Facebook Top 10


So, those of you on facebook may have noticed the top 10 book status updates floating around.  I saw this article in The Atlantic this morning and thought it was pretty interesting to see the trends of these lists.  Several of mine were in the top 100. Here is my quick list of 10 books that have stayed with me (not including religious or childrens’ books):

  1. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
  2. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
  3. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  4. A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  6. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
  7. Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny
  8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  9. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  10. Sabriel by Garth Nix

What are your top 10?  Have you shared them yet?  Did they line up the 100 list or are you an original? Feel free to share.



Life of Pi and Puzzle Reading


I saw this article in The Atlantic this morning, and had to comment.  Life of Pi probably makes the list of my top 10 favorite books, that is…it would if I had a such a list.  As it is, I find such a concept flawed, because I feel that different books serve such completely different purposes, and comparing them is sometimes apples and oranges.

Some of my most favorite books are just great stories, the kind that pull me in, get me invested in the characters, and take me on a journey.  Some of my favorites are the kind of books that teach me something about the world or myself and make me want to be a better person, fight for change, or just see things in a different way.

Then, there are the puzzle books, as I like to think of them.  Life of Pi falls into this category for me.  It is one of those books that I can pull apart, analyze and dissect and try to put it back together to find meaning or perhaps draw conclusions.  I appreciated this article because Lee, who directed the film version, notices all the ways that people are trying to put together the pieces of this story–and how different their interpretations look culturally.

Sometimes it’s nice when a book gives you all the answers, but I suppose I appreciate it even more when I am left to find my own.  I think this is why my favorite book in the Bible is probably Isaiah.  I may not be able to figure out everything he his talking about, but then there is this certain excitement when I can make a few pieces fit here and there.

I recognize that this is pure insanity to many.  My husband is currently reading LIfe of Pi and he keeps asking me about this passage, or that one, and what they mean.  The other day I looked at him and said, “If you want to read something with a straight answer, you’ve got the wrong book.”  He’s still reading it, though, perhaps because he’s the determined kind of person who finishes things, but perhaps because there might be a small part of him that wants to come to his own conclusions, to be asked what he chooses to believe and why…and this book does it better than just about any other.

Happy Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!

Pride and Prejudice turned 200 years old this week. So, although this novel is perhaps not my preferred Austen (that would be Persuasion), it was the first of her novels I read, and is still a favorite.  I specifically remember sitting on my bed on quiet seventh-grade afternoons and reading through this story for the first time…and realizing there was a whole world of great books out there of which I had only just scratched the surface.

It is not a perfect novel, nor perhaps is it very weighty or profound, but there is something universal enough about the characters and issues that have “stood the test of time,” even so much as to become (I believe) part of our Western collective subconscious.  It has certainly become part of mine.

I chose this particular scene because (unlike some of you) I actually really liked the 2005 version.  I thought it transferred the story into digestible cinema (Austen fans probably find the miniseries digestible as well–but we’d be the minority) while retaining a central loyalty to the novel.  My contemporary self liked the everyday-life feeling of this version, and although Kiera Knightly as Elizabeth took some getting used to, she grew on me.  This particular scene, also, is really well-done (hardly cut!), and I like the contrast between the harmony of the dance and the conflict in the dialogue.