Friday, May 29, 2009
Name Fifteen Books in 15 minutes!
The Little White Indian Boy; given to me at age 11 by my parent's friends when I started it while babysitting for them. I think they got it from the Book of the Month Club. It started my fascination with Indian Captivity Narratives, which endures to this day.
Mistress Masham's Repose by T.H. White which began my fascination with books about little people. (See The Borrowers, etc.)
Also a model of excellent writing.
Stuart Little/Charlotte's Web I think now that Charlotte's Web is the better book and an enduring classic, but true to my fascination with the SMALL, for years I preferred Stuart.
Gone with the Wind, which I read in one sitting far into the night about age 12 and rewrote the ending for YEARS!
Kristin Lavransdatter; this one took me all night (it's a trilogy) and I got up at 6:30 and went to high school. The impressive remembered thing (for this reader) was the handful of books (five, seven?) owned by this entire family in the Middle Ages.
The three perfect short novels (a previously assembled list) (not one superfluous or awkward word!) are:
The Life of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis,
The Hessian by Howard Fast and
The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter
The Shipping News--every odd person and word a delight, and completely unlike anything I knew.
The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme
also Fields of Battle: The Wars for North America both by John Keegan. I am still reading this military historian after seeing him on CSPAN's In Depth. These are quite short and perfect books, which gave me the ability to think about wars with balanced and factual information I never had before. You will never be the same, if you read the Face of Battle!
Cadillac Desert; the American West and its disappearing water, by Marc Reisner. Of all the ecology books, this really made me see how all life is interrelated. It opened my eyes in the way Silent Spring did for an earlier generation.
Father and Son by Edmund Gosse; a son's recounting of a dysfunctional relationship--really puts the nail in the coffin of unbending religion which comes before all else.
Now we have entered the biography/memoir zone:
Grant by Jean Edward Smith. A fantastic recreation of the life of the General and President, never dull, allowing opinions and conclusions to be stated, and recreating the life of an era.
The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway
John James Audubon; the making of an American by Richard Rhodes
A life of Picasso (3 vols. so far) by John Richardson
Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough
The River of Doubt; Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
and Theodore Rex all these books on TR are good, can't choose.
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Wild Swans; three daughters of China
Party in the Blitz by Elias Canetti
Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
Bells in Winter by Czeslaw Milosz is my favorite book of poems but I've had to leave the rest of the poetry off this list. It will require another post.
Have You Read 100 Great Books? I haven't dared to make a final count, but the list has more than 15. This is the book that started it all, an oversized paperback that I had in my teen years. It was assembled by asking 100 (?) of the famous, educated and smart to list their best 100 books. Then a master list was assembled of the 100 most-cited books. I made it my goal to read all of these. I had the most trouble with The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, which I cannot claim to have finished. I also had trouble with Of Human Bondage and David Copperfield, maybe because the male protagonists were silly about women, if in different ways. But I read all the others and was quite proud of having done so. It was probably the first big goal I set for myself that had no relation to what others might plan or suggest for me, or indeed to anyting sensible or useful . . . Good night, for tonight!!
at 12:03 AM