Sara tagged me in a Facebook note to list the books that have stayed with me—and her comment that Ethan Frome is on her list “for all the wrong reasons” made me laugh. Hint: Try listening to that book on cd. It only gets worse, especially the sled scene!
Since my computer hates Facebook and it takes me 50 years to log on, let alone respond to anything or take a quiz to find out which Disney princess I am, I’ll post the books I remember most here.
Books that have stayed with me—for all the wrong reasons:
- Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See
- The Memory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards
- Snow Falling on Cedars – David Guterson
- Beloved – Toni Morrison
- Looking for Alaska – John Green
- The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
- A Little Lower Than the Angels – Virginia Sorensen
These books are award-winning and popular for good reason. I don’t mean to bash—I only mean that when it comes to my own simple tastes, I want hope to be palpable! I can do without audio books wherein a grown man tries to fake a feminine French accent. Ehhhhh.
The main problem is that I have a limited amount of time to read things I am not being paid to read, so when I’m reading for free it better be GOOD on the surface. I’m not the kind of reader who has a lot of energy to dig.
Books I loved as a child that I’m afraid to read again and find out maybe I don’t anymore:
- Summer of My German Soldier – Bette Greene (Is this really about a pedophile?)
- The Silver Crown – Robert C. O’Brien (Are there plot holes like I remember or did I not understand what the hey was going on because I was in second grade?)
- Wayside School Is Falling Down – Louis Sachar (Funny now? Or only funny then?)
- Taking Care of Terrific – Lois Lowry
- Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind – Suzanne Fisher Staples (Winner of a Newbery Honor. That’s a good sign.)
- Devil’s Arithmetic – Jane Yolen
- The Blue Castle – Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt
- My Name is Su5san Smith, the 5 Is Silent – Louise Plummer (Why my apparent fascination with pedophiles?)
- The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Julie of the Wolves – Jean Craighead George
- The Little House on the Prairie series – Laura Ingalls Wilder
- I Know What You Did Last Summer – Lois Duncan (Okay, I confess—I have no intention of ever reading this again.)
- The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley Twins, and The Saddle Club volumes 1 through 1,000,000 (Maybe I’ll check out the graphic novel versions of BSC. But Claudia better still be wearing “a lacy white top over a solid white body suit, a black mini skirt with white polka dots on it, lacy white leggings, and red high tops. Plus some really outrageous black-and-white jewelry . . . that she’d made herself out of papier mache.”)
Novels that have changed my life—I’m too practical to really say this of fiction very often, so that’s why the list is short. I’m more moved by scripture and religious books and psychology self-help books and sermons and the like, a list too long for this post.
- Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger. This does not mean I admire would-be assassins like John Hinckley Jr or real assassins like Mark Chapman. Nor does it mean I have an affinity for swears. This is the first book I ever read that served as a “window.” I had no empathy for Holden-like characters in real life before I met this one in fiction.
- Sweethearts – Sara Zarr
My favorite books ever, or of the week, depending on if I remember right—I read too fast to remember much of what I’ve read a week later, a habit I’d like to break but can’t. I’m pretty confident I would still find something beautiful in all of these books if I read them again.
And if you want to know my real criteria, I fall in love with any book that can make me forget I’m on an airplane, a breath away from certain death.
I like real characters. I like vivid setting. I like good plot. I like entertaining. I like lovely words. I don’t always care about deep, significant, symbolic themes, but a touch of that helps.
- A Step from Heaven – An Na
- A Northern Light – Jennifer Donnelly
- The Way He Lived – Emily Wing Smith
- The Dark Divine – Bree Despain (Watch for it this December)
- Walk Two Moons – Sharon Creech
- Red Glass – Laura Resau
- Sold – Patricia McCormick
- Jackaroo – Cynthia Voigt
- The Bean Trees – Barbara Kingsolver
- Mutant Message Down Under – Marlo Morgan
- My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult
- Season of Ice – Diane Les Becquets
- The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom
- The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
- Keturah and Lord Death – Martine Leavitt
- Catalyst – Laurie Halse Anderson
- Life of Pi – Yann Martel
- The White Darkness – Geraldine McCaughrean
- The Body of Christopher Creed – Carol Plum-Ucci
- Everything Is Fine – Ann Dee Ellis
- The Chosen One – Carol Lynch Williams
- Hope Was Here – Joan Bauer
- The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – Kate DiCamillo
I’m struggling to end this post. I know I’ve forgotten some important ones. Help remind me. What’s on your list?