Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Beloved Books

Hedgehog just asked me, "Mama, what's your favorite story?" "You mean favorite book?" I clarified. "Well, yes, I guess so," she said. But I like the way she put it. Favorite story. We discussed it together, and she absolutely couldn't come up with a single, or even five, favorites. Just couldn't narrow it down.

Here are my five, all pretension aside, the books that honestly mean the most to me in the world.  I can tell you, it wasn't easy:

1. "These Happy Golden Years" by Laura Ingalls Wilder

2. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by J.K. Rowling

3. "The Weather in the Streets" by Rosamond Lehmann

4. "Brideshead Revisited" by Evelyn Waugh

5. "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson

Here are Sgt. Pepper's five:

1. "Lord of the Rings" trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein

2. "Three Men in a Boat" by Jerome K. Jerome

3. "A Thurber Carnival" by James Thurber

4. "The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco

5. "Peter Simple" by Frederick Marryat

He insisted that Lord of the Rings is one book. And he would have included all of Patrick O'Brian, but I told him he would have to pick just one book from the series, and he refused on principle.

I think our book choices really tell something about who we are, me and the Sarge.  We both like fantasy and magic, the hopeful idea that there are other worlds beyond and around ours.  We both love a good love story (what's Lord of the Rings if not a love story? And "These Happy Golden Years" is I believe the most beautiful romance ever told).  Then our tastes diverge a bit--Sarge loves best laugh-out-loud funny, and I go for a gloomier sort of diversion...but now, we share a choice of favorite short story: "The Dead" by James Joyce.  However, we each have a completely different interpretation of it, and have argued at length about which is the correct reading...

Well, what are your favorite books?


Cecile said...

My all time favorite is "A Wrinkle in Time" I have read that book several times and it is always good. I hope to read it as a chapter book to the boys this summer during the summer reading program. I also liked "Eragon" and "Eldest" and I can't wait till the third one in that Trilogy comes out. Chronicles of Narnia were very good too. I plan to read The Golden Compass set soon. Like you, I love fantasy as well. I think for a lot of the same reasons. And of course, I loved Harry Potter, althought Order of the Phoneix was my least favorite in the series. Harry was way too whinny in that one.

Leah said...

I remarked aloud that no one commented and it prompted Hedgehog to worry "don't be so pathetic, Mama--just write a comment yourself saying what a good post you wrote and how it's okay if no one commented." I'm not too worried anymore about being pathetic, but it's interesting that she's conscious of me and my place in the world and worried about it! LOL. Anyway, since I'm commenting I'll add some more favorite books: "Executioner's Song" by Norman Mailer, "Invitation to the Waltz" by Rosamond Lehmann, "Betsy and the Great World" by Maud Hart Lovelace, "Parade's End" by Ford Madox Ford, and "The Complete Works of Allen Ginsberg."

Leah said...

Oh my gosh I just cross-posted my lonely comment with you, Cecile. How funny. First of all, I agree that Harry was too whiny in that book. Whiny and screechy--very unsympathetic. But I loved everything else about it. Love "A Wrinkle in Time" but haven't picked it up in quite awhile. Hedgehog loved Eragon, but I haven't read it yet. Love Narnia. LOVED the Golden Compass series, although I must warn you, it's EXTREMELY bleak...

kylie said...

sorry you were lonely....i'd been here and read your post and was thinking about my favourite books.
i've been thinking a while and still dont have an answer.

my approach to books and movies is the same: i almost never read/view the same thing twice cos there is so much out there i want to try it all! (as if i could)

i read for escape, the pleasure of the moment, so it mostly only stays in my head for as long as it takes to read the book. i read pretty much anything that comes my way...i dont usually buy books or go to the library so i read what my mum or my sister or some other generous soul will loan me.

i like but am not limited to crime fiction. and crummy romances. and food magazines (only we're talking books)

i couldnt say it's my favourite but i read Lady Chatterly's Lover because i was curious about why it had been banned and i think it is a rather lovely picture of a good relationship...Lawrence said he wanted to present a picture of sex that was not overly romanticised and not sordid ( i hope i remembered that right, havent cross checked) anyway, i reckon he did a good job of what he set out to do

faycat said...

I just didn't post yet because I was thinking and thinking and thinking about what my top 5 is. So here's what I got so far, in no particular order:
Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Ubik by Philip K. Dick

A close runner up - The Golden Compass. I'm sure by the end of the day I'll have a completely different list.

Leah said...

Oh, I wasn't trying to guilt you fine folks into commenting!!!! I just thought it was funny that Hedgehog thought I was pathetic...anyway, of course I like to hear what you all like to read.

Kylie, I also read "Lady Chatterley" with the same curiousity you did--that's interesting what Lawrence said about it. I also love crime fiction and crummy romances.

Faycat! You know, I've never read "Ubik." When Sarge and I were first going out, he mentioned how much he loved Phillip Dick, and I, not knowing anything about it but wanting to impress Sarge, went right out and bought "Dr. Bloodmoney" and read it. Sarge said, "You read that one?" And I said, "Yeah, I really liked it." And he said diplomatically, "well....I might not have started with that one..." He gave me "The Transmigration of Timothy Archer," which is one of my other favorite books. Also very fond of "Mildred Pierce" and of course Charlotte...but I haven't read the others! I think I need to get the Hammett pronto.

Gig said...

The first books I remember reading (besides Dick, Jane and Spot,LOL) were "Laura Ingall Wilder". Now today I get to enjoy them with my grandkids!! That is when my love of reading started..."Gone with the Wind" is another favorite. I always have a book or magazine with me wherever I go. I enjoy just about any type of books, Right now I tend to be reading more fiction, as in crime/msytery, "James Patterson". I love to browse in a bookstore, the Library...anywhere to get a feel for something new to read...

I have many favorites, but will have to think a little more...

Tell Hedgehog Great Job on helping with the post!! What a bright ray of Sunshine she is!!

XO, Gig

faycat said...

The Thin Man is hilarious, you'd love it. There's a cocktail on every page.

Suzanne said...

I read this post and thought it was wonderful, but had to think very hard about my favorite book. I came back again and again and couldn't find the words. So many books matter to me. Picking a favorite is difficult, that's why I didn't comment. I'm sorry. I'm still giving it some thought.


muralimanohar said...

I read this days ago, too, and then promptly ignored it, cause the thought of trying to narrow books down to a favorites list completely fried my brain. :p I don't even know how people can, and I also wonder WHY the heck people feel compelled to make them??? lol

Leah said...

Muralimanohar, "favorites" lists always remind me of the early teen magazine interviews with the Beatles that drove them nuts, especially John Lennon--"what's your favorite color? Favorite food?"--now those interviews seem charming, if rather, er, superficial. Anyway, I like to know what people's favorite books are because it's a little window into their being...and of course, I could only "narrow" mine down to five, then ten...

muralimanohar said...

Ah..got it. :p Still boggle at the thought of trying to narrow things down, lol! I tried to do a CD swap once, where we were supposed to pick 10-14 songs that really meant something to us. I decided I needed to bend the rules a bit when I realized my "favorites" list was topping 70. :p