Tag Archives: list

10 Books That Moved Me

Stuart Turnbull, a frequent contributor to FiftyWordStories.com, challenged me on Twitter to share 10 books that “moved me”. My list, in some ways, may feel like a bit of a cop-out because I basically took the 10 most moving books from my Best Novels page. But these novels made it onto that page for a reason!

I’ve put these into some sort of order, but catch me on a different day and I might order them differently!

Here goes:

10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hunchback is the novel that taught me about tragedy (in the artistic sense). It isn’t the first tragic story I ever read, but it’s the first one that really got me invested in its incredible emotional swings from sadness to joy, triumph to defeat, and loss to hope.

9. A Scanner Darkly

Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel about the surreal life and twisted reality of drug addiction invoked real sympathy in me for the characters, and for their far too numerous real-life counterparts.

8. The Power of One

It’s difficult to pinpoint what was so significant about this novel to me, but whenever I think of it I feel a kind of wide-open longing to find my place in the world, to achieve something with meaning.

7. Lord of the Flies

Nooooo! Piggy! :(

6. To Kill a Mockingbird

It’s a classic, with all of the ingredients needed to get the reader emotionally invested not only in the characters, but also in the book’s broader social themes.

5. The Great Gatsby

Part romantic tragedy, part diatribe against excess and consumerism. I only read this a few years ago, but it definitely moved me.

4. Of Mice and Men

I was hooked by the waning hope and tragic inevitability of the two main characters’ journey. Lennie Small is one of the most sympathetic characters I’ve ever come across.

3. Les Miserables

Victor Hugo’s masterpiece takes us along on Jean Valjean’s incredible journey to redemption. It’s packed with emotion. And historical essays!

2. Grapes of Wrath

The final scene of this novel may be the most impactful, moving scene I’ve ever read.

1. All Quiet on the Western Front

Everything about this novel is incredibly moving. If you haven’t read it, you definitely should, in order to redefine your understanding of World War I, and war in general.

Those are the 10 books that I think have had the great emotional impact on me. Would anyone else like to share their top 3?


Top 10 Disney Cartoon Villains

I like lists, and I haven’t made a fun one for my blog in quite a while. Here’s one!

I was talking about Disney villains on Twitter the other day, specifically which of Disney’s villains were the most “terrifying”. Naturally everyone is going to have their own set of opinions on this, and those opinions will generally be tied to what age you were when you first saw each movie (as well as to which movies you’ve actually seen, and which you haven’t), so I want to preface my list with the disclaimer that this is my list, based on my own impressions.

The criteria I’m using for this list is which villains are the most frightening, the ones you’d least want to come across or have to face off against, the most evil. Villains that evoke any comedy or sympathy need not apply!

Scariest Disney Cartoon Villains

  1. Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
  2. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
  3. Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)
  4. Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmations)
  5. The Evil Queen (Snow White)
  6. Jafar (Aladdin)
  7. Scar (The Lion King)
  8. Shan Yu (Mulan)
  9. Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
  10. Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)

Some notes:

Some of the villains on this list (specifically Jafar, Scar, and Madame Medusa) suffer from having sidekicks that offset their evilness through comic relief. The presence of an Iago, those hyenas, or a Mr. Snoops can really undermine a villain’s ability to inspire terror!

The only reason I don’t have Shan Yu higher on this list is that he’s more animal than human… It’s difficult to evoke a real psychological fear when the villain is essentially a wolf in a man’s body. The fear is real, but I don’t think it lingers in the same way.

Lady Tremaine isn’t really “scary” in the traditional sense, but whenever I think about her I just feel so helpless! The face she makes while  locking Cinderella into her room… Classic villain moment.

Honourable Mentions

  • Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Drame)
  • Percival McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under)
  • The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)

What Do You Think?

Have I got it all wrong? Make your case!

My 10 Favourite 50s

I decided to compile a list of 10 of the 50-word stories that I think represent my best work.

When going through all of the stories from Year Two, picking out the best ones for inclusion in Fifty-Word Stories: Volume Two, I kept coming across stories I had forgotten about. I wrote somewhere around 200 stories over the course of the year, so that’s to be expected!

Every now and then, one of these stories would surprise me and make me laugh or smile. It’s a rare thing to get to read something you wrote as if you were seeing it for the first time, so those experiences made my sojourn through the archives a lot of fun.

Among all of the stories I’ve written, there is the expected range of quality. Some are good, some aren’t so great, and a few, I think, are real gems. I installed the star-rating plugin to help those gems rise to the top of the Popular Stories widget in the sidebar, and the Top Stories page, but with over 700 stories on FiftyWordStories.com today (somewhere around 525 of them written by me), there are definitely some gems that will slip through the cracks. I can’t expect every new reader to go digging through the entire archive to find those gems, so I made a list that might help.

Here are the 10 best stories I think I’ve written for FiftyWordStories.com, in reverse order:

10. Showers and Tellers – February 25, 2011

9. The Apple and the Pear – January 6, 2011

8. Don’t Call Me Savior – January 29, 2010

7. Lemon Zest Cookies – February 10, 2011

6. Claim to Fame – October 12, 2009

5. They Taste Like Bitter Grapes – December 4, 2009

4. The Man Who Couldn’t Stop Breathing – August 26, 2010

3. Horse-Whale Hoedown – November 12, 2010

2. Lie-Baby – February 8, 2011

1. The Magical Cup and a Terrifying Beast – December 2, 2010

Six of the stories on this list are included in Volume Two, along with 124 others that would probably all make my top 150. Why not order yourself a copy? It’s only $12 + shipping, or $3 for the ebook.

Which of these 10 stories is your favourite? Would you build your own list differently? I’d love to hear your Top 3, Top 5, or Top 10. Leave a comment!

Sherlock Holmes: 4 Observations So Far

Here are four things that have stood out to me during my early readings of the complete Sherlock Holmes collection.

  • There’s drama!
    • I figured the Sherlock Holmes stories would focus almost exclusively on Holmes decoding challenging puzzles and deducing things from the merest slivers of evidence. There’s plenty of that, but there’s also a lot of character drama and twisting plot that I wasn’t prepared to find. It isn’t necessarily all that powerful, as far as proper stories go, but it’s there, it’s gripping enough, and it diversifies the reading experience.
  • Dr. Watson is a real person.
    • He isn’t just a wallflower or a wooden plank, playing the everyman to Holmes’ brilliance. I’m glad: even first-person narrators need to have character.
  • Sherlock Holmes does cocaine.
    • Ok, the stories were written in a different era and all that, but… really? The excuse is that Holmes has such an active mind that when he doesn’t have a mystery to solve, he needs chemical stimulation to keep his mind occupied. Blech.
  • I haven’t seen the word “elementary” even once so far.
    • I’m not sure whether I just have to keep reading, or whether the catchphrase comes more from TV and movie adaptations. I’ll let you know if and when I find out!

The Best Passers in the NHL

I decided to make a short list of the five players who I thought were the best passers in the National Hockey League, in no particular order. Feel free to disagree and debate!

The Best Passers in the NHL

Nicklas Backstrom (shoots Left), Washington Capitals

  • Set-up man for Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.
  • Season so far: 18 assists in 25 games.

Joe Thornton (shoots Left), San Jose Sharks

  • Set-up man for Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau.
  • Season so far: 17 assists in 21 games.

Henrik Sedin (shoots Left), Vancouver Canucks

  • Set-up man for Daniel Sedin.
  • Season so far: 25 assists in 22 games.

Martin St. Louis (shoots Left), Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Set-up man for Steven Stamkos.
  • Season so far: 21 assists in 25 games.

Sidney Crosby (shoots Left), Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Set-up man for, well, kind of Evgeni Malkin, but only on the power play, really.
  • Season so far: 23 assists in 26 games.

Points of note:

  • All five of these players shoot left.
  • Only Henrik Sedin has more than an assist per game.
  • Sidney Crosby is the best goal-scorer of this group, and also has the least skilled wingers, despite which he is second in the league in assists and first in points.
  • Backstrom is the youngest of these players. He has been having more success passing to Semin than Ovechkin this year, surprisingly. Look for his assist numbers to increase when Ovechkin (who only has 10 goals so far) turns the rockets on.

50 Best Books

I made a list of the 50 books I would most recommend from my own collection. The list only includes books that I both own and have read.

I posted the list as a page, because I intend to update it periodically as my opinions change and as I read more books from my collection.

Feel free to share your opinions about what you’ve read, what you’d recommend, and what you think I should read that might find its way onto this list!

How Widely Read Am I?

This is a list of books that was put together by (I think) the BBC. Apparently the average person will only read about six of these in their lifetime. I decided to take up the challenge.

As a general comment, it doesn’t make sense to have The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on the list as a separate item from The Chronicles of Narnia. Nor does it make sense to have Hamlet listed separately from The Complete Works of Shakespeare. In fact, in general, including series on this list is kind of silly, particularly when the series are made of seven books (Narnia, Harry Potter) or 52 books (the Bible; arguably listable as a single book, though).

On this list, I’ve read 29 of the items and have nine more on my shelves waiting for me. Not bad, I’d say.

I’ve bolded books that I’ve read and used italics to denote books that I own and intend to read, but have not gotten around to reading yet. Here’s the list. Continue reading How Widely Read Am I?