Saturday, August 27, 2011

Books I Remember Liking.

This week, I wanted to stay away from the more somber tone the past couple of weeks have taken on. I want to write about something I love. Having recently finished reading The Help and finding myself enamored with it, I thought about writing a review of the novel. But then I started thinking more broadly, and thought about writing a post about multiple books I love. As I starting jotting down titles, it occurred to me that I don’t remember much about the contents of the books—merely the sensation of having once loved them. So with that, I present a brief history of my love affair with books. This list is by no means exclusive, nor am I guaranteeing that you’ll like these books too.

Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown: My favorite book as a baby. My mom would lay on the floor with me and hold it over our heads to read. She says my legs would kick with delight and my eyes would grow wide with joy. By the time I could talk I had it memorized.

The Little House on the Prairie Books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder: Laura Ingalls Wilder taught me how to read. My mom and I would spend whole days snuggling in the over-sized recliner, and she’d read to me the autobiographies of Laura and her family. One day, I asked her to use her finger to follow along with the words she was speaking. Words were a code, and I cracked it before entering kindergarten. Visiting the home of Laura and Almanzo in Mansfield, Missouri was like Mecca for me. My parents bought me a bonnet, and I wore it more often than was cool… that is, more than once.
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis: These books taught me lots of big words in early elementary school, like “centaur” and “vaguely”, which, I quickly learned, was not pronounced “va-joo-lee”. My second biggest regret in life is putting them down in the middle of the The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I got bored when the kid started turning into a dragon.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott: I attended fourth grade at Moore Elementary School in Franklin, Tennessee, and it heavily emphasized the Accelerated Reader program. By age 9, I had the reading level of a high school sophomore, and I began checking out the books with the highest number of possible points. Little Women was worth 42. The book moved me so much that I wistfully told my mom, “I wish I had a friend who I could talk to about books.”

Harry Potter books, by J.K. Rowling: I read the first book in fourth grade. I got the last book at midnight, the summer before I went to Jewell. I finished it by 4 pm the next day. I will always love these books.

To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee: I’d seen the movie a few times, and Boo Radley always scared the weewaddens out of me. I read the book in 7th grade, and it was the first time I recognized that I was Reading An Important Book. I can practically guarantee that at least one of my children will be named accordingly.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Someone once told me that Fitzgerald didn’t waste a single word in this whole novel, that not one word was unnecessary or out of place. I think he’s right.

Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen: When I was assigned this book for my AP Literature class as a senior, I was expecting a boring period drama with convoluted sentence structure and pages of descriptions of carpets and mantelpieces and four-poster beds. Instead, I found myself lost in a witty social commentary brought alive by keen character descriptions and delightful quick repartee between Elizabeth and the other characters. And, naturally, Mr. Darcy made me swoon.

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy: Still one of my favorite books from college. It is beautiful, honest, haunting, and not for the faint of heart.

Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare: Here’s the obligatory Shakespeare entry. I’ve read roughly two-thirds of his plays, and this is my favorite—closely followed by Much Ado About Nothing. Julius Caesar, even while still on the page, kept me riveted, and I may have gasped aloud once or twice at certain revelations. I’d terribly like to see it performed.

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis: Refreshing. Provocative. Made me wonder if 75% of Christians who “love” Lewis have read this.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett: I had to include this because it revived a love I didn’t know I could feel again. After being completely burned out on literature, thanks to the past four years, I still read a lot this summer. But this is the first book in years that I couldn’t put down, that I found myself aching to get back to. I read almost 300 pages in the first sitting. Read. This. Book. Stockett’s command of dialect and dialogue is astounding. Even more impressive is the fact that she’s developed a controversial, necessary story without being flowery, over-earnest, or demanding.

Honorable Mentions:
These are a few of the books that stand out from my stack this summer.
  • Bel Canto, Ann Patchett: A beautifully-written novel about Stockholm Syndrome at its most romantic.
  • What is the What, Dave Eggers: An Important, yet exhausting, account of Valentino Achak Deng—one of the many Lost Boys of Sudan who settled in the States.
  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins: A surprisingly well-written, gripping Young Adult trilogy. Sort of a post-apocalyptic dystopia, as revealed through a macabre reality show. I read the first two in one day.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: A delightful novel-in-letters about a small town during the German occupation of the Channel Islands in World War II.


  1. The Great Gatsby made me want to be an English major.

    Something to check out- A Good Hard Look. It might be my favorite read of the year thus far ... so good!

  2. Awesome. If this blog turned into just book reviews, I would be still be a happy camper.

  3. Did you steal the Little House on the Prairie Mecca trip anecdote from my childhood? Is it possible that there are hundreds of little girls so enchanted by Laura Ingalls Wilder that their parents travel through the Ozarks to ensure a Disney-esque experience for their avid advanced reader daughters and lovingly bestow bonnets atop their heads? Until now, I thought it was just me!
    Kim Flowers