I make a lot of lists in my mind. Lists of things I need to accomplish in one day, lists of clothes the family has or needs, lists of things to do in the office. You know, your typical lists.
I have been asked quite a bit about my favorite books. I have been listing my favorite books in my head for a while, and decided I needed to write them down for posterity, or for just plain fun. My reading taste is completely eclectic, very weird, and across the board. I am a very redneck reader, because I don’t like the “True” literary stuff. I have tried to read the classics, like Austen, Dickens and Bronte, and I just have to face up to the fact that I am not that type of reader. I so want to be. I want to be that person who can quote these esteemed authors with confidence and authority, but alas, I can only remember the theme song to “SpongeBob Squarepants” when put on the spot.
Yet I am a reader. I love to read. I would rather read a book than go shopping, watch tv, or sometimes even eat (but eating wins a lot). During a newlywed game we played with our SS class during a class retreat, the men were asked what their wives had too much of. All the husbands answered “shoes, clothes and purses”. I knew my husband would say “books”, and I got that question right. I love books. I am not a book snob; if it reels me in, if it transports me to another world, I am all in. And I had a text discussion with a book club friend the other night, when we were “talking” about the book we are reading this month. She texted that she couldn’t stop reading because she wanted to see what the characters did next.
And I replied that THAT was the mark of a well-written book: one that made you keep reading because you just had to know what the characters were going to do, and you couldn’t predict the next move. Even authors that kill off characters (which can really make me mad) are some of my favorite, because I didn’t predict it (George R.R. Martin comes to mind in this respect).
So I decided to make a list of my Top Ten Favorite Books Of All Time (or of my time). I could not put them in order, because I argued with myself interminably to make that decision, so I decided to be like the top 10 of the Miss America…in no particular order:
***”PILLARS OF THE EARTH” by Ken Follett
This book is amazing. The characters and the history are filled engrossing and make me want to live in the 13th century, which is saying a lot, because I am pretty sure that indoor plumbing and air conditioning did not exist during this time period.
***”Dark Tower Series” (The Gunslinger-The Dark Tower, all 7) by Stephen King
I LOVE THIS SERIES!!! It takes fantasy and drama and courage and love and action and puts it in a blender without the top on! Stephen King is in my top 3 author list, and he creates a world that makes me forget my own whenever I am reading it. These books also make me think about their world all the time, i.e. whenever I am not reading it, I am thinking about it, even at work, play and rest.
***”OUTLANDER” by Diana Gabaldon and all the books in the series.
I read this book right after I graduated from high school 25 years ago. This book combines history, fantasy and romance, in such a way that it really makes you want to go back in time, toilet paper be darned. The Hero, Jamie Fraser, is the most well written male character that I have had the privilege of reading. And the Heroine, Claire, is a bossy, modern, vulnerable-when-it-comes-to-Jamie great character to cheer on. Mrs. Gabaldon has crafted a series that is addicting and enduring. I have read these books no less than 3 times each. Now that is a mark of a favorite.
***”SHE’S COME UNDONE” by Wally Lamb
This book came out in 1997 or so, when I was really battling my weight, and since it was voiced by a young girl struggling with her weight and all of the angst involved with divorce and love lost and growing up…well, when I found out that the author was a man, I was shocked!!! This book is well worth reading, and so are his others. I am a forever fan of Wally Lamb.
***”WORLD WAR Z” by Max Brooks
So…I became enamored of the zombie genre about a year and a half ago. Don’t ask, don’t tell. I love this genre, even when it is not well edited or well written. I have become a severe post apocalyptic junkie, and this book sums up my addiction. I like the way it is written, and I love the fact that it is well edited, not many typos. If you want to read a zombie novel, this is where you should start ( and Apocalypse Z by Manuel Loureis runs a very close second).
***”WIZARD’S FIRST RULE” by Terry Goodkind
I might be prejudiced about this fantasy novel. My older brother recommended this book around the time that I had this huge, traumatic break-up with a boyfriend that I thought was the ONE, and maybe that influenced my love of the book, but really, from the very beginning, this book was action packed and filled with energy and sword fighting and magic, and made me totally forget about the boyfriend who broke my heart. This is also a series; I loved the first 4 books, but have to admit, I got a little overwhelmed with the last 5-6.
***”THIS PRESENT DARKNESS” by Frank Peretti
I read this book within my first year of being a Believer…and this book opened my eyes to what might, just might be going on around me as those “principalities of darkness” fight against each other while I am living my ordinary life. This book literally changed my life, when it came to thinking of who God is and who Satan is and what can or can’t be done here on earth. It is a great read even if you’re not a Believer, but it is a MUST READ for a born again Christian.
***”A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY” by John Irving
I have read this book 3 times, and each time I come away with a different feeling. Mr. Irving is one of my top ten authors, and I love this story of friendship, growing up, courage and love so much that it’s in my top ten. Read it. That’s all I can say.
***”THE STAND” by Stephen King
Did you think you would make it out of this top ten without another King novel? I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I think that this book is the one that I have read the most, meaning I have read it at least 4-5 times over the last 25 years. The characters, the story, the action, the premise (would I survive, how would I survive, would my family survive?), this book is probably my absolute number one, even if that makes me a philistine when it comes to reading. Mr. King engages all of my senses in this novel and I still get the heebie jeebies thinking about a corn field, and it’s not Children of the Corn. I love this book, hands down, and it is one of the few I have in unabridged hard back and on my Kindle device. I wish he could write a sequel…by the way, his sequel to The Shining was quite entertaining, but I digress. I love The Stand, and if you don’t that’s your problem.
***”A TIME TO KILL” by John Grisham
I actually got meet John Grisham once, and he was very pleasant. I was so overwhelmed with star struckness that I couldn’t tell him that my favorite novel of his was this one. I like most of his books, and I have read them all. He is southern, after all, and I am a sucker for all things southern, since I ken them quite well. But “Time to Kill” was above and beyond the quintessential civil right novel in its time. It might not have been comprehended as such, but for me, it was. I love the line where the hero says “now picture her as white”. This book is also one that I have read over and over, and I always watch the movie adaptation with Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McCoughney (sp) is spot on. If you haven’t read it, do it NOW!
So this is my Top Ten, this lowly, semi-discriminating reader’s favorite of the favorite. I have a few Honorable Mentions, such as all the Calvin and Hobbes Collections by Sam Watterson, and “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole, which was a really entertaining read, and different, which is why it makes it to the honorable mention. Pat Conroy and all of his books make it to my honorable mention, especially “Prince of Tides”. Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind” is in my top 15, because I am Southern and because I love Scarlett and Rhett and Melanie; Ashley, not so much. And now that I have written this, there are lots of titles going through my head, but the ones above…those are the gold. If I read it more than once…it’s mine.
And here it is. My favorites. Such as it is. Books are a wonderful thing, and I am grateful for my love of reading, though it comes at a cost sometimes. George R.R. Martin says, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” My favorite author, of course, Stephen King, says, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” I say that Tomorrow is another day, and another book, and that is all.