A couple of months ago, I did one of those Facebook thingies a good friend tagged me for, asking me to compile a list of 10 books that have had an effect on my life.
It was painfully difficult to narrow it down to 10 (at which I failed miserably) and of course, once I hit “post,” I immediately thought of at least 10 more. (Warning: I skew a heavily towards Science Fiction and Fantasy.) These tend to be my most favorite books, that I reread at least once a year – old friends who have woven themselves into the person I am.
I guess that’s part of being a bookworm, and books and reading are odd things (to some, at least) that I am highly grateful for today.
My Top Ten(ish) in no particular order:
1) Grass – Sheri Tepper As mentioned before, I was “horse-mad” growing up and I particularly loved the comparison of an alien society to upper-class English equestrian culture. It was the first book I ever read by Sheri Tepper, who writes beautiful social commentary cloaked in delightful and innovative suspense.
2) Hobbit, Silmarillion, The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien Who doesn’t want to visit Middle Earth? His amazingly detailed world is complex and beautifully crafted, as are his characters and their interaction. I’m actually such a Tolkien geek that when I recently saw a business card my husband left on the counter that said, “Mellon” (name of a company), I said without thinking, “Speak, friend, and enter!”
It earned me a weird look, but I’m used to it.
3) The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis Allegory and the fabulous SNL Short “Lazy Sunday” aside, these books have a great storyline and were the first “fantasy” books I read as a child. Plus there are talking animals and an amazing magic wardrobe that moves through space and time (hmmm, kinda like a certain blue police box?) I used to have a little plaque that showed a beam of sunlight illuminating a forest glade (trés fae) with the caption, “Of magic doors there is this, you do not see them even as you are passing through.” I carted that thing for years around my various college apartments and always kept it in a special place, because it reminded me of Narnia and to keep a little magic in my life.
4) Sunshine – Robin McKinley (and Beauty, and the Blue Sword by her as well) McKinley is also a great world builder, with really lovely characters and a gift for retelling childhood fables. Her versions of Beauty and the Beast (she actually has two – I like the first one, “Beauty” the best) and Sleeping Beauty (Spindle’s End) make the stories come alive.
“Sunshine” is a vampire story, but far from the prototypical goth romance – the very grounded heroine of this tale (set in an alternative America) is a baker famous for her cinnamon rolls and snickerdoodles.
5) American Gods – Neil Gaimon Deliciously dark and twisty look at mythology and belief in modern America.
6) Illusions – Richard Bach Sadly there seems to be a little hippy – dippy 70’s seagull poo clinging to this book, but it’s a brilliant story that packs a very powerful message, complete with some potent words to live by; words I have been grateful for during times of difficulty and loss.
“Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”
7) Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling Book candy for adults, mistakenly purposed for children.
8) Disc World and Wee Free Men series – Terry Pratchet Some of the most side-splittingly, wicked humor to ever crack a book; layered like an onion, or a mystery wrapped in an enigma (or as Pratchett says, “like a misery wrapped in an enema.”)
“You could read the Nac Mac Feegle like a book. And it would be a big, simple book with lots of pictures of Spot the Dog and a Big Red Ball and one or two short sentences on each page.” Wee Free Men
9) A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin I read it (at least as far as it had gotten at the time) years before the HBO series came out. It really annoys my husband when we are watching the show and I already know what happens. (Basically advance knowledge of who dies next). A little windy and drawn out, but some excellent plot lines within.
10) Spenser series – Robert Parker Some of the snappiest, razor-sharp dialogue ever. The banter between characters is pure joy.
And of course, I can’t not mention:
11) Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austin ::sigh::Austin Awesomeness.
12) Almost anything by Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides, the Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini). Conroy is a wordsmith and reading his books instilled in me a love for the magic and power of language.
I will stop now before I think of
100 10 more. And yes, since I’m off today, I’ll most likely go and read a book.
Are there books that have made an impact on your life?