In honor of my first bloggiversary this past Tuesday, I felt it was time to finally reveal my own list of top 10 books. I've forced the project on all my friends and family, so it is only fair. This isn't easy to do, is it? I labored over it! How do you draw the line between a wonderful book, and a favorite? My reading tastes have changed over the years...dare I list a book I read 10 years ago? Here was my conclusion, after long thought. There are some books, on rare occasion, that move your spirit. You turn that last page, and you have a feeling that cannot be duplicated. It might be a feeling of elation. It could be devastation. You wish the book could have lasted forever. With these emotions in mind, here are the 10 books that rose to the surface:
1. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee: How I waited 43 years to read this book is beyond me. Most civilized people are required to read this in high school or college, aren't they? My mom had always stated that this was one of her favorite books and movies of all time, but I didn't take the hint. What finally inspired me was the Southern Reading Challenge, in which I seized the day and listened to it on audio. Sissy Spacek narrated as Scout, and she was a delight. She was the embodiment of our favorite little precocious tomboy.
2. Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett: Yes, it is long, and yes it is cram-packed full of the architectural struggles of building a cathedral in medieval England. But the characters come alive in this amazing chunk of historical fiction. You feel you have toiled along right beside them. What made this read special...almost a four-dimensional experience...was that I read it while working in London. I not only read about these cathedrals, but took a quick train into the countryside and saw them for real. Little did I know that I would have to wait over 15 years to finally read the sequel "World Without End".
3. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote: In my earlier years, I dedicated at least a decade of my life to reading crime novels, particularly true crime. So it is with the utmost confidence that I say that this is THE BEST true crime novel ever written. Capote became so immersed in the story, so bewitched by one of the killers, Perry Smith, that he was virtually ruined after finishing the story. The crime was so brutal and senseless, I believe it would leave most red-blooded humans just a little less comfortable laying their head down to sleep each night.
4. My Life in France - Julia Child: I've always loved Julia, even long before blogger Julie Powell brought her back into the spotlight. I read this book within weeks after its publication, and was smitten all over again. This large, loud American bursts into France with joie de vivre, but no culinary knowledge whatsoever. This is a story about overcoming odds and achieving your dream. It is also a love story. I finished the book with a tear in my eye, and sole meunerre on my mind.
5. The Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling: Pure magic. Pure enchantment. And pure unadulterated joy in reading. It doesn't matter your age, these books grab you at hello and leave you mourning and depressed when it is all over. A hint? Once you finish the books and the movies, listen to the audios.
6. Beach Music - Pat Conroy: If you've ever visited coastal South Carolina, you know that there is something special, something atmospheric about the region that almost defies words. Unless you're Pat Conroy, that is, in which case your books exude this aura. Close your eyes, and you're there. This story weaves a tale of the famous Carolina Beach Music, family secrets and the horror of the Holocaust in one, powerful, life-changing read. This one is on my re-read list in the near future.
7. Rebecca - Daphne DuMaurier: A recent contender! Having just read this for my read-along, I can't not put it on my list. Du Maurier crafts a roller-coaster of a reading experience that is part drama, part murder-mystery and part romance. It is brilliant in every way.
8. Outlaw - Warren Kiefer: You may remember this book on Kenny Cupples' (my husband's co-worker) top 10 list awhile back. Actually, he loaned me this book about five years ago, singing its praises. I took one look at the cover and thought to myself "Are you kidding me? A Western?". This is SO not me. But I humored him. What I found was a man's compelling life story, from a cattle thief to an oil baron, encountering Pancho Villa and fighting in the Spanish-American war. I distinctly remember being forced to run errands and being at the end of the book. I read at stop lights, and finally pulled into a parking lot to finish the darned thing. Then I cried. May I never judge a book by its cover or genre again.
9. Into That Darkness - Gitta Sereny: I know, I won't shut up about this book. After getting into an intense debate with my husband's company's chairman, Dick Shura, over capital punishment and abortion, he handed me this book and told me to be prepared to have it change my life. And it did. Journalist Gitta Sereny digs deep for answers to the Holocaust. She doesn't just stop at interviewing the commandant of Treblinka, Franz Stangl, she takes it further than you could ever imagine. At the end, we are left with our own conscience, and asks questions that aren't comfortable to address.
10. Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen: This is another book that took me 43 years to read. I stumbled upon it at the library and picked it up on a whim. Listening to it on audio was an epiphany! So THIS is what all the hype was about! I didn't think I was a fan of this genre, but I was wrong. I fell head over heels in love with Austen.
Are any of these books on your favorites list? How do you define a favorite?