SM is all about Top ‘??’ lists. I’m terrible at narrowing anything down and all of these lists are the broadest realities you could ever be asked. What’s your favorite word? Ice cream? Golden Girls? (BTW, that last one is Rose. Maybe Blanche. I dunno Sophia.) The only way I could answer any of these open ended questions would be to narrow it down to a niche like what’s your favorite ice cream with nuts but not chocolate?
So I thought I’d do my Top 5 Favorite Literary Book Pick:
I went through a phase right after university where I felt the need to read very heady book, carrying them with me so that all knew how very sharp I was. Not a romance novel in sight. Though the pretense of reading these books was classic youth hubris and vapidity, it did make me read some difficult reads and I am better for it. So maybe I shouldn’t knock my youthful arrogance. I also enjoyed Anna Karenina and my love of tragic romance should propel this one over Crime but it doesn’t. Maybe because I read Crime first. I hated the Idiot and put it down never finishing it. I think that might be where my phase of needing to impress with Russian authors came to an end.
#4 Don Quixote
I had to read this for honors Spanish. In Spanish. I speak reasonable Spanish but having to translate this very formally written book took away from the joy of reading it. So I re-read it in English after. The Spanish culture is my culture and so I’m inclined to feel comfortable in it. I love the phrasing, the lyricism, the beauty of how the Spanish people go about life. This book was a poetic tribute to it all. It’s a worthwhile read.
This was also a school read and my first foray into dystopia and I guess sci-fi. It was what propelled me to read 1984, Catch-22, Dune and a list of others. Sometimes that’s what a book is supposed to do catapult your knowledge of something. Also the things in the story, the government manipulation, the happy pill designed to keep the citizens lockstep, it’s all so very timely even today.
This seems like a no brainer. Not long ago, I read an article about Flannery O’Conner by the New Yorker talking about her intrinsic, often racist, views. She was a white, privileged woman grown up in the deep South at the turn of last century. If anyone thought she wasn’t battling with organic racism, then they just arrived here on Earth. It shouldn’t erase her contribution to powerful literature. Erasing history is dangerous. Dangerous. That Harper Lee was able to be born to that same deep south and rise above it writing one of the most poignant heartbreaking timely treatise on racism is testament to the fact that we get only a few heroes to worship every generation. We should pic them wisely.
If poetry were a novel then Gatsby. I have a dear friend who has always measured my friendship by the fact that he said to me back at university ‘Gatsby was an Investment Banker’ and I said back to him ‘was he though?’. It’s a small thing this shared memory between my friend and I. Most real readers know that we have no idea what Gatsby did but it was nefarious, so maybe investment banking. Either way the beauty of the words chosen to tell this story was everything I ever aspire to as a writer. And let’s agree it has one of the greatest book covers ever.
This list is so lacking other than Gatsby. Gatsby will always top a list like this. I didn’t even include fantasy and Lion, Witch and The Wardrobe was most certainly a springboard into Lord of the Rings and other fantasy reads. I didn’t include the woman who propelled me into romance writing, Lady Jane Austen. I’ve read every thing she ever wrote.
Basically these lists are designed for us to fail. Who can chose a favorite of anything? Unless you’re so narrow of tastes and thought that variety is a foreign word. Most of us are interested in many different things. Maybe my next list will be favorite fantasy written between 1900-2000 and has a lead elf character.
What are your favorites?