Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Five Books

I was on a long bus trip this past weekend (okay, it wasn’t that long of a bus ride, it’s just that everyone else was sleeping and since I, too, was also supposed to be sleeping, I didn’t have anything to do) so I was musing about books (naturally).  And then, for some reason, my brain came up with a crazy what-if scenario.  The kind no book worm would enjoy:

What if you could only read five books for the rest of your life?  What would they be?

It’s easy to just pick your five favorite books.  But a lot of books I love are the beginning of series.  Would I be content with only reading the first book for ever and ever?  My answer to this was ‘yes’ when it comes to Harry Potter because the world and characters are so rich and magical (literally and figuratively), but my answer was ‘no’ to any of Tamora Pierce’s fantastic Tortall series because the growth of Alanna, Daine, and Kel are so necessary to the satisfaction readers get from reading the series, I could not be satisfied with just the first book.

And then there’s balance to consider.  I’m not sure if I’d only want to read classics for the rest of my life.  The same way I might not want to only read books aimed at 8-12 year olds. 

So what were the five books I chose?  Here they are, in no particular order:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  Although my favorite Jane Austen novel is actually the forgotten and much-maligned Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice is a much more enjoyable novel to read again and again because of the characters’ complexities.  Not only is the protagonist Lizzie wonderfully relatable in her foibles, but secondary characters like Mr. Bennett, Mrs. Bennett and even Lydia are well developed and help make this a very meaty novel.  And who can’t fall in love with Darcy?  Come on, now.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.  As stated above, the vivid world Rowling creates and the characters that inhabit it are so lifelike and intriguing it is so easy to get lost in this book.  Although my favorite Harry Potter is The Goblet of Fire, The Sorcerer’s Stone sets up the magic that I am as much in love with now as I was when I first read it in seventh grade.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray.  I read the three books in the Gemma Doyle trilogy very far apart, so it’s easy for me to think of each book on its own.   I’ve only read this book once (so far!) but I loved the combination of Gothic, Victorian and fantasy.  Plus it takes place in an all-girls boarding school in England. It’s all my favorite genres/settings in one!

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  Anne Shirley is one of my favorite literary heroines from childhood.  I can’t help but love her spunk, imagination and ability to get into scraps.  Unlike some other childhood favorites, Anne is still as relatable to me now as she was when I was ten.  And besides, who isn’t in love with Gilbert Blythe?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.   As I’ve stated above about A Great and Terrible Beauty, Jane Eyre combines so many of my favorite genres.  The growth of plain and meek Jane is one that every introvert can relate to so deeply.  I love many of the adaptations based on this novel (a rare thing for me), including the musical, and I'm looking forward to the movie coming out in a few weeks.

What five books would you pick?


  1. Such an intriguing question!

    1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand: My favorite book. It took me a month to finish the first time so it would keep me busy, but also philosophically stimulated. I starred/highlighted/underlined 90% of it.

    2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling: I've read it at least 5 times already and have yet to tire of it. Plus, we all need a healthy dose of magic in our lives.

    3. Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros: Her story Never Marry a Mexican qualifies the whole collection as essential. You want beauty, fire, passion, rage and love... you read this book.

    4. The World According to Garp by John Irving: Recharges my writer's battery every time I'm feeling lost for an idea or turn of phrase. Plus, its a wonderful story.

    5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: I almost put Perks of Being a Wallflower at numero cinco, but The Hunger Games takes the coming-of-age novel to a whole other level. Months after finishing the series, I still think of Katniss, Peeta and Gale. I'd like to keep them fresh in my memory.

    This was fun (and hard!). Thanks for the challenge, L.

  2. Thanks for sharing your choices, Mackenzie. You gave me a couple new books I need to check out now!