Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Top Ten Books I Never Wanted To End

For today's 'blogger's choice' Top Ten with The Broke and The Bookish, it took me all day to decide.Here's what I came to:

My Top Ten Savor-Worthy, Never Wanted It To End books of all time...

1.  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston.  Such gorgeous, luminous, lyrical prose in service to a female protagonist who embodies the transcendent, unapologetic quest to follow one's own bliss.  This might be my own personal favorite novel of all time.  Hurston was way ahead of her time, and a sometimes underappreciated force at the first flowering of the Harlem Renaissance.

2.  The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich.  Many of this brilliant, contemporary Native American author's novels center around the characters who inhabit a particular area of North Dakota over the course of a century or so.  This particular novel returns us to many of our favorites yet transcends all the others, in my view.  I started slowing my pace less than halfway through, savoring every gorgeous sentence, every moment.

3.  War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.  I'm still a third of the way to the end, and I can't help myself: It's so fine in every respect, and the characters are so well known to me, so intimately known, and yet so believably developing as they live, that I truly want to savor each chapter, to think upon it, to take it in and sleep on it.

4.  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I've taught it for 8 years running, from 2-4 classes each year, so trust me: if it were possible to tire of this novel, I'd be tired.  But it is not possible.  The more times you read it, the more apt you will be to simply weep at the beauty of the prose and the pathos engendered by the content.  Simply a modern masterpiece.

5.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling.  I vividly remember travelling with my Dave to Bakersfield and back, reading it aloud all the way.  And yet, when we returned home mid-afternoon, we'd quite a few chapters to go.  Did we unpack after our trip?  Did we go out to grocery shop after two weeks away?  No.  We grabbed big glasses of ice water and pulled our chairs onto our back porch in the woods overlooking the lake and read through the afternoon, through dinner, and into the dusk when we could barely make out the prose upon the page.  And we finished the book, both hoarse, both exhausted and enthralled, as the first stars emerged above the doug firs in the night sky.  If we could, we would have continued on 'til morning.

6. Recently, Bright's Passage by Josh Ritter.  An American classic that emerged just this summer.  Such gorgeous prose, and such a uniquely surreal vision within a gritty set of circumstances I haven't read in a long time.  I truly could have walked with Henry Bright and his angel through five hundred more pages, five decades on the clock...

7.  David Sedaris's books.  I love to laugh almost more than I love to read, and Sedaris comes through nearly every time in his collections.  And once you get his voice into your head, you can't help but hear him 'read aloud' as you pore over his prose.  Me Talk Pretty One Day is a fine place to start with Sedaris.  Or try his hilarious reading of 'The Stadium Pal' on Letterman:  5 minutes of laughing yourself increasingly silly. (warning - adult content, but light-heartedly hilarious)

8.  Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim.  His exquisitely acute and hilariously hyper-critical musing on his own musicals and his rivals as well induced a miserly streak: I've been rationing one chapter, one play per month for many months now, and I'm not finished yet!

9.  The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery and Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.  Two literary novels that should keep anyone enthralled and leave them with a strong feeling of having encountered a gorgeously well structured whole, yet wanting even more.

10.  What's yours?  If you couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end, I'm pretty sure I should read it!


p.s. For more great blogger's choice top ten's, visit The Broke and the Bookish today!


LBC said...

Great topic Laurie. I love that feeling that you just want to stay wrapped up in the world of a book. I'm glad to hear that War and Peace is that way, since I've had trouble with the beginning.

Here is my list for this week.

Christine said...

Great topic. I agree with most of toes, but I have to say I was deeply disappointed with the Elegance of the Hedgehog. I have let the Great World Spin on my shelf and can't wait to read it!

Red said...

I love your story about reading The Goblet of Fire. That whole series is one I wanted to savor.

Dead Trees and Silver Screens said...

I never wanted any of the Harry Potter books to end!


Booksnob said...

I loved Father Damian, (Agnes) in Miracles at Little No Horse. I think she is one of my favorite characters of all time. I just wrote an article for a local press (The Women's Press) about powerful female characters and I included her is my essay. Erdrich is probably one of my favorite authors. Do you know she lives in Minnesota and has her own bookstore? If you ever come to town, let me take you there.

Laurie said...

LBC Laura - I felt daunted and underwhelmed in the first third of W&P, but took heart from Ingrid's post over at Broke & The Bookish: she said that the final 1/3's worth the investment and I have to say I agree wholeheartedly!
Christine - I came to the Hedgehog w/zero expectations, and I believe that our book group's discussion of the novel is - in part - what keeps it on my faves list. Plus, I thought that the author crafted a believable teen, a scarce commodity in adult novels sometimes.
Red & Dead - I've enjoyed all the HP books, but only GoF caught me fiercely.
Laura - Agnes is one of my all-time faves too. I'd love to read your essay: is it available online?
And absolutely: If ever I wander east to MN, I'll count on you as guide for an outing to Erdrich's bookstore!

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