Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ten Books That Stayed With Me

It's funny how a question will just stay with you sometimes, niggling away at your brain.  Who are my favorite writers, what are my favorite books--how tempting it is to rate and classify, and how impossible!  There is a book called The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books, edited by J. Peder Zane--a fun book to go through, and probably a good resource for adding to your TBR pile, but a book that will tend to send me into paroxysms of doubt.  Choosing a top ten list is just too weighty and difficult; but I could choose ten books that have stayed with me--that I could do.  So, here it is, a list of ten books that have stayed with me long after I read them.  They might also be the ten best books in the universe, I don't know, but they are ten books that lingered in my memory, that I just couldn't forget.

1.  The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
2.  Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
3.  Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
4.  The Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos
5.  The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
6.  The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
7.  East of Eden by John Steinbeck
8.  The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
9.  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
10. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

Wow, that was still hard.  Looking over my list (which I kept changing) I notice that the books all have to do with either morality or memory, or both. 

What are some of the books that have stayed with you? 


Anonymous said...

A real great list lisa ,I d really find it hard to pin down ten books myself ,but you've choosen such a wide selection all the best stu

B said...

Great list. I think I would have to put the Bluest Eye on mine as well. Also Things Fall Apart, The Mill on the Floss and The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

Kerry said...

I love this concept. Of your list, I've only read East of Eden, and that I feel I need to re-read to appreciate. I would second Brenna's Things Fall Apart, and add Love in the Time of Cholera, Winter's Tale, and Letter to My Daughter to my list (for now, at least - I'll have to keep mulling this one over).

tea lady said...

How shameful, I have read NONE of those!

Books that have stayed with me off the top of my head would be Ada or Ardor by Nabokov, The Little Friend by Donna Tartt, Pollard by Laura Beatty and Wuthering Heights to name but a few.

Anonymous said...

The books that have stayed with me, off the top of my head and in no specific order are The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum and, of course, Don Quixote by Cervantes.

Greg Zimmerman said...

That's a great way to approach that "favorite book" question - which, as you point out, is impossible to answer. I'm impressed that you've read The Magic Mountain! ;)

Three books that have stayed with:
The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay
Trinity, by Leon Uris
The Brothers K, by David James Duncan

Grad said...

Of your list, I've only read Anna Karenina and Turn of the Screw and I agree with you on both of them. My list would definintely include Les Misrables (which is also my favorite novel)and A Tale Of Two Cities. This is really a great idea for a post.

Suzanne said...

I read Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl when I was 8 or 9 and I have never forgotten it. It got me interested (if that's the right word) in the Holocaust, even if I will never understand it.

I like your list -- a celebration of the effect of classic books.

bibliophiliac said...

@stu-now on to Don Quixote!
@Brenna-I love The Mill on the Floss as well-haven't read The Elegance of the Hedgehog (yet)
@Kerry-Winter's Tale is a good one. I do want to read Love in the Time of Cholera
@tea lady- those are good ones too!
@Man of La Books-I'm about to start Don Quixote

bibliophiliac said...

@Greg-I'm surprised David Foster Wallace isn't on your list;) The Magic Mountain is so good-I want to read more Mann, but his books look so intimidating...
@Grad-I know you have experience with ghosts! I reread Turn of the Screw last year, and it is so chilling, even on a second read.

bibliophiliac said...

@Suzanne-I like the Diary of Anne Frank for this list too, I read it at twelve or thirteen and still vividly remember her voice...

Judith said...

I am so in sync with you concerning Crime and Punishment and The Turn of the Screw. I remember so well the time and situations in which I read both books. They are incredible, mind-blowing reads.

I know both books would be well worth my time if I reread them. But there are so many other books. Help!

Bev Hankins said...

Last time I saw this kind of post, it was for 15 books that stay with you...so in no particular order...

1. Persuasion (Austen)
2. The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes (Doyle)
3. The Complete French Poems (Rilke)
4. The Night is Large (Martin Garnder)
5. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
6. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wilde)
7. Paradise News (David Lodge)
8. A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (Julian Barnes)
9. The Four Loves (C S Lewis)
10. Through Blood & Fire: Selected Civil War Papers of Major General Joshua Chamberlain
11. The Time Machine (Wells)
12. The Confessions (Rousseau)
13. Flatland (Edward Abbott)
14. Strong Poison (Dorothy L Sayers)
15. Any Nancy Drew (only because those books started my love affair with the mystery story)

Amanda said...

Funny enough, on my list of 10 books that stayed with me, I have a Faulkner and a Steinbeck book, but both are different than your picks. (As I Lay Dying and Grapes of Wrath). :)

bibliophiliac said...

@Amanda-both the books you named could go on my list too. I'm a Faulkner fanatic, and I've probably read As I Lay Dying 3 or 4 times. As for Grapes of Wrath, I never read it until last year (gasp) but thought it was brilliant.

bibliophiliac said...

@Bev-I was a Nancy Drew girl too. It's almost embarrassing how much I loved those books! Nancy w/ her "Titian hair" and her roadster! Of course, her hair color changed from book to book, as I recall! I also loved how her boyfriend, Ned, seemed to always need Nancy to rescue him....

Lisa said...

Hmmm--I'm going to have to give this some thought and maybe have to do a post, too. The Diary of Anne Frank would be one it, as would As I Lay Dying, but from there my mind is a blank. It's been a long week, lol!