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Books we love most

February 15, 2016

Untitled design (3)It’s book blogger appreciation week, and today’s topic is to “introduce yourself by telling about five books that represent you as a person or your interests/lifestyle.” Let’s just boil that down, here, to a list of the books I love most and wish everyone else would read.

I’ve already made lists like this on the blog, most notably in my post about “How Social Media Improves My Life,” so I thought I could tell you about which of the books on my most-loved list have been reviewed on my blog and which ones haven’t.

Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. I’ve never written about this series, except incidentally, because they have been my A #1 top favorite books of all time for so long it really never occurred to me.

Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. I discovered this series in the middle school library and loved it immediately, and for all time. My daughter is named, partly, for the flower of Lorien.

Bronte, Wuthering Heights. I was captivated, as a 13-year-old, by the idea that you could focus so intensely on love that the rest of the world fell away. I wrote about it in passing on one of my very first blog posts, Madness.

Bronte, Jane Eyre. I think my fondness for this book has been heightened by my love for Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair, which I wrote about at length on Feb. 17, Feb. 19, and Feb. 20 in 2009.

Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The idea of line marriage and the implacability of living underground on the moon still fascinate me. I mention wanting to live on that kind of moon in my Book Bloggers International Interview.

Kingsolver, Animal Dreams. I loved this one and taught it before I ever started blogging. I think I pick it out as my favorite Kingsolver because I identify with Cody’s tallness and the way she is repulsed at the thought of being a medical doctor.

Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. I love all the characters in this one so much that it hurts to see how they rub up against each other. I even love Pearl Tull, and she is the hardest to know and to love. I wrote about Pearl as one of my favorite characters in fiction.

Harkaway, The Gone-Away World. Finally, a book I read after I had started blogging. This book was one of the greatest discoveries of my life. Another blogger, who has since stopped blogging, recommended it to me, and warned that it takes about 75 pages to get into the book. When I reviewed it, I called it my “book of the year.

Slonczewski, A Door Into Ocean. I read and loved this book before I moved to Ohio and met the author, who has since become a good friend of mine. One of her later novels, The Children Star, is dedicated to me and Ron. I reviewed her novel Daughter of Elysium as a re-read when it was republished in 2009, and reviewed The Highest Frontier when it came out in 2011.

Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale. I taught this one at every college I’ve visited and professed at, and referred to it in a blog post about banned books.

Percy, Love in the Ruins. I first read this when I was at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. My son is named for this author. I did review this novel as a re-read.

Other books or stories I love and that have shaped me in some way:

Shakespeare’s Othello, Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, Grossman’s The Magician King, Lewis’ Narnia series, LeGuin’s Earthsea books, Goldman’s The Princess Bride, Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, de Larrabeiti’s The Borribles, Chabon’s Summerland, Card’s Ender’s Game, Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber series, Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and Funke’s The Thief Lord.

Which of these–if any–do you love most?



41 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2016 8:37 am

    Ender’s Game was recommended to me by my husband – and I loved it!

    • February 15, 2016 9:16 am

      I read it when it first came out, and was fascinated–I’ve read the two different series that follow up on it, too–The Speaker for the Dead series, and the Shadow saga. Now that I know more about the author, I won’t buy his books (and the last few I’ve sampled, I didn’t like), but he was a compelling writer in the 80’s and 90’s.

  2. Beth F permalink
    February 15, 2016 8:39 am

    Humm, I wonder how I missed The Gone-Away World — sounds like one I should explore.

    • February 15, 2016 9:18 am

      I love the surprise in The Gone-Away World, and the digressions and the way it mixes genres. His two subsequent novels, Angelmaker and Tigerman, may be even better. It’s hard for me to see, so blinded with love for the first one.

  3. February 15, 2016 9:15 am

    Harry Potter! Lord of the Rings! so many classic classics on this list. I need to read Ender’s Game. Found out the author and I live in the same town. I just might run into him at the grocery story – I want to be able to say I have read a book by him…

    • February 15, 2016 9:17 am

      Oh, I almost listed The Handmaid’s Tale in my post…

      • February 15, 2016 9:20 am

        You live in the same town as Orson Scott Card? That’s about as creepy as my realization, during one Memorial Day parade in my small town, that some of the people who were handing out candy to my children were also giving them tracts about how dinosaurs and people lived at the same time.

  4. February 15, 2016 9:20 am

    I’ve read two of those – Animal Dreams and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and loved both of them. Kingsolver and Tyler and wonderful authors.

    • February 15, 2016 9:22 am

      Yes, I like all of Tyler’s novels, but think Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is her masterpiece. I like many of Kingsolver’s (The Bean Trees, The Poisonwood Bible) but think she gets too preachy in some of her novels.

  5. February 15, 2016 9:36 am

    Oooh there are so many good ones on here! Especially Jane Eyre. It killed me to not put that one on my list.

    • February 15, 2016 9:46 am

      …always the problem with lists. I guess that’s why we keep making them!

  6. February 15, 2016 10:49 am

    Excellent list- lots that I need to get around to reading, obviously. Man, though. I want to hug Jane Eyre.

    • February 15, 2016 11:55 am

      She is so pitiful at first, and yet so unbending.

  7. lemming permalink
    February 15, 2016 11:02 am

    I’m with care, that I expected to see harry Potter on your list. each time I reread them, I find something new.

    I’m interested that all of these are fiction. “A Mid-Wife’s Tale” by historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich continues to blow me out of the water. All of J. Maarten Troost’s travel writings. “Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christia

    • February 15, 2016 11:23 am

      Wait, Harry Potter is on the list. Don’t think I don’t appreciate your telling me to read it before it became a sensation.
      You have not been a good influence on me in terms of non-fiction reading. If anyone could, it would be Ron. Basically, after my oral comprehensive exam for the PhD, I said I wasn’t going to read anything else in my spare time that wasn’t fun.

  8. February 15, 2016 11:08 am

    So many wonderful books – Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Princess Bride. I love all of these so much!

    • February 15, 2016 11:27 am

      One of the hardest things about list-making is trying to make room for a few that haven’t been favorites from childhood. I was an adult when Harry Potter came out, so that counts. “Lemming,” who was a former college student of mine, wrote to me and told me I must read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

  9. Heather permalink
    February 15, 2016 11:27 am

    Wow, such a great list! I have much exploring to do!

    • February 15, 2016 11:56 am

      If you like SF at all, my recommendation is to start with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!

  10. February 15, 2016 11:35 am

    Jane Eyre and The Lord of the RIngs make my list too! They’re both tremendously foundational to who I am and what I appreciate in literature.

  11. February 15, 2016 11:48 am

    I read Lord of the Rings for the first time in middle school too. I have such vivid memories of how engaged I was in the story during our silent reading period. Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favorite books ever.

    • February 15, 2016 11:58 am

      Whereas I love LOTR, I kind of hate The Handmaid’s Tale–as I think a person should. It’s a great book, but “love” is not the word for the kind of horrified fascination it inspires.

  12. February 15, 2016 12:45 pm

    Isn’t it interesting how different readers can appreciate some of the same books while having no time at all for others. Somehow you would expect lists to be the same. If you love this, you’ll love that too. Thank goodness it doesn’t work that way. I am a great fan of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and of ‘Jane Eyre’ but the novel you’ve put in between them, ‘Wuthering Heights’ leaves me completely cold. By the way, in relation to the comment you make about ‘The Eyre Affair’ (which I also love) I’ve put that along with ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘The Wild Sargasso Sea’ together as a possible trio for this year’s Summer School. I do hope it gets chosen.

    • February 15, 2016 1:28 pm

      I think you’re not alone in being left cold by Wuthering Heights. Eleanor felt that way too, and I think maybe that’s a healthy thing, for her generation.
      Bronte, Fforde, and Rhys are a wonderful trio–I hope it gets chosen, too!

  13. February 15, 2016 12:46 pm

    I keep promising myself that one of these day I will get around to rereading the Hitchhiker books.

    • February 15, 2016 1:29 pm

      There are some great audio versions, and it’s great out loud. Once I heard Douglas Adams read part of it himself, and that was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

      • February 15, 2016 2:28 pm

        Hearing read is no doubt one of those unforgettable moments. Lucky you!

  14. February 15, 2016 1:09 pm

    Of those listed here, Jane Eyre has to be my favorite! (Of course — it was on my list too.) But I love Lord of the Rings with the devotion of a convert, and actually, I’ve been meaning to reread it soon. I’ve let it go way too long between LOTR rereads.

    • February 15, 2016 1:26 pm

      Ron wrote a series called “This Day in Middle Earth” which he sent to me and Eleanor and Walker when they went off to college. I keep trying to think of a way to make a website or sell it to someone as an app so other people could enjoy it, but haven’t found just the right way yet. I think it would whet your appetite for re-reading.

  15. February 15, 2016 2:16 pm

    I love The Lord of the Rings, and I have read all of Kingsolver’s books. My 5 titles are:

  16. February 15, 2016 8:20 pm

    Which of those I love the most would probably be a tie between the Douglas Adams one and Jane Eyre and Jasper Fforde’s books. In fact, Jasper Fforde’s books are the only things that get me through the pain of losing Adams so early! But classics are so lovely — Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights literally being the two I started with. What a difficult question you posed!

    • February 15, 2016 9:14 pm

      The only real answer is either a long list, or two titles that are absurdly different, to give a sense of the range of your tastes.

  17. Jenny permalink
    February 15, 2016 8:25 pm

    This whole list made me want to make a new list! I agree with you about almost everything on it, especially The Gone-Away World, which I almost put on my own list. You made me read it and I love you for it — thank you. And I agree with you about Barbara Kingsolver. I’ve stopped reading her, in fact. I’d add E. Nesbit (both Railway Children and the magical ones), Elizabeth Goudge (children’s books and grownup fiction), and perhaps the books about the Melendys, if we’re talking about books that made me what I am.

    • February 15, 2016 9:13 pm

      Oh yes–and maybe Edward Eager–have you read Half Magic?

  18. February 15, 2016 10:06 pm

    This is the second time I’ve heard Gone-Away World this week (not in connection with BBAW). I’ve had that book sitting unread on my shelf since I received the ARC! Guess I need to finally finally get to it.

    And Wuthering Heights. ❤ I was a little older when I read it…17…but the passionate love did really stick with me! I Am Heathcliff! Oh Cathy! Sigh. LOL!

    • February 16, 2016 8:47 am

      You really do need to try reading The Gone-Away World. I’m not sure how the digressions would come across to a sleep-deprived new mother, but you can let me know!
      One of the fun things about Wuthering Heights is how many parodies and strange homages it inspires. Have you ever seen the Monty Python Wuthering Heights done with semaphore? How about this very strange song?

  19. February 16, 2016 3:27 pm

    I plan on rereading Animal Dreams this year – it’s been soooooo long and I loved it so much. I agree, she can get preachy, but I forgive her because she writes so beautifully (and it helps that I tend to agree with her, ha ha.) This is a wonderful list – lots of great picks.

  20. February 16, 2016 5:44 pm

    Animal Dreams is probably my least favorite of Kingsolver’s early novels, but then again, I’m not tall :-). And Wuthering Heights is the only book I’ve ever re-read to see if I still hated it (the answer was yes).

    I actually didn’t do a book list for the first day of BBAW, but your post inspired me to go back and tackle it. There can’t be too much love for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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