Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Your Favorite Five

As I was on my knees washing baseboards today, my 6-year-old stopped by to pat my head and say hello. I had Metallica and AC/DC playing on my iPod. (It was that kind of morning, plus I hate doing baseboards.) The little guy took the earbud out of my ear, listened for a moment, smiled, and said, "You're so old-school." Kid you not, that's what he said. The youngest of six, he's always been a precocious one and absorbs things like a sponge. He's way beyond where I was at his age. At six, I was still writing my name backwards and tripping over my untied shoe laces.

He's right, I am the old-school type. I'll admit it. I was surrounded by a family of English Majors in my childhood, and they always read and discussed classical literature within my hearing. As a teenager, I loved poetry. Especially Tennyson and Longfellow. Tennyson was my first literary crush. I girlishly dreamed that if I had but lived 140 years earlier, Alfred and I would have seen each other across a crowded Victorian drawing room... Lightening bolts! The meeting of soul mates. Sigh.

On another note, it really makes me mad when I hear Charles Dickens dissed at writing conferences. Authors today think they can write better, and that's fine, maybe they do in some ways. I have heard several speakers make fun of the immortal line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." I want to raise my hand and say, "Dude, don't insult A Tale of Two Cities. Will people be quoting you a hundred years from now? Probably not." A Tale is written in an older style and requires a little effort from the reader, but it is a glorious, inspiring work.

I know, I know. I'm on an old-school rant, and I'll stop.

When I grew up, there wasn't any YA genre that I knew of. Really. I don't remember anything back then like the books available now. (Cue Dana Carvey's SNL character, Grumpy Old Man.) "Back in my either read The Little Princess, Little House On the Prairie, Nancy Drew, and Charlotte's Web or you snuck a peek at your mother's books when she wasn't looking. And we liked it, we loved it, we wouldn't have had it any other way."

Kids today are smart, savvy people. They have driven a whole new genre forward and made it grow into a huge industry. YA is mostly uncharted territory for me. Right now, I am reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, (adult fiction), but I have a stack of YA books just waiting on my night stand. The stack includes: City of Bones, hush, hush, Catching Fire, Beautiful Creatures, and Wings. Plus, I have Shiver on order. Exciting, creative things are being written in this ever-expanding category, and I'm looking forward to discovering them.

Are you trying out another genre? What are you looking forward to reading? What's in the stack of books on your night stand? Can you give me a list of your "favorite five" books? I can't wait to hear...


  1. I love the classics as well! Infact, my last post is on The Lady of Shalott. I love a Tale of Two Cities. My mom read it to me when I was in high school and we spent many nights talking about it together.

  2. I love YA and i write YA so my opinion might be different. There was a little YA when i was younger but I read too much and too often for that to be enough. I became a John Grisham fan in Jr. High.

    Not in order (because I couldn't come up with one)

    1. All Harry Potter
    2. Thirteen Reasons Why (must read new YA)
    3. Little Women
    4. Jane Eyre
    5. Forever

  3. As a kid, I read Where the Red Fern Grows far too many times, and cried every time. A Wrinkle in Time I remember liking, but I now remember little of the story.

    I started reading Dean Koontz at 12 because the 'kids' books were too boring for me. I also used to go look for the thickest books in the school library, which is how I discovered three of my all time favorites: Dune, Watership Down, and Mists of Avalon.

    Another favorite is Eyes of the Dragon. At 13, I was madly in love with Prince Peter. At 16 I couldn't get enough of reading Shakespeare. I also loved On the Night of the Seventh Moon when I was seventeen, but I tried to read it again last year and hated the heroine. My, how I've grown.

  4. I switched to adult books pretty early I think - after Lucy Maud Montgomery & Carolyn Keene. I find the strong YA books we have available today encourage a variety of kids to read - which is awesome!

    My top 5 books? Not sure I can do it but...

    Lord of the Rings series
    Anne of Green Gables
    Pern series by Anne McCaffrey
    The Giver/Gathering Blue
    Farenheit 451 (although it's been years since I've read it - but the theme's stuck with me)

  5. I agree with you on the Charles Dickens thing! My book club just read Great Expectations (it was my choice, it has been one of my favorite books since I was 7) No one really liked it but me lol. Hmmm 5 fave books...

    1: Great Expectations
    2: Anything by Edgar Allan Poe
    3: Burned By Ellen Hopkins
    4: The Giver By Lois Lowry
    5: The Bell Jar By Sylvia Plath

  6. My top five. Let's see.

    Jack the Ripper: Case Closed
    I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (on order - should arrive any day now)
    Pet Cemetery
    The Bad Place
    Lord of the Rings

    Those are the only ones I can think of that I've read in the last year.

  7. I love Dickens! Great Expectations is my favorite. Right now I am reading Fallen by Lauren Kate and next up is Fire by Kristin Cashore. My 5 all time favorites are

    all Harry Potter but especially 7
    The Road by Cormac McCarthy
    The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen
    The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
    Twilight Series (I know some people don't care for them, but I love them they sweep me away!)

    Love this post! Fun to hear others favorites

  8. I love your six year old!!!! He's so dang cute. And you are so funny. What are you doing cleaning baseboards? Guess what? I actually made a list the other day (in my morning pages) of my top ten books. So I have this. 1- Harry Potter was the first book that made me want to write 2- Twilight; even though over-hyped, it was the book that finally made me decide "I really am going to write". Other faves: 3- The Stand by "brother Steve" 4- Hunger Games 5- The Giver. What am I doing? You already know my favorite books :)

  9. I'll give you my recent favorites of YA, because I also love literary adult stuff.

    Wild Roses by Deb Caletti
    Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
    Before I Die by Jenny Downham
    The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
    Sweethearts by Sarah Zarr

    I kind of prefer real-life stories to the high-concept stuff that's the current trend. But that's just me.

  10. My absolute favorite is To Kill a Mockingbird. I am reading The Help for my book club this month. It's not something I would normally read but that's why I like having a book club.

  11. Thanks for all those great books. I have read many of them, but there were some new ones as well. I will have to get to my library after I work my way through my current stack.

    80's Queen-- I would totally put To Kill A Mockingbird in my top 5! Then, I'd stretch the number to 10 and add Macbeth, Henry V, Old Man And the Sea, and A Town Like Alice. :)

  12. My husband is an English prof, so we talk books constantly. My top 5 are:

    Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
    How Green Was My Valley, by Richard Llewellyn
    Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger
    As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
    Harry Potter Series