Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A list of books

A little while ago I saw a Facebook thing going around about the top 10 books to impact you.  I was surprised by some people's answers and a little stumped with a few of the lists when I didn't even recognize most of the books on it.  Anyway, I was thinking about it, and I really couldn't say that a book has "IMPACTED" my life besides the scriptures.  I mean reading in general definitely has, but I don't think any one book has carried that much weight.  But here is a list of my favorite books.  It was really hard to narrow it down by the way.  Really hard.  That is why this list isn't numbered past number 1, because I couldn't even bring myself to rank them beyond that.  So without further ado:

#1.  Edith Wharton

 Okay, Edith Wharton is not a book.  But she is my all-time favorite author.  I love her writing style--she has beautifully crafted sentences. She's like Jane Austen in her ability to catch social interactions so well, but unlike Jane Austen, there's a bite to her books.  Her villains (if you can call them that) are just awful, but are completely fleshed out and multi-faceted, truly reflecting  human nature vs Jane Austen who's villains are more often simply embodied by the characteristics of being arrogant, foolish and/or greedy.  I mean, Wickham just doesn't compare to Undine Spragg, despite both of their major flaws being greed.
 But if I had to name a book of hers, it would be The Glimpses of the Moon, one of the few happily ended books (well, the only actually) of hers I've read.  It's about Nick and Susy, who were raised in high society, but are in fact, penniless. They both plan on marrying for money, but unfortunately fall in love with each other.  Susy comes up with a plan to marry Nick, live on their wedding presents and other people's generosity for one year of blissful happiness and then divorce to marry into wealth.  I do love the romantic tale, but also I think Edith Wharton is very insightful about marriage and infidelity as much as she is about society, and hence gives you some brilliant observations to ponder as well as a romantic tale.

  •   The Queen's Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner.  Okay, again, not one book.  But I love them!  The King of Attolia is my favorite book in the series so far.  I think they are just the perfect fun books to read.  Eugenides is smart (I can't stand stupid main characters in fun books), the plot is great, and even though I've read them more times than probably any other book, they still captivate me.
  •   Catch-22.  I love it's biting humor.  And it's utter brilliance how it encapsulates a strong anti-war message with humor better than anything else I've ever read--fiction, non-fiction, essays included.   Rated mature for language and sexual content (in case my nieces and nephews are reading this list).  
  • The Time it Never Rained.  This one is hard to put a finger on why I like it so much.  To me, it's a much better example of an All-American novel than say, a John Steinbeck.  But maybe that's because I identify with its Western American culture slant more; frankly it reminds me of my grandpa and family.  Also, it's a bit more hopeful than Steinbeck.

  • HMS Ulysses.  I read this in 7th grade and bawled hysterically. It's kind of like an action movie in book form with an emphasis on the characters.  Don't expect deep literature here.  It would make a great movie.  Why has it never been made into a movie?  
  • The Curse of Chalion.  This book is why I love fantasy.  I mean, I've read tons of fantasy before this book, but this is, in my mind, the perfect fantasy novel.  However, don't make the mistake I did and think other books by this author will be just as good. They're not (I never knew fantasy romance was a genre!?).  Just stick to this one.  
  • The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling.  It's Tom Jones, how could this not be on my list???  So funny.  And so funny.  Watch the movie too, it has the best "flirtatious-while-eating-in-a-disgusting-manner-scene" ever!  Maybe the only one.  
  • War and Peace.  Umm, yes, I am including War and Peace. For the record, I really liked it.  And I'm paying tribute to my "read everything Tolstoy" phase I went through, kind of like my Louis L'Amour phase.  Shame on all my sisters who haven't read it.  Shame on you! 
  • Any Louis L'Amour.  Well that's not really fair, all are not equally as good. In fact I find many of them slow and redundant now that I'm older and reading them again, but considering that I had read more than half of these by the end of 5th grade, I figured I should include them on my list.  The Lonesome Gods is an excellent one, by the way.  Classic Louis L'Amour.  
  • The Perilous Gard.  Yep, I AM ranking this up there with War and Peace. Whatever.  I love this book.  It's another one like The King of Attolia that I read and enjoy over and over again.  Also, it perfectly combines fairy tales/folk tales with a more modern setting (Tudor England counts as modern?) And it's a bit dark.  Lovely. 
So that's ten.  And I know I will get biting scorn for what I did or did not include.  For the record, here's some of the contenders:

  • Wuthering Heights/Jane Eyre/Any Jane Austen.  Frankly, I lump these all together and couldn't pick one out of the group to post about.
  • Mrs. Mike--why isn't this a movie? A really great movie adaptation like Anne of Green Gables.  Why?
  • These Is My Words.  I love that book. Really love it.
  • The Lord of the Rings.  Classic.
  • The Dark is Rising Series.  I don't know why I love this one so much, but it's kind of like The Queen's Thief and The Perilous Gard, in that it combines fairy tale/folk tale/mythology with a perfect story.  
  • By These Ten Bones.  See my explanation from above. Also lumping with that, Something Wicked This Way Comes.  
  • The Great Gatsby.  Sorry Jennae, but it is another classic American novel.  I think because it's the black side of the American Dream. 
  • To Kill a Mockingbird--who doesn't love that book?
  • The Prisoner of Zenda/The Scarlett Pimpernel--I lump these as well.
And if I was including nonfiction:
  • Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem
  • Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
  • From Beirut to Jerusalem

And that's it.  Andrea, Kayli, Lindsay, in the spirit of Facebook, I now tag you to do the same.  Stay tuned for my movies list.   


Andrea said...

Kami, Kami, Kami--you have such high hopes for us. I don't know that I will ever read War and Peace because I have seven children and my brain is mush.

However, I can't believe I haven't read your favorite Edith Wharton because she is AWESOME. I love The Age of Innocence.

The Thief is an obvious pick, although my favorite of the series is Queen of Attolia.

My favorite Louis L'Amour is Catlow. The main character's last name is Cowan. Obviously awesome.

Love Fermat's Enigma, love almost everything you posted.

The only really, really, REALLY noticeable omission is a lack of nonfiction concerning or written by THE MAN Winston Churchill. Clearly, I need to read War and Peace and YOU need to read Troublesome Young Men or Winston and Clementine: The Personal Letters of the Churchhills.

Such an awesome blog post. Fun, fun.

Natalie said...

Yay! Good list. You may talk to me about books again after you've read John Adams by David Mccullough. :) Seriously.