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Picking lists of books is hard. I always hated that old question about if you were stuck on a desert island which 10 books would you want to have with you? The answer was, I thought, painfully obvious:

Boy Scouts Handbook
The Ultimate Survival Manual by Rich Johnson
Practical Wilderness Skills by White Wolf Von Atzingen
Living Ready Pocket Manual - First Aid by James Hubbard
Fishing for Dummies by Peter Kaminsky & Greg Schwipps
How to Survive on a Desert Island (Tough Guide) by Jim Pipe
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

That's only 7 (all real books) but I'd round out the list with some re-readable favorites, for those long nights by the signal campfire.

Like Bethany, I found myself hoping someone would tag me for this particular meme...books, lists, sharing favorites; what's not to like? It's much more up my alley than Ice Bucket Challenges or online quizzes about what kind of dog I am.*

The meme is at least a little more specific than the desert island question... share 10 books that have stayed with you in some way, affected you/moved you/caused you to neglect your family.

The thing is, I could come up with a couple hundred books that fit this criteria. Heck, I could come up with a couple hundred just from my childhood and teenage years. I'd be willing to bet that many of those books might be on your list, too. But even there, I find it immensely difficult to pick just ONE favorite from authors who wrote so many marvelous books: Diana Wynne Jones, Roald Dahl, Louisa May Alcott, C.S. Lewis, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Susan Cooper, Rudyard Kipling, Madeleine L'Engle, L.M. Montgomery, Edith Nesbit, Arthur Ransome, Elizabeth Enright, Laura Ingalls Wilder...

And, around the time I was 13, I discovered Science Fiction & Fantasy. Even if the vast majority of the children's and young adult books I read, and that were available, fall definitively into fantasy, SF/F was a revelation to me. I would have a hard time choosing only 10 such books that have stayed with me, moved me, affected me in some way. These 13 (I couldn't keep it to 10) only just begin to scrape the surface:

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein
The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin
Brightness Falls From the Air by James Tiptree Jr
After Long Silence by Sheri S. Tepper
The Hound & the Falcon by Judith Tarr
Sheepfarmer's Daughter by Elizabeth Moon
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
The Hidden Land by Pamela Dean
Pilgrimage by Zenna Henderson
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Angelica by Sharon Shinn

So, I had to dig deeper. I had to REALLY pare down to the books that have helped to form significant parts of me, aside from the huge core of science fiction and fantasy that makes up the bulk of my inner life: my values, my beliefs, my sense of humor, my way of relating to the world. Books I find myself re-reading more frequently than others. Books that satisfy something deep and primal within me. Without further ado:

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
This book showed me that you didn't have to make things up. Fiction is wonderful and fantastic and mindblowing, but O! So is the world itself. The trees, and the bugs and the animals. The way it all interacts and interweaves. Annie Dillard taught me how to LOOK at things, how to SEE them, in the bigger picture, in the full fabric of life within the world.

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
As long as I can remember I've been fascinated by Michelangelo. My parents had two gigantic coffee table books when I was a child, one about him and one about Leonardo DaVinci, but it was Michelangelo who captured my imagination. DaVinci had brains, but Michelangelo was all heart. Passion in every line, every work, everything he did. I was already an artistic and creative kid, but Irving Stone's biography showed me how it was to BE an artist. This book brings to life his life, his struggles, his art and his triumphs in a riveting portrait.

Mister God, This is Anna by Finn
I went through a religious phase in high school, singing in a interdenominational choir, going to Bible Study, and generally being, in all likelihood, pretty insufferable. I read the Bible cover to cover. But mostly what I learned from those years was that organized religion WASN'T for me. This book, with its emphasis on loving kindness, the pursuit of knowledge and simple humor, was. It still speaks to me, though it's a little twee these days.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
It's been a while since I read any of Rand's books, but both this and Atlas Shrugged had a huge impact on me as a young adult. They fire the imagination and even though I didn't and don't buy every philosophy Rand evangelized, they breathe life into many of ethics and values I believe in and struggle to achieve: independent and logical reasoning, the refusal to compromise your principles in the face of peer pressure, and the idea that selfishness is not necessarily a bad thing.

Katherine by Anya Seton
Another historical portrait, this one probably more or less made up out of whole cloth and based on very scanty facts, but still a love story of astounding proportions and a look into the past that shows you how much things remain the same when it comes to the human heart. Full of stark scenes that stick in the mind.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I don't remember when I first read this book; it seems like I've always had it. The morality, the ethics, the dilemmas, and the bravery of the people involved is incredible. It teaches you how to be a better person.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I love this book and the entire series with a passion. Even if they're too long, even if they keep ending on horrible cliffhangers, even if they're based on a ridiculous premise (I have a thing for time travel books in general, actually). This first book is a galloping, breathless whirlwind adventure of a love story about courage, passion, and the choices we make in extremis. Its sequel, Dragonfly in Amber, is just as good, if not better.

Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne
No child should come into the world without their very own copy.

Watership Down by Richard Adams
The paperback copy I have was originally my sister's book, I think. I shamelessly stole it and never gave it back. I've read it a dozen times, easily. It never gets old. It's one of the best stories of leadership, friendship, humor and family ever written, even if it IS about rabbits.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
I love Dodie Smith and I didn't know until I was grown that she had written anything but The 101 Dalmations and its sequel, The Starlight Barking. She was a playwright and wrote several novels as well as a series of autobiographies. This particular coming-of-age story is smart, literate and unpredictable, and it's enjoyable no matter how many times you've read it.

It is REALLY, really hard to stop here at 10. My bibliophiliac brain is poking at me, "What about American Primitive by Mary Oliver? What about My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok? What about The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll? What about The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye??? You forgot Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver! And The Stand by Stephen King! How can you LEAVE ALL THE REST OF THE BOOKS OUT??"

I could go on all night. Consider yourself tagged, if you haven't already been.

*I find it disturbing how many hits there are for different quizzes with this title. Also, I tried one and got Pug. Um, no. Not even close.
mood: cheerful
music: Darling Buds—Fall


I think your title is a perfect fit! Your list of books is very impressive, obviously your apple didn't fall near this tree, I can't remember titles of books I've read, or what they were about...focus must be around here somewhere! Love, Lizardmom

That's because you aren't reading the right kind of books, Mom! :D

Why couldn't it be the list of 10,000 books that had stayed with you? I might have a chance of trimming my list to that number. But 10? Not a hope, as I have read so many wonderful and affecting books over the years that it is difficult to narrow it down. Although I'll give it some thought and try later today.

Fabulous list, Liz - I've enjoyed several of your listed books as well. I don't share your love for Science Fiction or Fantasy (give me a great historical biography any day), but I certainly share your passion, bordering on absolute obsession for reading. My mother used to say that the world could fall down around me and I'd never notice if I had my nose stuck in a book. Nothing has changed in the intervening 50 years ... ha, ha!

As an aside, have you read "The Bees" by Laline Paull? I thought of you when I recently read it as it's more something you might like, although I surprised myself by reading and loving it, feeling bereft when it finished. It's somewhat of a cross between between Animal Farm, The Hunger Games and The Handmaid's Tale, where Paull takes a fat, ugly bee and turns her into a heroine for our time, fighting for her rightful place in the hive. It's really quite stunning and worth a read.

I know! 10 was HARD.

Thanks for the book rec! It looks really interesting. Have added it to my list...maybe I'll get it on Kindle. I've discovered several things about the Kindle that I really like, one being INSTANT gratification!

Hee, hee ... it's dangerous, isn't it? I'm always tempted to just press that button. I justify my purchases by the fact that it's so hard to get the English books I want to read here. I'm an avid user of the library and the excellent inter-library loan system (I think I'm their best customer - I should get a Platinum Card!) but sometimes they just don't stock the books, especially the Australian authors I want to read. Who has ever heard of Australia? :-)

Nine Parts of Desire isn't available on Kindle, so I bought Foreign Correspondence instead and devoured it in one day. Good stuff!

From Megsie

Oh! I love your list!! I haven't read the MAJORITY of the books you talk about so I am keeping this post for next summer when I have time to read for fun again (other than a blog post here and there). xoxoxo

Re: From Megsie

I hope you read some of them, they're all so great!

I loved I Capture the Castle and it was years before I realized it was the same author who wrote 101 Dalmatians. It was given to me by one of my mother's friends who had three sons, the youngest of whom was my age, and I think she always saw me as the daughter she never had. I would definitely agree on that one! I'd also have to Kill a Mockingbird for the same reasons. But aside from those two (and Winnie the Pooh, of course), I haven't read any of those books.

Well, get reading, woman!

Great list! I have read a fair number of these but the best with these memes is that there are always new titles one can add to their list of future reading. I loved the Dragonrider books and have been a fan of LeGuin for ever so long. I read The Beginning Place years ago and reread it so many times it fell apart. That led me to her other books and I was hooked. :)

LeGuin is truly amazing. I love her books.

Oh how I loved this. Especially the fact that you named 35 books plus 13 additional authors :D Actually, my favorite thing was reading your descriptions of why your "Top 10" (said with all due disclaimers in mind) have stayed with you. Of that list, I've only read TWO; can you believe it? I'll be adding the rest to my library list immediately.

10 only would have made my head pop off.

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