My friend Michele challenged me on Facebook this week to name the top 10 books that have stuck with me. It was an easy list. I realized that I had nine of the ten on my list; all I lacked was Gone with the Wind. So, I adjusted my list to include books that are in my home library.
Happy reading, Readers!
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
My aunt Carolyn gave me my copy for Christmas in 1984. I have read and reread the antics of Hector the Collector, Lazy Jane, and The Razor-Tailed Wren! My “talent” in my third grade talent show was reciting “Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich” complete with props. My sweet daughter recited the same poem with the same hippo prop in her first grade talent show. If you haven’t picked up this book in a while, please do. Take time to remember to nurture your inner six year old.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I am not a fan of scary movies or scary books. So, it was with trepidation that I chose to pick up Frankenstein. This is not a book of horror; it is a beautiful Victorian novel about tender and real relationships. Read it. It’s enchanting.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Though I watched the PBS mini-series several dozen times in childhood, I just read it for the first time last year when I read it aloud to my daughter. She had to tell me to stop laughing and keep reading. Maybe I am a sucker for this book about a redhead named Anne because I am a redheaded Anne-with-an-E. Gilbert Blythe doesn’t hurt either. Honestly, it’s not Glibert by himself, but he and Anne together are a powerful force. Love them. Please read the passages when Anne speaks out loud without pausing for breath. Imagine a stubborn redhead speaking. Think of me. Enjoy. Laugh. Smile. Cry.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
I first heard about this book on NPR when they interviewed the author (listen here). Then, my dad bought a copy for me. I rarely read a book more than once; however, I have read this book three times. The first time I was so interested in the story that I just wanted to know what happened, so I plowed through the book. I then realized that plowing through a book about the slow and deliberate ways of a snail was not the way to read this book at all! The moment I finished it I began reading it again though much more slowly. I read it a third time for a book club. Who knew snails were so interesting?
The Active Life by Parker J. Palmer
I read this for Spirituality and Creativity, my first seminary class. There are so many penciled notes scribbled in the margins that I cannot begin to convey here all that I love about this book. I will say this: life is all about the hyphens. “Rather than speak of contemplation and action, we might speak of contemplation-and-action, letting the hyphens suggest what our language obscures: that the one cannot exist without the other.” I have been known, on occasion, to email the seminary president a short email that states, “I temporarily lost my hyphens. I am back now.”
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
My father read this book aloud to me as a child. Though I lived in an apartment in the metropolis of Atlanta I was right there coon hunting with Old Dan and Little Ann. When the book was over I wanted to cry but waited until my dad left my room. I am certain he cried, too. Some books just never leave you.
C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton
I first read this book when I was about 13. It was the first book I read that kept me up until the wee hours hidden under covers. The chase scene still gets my heart racing just thinking about it. When I was in ninth grade my dad checked my friend Erika and me out of school to meet Sue Grafton and have her sign our books. It is so good to be parented by people who care for books. Recently, I earned a free book at a local thrift shop. My daughter and I scanned shelves not really finding anything. THEN, I laid eyes on this paperback copy. I told her all about the first time I read it, and she said, “Let’s get it! I wanted to read it, too!” At age 11, she read it in less than three days.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck
I read cookbooks like novels. The story unveils itself through the process. I can imagine each dish. I am also terrible about keeping a diary or journaling so each cookbook is a diary in itself. I write the date, cooking notes, whom I cooked for, and their responses. My children and I agree that the best recipe is Julia’s potage parmentier (leek and potato soup). According to my notes made on 21 Feb 2011 Ben told me I should make it again. Kat added, “When rich and famous people come to dinner, you should make this soup.” Please, come on over. We will share table fellowship and this perfect soup. I particularly love making this soup because I get to use a food mill my mom bought me at a garage sale.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Five times. I have read this book five times. It is my all-time favorite book. It has everything a book should have: romance, murder, deception, redemption, monks, cathedrals, architecture, England, and so much more. It is epic. It begins in the year 1123. The first sentence: The small boys came early to the hanging. Follett hooks you in at the beginning and takes you on a beautifully written journey. My parents gave me a first edition. I love it. Read it! All 973 pages.
A Zoo for Mister Muster by Arnold Lobel
The story goes that everyday for an entire year I asked my mom to read this book to me…and she did. When my parents found out I was pregnant with my first child they sent me my childhood copy as a present. Reading is, undoubtedly, a gift to pass on to the next generation. The book is so important to me I have it on display in my home and spoke about it in my mother’s eulogy about “True Things” which you may read here.
Support your local bookstore! Kansas Citians with children (or, for your inner six year old) check out Reading Reptile.