Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Favorite Books

When Amy commented on my previous book post, she asked, "What that you have read on that list are your top 5?" I've been thinking about that.

My initial instinct is that few of the listed books would make my top 5. Which led to long meandering musings about what are my favorite books.

Which led to further flights of thought about favorites in general and how many different kinds of favorites there are. Pure pleasure, candy type favorites. Things that elicit a good laugh. Or good cry. Or favorites that challenge spiritually, emotionally, socially, or academically.

I'd have to start with Jane Austen, any of them; I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite. The Secret Garden, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, both the listed books by the Bronte sisters would definitely make my top five. Oops, I guess thats more than five already. There is also Treasure Island by Stevenson, Tale of Two Cities by Dickens and The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien.

Others I'd add to the list: The Leatherstocking Tales by James Fennimore Cooper, My Antonia by Willa Cather, Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler, How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn, Silas Marner by George Eliot, A Room With a View by E.M. Forster, and a just about anything by Mark Twain. And I know it's not politically correct, but I really like Uncle Tom's Cabin. I suppose I ought to include an A. C. Doyle and an Agatha Christie title, but choosing just one would be difficult.

I enjoyed the Red River of the North series by Laurraine Snelling, the Mitford books by Jan Karon, and the Cat Who ... mysteries. I recently discovered Raymond Chandler's, detective, Philip Marlowe. And I've gotten hooked on these Vince Flynn books. Of course, much to my constant embarrassment, I love the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. I also really like Lisa Lutz's Spellman books.

There are also some great children's books that I'd include. I almost wouldn't know where to start. The list included several by Roald Dahl, but missed my favorite of his, The Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me. There are the Little House books, of course. Ralph Moody wrote a similar series based on his childhood, beginning with Little Britches. Where the Red Fern Grows is definitely in my top five. I have yet to read them all, but they are definitely among my favorites. The Ranger's Apprentice series would be right up there.

Jean Fritz has written many, many great children's books; start with The Cabin Faced West. Erik C. Haugaard's Samurai's Tale. Katherine Paterson has several; my favorite might be Master Puppeteer. Linda Sue Park has written several great ones; my favorite of hers is probably A Single Shard.

The Mildred Taylor books are great. Sad and hard to read, but wonderful. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt and Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith. Not really in the same category, but the Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard are a fun series.

Mary Ray has written historical novels a slew of historical novels set in ancient times and up to early middle ages. I liked Beyond the Desert Gate and the Ides of April. I liked The Broken Blade and Wintering by William Durbin. I liked Daughter of the Mountains by Louise Rankin and Seven Sons for Seven Daughters by Barbara Cohen and Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken and All of a Kind Family by Sidney Taylor. An obscure one I picked up used and really like is Marin's Little Owl by Finn Havrevold.

I also really liked the Jean Craighead George books, My Side of the Mountain, On the Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful's Mountain. The Pye and Moffat books by Eleanor Estes are great. And I've liked nearly everything I've read by Lois Lenski. Also Elizabeth Enright's books. And Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen. Anything by Jim Kjelgaard and Walt Morey and Marguerite Henry.

Then there's picture books. My favorite's have got to be anything by Tomie dePaula, but especially Tom and Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, and Now One Foot Now the Other. The Billy and Blaze Books by C. W.. Anderson. The Snip, Snap and Snurr and Flicka, Ricka and Dicka books by Maj Lindman. The Sneeches and Fox in Socks by D. Seuss. And I love Mary Azarian's woodcut illustrations. There are so many great picture books. Some are beautiful just to look at.

I could go on and on. Bet you can't tell. I haven't even touched non-fiction.

Are you sorry you asked, Amy?

1 comment:

A Stafford said...

No, not sorry! I don't think I could come up with a top 5 either!

The problem with classifying literature as great or sub-par or average, obviously, is that the judgment is so subjective. Not only are we mulling over how well the book is crafted, but we are looking for something that speaks to us--- something that brings us an emotional response, that makes us think---and that is going to be unique to each individual.

My favorite books are like my friends, and I don't think I could rank them. I have different "friends" for my different moods: comedy when I need a laugh, tender when I need a cry, sentimental when I need reflection, mystery when my brain needs exercise, non-fiction when I need the facts, historical when I need perspective, spiritual when I need enlightenment..........

Thanks for reminding me of all the great reads I've been neglecting--time to find a new book!