Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Top Ten Books

While reorganizing my bookshelves today I rediscovered the book The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books edited by J. Peder Zane.  I realized that while I've described a timeline of influential books and discussed other favorites (a list which needs to be updated with my favorite chocolate, Milka's Tendres Moments Au Mousse Praliné, and my favorite dessert, Trader Joe's Mango Passion Torta Cotta!), I haven't yet made a list of favorite books.

Of course, I do have one in mind.  Here it is. Books were chosen based on how much I absolutely loved them when I read them, how much of a difference I feel they make in the world  just by existing, and how great I think the author's writing is.

10. Lying Awake by Mark Salzman
9. A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle
8. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
7. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
5. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciekowski
4. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
3. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
1.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Runners-Up (So close.  Oh, so close.):  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman; Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin;  The Fourth Wise Man by Diane Summers; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Anyone else have some favorite books to recommend?  Do you have just ONE favorite, or a list of favorites?  Do you have a favorite in each of a number of genres?


Aw, what the heck.  I'm on a roll.  Here are my top ten favorite movies too:


5. While You Were Sleeping
4. Roman Holiday
3. Elf
2. The Trouble with Angels
1. By the Light of the Silvery Moon


5. Jesus of Nazareth
4. The Color Purple
3. The Illusionist
2. The Mission
1.  To Kill a Mockingbird


Old MD Girl said...

If you haven't already read it, you might like Midnight's Children.

Isabelle said...

Bonjour T!
I've just discovered your blog, and couldn't resist posting a comment since I'm an avid reader myself, and couldn't live without reading...
About your list of all time favorite books, I realize that I've only read 3 of them (Jane Eyre, To kill a Mockingbird and A Christmas Carol), and that I've never heard of the others.

The books that I still remember having loved reading when I was a kid include The Little house on the Prairie series, The Chronicles of Narnia series, the works of Enid Blyton, The secret garden, Little women or Cheaper by the dozen.

As an adult, my favorite authors are Guy de Maupassant, Daphne du Maurier, Irène Némirovsky, Roald Dahl or Ivan Tourgueniev.

Some more specific books I've loved reading are:
Jane Eyre
The horseman on the roof by Jean Giono
The rains came by Louis Bromfield.

I guess I'll stop here, because I could go on and on for ever ;)

T. said...

Oh, please, do go on forever! One of the reasons I love posts about books is I get to hear about great books other people enjoy.

OMDG - Salman Rushdie, right? I must check that out.

And Isabelle - merci d'être venue! I, too, loved the Little House on the Prairie series, Narnia books, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Enid Blyton. I should probably have made a "favorites" list in each genre. I would like to learn more about Némirovsky and the other authors you mentioned.

Thank you! :)

Michael Leddy said...

If I had to choose one: Proust.

But I'll also recommend something relatively unknown, Willa Cather's The Professor's House. It's an enigmatic, deeply moving novel. (And that's all I'm gonna say about it.)

T. said...

Ooooooh, a Willa I don't know...I am so intrigued! Thanks, Michael!

K. said...

Great lists! I want to check that book out, too...thanks for the tip...

Elaine Fine said...

I imagine you would like Mark Salzman's "The Soloist" as well as "Lying Awake."

Have you ever read Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?" I bet you would love it. It is a good book to read while your children are still young.

T. said...

Elaine - I did love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! What a great book. Also enjoyed Salzman's The Soloist - and while we're on the subject, please allow me to recommend his book Iron and Silk, about his adventures as a teacher of English in China (there's a very moving moment in it that brought tears to Mr. T's eyes as well as mine!).

Incidentally, Iron & Silk was made into a HIGHLY enjoyable film of the same name, starring Salzman as himself (after all, who else could play a Caucasian American fluent in Mandarin, good at martial arts, AND able to play the cello?!). As a matter of fact, his martial arts teacher, Pan QingFu, also starred as himself. A gem of a film, especially for those with an interest in the relationships between teachers and students, and in the process of learning new languages (literally and figuratively).

Brian said...

I agree about Iron and Silk, it is a wonderful story, well told. I have just read Howard Frank Mosher's fine novel about Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, A Stranger in the Kingdom, and recommend it highly. Check out his colorful stories in Where the Rivers Run North, too. Since I was just in Vermont for several weeks, I also read David Mamet's South of the Northeast Kingdom which I also enjoyed.

Anonymous said...

The A list
Golden, A: Memoirs of a Geisha.

Niffenegger, A: Time Travlers Wife

Adams, R : Watership Downs.

Divakaruni, C: Sister of my Heart

Gibbons, S:Cold Comfort Farm

Esquivel L: Like Water for Chocolate

Giovanni Guareschi :Don Camillio

Benchley, R: Benchley Round-up

Dostoevsky, F: Crime & punishment

Tolkin: Lord of the Rings

The B List
Kaye, M: Far Pavillions

Sijie, D: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamistress

Kingsglover, B: Poisonwood bible

Tan, A: Joy Luck Club

Fitch, J: White Oleanders

Murdoch, I:The Green Knight

De Bernieres: Captian Corelli's Mandolin

Eugenides, J: Middlesex

Atkinson, K: Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Goodall, J: In the Shadow of Man

Fuller, A:Don't Lets go to the Dogs Tonight

LaBastlle A:Woodswomen

Mortenson, G: Three Cups of Tea

Reichl, R: Tender at the Bone

Min, A: Red Azaleas

Tucker, N: Love in the Driest Season

Simey said...

'The Help' is a great book - very well written and lots of social commentary. Nice list....