3.20.2014

Ten books that have stayed with me

A reader always has books on her mind.*
"Which ten books have stayed with you?" This question has been floating around tumblr for a number of weeks now. It's taken me this long to pick ten books out of the many books that I still think about, years after reading them. The question is very similar to "What are your favorite books?" And I still can't pick a top ten list. There are just too many books that I love.

I have been able to narrow the list of books that I mentally carry with me to the ones that have had the greatest impact on my thinking and reading life. Obviously, this list is presented in the order that I thought of these books:
  1. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. This book is always near the top of my imaginary list of favorite books. I get something new from it every time I read it. I adore the multiple, distinct voices of the narrators. 
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. This book taught me that it is truly noble to stand up and fight for justice, no matter what the risk is. We should all try to be as good as Atticus Finch.
  3. Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe. I see the Faustus story everywhere, especially in science fiction. The quest for knowledge should always be tempered by thinking about potential consequences and ethics. No end ever absolutely justifies the means.
  4. Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. This book is partially responsible for my atheism because one of the characters asked, "Why didn't God put the Tree [of Knowledge] somewhere else?" 
  5. Lamb, by Christopher Moore. This book is also partially responsible for my atheism. Both this book and Good Omens are also the funniest things I've ever read, but there are some philosophically beautiful moments in Lamb.
  6. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë. This book showed me that misfits find each other. 
  7. The Giver, by Lois Lowry. I read this in seventh grade and it opened my eyes to the power of science fiction. This is the closest thing to a gateway book I have.
  8. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. This book taught me the power of belief, belief can make things real. Also, we all carry our stories and myths with us. 
  9. These is My Words, by Nancy Turner. Along with Jane Eyre, this is the only love story I wholeheartedly adored. Also, the main character is so strong that she's the kind of woman I aspire to be.
  10. The Stand, by Stephen King. This book messed me up when I read it. I remember that I read it as my parents drove us back to Washington from Wisconsin. I was traveling across the same plains that some of the characters were. It was the first post-Apocalyptic book I ever read and I had to keep taking breaks every 60 pages or so and read something entirely frivolous so that I wouldn't completely freak out. Since then, I have been fascinated by the question of how to rebuild a society after an Apocalypse.
So there it is. My list. It represents the twenty years of reading that I actually remember. I wonder what my list will look like in another twenty years.

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* "Storyteller," by Jean-François Segura.

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