Recently on Facebook I was challenged by a friend to complete a challenge of “10 Books That Have Stuck With You”. Well, that’s a long list, made longer by the fact that for most readers I think, 10 books isn’t going to be nearly enough!
I thought it’d be fun to post my response. I challenge ALL OF YOU to post in comments with your top picks! I look forward to reading your responses. 🙂
1. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
Probably one of my earliest introductions to the power of a fairy tale mixed in a historical setting, this is the story of “Sleeping Beauty” set in the holocaust. Haunting.
In the same vein…
2. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
Technically a short story, I fell in love with this story from the first time I read it. Beyond shock value, what makes this story awesome is how well it’s written: tight writing, suspense, and a growing sense of unease as you realize something is terribly wrong. Must-read.
3. The Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery (and) Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Anne Shirley is in my top 3 favorite heroines in literature. She’s irrepressible, imaginative, super-intelligent, a writer, gets into scrapes without meaning to, a best friend, loyal to a fault, loving, and unfortunately, she’s slow to forgive. Like, seriously, Anne, you’re the one who smashed the slate over a boy’s head. I think he got the raw end of the deal there.
Oh, and I have to thank Montgomery for introducing me to the works of Tennyson, and countless other poets. Thank you.
Blue Castle was the first (maybe only?) book Montgomery wrote targeted for adults. I always like the idea of spinsters going off for a hurrah and their life ends up changing for the better. It’s charming.
4. Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon
Thus far, the only Pynchon book I’ve ever been able to finish, I was introduced to Pynchon’s books by a great teacher and chose this one because it was the longest and it was able Ben Franklin. Ben Franklin rocks. Even today, I still question whether he was really that dynamic of a character. If he was, people would read history more.
5. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
This rocked my world the first time I read it. I loved this dark fantasy set beneath London’s streets and the adventures of Richard and Door. I also recommend Gaiman’s “Stardust”.
6. If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss
I love Dr. Seuss’ imagination and this children’s book makes me smile every time I read about Morris McGurk’s dreams for taking an empty lot and transforming it into the world’s greatest circus.
7. Beauty by Robin McKinley
This was probably the earliest novelization of a fairy tale I was exposed to and I was hooked for life. McKinley has a love affair with Beauty & the Beast (I think), she’s written two books about the character, but I love how this ‘Beauty’ isn’t beautiful.
Honorable mentions: Patricia C. Wrede’s Snow White and Rose Red; The Snow White, Blood Red Anthology Series
8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
If you know me well, you might be surprised to find this so far down the list. This is my favorite romantic comedy formula and it hits all the right emotional marks every time, making this a favorite whether it’s a play, a film, the book, whatever.
9. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
I cry every time I read this book. This book made me hope that all well-loved stuffed toys have a happy ending. It also tore my heart out. It’s such a beautiful and sad story.
10. Christy by Catherine Marshall
The book is way better than the TV movies, trust me on that. Marshall may be the pioneer of the trope – “schoolteacher leaves comfort of the known to venture into the unknown and find purpose, adventure and love”.
11. A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers
Really difficult book to read, but Rivers has a gift for telling a book from multiple perspectives and a great eye for detail. I think it was probably Francine Rivers’ work on this series that made me want to write historical fiction. A great foray into Christian historical fiction.
… and so many more books!