Don't take too long to think about it. List 15 books you've read that will always stick with you -- The first 15 you can recall in 15 minutes.
This is going to include children's books. It just is. I'm also going to include commentary.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
One of my all-time favorite books. One of those novels that charts the vast reaches of the imagination; it could never be filmed, or exist in any other medium. It's always exciting, no matter how many times I read it. And the same goes for Ellison's second, unfinished novel, posthumously published as Juneteenth.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Two books, yes, but I'm counting them as one. I trust no one will stone me for that. I guess it's pretty obvious already that I love the fantastic. Maybe that's why I don't watch procedurals on TV - I don't care about stuff that happens in the mundane realm of the everyday. I want to live in the world of the unreal. And it's difficult to get more unreal than Alice's Wonderland. Another very good book is a "tre-quel" titled Automated Alice, written by Jeff Noon. I highly recommend it. (Those of you familiar with the original books will get the "trequel" joke.)
Ulysses by James Joyce
What is there to say about this book that hasn't been said? It's frustrating and infuriating and VERY slow going, but it's also like cracking a code and analyzing puzzles, which I love doing. And I got through it, which is something I cannot say for Finnegans Wake.
All God's Chillun Got Wings (my one play that I just had to include on this list) by Eugene O'Neill
Reading this play was an incredibly emotional experience. I read it, and then re-read it again immediately, weeping through the last scene. I've never seen it, but I want to.
Fish Out of Water by Dr. Seuss's wife(!) - Helen Giesel
Very few books make me think of my childhood and my grandparents as much as this one does. I always thought the wise old pet-shop owner was very like my grandfather.
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
However, this is another book that immediately makes me think of my childhood and grandparents. I love children's books. I could seriously do this for fifteen children's books (and I just might) but I had to list this one too. Full of humor and exotic adventure. It's the simple things.
Perelandra by CS Lewis
I love a lot of CS Lewis's books, but if I had to choose one (which I guess I don't), I'd pick this one - the perfect melding of Lewis's philosophical and theological ramblings with an intense character-driven thriller. And the ending is truly lyrical and moving. And it's also not besmirched by Lewis's infamous mother/whore thing.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Funny that I put this right under Perelandra, since I think both are psychological thrillers - that's what draws me to them. And of course, this book has some of the greatest characters of Western literature.
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
There's another book, Tintin in the New World (which is not nearly as good as this book), which uses the tagline "...up until now, he has never charted the restless territory of his own mind." I think that's an evocative phrase, and it evokes nothing so much as the feeling that this book brings to me. I especially think City of Glass, the first part of the trilogy, is a modern masterpiece - a novella that is frightening, surreal, mysterious, and true.
Sandman by Neil Gaiman
So I had to put one comic on this list, and I've often said that Sandman is the greatest comic I've ever read. Alan Moore has what seems to be an endless supply of brilliant ideas, but often lacks a beauty, lyricism, warmth. Sandman has that in spades. If I had to give someone one issue to convince them of the series' brilliance, I'd give them the issue, "A Dream of a Thousand Cats." It combines a brilliant premise and great storytelling with a truly touching climax, and a chilling denouement, all in 22 pages.
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolfe
The first stream-of-consciousness novel I ever read. I read it when I was 13, and I remember I tried to write stream-of-consciousness stories for years after that, but the device, in my hands, always sounded forced and trite and unnatural. I still can't make my way through Remembrance of Things Past, but I love this book. Like many of the books on this list, it touches something within me that I can't quite name, and it makes me cry.
Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger
Salinger...is there any author whom I loved more when I was a teen? He is a master of conciseness. Every single word in this book means something. Especially in Franny, the book is all about what she doesn't say. When I was younger, I thought that it was the most brilliant character work ever. I still think it's pretty darn good.
The Plague by Albert Camus
Maybe cause I had such a strong Christian upbringing, I was always intrigued by existentialism. It never had the desired effect on me, because I had a moral compass, but the ideas that the existentialists stirred fascinated me. Honestly, it's probably part of being a teenager. Just most teens don't read Sartre's plays, and Camus's and Kafka's novels. (I'm guessing here. I wish I were wrong. We'd have much more literate youtube emo teens if they all followed the existentialist reading list!)
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
I think about this book maybe once a week. Another strongly moral book, another fantasy with SF undertones - is anyone detecting a pattern? (Wait till you see the last book on this list!) I also love A Swiftly Tilting Planet, which honestly might be even better, but this was my first L'Engle book, and the one I think of most frequently. I'm so sentimental.
Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
A Christian allegory! But seriously, I love allegories. They are one of my favorite genres. Just like Ulysses, they are puzzles. Usually pretty easy to figure out, but still. The trick to a good allegory is to make it work on a character and plot level, as well as on a symbolic level.
There you go. More than I've written on here in...a long time. But I love books. And this gives me a chance to share a piece of myself with you lj friends who don't really know me.
One final thought: the end of Pushing Daisies was kind of beautiful. Especially because the ending was really only the beginning.
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