The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. -Proverbs 1:7

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.-Proverbs 4:7

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Summer 2011

Comfort Books

I love books. I mean really love the point I cannot even allow myself to read during the school year, because I don't have any self-control when it comes to books. Once I start reading, I cannot stop until the book is finished. And then I mourn the loss of the characters from my life until new ones enter. Repeat. These habits can be somewhat problematic to my other worlds (i.e. Being prepared to teach, making sure my kids have eaten, etc...).

I typically have a summer reading list. Until today, I hadn't even started one. This morning, I realized I want to re-read my lifetime favorites.

My Top 10 Books (In no particular order and I will admit I may remember I have another favorite or six tomorrow I forgot to include today.):

1. My Antonia-Willa Cather. I read this book when I was in college for a history class on American women. It's a lot of things for a gentle kind of book. This is my favorite book of all time.

2. A Prayer for Owen Meany-John Irving. Either you can read Irving or you can't. Either you love his work, or you don't. I'm in the "can read" and "love him" categories. Of his works, I love this one best.

3. East of Eden-John Steinbeck. I've tried to read Grapes of Wrath a dozen times and have never made it very far in before declaring it a boring waste of time. I had given up on Steinbeck as a contender for my time and then stumbled upon this masterpiece. According to the experts, it has literary flaws; too many characters, not enough development, too long, etc... Ummm...who are experts to tell me what I'm going to love? Literary flaws or not, hands down this beats Grapes of Wrath which is supposedly the masterpiece.

4. The Good Earth-Pearl S. Buck. Can you believe this was my favorite book in 5th grade? I've read it a few times again as an adult and am always intrigued as to what I could possibly have gotten from it when I was 11. It was on my grandma's shelf and I picked it up early in the evening. I did not sleep until I had read the whole thing through. It's a long book for an 11 year old to read straight through. It took me all night and all the next day to do it.

5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Betty Smith. Another gem I pulled from my grandma's shelf as a child. This book took over my favorites list when I was 13.

6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings-Maya Angelou. I was obsessed with Maya Angelou's works when I was around 16. Truly obsessed. I believed she was a genius. I'm choosing this title simply because it was the book that introduced me to her work and the door which led to so many other great books and authors.

7. A Thousand Splendid Suns-Khaled Hosseini. I didn't really like The Kite Runner. It was o.k., but it didn't mow me over. This is it that the same author wrote two books with such differing styles? For everything The Kite Runner didn't give me, this book gave me. Many times over. This book made me weep and has haunted me since.

8. The Poisonwood Bible-Barbara Kingsolver. If you can ignore that the author has projected her politics through her fiction, this is an awesome book which tells the story of all Hell breaking loose as a result of human tendency. I've only read it once. It has sufficiently stayed with me long enough to deserve a second read-through and to take up a space in my list of favorites.

9. To Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee. What can I even say that hasn't already been said a thousand times over? We listened to this on tape a few years ago and this book became a favorite of my then 7 year old son. Ignoring the fact we obviously have the same taste in books (How awesome is that?), if a book can be the favorite of both a 7 year old and a 35 year old, you know it has to be good.

10. The Screwtape Letters-C.S. Lewis. The thing about Baptist Universities is their required reading lists are a little different than what one may find on non-Christian campuses. I am not a fan of the Narnia series (because I'm bored by it) Lewis is possibly most famous for and therefore maybe never would have read this had it not been on the list. I first read it in 1995 which was the year a single event undoubtedly changed my life in so many ways-beginning with a journey into the darkest of the dark places and then back out again. Coincidental or not, the timing of this reading was impactful; not because it is a comforting or even joyful book, but because it satisfied my analytical mind when I needed something new to think about.