Thursday, June 4, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Sticky

Here's this week's Booking Through Thursday question:

“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”

There's no way this will really be a quick one. I won't take too long to think about it, but coming up with fifteen will require some thinking, no matter what. And then I have to second guess myself, so that should take some time, also. But I'll try to stick with the asked-for 15 minutes. goes:

1. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I remember being completely enchanted by this book when I was around nine or ten years old. The main character, Mary, goes through an amazing transformation, from a selfish and sickly child to one who learns to love, becomes robust, and helps another child go through a similar transformation. And Burnett so beautifully describes life on the moors, and what the change of seasons brings to the animals and plants of an English garden. One of my first experiences being completely transported by a book.

2. Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie. I read this in college for a class on power relationships, and was enthralled by this allegory about the history of modern India, about two boys, born at the stroke of midnight on the eve of India's independence, one Muslim and one Hindu, who are switched and given to the wrong families. It was also my introduction to magical realism, and it was an amazing reading experience.

3. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. Another story of a girl's transformation that I loved reading as a girl. Poor Jane--a smart, honest, blunt girl who is plain and has no money up against the rich, empty-headed, pretty, cruel, arrogant, abusive characters who try to ruin her life--a perfect character for me to root for.

4. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. When I read this for the first time, as a young teen, I read it as a simple love story, and loved it. I've read it many times since, and subsequently found the humor and subtlety of Austen's skewering of English society just as entertaining as the love story. But it's still a really satisfying love story, and still a favorite comfort read.

5. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. I read this as a youngster. Dickens, the great manipulator, not only manipulated my emotions by sucking me into this crazy story, but taught me how people manipulated each other in love--and I remember being fascinated. How can Pip not see that Estella is not worth his love? How can Estella not realize she is being manipulated by Miss Havisham? How will it all turn out--can any of them find happiness? Great stuff!

6. Silas Marner, by George Eliot. Another book I read as a child, and found very satisfying. Even as a kid I could see the symbolism of the miser having his material gold replaced by the gold-haired child who changes his life for the better.

7. The World According to Garp, by John Irving. The first modern "grown-up" novel I remember reading. I was taken with Irving's style, and it made me seek out more contemporary fiction.

8. Vineland, by Thomas Pynchon. Vineland is the only Pynchon I've ever read, and people say it's not nearly his best. But Pynchon's wild use of language was eye-opening to me, and his twisted view of California was devastating. The book made a big impression on me when it came out.

9. The French Lieutenant's Woman, by John Fowles. One of my first forays into postmodern literature, I loved how Fowles twists up the Victorian novel, and himself steps into the book to suggest alternate endings. Something I've been meaning to re-read for years.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. One of the first serious novels I ever read, I found it warm and accessible, and yet about such chilling subjects--it was the first book about racism that I had ever read, and profoundly affecting. Also, one of the best novel-to-movie adaptations I've ever seen.

11. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. Science fiction wedded to comedy, something I didn't know was possible before I read this.

12. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. My first Russian realist. Really loved Levin and Kitty, and loved to wallow with Anna and Vronsky. And who can resist such a first line, "All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

13. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner. Another book I read in college, for a history course. Stegner made the history of the western United States come alive in this novel, and the characters were fascinating. This portrait of a marriage, and a woman's compromises in marriage, is still one of the saddest I can recall reading.

14. A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster. One of the first novels I ever read really closely, for an AP English class--and somehow that didn't ruin it for me. I learned to love the symbols in the novel, and fell in love with Forster's prose.

15. The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank. I read this as a child and it not only stuck with me, but haunted me then, and haunts me still.


Bookfool said...

Oh, noes! I can't believe I didn't think of Hitchhiker's!!! Silly me. I love your list. I didn't actually do this one at my blog, but I did it with a book group.

Jeane said...

I like that you mention why they were "sticky" books, not just jot down a list. Some of these are my favorites, too- especially To Kill a Mockingbird (though that one didn't come to my mind first)

JoAnn said...

I love your list! I've read all but three (I really must read Midnight's Children), and could have included the others on my own list.

Gentle Reader said...

Bookfool--I also saw this going around on facebook. Hitchhiker's was probably the first sci fi I ever read :)

Jeane--I loved To Kill a Mockingbird, must re-read it soon. It's hard to list 15 books, because once you get on a roll, you remember so many more!

JoAnn--I'm glad our lists overlap so! I loved Midnight's Children, definitely worth reading if you get a chance :)

gautami tripathy said...

I read Midnight's Children when it was first published. I will get back to it again.

I see you too have a lot of classics on your list. So does mine:

Stuck forever and ever!

Anonymous said...

So many more but this is what counts, right? the first 15? Austen is always first in my heart, though. Can't on my blog because that's about baking. So I'll share here:
Der Struwwelpeter
Dahl’s The Swan
The Little Prince
Pride and Prejudice
Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret
The Stranger
Crime and Punishment
Catch 22
Goethe’s Faust
A Walk in the Woods
John Adams: david McCullough
Hotel New Hampshire (read this in pieces while babysitting one summer. Lordy)
And must include a 16, the Sookie Stackhouse Series. I don’t’ feel guilty about it. Not one bit.

would love to see you in LA one day. Or VT if you're here!

Gentle Reader said...

gautami--Loved your list, too!

Gesine--Great list. I loved Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, and Persuasion should really be on my list, too. I'd love to see you in LA or VT, either one. I love your blog, too--so much fun!

Unknown said...

The only reason I was able to do this in 15 minutes was because I didn't put in links to the books or explain why I chose them :-). I like that you did it, though. And I'm also kicking myself for not having Hitchhiker's Guide on my list - especially since it was one of the first things that attracted me to my husband! (He listed it as "last book read" in his online-dating profile.)

litlove said...

What a fantastic list! I also loved The French Lieutenant's Woman and I must read Angle of Repose this year. I was completely bowled over by Crossing to Safety. And this is a fun meme to do one day!

Matt said...

Although I trust your opinion and will eventually get to Midnight's Children, I have to hold off Salmon Rushdie for a while after The Satanic Verses, which I just finished last night. I don't know what to make of it. A bit confused if not overwhelmed.

Gentle Reader said...

florinda--I love that you and your husband bonded over Hitchhiker's Guide! My husband and I both love that book, too!

litlove--I love Crossing to Safety, too, and it should probably be on my list as well! Another book I bonded with my husband over!

matt--lol, I'm glad you trust my opinion! I loved Midnight's Children, but couldn't get through The Satanic Verses--so maybe we're on the same page after all!

Ti said...

When I got to To Kill a Mockingbird on your list I actually, audibly, sighed :)

I love that book.

Rebecca H. said...

Great list! The fact that we share so many titles tells me I should read the ones on the list I haven't yet read, such as Vineland and Angle of Repose. I'd probably like them a lot!

J.S. Peyton said...

"Pride and Prejudice" is one of those novels I wish I'd read when I was in high school. I think it would have a much greater impact on me than it did when I read it for the first time a few months ago. Even so, it was still a runner up for my list. :)

I want to read a lot of other things on your list!

Gentle Reader said...

Ti--It is one of the greats, isn't it?

Dorothy--glad we share many titles, and I hope you do get the chance to read Angle of Repose and Vineland.

J.S.--I'm glad I read Pride and Prejudice at a young age--it was definitely one of those great books that, when I read it as a teen, felt important, and yet was accessible.

Ms Mazzola said...

I have picked up and looked at Midnight's Children several times, but never actually read it. Based on the rest of your list, I have decided to give it a try.

My list is at

verbivore said...

I have Midnight's Children on my desk at the moment and am waiting for the right moment to start - I want to be able to focus on it and keep trying to clear away distractions. But perhaps it is the kind of book that does that work on its own!

J.S. Peyton said...

I've given you an award!

Because you're awesome, why else? =D

Gentle Reader said...

Ms Mazzola--love your list! i should have Night, Native Son, The Giving Tree, and Little House on the Prairie on mine, too!

verbivore--to be honest, if I was able to read Midnight's Children undistracted at the age I read it, anyone can! Hope you enjoy it!

J.S.--Yay! Thank you for the award! I'll cherish it always :)