Friday, August 14, 2009

15 Books

There's a thing going around on Facebook that asks you to name 15 books that have stuck with you for one reason or another. You're supposed to do it fast -- no more than 15 minutes. I guess the idea is that you should share your first impressions, not something you've spent days considering.

So this morning I listed mine. Wow, what a hodge-podge. Some are things I read in college, mostly because I had to. Others are childhood favorites that helped ignite my love of reading. Then there are a few others that didn't make the list, but probably should have.

So, here are my 15+, in no particular order, with a bit of explanation thrown in so you don't think I'm nuts. What are your 15?

1. Gone With the Wind -- Margaret Mitchell
I had to read this in college for a course in popular novels. SO much better than the movie. And I never would have read it if Dr. Curry hadn't forced me to.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird -- Harper Lee
This one doesn't require any explanation.

3. The Time Traveler's Wife -- Audrey Niffenegger
I have read this book twice, and coming from me, that's high praise. The most creative love story ever.

4. The Pact -- Jodi Picoult
This is just a typical bestseller about a young man accused of murder for helping his girlfriend commit suicide. But for some reason I can't get it out of my head. It's been years since I read it, but the characters continue to stick with me.

5. The Red Tent -- Anita Diamant
A re-creation of the life of Dinah, the daughter of biblical characters Leah and Jacob. Every woman should read this.

6. The Outlander series -- Diana Gabaldon
These six books (soon to be seven) are perhaps my favorite books ever. Combine time travel, historical fiction, incredibly real characters, a large dose of humor and the hottest leading man in all of fiction and this is what you get. Book Seven, An Echo in the Bone, comes out in September. I am seriously considering taking a vacation day so that I can spend all day reading it.

7. God is Not Great -- Christopher Hitchens
I was forced to read a lot of Hitchens in grad school, so I was prepared not to like this book. But if you can get past his militant anti-theist stance, it's actually a wonderful analysis of the negative effect organized religion has on the world.

8. Far From the Madding Crowd -- Thomas Hardy
This book was the first time I realized that something I was forced to read for a class could be really, REALLY good.

9. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe -- C.S. Lewis
This book is good on so many levels, you can just keep reading it at different points in your life and see something new every time.

10. Where the Red Fern Grows -- Wilson Rawls
A pre-teen classic. The first time I remember being totally engrossed in a book. Makes you cry, too.

11. A Wrinkle in Time -- Madeleine L'Engle
I was fascinated by this book when I was a kid. Helped me understand what it's like to be transported to another time and place by a book.

12. The Sins of Scripture -- John Shelby Spong
The beginning of the drastic change in my spiritual and religious views over the last few years. If you've been turned off by some of the things the Bible seems to teach, or some of the things you've heard in church, this book will give you a new understanding of those topics.

13. The Prince of Tides -- Pat Conroy
There are scenes in this book that I still can't get out of my head, and not necessarily in a good way. For better or worse, it's stuck with me.

14. The Last Lecture -- Randy Pausch
A book on living written by a man who was dying. Incredibly inspirational.

15. Me Talk Pretty One Day -- David Sedaris
One of the funniest essay collections ever, and one of the few books I would recommend that you listen to rather than read. David Sedaris reads his own stuff for audio books, and hearing his words in his voice just enhances the experience.

16. The Pelican Brief -- John Grisham
Okay, I know this one is stupid. But it's really stuck with me, mostly because it was the first time I realized what a world of great fiction was out there waiting for me. I read this during finals week my first semester in grad school. My exams were over, but I had to stay on campus to help grade the finals of the freshmen class in which I was a grad assistant. So for the first time since approximately middle school, I had time to read for pleasure. I went to the local bookstore and picked up a paperback of The Pelican Brief, and proceeded to devour it. I had never even heard of John Grisham at that point, but I was hooked. Too bad his later stuff hasn't been as good.

17. Paradise Lost -- John Milton
Does this count as a book? My absolute favorite work of literature EVER.

18. Water for Elephants -- Sara Gruen
No real deep hidden meaning in this one -- just a great story.

19. The Secret Life of Bees/The Mermaid Chair -- Sue Monk Kidd
Sue Monk Kidd wrote these books while undergoing a spiritual crisis. I read them while undergoing one of my own. They're novels, but the truth in them is undeniable.

20. Here If You Need Me -- Kate Braestrup
Kate Braestrup is a Unitarian minister who went to seminary after her husband was killed in an accident, mostly because it had been his dream. She's now a chaplain with the Maine Warden Service, as well as a mother of four and a gifted writer.

This list could go on and on. Anything by Wally Lamb, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, both of Jenny Boylan's memoirs . . . but I'm done. Now I want to hear your suggestions. What have you read that has stayed with you?


  1. Christy by Catherine Marshall and Clan of the Cave Bear Series. One taught me the power of God's love and provision...the other taught me about passion for life. I enjoyed your list....I think I'll pick up on the Outlander series. Thanks.

  2. I have many that are the same as yours- Sue MOnk Kidd's books, Wally Lamb books, To Kill A Mockingbird. I would also include Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid suns.

  3. The Life of Pi
    A Fine Balance
    Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil
    and my all time favorite book for whatever reason I read it annually: Great Expectations