Here is a list of five of my favorite books in the whole wide world. They are not necessarily the top five (although World According to Garp is actually number one). But being that I have only a little window of time I had to stick to five. I will probably write a future blog on five more, then five more, including non-fiction, you know the drill. Oh, and the reasons I like these books are included, at least some of the reasons:
- “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte – Jane was a stalwart, level-headed woman. She knew herself so well. The story itself is a little convoluted but it also overflows with that kind of drama that makes “Real Housewives” look like Real Boring Housewives. And all through the tragedies, not-so-good surprises, back-stabbing, and harsh reality of her life, Jane not only survives but becomes a very solid woman. A woman that is determined to live out her life on her terms. And in the end she greatly benefits by living that creed.
- “The World According to Garp” by John Irving – I first read an excerpt of this book in a magazine for women a long, long time ago. From that I had to read the rest of the story. I fell in love with it. But you have to love a book in which the first sentence reads, “Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater.” The rest of the book does not back away from that first sentence. I felt sheer joy while reading and it never left. Garp suffered tragedies and Irving was not light-handed in this many-layered saga. But the varied contrasts and kaleidoscopic roller coaster ride that is this book made me love it and want to pick it up, time and again.
- “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell – I know there are a lot of parts of this book that paint way too rosy a picture of the south during the Civil War. Granted, the book and movie depicted a south and the topic of slavery with a wide brushstroke of illusory misrepresentation. Margaret Mitchell and Hollywood created a fairy-tale like south for the most part. But the image of war from the movie and the book in which Scarlett has to navigate seriously injured and dead soldiers in the streets of Atlanta speaks volumes about the tragedy of war. Mitchell and David Selznick gave us a front row seat to the carnage that was the Civil War. The book starts with “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins ere.” Scarlett is charming, charismatic, and fascinating. Scarlett, to me, is a real bitch. And I liked her. That’s what makes this book so good. You still root for her although she is a narcissistic, conniving, deceptive, and sometimes crazy woman. She can also be truthful to the point of hurting herself and others; she can be guileless, witty, very smart, an astute business woman, and definitely creative (i.e. velvet curtain dress). At last she figures everything out, her love for Rhett and her love for Tara. That’s really what it is all about, our hearts and our homes.
- “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed – I continuously heard great things about this book. But it just didn’t sound that good. To me a woman hiking anywhere sounded boring. But finally, curiosity got the best of me and I bought it. This was a very good read. At no time was I bored. The author hiked the Pacific Coast Trail by herself in the 1990’s. She faced heat, cold, snow, rain, wild animals, water shortage, hunger, and very sore and mangled feet. That in itself is a story. But the portions of the book in which she goes into her own life situation and reasons for this journey completed this story for me. Her willingness to go on her journey alone and fight both physical demons and psychological ones made the story. Basically it’s a story for us all. We may not hike the PCT but we all have those harsh and scary roads to navigate. And like Cheryl we sometimes can’t even see the road but eventually we find it again. Cheryl not only found it she triumphed over it.
- “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy” by Stieg Larsson – with this last book I am cheating. I actually included three. Because all three are good. Lizbeth Salander is one of the best fiction characters I have come across. She basically has Asperger’s but that does not define her. And paired with Mikael Blomkvist they both become multi-dimensional characters that explode from the pages. The plots aren’t bad either. I usually am not into any type of mystery novels but these had me wanting a huge tattoo of a dragon and booking a trip to Sweden. Read them. You will not be sorry.
Okay, that’s it for now. I’m currently reading Mrs. Dalloway as I just watched The Hours again. There are so many books and well, pardon me, so few hours. Also, I noticed fairly obvious pattern; all of these books are centered around very strong female characters. Imagine that! Thanks for stopping by! Good-bye for now, gentle readers!