My Top Ten Books and Why
(in no particular order)
This story of censorship taught me to respect and appreciate the power of the written word and the ideas it inspires and to question an authority that tries to restrict that.
Little House on the Prairie (whole series; that's not cheating)
I read, re-read, and then read again the stories of Laura and Mary, Ma and Pa. Their trials and adventures tickled my imagination, inspiring me to this day with ideas of canning, chicken raising, cheese making, and the simple pleasure of home baked bread.
The Red Tent
Long before I read this book, the story of Dinah intrigued me. It was held up at church as an example of bad associations bringing bad things, but it niggled my brain. Why, I wondered, if a man committed a crime against a woman, a crime so horrible and so bespeaking of power as rape, would he voluntarily consent to circumcision. My romantic side imagined they were in love. And with this book, that idea took flight.
The Illustrated Man
Ray Bradbury could create a short story like no one else and when he wove his tales together, tying them into a seamless narrative, it was magic. I love pretty much anything Mr. Bradbury wrote but this book, with its stories, stuck with me.
The Great Gatsby
I know this is a pretty trendy book right now, but there's something to it that I love. There's a frantic pace to it, a thought that they're racing towards the abyss that I see paralleled in our society today. Pleasure, beauty, love. It's a tragedy.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Oh this book! My first girlhood crush was not on Joey of NKOTB. No. My first crush was Atticus Finch as portrayed by the chiseled Gregory Peck. I watched the movie until I had the lines memorized, the courtroom scene making me tear up and Atticus Finch being my idea of the perfect man. Then, I read the book. I flew through it, finished the final lines and then, returned to page one. I finally had to retire my original copy. Pages were falling out and corners were torn. I bought a new copy, opened it and devoured it yet again. It's the only book that I can't read once. I have to start it over as soon as I finish.
A Precious Jewel
This romance novel by one of my favorite authors taught me something as a writer. She takes a beta man, a best friend of one of her alpha heroes and turns him into the quiet, misguided, and very flawed hero. I always think every person on earth has a story, some are just louder than others. But as a writer, I have the opportunity to polish and shine one of the quieter stories and this book reminded me of that.
On the Beach
This book haunts me. I read it as a teen and then again as an adult and still, it haunts me. From the beginning, you know how the book will end. The world has been destroyed by a nuclear war and it's just a matter of time before everyone dies. But how they live in those final days...that's the story, isn't it.
A Knight in Shining Armor
Romance novels of my teen years were very much "rich sheikh meets gorgeous woman" or "wealthy playboy meets gorgeous woman" or "rugged cowboy with lots of money meets gorgeous woman". You can kind of see a theme developing. This book, which I begged our town librarian not to tell my mom I'd checked out (I was fourteen after all) opened my mind and imagination to the world of real romance novels with flawed heroes and heroines, witty and fun banter, comical mistakes, and heartbreaking decisions. And with this single book, my journey as a romance author began.
Under the Banner of Heaven
Growing up in a rather conservative, fundamentalist religion, this book struck me on several levels in a way that made me reassess so many of the ideas and realities of my childhood.
So there were go. My top ten. What's yours?