There’s been this Facebook thing going around about people’s statuses (stati?). Apparently, you’re supposed to just pick 10 books that have stayed with you, without thinking too hard and only spend a few minutes doing it.
This is not that.
It’s kind of like that, but I nevermind that whole “thinking too hard” thing. I’m not sure how much stock I put in the idea of over-thinking something like which 10 books you want to choose as having “stayed with you” or having been influential in some way. So I thought about it, and here’s what I’m going with:
1. The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien. This had to be here. I’d heard my much older siblings discussing it with my mom for ages when I finally read it. And I loved everything about it.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. I read this in high school. In it were the germs of a whole lot of things I’d eventually go on to study-Southern Gothicism, young adult literature, racial and class politics in the South, mental illness, etc.
3. Wicked, Gregory Maguire. I see the flaws in this book. But Maguire’s Wicked was one of the first true re-imaginings of a character that I read, and as I’ve mentioned, I love to see the way things unfold as we re-tell and re-conceptualize characters and stories. And Wicked, later re-told for the stage itself, re-imagines an iconic piece of American children’s literature.
4. Stardust, Neil Gaiman. This is the first of Neil Gaiman’s books that I read, and it was only a few years ago, shortly after the film adaptation was released. But I loved the writing so much that I began to gobble up everything I could by Gaiman. And so, a fangirl was born.
5. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers. Another entry on the list from a Southern woman author, another Southern Gothic entry with an adolescent protagonist. I love the music in this book. It sings.
6. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I didn’t read this until I was a graduate student; I’d say I’m sorry for that, but I’m not. Gatsby was a breath of fresh air in a semester of things I found far less interesting to read. It was so prescient, so wonderful, and so heartrending. I wish I could read it for the first time again.
7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larson. Lisbeth Salander is a beautifully drawn, terribly complex character, and Larson’s first entry in the Millennium Trilogy introduced her perfectly.
8. Til We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis. Another retelling, but this time of a myth from a different character’s point of view. It’s also a place where Lewis’s prose soars without being so overtly didactic as to be distracting.
9. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison. This book is so close to perfect.
10. The Giver, Louis Lowry. My introduction to the concept of dystopia and the problems that arise when society attempts perfection at any cost.
And I could go on, and might at some point, but for now, those are my 10, carefully considered novels of personal importance. Now, off to re-watch season 4 of Dexter and ponder the conundrums that are the female characters.