Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Dozen Books I Love And Would Love To Read Again and Again

A Dozen Books I’ve Loved And Would Love To Read Again and Again

1. Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge I found this book at the new library in Chesterfield, Mo when I was 14 years old. My hand went toward it as if pulled by some sort of literary magnet and it is the first book I truly loved. Since reading it then, I’ve read it probably ten times. Not only do the descriptions of the most surprising and vivid places transport, but the characters’ struggles are sympathetically drawn, appallingly unique and heartbreaking. The resolution of the conflicts fills the heart with deep, poignant peace as if upon closing the book the heart says, “Yes. That’s right.”

2. Hamlet by Shakespeare… I can no longer count the number of times I’ve read this play and each time I love the language more passionately and bow to Shakespeare’s genius with more amazement. “... This goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire…” See what I mean?

3. Macbeth by Shakespeare – People turn their noses up at this play calling it dark, which it is, but my classes helped me to see that it is the most tightly written and redemptive of all Shakespeare’s plays. (not that I’ve read them all because I haven’t but I still know this to be true!) By the way... the mystery cannot be solved by saying Macduff was born by caesarian section. Women who give birth by c-section are still women. There's more to it and the difference is symbolically critical to the idea of redemption that is the heart of the play.

4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley … This book, written in lovely, careful prose by a 19 year old woman, is complex and fascinating.

5. Desiree by Annemarie Selinko … Oh, you see, it is about Napoleon’s first love, who is a most likeable, ordinary woman. It takes place in Paris and etc. is sprinkled with French and dotted with history and just delicious.

6. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn byMark Twain… This is another book that I have had the privilege of teaching. What do I love about it? I love the descriptions of the river, the genius and justice of Jim’s admirable humanity, Huck Finn’s prefect literal narration, the scene where he declares “you can’t pray a lie” in all its sharp irony and of course the last line.

7. Hundred and One Dalmations by Dodie Smith… We read this book to our children when they were small. I am talking here about the original children’s novel (a chapter book) not the Disney version. In it, the dogs have more character development, (sounds funny but it works great) --including a host of English dog personalities --as the two Dalmation parents make their way across England in search of their puppies. It is worth a search on ebay to purchase a copy.

8. Katherine by Anya Seton… My sister, Gloria, gave me this book when we still lived in New Jersey and reading it began a life-long fascination with the shining, tumultuous and faith-filled Middle Ages.

9. A River Runs Through It by Norman Mclean… This book is beautifully written, profound and meaningful. The author’s view of his home country and family changed my life. I don’t understand the last line, though. Does anyone out there?

10. The Little Minister by James M. Barrie… I found this book by first catching a glimpse of the movie. The movie is charming, but omits a poignant and important part of the plot! Plus it takes place in Scotland! Read it! You will love Babbie, the gypsie… I found her to be much like looking in the mirror (in a good way). Maybe you will, too.

11. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee … Doesn’t everyone love this book? Everyone should read it as Atticus Finch is one of the rare, great fathers in literature.

12. The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass by himself… Frederick Douglass is one of the most elegant, analytical and expressive American writers. If you’ve never read his work, do yourself a favor.

What are your favorites?


  1. I am so grateful for this loving list. I think I will hunt for some of the one I have not yet read--the green dolphin sounds like a must, and I didn't even know that one hundred and one dalmations was even a book. how clever. :)

    I have literally hugged each of the following books:
    Christy by Christine McDonald
    Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beacher Stowe
    Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
    Persuasion by Jane Austin
    The Sneeches by Dr. Suess
    and, of course, Solomons Puzzle by Loris Nebbia (and I'm not just saying that cause it's you. I tell other people who don't even know you the same thing. you know I do.)

  2. Thanks, Heather for your comments about S.P.
    I love Christy, too. Forgot to add that one! There are so many others!

  3. What about The Water Is Wide?!?! Anyone considering teaching should read that book.

  4. I will be looking for 100 Dalmatians to read to my kids. Thanks for that. We've been on the lookout for good read alouds for them. Scott is currently reading Robin Hood to my son, it's a huge hit!