Friday, August 20, 2010

Blog assignment #1--Most memorable books

Think about the most memorable reading experiences you have ever had in your life. List 10 of them in a blog post, including a brief note about your reason for including each. How old were you? Why was that book so memorable? Here are my choices, not in any particular order; what are yours?

1. Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger. When I was 15 I thought it the truest book I'd ever read. I haven’t changed my mind all that much in the years since.
2. The stories of Edgar Allan Poe. I found these at my public library the summer I was 12 and couldn't stop reading. Nearly 50 years later, I can still picture the library book and its purple cover. The Pit and the Pendulum, The Gold Bug, Murders in the Rue Morgue—loved ‘em.
3. All the Kings Men, Robert Penn Warren. Read it the first time when I was 20. I’ve gone back to it several times since. The best account of hardball politics I know, but also a great story of personal redemption.
4. Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brian. I love the whole series, all 20 volumes. I’ve read each one at least twice. The British navy during the Napoleonic wars comes alive and the characters are utterly memorable and convincing. I toured Adm. Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, this summer.
5. Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin. A burglar, a consumptive heiress, a flying horse, and bridges from the future—what a combination.
6. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole. The most outrageously funny book I've ever read. I laughed out loud often.
7. Outlander, Diana Gabaldon--another series—I read volume 7 this summer. Time travel, romance, and history in one ever-expanding package.
8. Lonesome Dove--Larry McMurtry--my all-time favorite western, and I’ve always loved westerns. Part of a series of 4 novels, but this one stands out as the best of the bunch.
9. Gone to Soldiers--Marge Piercy--my favorite WWII novel, follows the experiences of 10 characters from the war’s beginning to its end. Some die, some go on to unexpected careers, all are profoundly affected by the war.
10. Anna Karenina--Tolstoy--read it one chapter a night before bedtime for three months—an amazing story. Lots of serious readers call this the best novel ever written.
11. Absalom Absalom AND The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner—I like them both so much I can’t choose between them. The closest thing to actually living in the Old South is immersing yourself in a Faulkner novel. Not easy, but they’re worth the effort
12. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen--my 2nd favorite 18th century novel. I've had a crush on Lizzy Bennett since I was 18, I think.
13. Tom Jones, Henry Fielding--my favorite 18th century novel. A 900-page novel I once read in 4 days.
14. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens--he may be a bit out of fashion now, but I love Dickens stories, the breadth of them, the marvelously eccentric characters, the twists and turns of plot.
15. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain--the book I've read the most times, so many I've lost count.

Finally, at the risk of disappointing some of you severely, I hereby confess that I’ve only read one Harry Potter book. I enjoyed it but don't feel any overwhelming need to continue the series. I enjoyed The Magicians by Lev Grossman more. It's funnier and written for a little older audience. Also haven't read Hunger Games or the Twilight series, although I do have a favorite vampire book, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which comes close to making my list.