Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Five Books

Margaret of mag offleash passed along the five book charge.

I have been asked and so I ponder--five favorite books.

Five.  Only five?

Favorite?  No other categorization?

Oh, and my brain has been so very muddled for the past  weeks.  This task demands some thinking.

Thinking?  Oh, no.  My sister was recently taken aside by a  member of one of the book discussion groups she attends to be asked if she could not, please,  just read and enjoy (or not) the chosen books and kindly stop  thinking about them quite so much.

Choosing five books.  A Sisyphean task indeed.  Perhaps pushing the rock up a mountain a few times will clear my head and set me free for other endeavors.

Let me start at the beginning.  My reading life started early on.  So my first favorite is not a single book but an entire collection.

#1 Favorite Book: Childcraft, an anthology of books for children published by the World Book encyclopedia company.

My maternal grandfather bought these books for me and my mother read them to me right from infancy on into my childhood.  There were volumes of short stories and folktales, poetry, myths and legends, art, sciences, mathematics.  I never went to a pre-school/nursery school, but I had a prodigious early education.

That early enrichment of words and stories served me well, and I must thank my grandfather often in my thoughts.  His additional dream of my becoming a world famous Russian ballerina did not work out quite as well.

#2 Favorite Book: No Children, No Pets by Marion Holland

This was the very first book I picked out myself and purchased from the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club.  I still have the book.  A collector’s edition is currently available for $89 on Amazon I see.  Mine is not in collector condition.   I plan on a re-read soon.

#3 Favorite Book: a whole series of biographies for children that was available in the tiny Richmond Library, then located under the hardware store in the Masonic Temple building on Bridge Street.  

An early feminist at the age of nine, I read only the biographies of females.  Amelia Earhart was a particular favorite.

#4 Favorite Book: The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Assigned in a high school English class and read in a single sitting as I sat up in bed while home, recovering from strep throat, this book taught me that books can take me not only to better places but to disturbing places as well.

#5 Favorite Book: It’s a tie--Beloved and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Sometimes a book sears into one’s soul and leaves a lasting mark.  Both of these books did that for me.

There are my “five” books.  In truth, the list could go on and on, but the order gets less and less important.  I always have a favorite going.  I live the reading life.


“Clearly one must read every good book at least once every ten years.”
So, I would like to know...What are your five books?


  1. Right off the bat, the first book that comes to mind is Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes," his memoir of growing up in Ireland. It made me laugh and cry, no small feat. It won the Pulitzer Prize and was made into a Hollywood movie, too.

    1. You know, I have never read that book. I have heard so much about it, I probably should put it on my list.

  2. Oh how I wish I were in your league when it comes to reading. While I seem to be stuck in nonfiction I at least birthed two pleasure readers. My daughter, like you, reads a lot. My son also reads a lot, sometimes fiction, sometimes nonfiction. He's a London Review of Books type reader. At the moment I'm attempting one more time to move away from so much nonfiction in hopes I can learn to enjoy fiction more. In truth I'm an information reader, reading bits of things from many sources. No book club would want me that's for sure. Like your sister, I think too much when reading. My daughter says I need to lighten up. Right now I'm reading "A Woman of Independent Means" and am locked in debate with a friend in Texas over the main character Bess. She thinks Bess was amazing. I think Bess was a pushy rich socialite who got what she wanting by attaching generous checks to the demanding letters she wrote. I am determined before I die to learn to enjoy fiction without analyzing it to death.

    1. Mike is a non-fiction reader although he enjoys fiction on occasion. He reads way more than I do. He is fast and remembers better. He also likes to own the books he reads. I am just learning to read non-fiction for pleasure myself.

  3. That is one tough assignment. Well done. I would have to include the "All Creatures Great and Small" series but often a new favorite happens once a month or so. I guess mine are temporary favorites soon to be replaced. If it weren't for James Harriot, you could call me fickle.
    I'll be back soon. Trying to catch up.

    1. How is all the garden work going? I hope you are not wearing yourself out.

  4. I cannot begin to think about this. FIVE? I have to look at some titles to make sure I have not forgotten something. I do know when I was younger Gone With the Wind captured me totally in junior high school...but even before then was some book about a fish and I THINK it was called Red Lantern. I read and re-read Green Mansions and Under the Flame Tree. Then there were many science fiction books I loved...Brave New World, Dune...etc.!

    1. I meant Flame Trees of Thicka!!!!

    2. Now what if you had to pick the five books you could have if you were stranded on a desert island? Oh, I think somebody famous was asked that question and replied, "a book about ship building."

  5. Yep! Trying to come up with 5 is difficult -- especially just 5 and would take some serious thought but two of my all time favorites are Ceremony of the Innocent and Dear and Glorious Physician both by Taylor Caldwell. I love books!

  6. It is always interesting to know what others are reading.

  7. The Pearl! I have such horrible memories if that book, which I read in 7th grade. Some books shouldn't be read too early in life.

  8. Wow! I'd have a terrible time choosing just five. I remember The Pearl from college, I think. My problem is I can't remember all the books I've read.

  9. I cannot pass by a challenge that has anything to do with books. So here are my 5 favorites:

    1. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia-Marquez
    2. Cloudsplitter - Russell Banks
    3. Esperanza's Box of Saints - Maria Amparo Escandon
    4. Spoon River Anthology - Edgar Lee Masters
    5. Death Comes for the Archbishop - Willa Cather


I appreciate readers' comments so much. You don't even always have to agree with me.