So it’s looking likely that I’ll be moving halfway across the country before the month is out. And I won’t be taking my stuff with me, which means that all of my books once again go into storage.
(Okay, not all of them. I’m going to be gone a while, so I already have about six writing books set aside to take with me and I’ll probably take another half dozen or so from my to-be-read pile as well. And I’m debating taking a few favorites with me, too.)
I still remember driving out to school my junior year of college to an unfurnished apartment and all I could fit into a Geo Metro. Think air mattress and six-inch television. AND two or three boxes worth of books. Not school books. “Fun” books. Like Jung and Freud and a lot of SFF.
So, as I prepare to yet again abandon most of my books, I started thinking about what books are my favorites and why.
Some I’ve mentioned on here before, some I haven’t.
Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham – This book is one of the few books that has made me cry. I’ve mentioned it before as a book that someone should read if they want to pursue an artistic lifestyle as a reminder that a basic level of money is really a necessity in life.
A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov – My father recommended this book to me and I also studied it again in a Russian literature class in college. (That I was able to count towards my psychology degree-how cool is that?) I love Russian authors–Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky particularly–but this book is just special to me. I don’t know why. Maybe the imagery or clever dialogue or maybe because my father recommended it.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – A friend recommended this book to me about seven years ago and I think it’s a big part of the reason I chose to quit my corporate job and do something more entrepreneurial. At times the writing really drags and I am much more a believer in helping others than Rand was (because I’ve benefited from the help of others myself), but there’s something to be said for refusing to carry the burden of others who are perfectly capable of carrying it themselves.
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran – My dad bought me this book when I was sixteen. It’s part poetry, part philosophy. I have pages of great quotes I’ve taken from this book and his writings. I love everything I’ve ever read by him.
How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton – This book inspired me to try to read Proust. Don’t make that mistake. The author may have found inspiration in Proust, but, really, for those of us who like sentences that take up less than two pages each, stick with this book instead. Flipping through the book it seems I found a lot of comments about artists and writers that really resonated for me.
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond – I liked this book so much that after reading it for free at the bookstore I worked at, I bought a copy. I found the research and arguments fascinating. To think that the shape of a continent can have such an impact on the entire evolution of our world was fascinating to me as was a lot of the other findings in the book (that I’ve since forgotten it seems).
There are so many others I could’ve mentioned here. And you’ll notice that the list doesn’t include any SFF even though that’s the majority of what I read. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because I’ve read so much in that genre that to select just five books would be overwhelmingly difficult. Even five authors is a challenge.
Off the top of my head:
Marion Zimmer Bradley (Mists of Avalan and Darkover series)
Anne McCaffrey (Dragonrider’s series)
Isaac Asimov (Foundation series)
David Eddings (Belgariad and Mallorean series)
Katherine Kerr (Deverry series)
Lois McMaster Bujold
And I could keep going. One of Goodkind’s Sword of Truth books was to me one of the best explorations of communism that I’d ever read in book form. And one of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters books also made me cry. (I swear, I’m not a big crier. But make me cry when I read your book and I will take notice.)
Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time series is what started me reading SFF.
And there are so many others that I’ve enjoyed over the years.
Ironically, I never have made it through the Narnia or Lord of the Rings books even though I’ve tried more than once. Or Harry Potter. (Although my goal is to finish the HP series this month so I can give the books to my mom before I leave.)
There are so many good books out there. And so many good authors. (Which just reminded me of my other bookshelf with more favorite books on it…like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The City in The City by China Mieville and Misery by Stephen King)
I could spend my life reading and still never make a dent in all of the wonderful books that have already been written. And more keep coming out every day! (Which is probably why I seldom re-read any books.)
Anyway. Not sure the point of this post. Just figured I’d share a few of the books that have earned a permanent place on my shelves in case they were ones you hadn’t heard of before.