Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Top 5 Books of All Time


Since my blog is about writing and teaching, I thought it would be appropriate to make a list of my  favorite books to share in a post.  Easy?  Not really.   It turns out I have lots of favorite books and narrowing the list down to five was much harder than it seemed at first blush.  Once I finally settled on five I had to decide how to rank them, which is of course impossible because they could not all be number 1.  So here they are, unranked, and in no particular order:

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

I have loved this story since the first time I read it, perhaps because I relate to Ferdinand.  He preferred the quiet and stillness of his meadow and cork tree to the violence and excitement of the bull fights and that made him different.  Like Ferdinand, I have always preferred quiet and stillness over drama and excitement and that has made me a little different.  I’m glad that Ferdinand found joy and peace in being himself and it makes me happy to think of him sitting under his cork tree smelling his flowers.

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

I’m kind of cheating with this one because the series was actually composed of seven books.  I am consolidating them into single story and including them all in this list because I will love them…always.  Ron, Harry, and Hermione taught us that love is the greatest magic known to muggle and wizard alike.  They taught us that teamwork, ingenuity, and sheer nerve could surmount almost any obstacle.  And finally, in Hermione, J. K. Rowling gave us a heroine who understands that her true value is in her mind and her heart and who stays true to herself while facing impossible odds.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My favorite part of any Jane Austen novel are the insults, which are usually phrased so politely that you have to give yourself a moment to absorb them.  Example: “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”  (Ouch, Mr. Darcy, you are too proud!).  I have read a lot of bodice rippers in my book reading adventures, but none with the wit and romantic tension that this novel brings to life (sans bodice ripping).

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl

I read this book for the first time following a very dark period of my life and I credit Victor Frankl with helping to reframe my response to the darkness from one of despair to one of hope.  The fact that he not only survived such devastating circumstances, but did so with his soul unbroken is a testament to the power of the human spirit.  He put my own suffering in perspective with this quote: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

In a word…atmosphere.  This novel drew me into its world so thoroughly that I began to yearn for a magical circus to appear out of nowhere so that I could explore every nook and cranny.  I knew Celia and Marco would fall in love as soon as they were introduced, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story or from the bittersweet way their romance found a resolution.  I would read it again just to immerse myself in their world.