Monday, September 8, 2014

I'm Not The Same After...

"In my life there are so many questions and answers that somehow seem wrong. In my life, there are times when I catch in the silence the sigh of a faraway song."
-Les Miserables

On Facebook, I was challenged by several people (I always forget whom) to post a list of ten books that have changed me in some fashion. Generally, I leave such tags alone because who really wants to hear the list? But after being tagged at least twice, perhaps three times, it was beginning to look like Ignoring. So I bent to the will of the people and formulated my list. Unfortunately, ten is much too brief an amount to allow for all the books I might have added. Thus, this list is not exhaustive. Also, it might be a point of interest for some of you to realize that some of these books are not necessarily ultimate favorites, but have made it into the top ten for reasons of how much they have affected me. The books that do count as favorite, must-read titles are highlighted in blue.

1.) A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
2.) The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
3.) The Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Grahame
4.) Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
5.) Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
6.) Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
7.) The Help by Kathryn Stockett
8.) Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
9.) Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
10.) Henry V by William Shakespeare

A Severe Mercy: I first read this book at the prompting of my mother, who had long told me bits and pieces of trivia about this book. Together, my parents read the book in their first year of marriage, and I think it was a good choice. You will never read about a couple more sincere or a love more true. This book, perhaps more than any other, has caught and changed my concept of the bond between two souls.
  The Silver Chair: I think Lewis' reputation stands for itself, but on the outside chance that you're a stranger to the tales of Narnia, I think that you will like this book. I like it because it is more than half fairy-tale and more than half true...if you know what I mean. Also, you don't have to have terribly much prior acquaintance with the characters to enjoy the book, though a good friendship would enhance the experience for you. I think I like it best because of how it makes me ache with hearing "that sigh of a faraway song".
The Wind in The Willows: As I've mentioned before, I am a late-comer to this party. For some odd reason, I boycotted it until the age of twenty-one when I read the book and it caught me across the throat with its beauty. I don't know what it is...the charm of the prose, the idea of mucking about in boats, or the feeling of home-yness about it, but it is pure verbal comfort. Read it.
Winnie-the-Pooh: I don't have to tell you about this one. You know how much I love it and what my mission in life (regarding it) has been.
Orthodoxy: Feeling things keenly but not being the best at common-sensical arguments, I adore books that argue my case with finesse and humor. Chesterton is king at this. There is barely a page on which I didn't underline a quote that struck me. Fine stuff here.
Unbroken: You will never in your life read another book that makes you feel this brave and inspired. The true account of an Olympian-turned-WWII-soldier will erase every concept of what you thought determination and grit were. I am so excited to see the film directed by Angelina Jolie (???) which is set to release on Christmas Day. It'll be hard to watch, but it will be worth it. Louis Zamperini was a hero of heroes.
The Help: A One-liner Description: You will never feel proud of your debut novel again. Honestly, I don't know how Kathryn Stockett did it. This book is gold. I would not be able to believe that it was her debut novel except for the fact that Harper Lee had done it before with her To Kill a Mockingbird. The plot stuck with me because it is similar in setting to stories I have heard from my mother about their help, Laura Bullock, and how she took care of my mother and her siblings while my grandmother worked during the day. Excellent story, execution, and writing.
Steal Like An Artist: I think I'll always remember this little book as the one I cram-read in half an hour while hoping my brother (who owned the book) wouldn't say he needed to leave before I'd finished. If you're looking to be inspired in your art, challenged, and uplifted, this is the book for you. It's like an IV of espresso to the sagging inspiration.
Anne of Green Gables: It's weird to think what sort of person I would be today if I had never read this book. I am being perfectly honest when I tell you that I was greatly affected by the character of Anne Shirley. Avonlea comprised much of my childhood, from setting the stones for my great love (and somewhat expertise of) the Victorian era, to cementing my long-held woe that I was not born a ginger, to the fact that I deeply appreciate the beauty of nature, to introducing me to some grand poetry and much literature. It and I are inextricably combined.
Henry V: Another book for when I want to be brave, all I have to do is read Henry's speech at Agincourt, his St. Crispin's Day admonishment, or the proposal scene and I'm suddenly a lioness. Shakespeare is (TRUISMS) a genius.

What are your favorite books? And yes, I'm smiling evilly because I know you guys can't resist. I do so love starting fads.


Lady Bibliophile said...

Oh, I so want to read Steal Like an Artist! That sounds excellent. And just this year I hear St. Crispin's speech for the first time, and it took my breath away.

Excellent list. Book lists are so fun. Here's mine:

1. Don't Wrestle, Just Nestle, by Corrie Ten Boom--Corrie was a key mentor in my life through her books.
2. It's (Not That) Complicated, by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin--Debunked the myth of perfect, cellophane-wrapped hearts, which took a great burden off my shoulders in the area of emotional purity!
3. "Great Expectations", by Charles Dickens--This got me started at the age of 12 on my Dickens adventures. He's been my favorite author ever since, and has had a profound effect on my writing.
4. "The Hole in Our Holiness", by Kevin DeYoung--Kevin takes the fear out of the concept of holiness without diminishing God's glory one jot.
5. "Crazy Busy", by Kevin DeYoung--If you're busy--you should read this. Short, funny, to the point.
6. "The High Deeds of Finn MacCool", by Rosemary Sutcliff--While I'm not fond of mythology or legends, the conversations I've had with friends after reading Finn MacCool are worth their weight in gold.
7. "The Lord of the Rings", by J.R.R. Tolkien--The scope of his Middle Earth--the biblical grounding in creation and fantasy, the multigenerational legacy--laughter and tears and glory and hardships and epic quests and epic redemption.
8. "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy", by Eric Metaxas--My first detailed acquaintance with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. An amazing man.
9. "One Thousand Gifts", by Ann Voskamp--It brought me to tears again and again.
10. Would it be awful to say my own novel, "War of Loyalties"? It's not published yet, but it's had a profound impact on me in friendships, wrestling with the Lord in prayer, and gaining writing experience. :)

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

This must have been a tag that's gone around and come around. I did something similar last summer, inspired by a post of Bree Holloway's—except it was five books instead of ten.

Oh, and I think I've solved the riddle of the pears. Look for it tomorrow. :)