Friday, October 12, 2007

The Book List

I have been wanting to make up a book list, mostly because I am a compulsive list-maker. There is something so calming to me about a well-made list. Who knows why. At first I thought about making an 'Everyone Should Read These Books' sort of list, but I am actually shy and don't like to assert myself. Who am I to tell people what books they should read? Especially since I haven't read many of the books on well-known book lists!

While browsing over at Semicolon, I came across Sherry's Best Fiction book list. Her description was perfect:

I have a few rules for this list. No author may be represented more than once, even though he or she may have written more than one very good book. I list only the books and authors that I like, not those I’m supposed to like but don’t. Children’s books that make the list must appeal to me as an adult, too. (I actually like lots of children’s books.) No short stories or short story collections are on the list because I mostly don’t care for short stories. They’re too short. I only list books I’ve actually read; there are certainly others out there that I haven’t yet managed to read that will be added to the list eventually. That’s why there aren’t 100 books on the list–only 68 so far. The definitive list will have to be made upon my deathbed—or beyond.

That is the kind of book list I appreciate. I decided to start with those rules, but wanted to add my top ten at the beginning of the list and will not have even 58 on the remainder. Today's post will include my top five, with the rest of the list to follow soon.


1. C. S. Lewis. The Chronicles of Narnia. I really wanted to list multiple books by Lewis in my top ten, but, in addition to being a compulsive list-maker, I also happen to be a rule-follower. So I will mention in this one entry that you cannot go wrong with C. S. Lewis. Read the Narnia series first (beginning with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), but don't miss Mere Christianity or The Space Trilogy. I'm looking at the bright side--now I have room for even more books in my top ten. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is now in fabulous movie version, and Prince Caspian will be released next year! Check out this link.

2. Dumas, Alexandre. The Count of Monte Cristo. This book has everything you could possibly want: action, suspense, love, revenge, history.... with the most wonderful, intricate plot I have ever encountered. Don't be intimidated by the unabridged version. It is the only way to go. You won't be sorry.

3. Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield. I had put off reading this one because I didn't want to be depressed by the ill-treatment of young orphan boys. Silly me. Yes, there were heart-wrenching moments, but I had no idea that I would be laughing out loud so often. The characters now have permanent places in my memory. I am not quite finished with A Tale of Two Cities, but I can confidently recommend it as well. In a completely different mood and style than David Copperfield, it speaks to the brilliance of Dickens. I love the imagery, the poetry, the emotions, the history. It is an astoundingly beautiful epic.

4. Sawyer, Ruth. Maggie Rose: Her Birthday Christmas. My mother first read this book to my sisters and me many years ago. It isn't Christmas if I haven't yet read Maggie Rose during the season. The quirky illustrations by Maurice Sendak are etched in my memory for eternity. Maggie Rose is, to me, the epitome of 'gumption.' Ruth Sawyer avoids the sentimentality, the perfect appearance, and gushiness that a few other children's books contain. This book is charming, heart-felt, timeless, full of humor, and reverent--all at the same time. It is a perfect Christmas season read-aloud.

5. Sedgwick, Anne Douglas. The Little French Girl. Not a children's book, The Little French Girl is a thoughtful, insightful, and beautiful book about a 16 year-old French girl who goes to live with a family in England. I'll be posting more as I read this book again in the next month for book club.

What is on your list? Leave me a message in the comments section!

Semicolon hosts the Saturday Review of Books every week. Go on over and visit.


Sherry said...

Wow! your first three books are so great that I feel compelled to check the last two. I know of Ruth Sawyer, but I've never heard of Maggie Rose and the other author and book are new to me.

carole said...

Ooooh! Good! I've only read numbers 1 and 2 - and I'm always looking for book recommendations. The Count of Monte Cristo is definitely in my top ten as well. I actually listened to it on tape the first time that I "read" it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for commenting on my book review!

I've read the first three on your list. I read The Count of Monte Cristo in the abridged version and was a little bit wobbly on what I thought of it, so maybe I should try the unabridged one. I think I will.

A couple on my list--(I dearly love lists too)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (I just finished reading and crying over this one the other day again)

and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Unknown said...

Oh I love lists, too, except they aren't comforting to me, because I tend to write them on assorted scraps and then lose them, so I have to re-write.

I don't know about Dickens, but I haven't read him since high school, so maybe I'll dive in.

I have been meaning to read the Count as well, so perhaps I'll take you up on it.

I have such a hard time making that kind of list. I don't know if I could do it.

Poiema said...

Love your list. The _Maggie Rose_ book is one of our perennial favorites. I've picked up several Ruth Sawyer books at antique stores, but Maggie Rose is the best.

Heidi said...

Poiema~ I am so excited that someone else has even *heard* of Maggie Rose... and that you love it! Thanks for visiting. :)

Donna Boucher said...

I love your list. I will look for The French Girl.

pussreboots said...

With having read as many books as I have, 5 is a hard number to boil down to. Here goes:

1. The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
2. Emily of New Moon by L M Montgomery
3. Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum
4. The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthrone
5. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens