Sunday, March 04, 2007

Books through the ages....

J. Peder Zane, the book review editor and Sunday Books columnist at the Raleigh/Durham News & Observer has a new book out called The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books in which he catalogues the top 10 favorite books of many many famous authors (among them some of my favorites, including Paul Auster).

Mr. Zane also has quite the enticing blog, and recently he asked his readers (following the lead of Richard Powers) to comment with their favorite books throughout their lives. So, I'm giving you mine here, and I invite any and all of you bookish readers to do the same on your blog. Make sure to comment so I can pop over and gawk, ASAP.

And thanks to Bluestalking Reader for introducing me to The Top 10 via her delightful blog!

While Richard Powers had a very proper timeline jumping every five years or so through the age of 50, mine would be significantly shorter given the fact that I'm only 26, so I'm going to deviate and throw in some very odd ages with some very memorable books (and short stories).

Roughly 4-5 years old: Sesame Street books and She-Ra books (scary)

6: The Ramona books (Beverly Cleary), Miss Rumphius (Barbara Cooney)

10: Fear Street series (R.L. Stine), anything by Christopher Pike

14: Great Expectations (Charles Dickens). Surely the book that changed the trajectory of my life towards all things bookish and gave rise to my "online identity" as it turns out.

15: The Vampire Diaries (L.J. Smith...and all of her other books), "A Rose for Emily" (William Faulkner), "There Will Come Soft Rains" (Ray Bradbury), Antigone (Sophocles)

16: the stories of Flannery O'Connor

17: The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

18: A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)

21: A Moveable Feast (Ernest Hemingway), Rodin: The Hands of Genius (Helene Penet), Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Harriet Jacobs), Til We Have Faces (C.S. Lewis), Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)

22: Pope Joan (Donna Woolfolk Cross), Cider House Rules (John Irving)

23: The Waste Land and Other Poems (T.S. Eliot), The Hours (Michael Cunningham), Beasts (Joyce Carol Oates), Sailing Alone Around the Room (Billy Collins)

24: The Alchemist (Paulo Coehlo), What I Loved (Siri Hustvedt), Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)

25: The Golden Compass (Philip Pullman), In Cold Blood (Truman Capote), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)

I can remember what it was like to finish the last page of each of these books and want desperately to begin reading them again immediately...the sure sign of a favorite. All of these titles are like landmarks along the way, reminding me of who I was then, what I was struggling with, where I was going.

With that sentiment in mind, I think I'll start a new tradition. I'm going to take more time to post about my bookish memories from now on. Books have been a measuring stick throughout my life, and have affected me profoundly. Watch for the bookish memories. Coming soon....


  1. oh gosh, another book tag? I probably won't get to it for a while, but you know I will; I am weak where books are concerned.

  2. Lu, I thought seriously about not starting this one, but I couldn't help myself! It doesn't help that I'm a list junkie to boot!

  3. Books are honestly so amazing to me. How can words on a piece of paper evoke such feelings, such visuals. I know I'm not into the bookie thing like you are but it's amazing how much certain books mean to me and what memories they conjur up when I see them again.

    I am involved in a reading program with elementary school kids. Basically I am a mentor to a child. Not all of the children have reading dissabilities, some have language issues, some are just plain lazy and some just need the fellowship of an adult friend but the premise is that we get together for lunch at the school and talk and read books. It feels so great when I turn my kid on to one of the books that I loved as a child. Anyway, I'm rambling but great post Andi!

  4. I can't do this one because I never paid attention, dammit. I mean, I remember things I loved and I have a million books I can't bear to part with . . . and have done better at consuming books than vegetables (and I love vegetables) but . . . argh! So hard to narrow down!!! I loved your list. One more genius lists her favorite classic reads. ;)

  5. Funky, they are pretty amazing, aren't they?! I've never figured out exactly why the matter (even to me), but I know that they do and it's pretty freakin' cool.

    Your reading program sounds AMAZING! I wish there was something like that in my area to get involved in. Must poke around. :)

    BF, it is very hard to narrow down (thus, my very long list). And I'm hardly genius. I was just lucky enough to have amazing teachers to spoon feed me the classics when I was coming up. lol

  6. I have that book on my wishlist, but after seeing several entries from various authors, I'm not in any rush to read it. It seems (as is the case with many of these lists), that some of these people are trying to make their tastes seem grander and more refined than they are. I find it hard to believe that among the several I've seen, not one has a sentimental favorite, that wouldn't be classified as 'great' or 'classic' literature, but is dear to them nonetheless.


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