  2. I’ve heard of the Marquez and Catton although I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but am new to ‘All The King’s Men’. I’m a big fan of Steph’s blog so will definitely be checking all the titles out!

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  3. Hi Steph. Your passionate reviews have really sparked my interest and I am going to pick up all three books for my school holiday reading. Thanks for the tips. I hadn’t heard of any of these books.

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  4. The only one I’ve read is The Rehearsal, but I own copies of the other two. I still can’t decide if The Rehearsal is amazing, or just trying too hard to be clever. It was an impressive book, but part of me was always aware of the clever tricks being played on me – shouldn’t a fantastic book be a bit more subtle?
    Great choices though – really must dig out my copy of All The King’s Men soon.

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  5. To be honest I never heard of All the King’s Men and it’s definitely on my radar now. I loved 100 Years of Solitude as much as Steph so I’m happy to see it there!

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  6. I am surpised that so many comments have not heard of All The King’s Men. Which probably means that I should recognize I am aging. The book is every bit as good as Steph says it is.
    I do salute the recommendation for The Rehearsal — the novel is not perfect, but this is an author whom we will all be paying attention to in the future.

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  7. I have had my eye on The Rehearsal for a while now – I keep picking it up and putting it back: next time I see it I’ll pay more attention and it may just find its way home with me.
    I haven’t heard of All the Kings Men either but that is one I want to look up now!
    Off over to Steph and Tony’s blog….

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  8. I really liked “All the Kings Men”, good southern literature with great characters. Has been filmed twice, I’ve seen the original (1950s?) version, and there’s a recent on staring Sean Penn.

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  9. I would definitely have to agree that One Hundred Years of Solitude is a life changing book, and like you, it was also my first experience with magical realism. I read it way back in the day before the blog was even a twinkle in my eye, and thought that it was just totally amazing. I have heard very little about The Rehearsal, but your ringing endorsement has me wanting to check it out immediately, and I have long wanted to read All the Kings Men as well. I am glad to see such varied and interesting choices on your list, and hope that I can get around to reading the two that are new to me soon.

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  10. Great looking choices Steph. I haven’t read All the king’s men but it’s on my wish list. I love Gabriel Garcia Marquez — this was the second of his that I read and I feel ready to read it again. Finally the Eleanor Catton sounds great – love the cover for a start (not, of course, that I ever judge a book by its cover).

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  11. I have read One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Rehearsal; I loved (but retained little as so immense; perfect for rereading) the former and admired the second.
    All The King’s Men was on my radar but definitely less on the periphery now.

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  12. Absolutely adore One Hundred Years. I remember Steph’s review of All the King’s Men and while very positive I didn’t realize it made that much of an impact on her.

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