A Wench Classic post from a while back…looking this post over, I realized that so much of this still applies, and it would be fun to revisit the All-Time Keeper list (the ATK!). These still apply for me, and I'd love to know if yours have new additions …
Pondering the books on my bookshelves – many, many well-thumbed volumes, dusty or in use, and more than a few of them, ahem, not entirely read – I started thinking about the books that have found a permanent place in my heart and my thoughts. We've all read a staggering number of books in our lives (some of us have time to read a staggering number every week/month/year!) — yet only a fraction of those stick with us forever. For each of us, that list is undoubtedly different, with a few beloved stories in common. (I'm talking fiction here, though an all-time keeper list of nonfiction would be a fun blog — I'll try that next time!)
I have a short list (and a really loooooooong list) of books that I will always remember — books that have moved me, made me think, thrilled me with story or characters or artfulness of writing–and the best hit all three elements at once in wild and wonderful combinations. For me, the quality of the writing is as important as the story and characters, and the ones I love best weave it all masterfully together.
Some books are part of my ATK list for emotional, personal, and very individual reasons. Some stories have influenced or touched me deeply at certain points in my life and are sentimental favorites, some have taught me something I needed to learn at the time, and others kept me going or gave me a temporary escape hatch when I needed one. I'll be forever grateful to those books, and those authors.
What books would you list as your ultimate favorites? What books are the cream of the crop for you personally, books that will stay with you forever, treasured on your bookshelf and in your heart and head. What books have resonated so deeply with you that you will read them again and again, or at least keep them on your shelves always?
Here's a list of some of my ultimate favorites, off the top of my head — I'm not home today to peruse my bookshelves and remind myself, so these are the ones that pop to mind first. Some are "great" or classic books, some are personally dear to me, some are gorgeously written, and some are just cracking good stories.
And I'd love the time to read them all again, and recapture the wonderful sense of thrill and discovery and resonance that I experienced when I first read them. The intriguing question — would I recapture that feeling? I'm a different person now than when I read some of these. Hmm…. anyway, here are SOME of my classic fave reads…the whole list would be very long and is always growing….
In no particular order:
The Ivy Tree, Moonspinners, This Rough Magic, The Crystal Cave…and just about anything by Mary Stewart (these are my comfort reads, exquisite writing and masterful storytelling)
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (just breathtaking in all its aspects)
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (my classic read)
Anne of Cambray, Mary Lide (what a poet can do with a medieval romance — exquisite)
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (I read this five times in high school!)
The Wolf and the Dove, Kathleen Woodiwiss (my treasured introduction to historical romance) — and the quick list of some of my favorite historical romances, ever: Prince of Midnight, Laura Kinsale, Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase, The Wild Child, Mary Jo Putney, Tapestry of Dreams, Roberta Gellis…and way too many more to count….
Pippi Longstocking (really this could be #1 on my hit list, if we are gauging pure enjoyment)
The Far Pavilions, M.M. Kaye (another sentimental favorite, as I was stuck in a hospital bed the week I read it, so this is one of those savior books for me)
Vision of Light, Judith Merkle Riley (adored it, start to finish, thank you, Judith!)
The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkein (and the rest of the series, though The Hobbit for me was The Best Ever in fantasy and the epic, leading into the visionary storytelling of LOTR)
Henderson the Rain King, Saul Bellow (deep, insightful, poignant, wacky, funny, dark and fascinating — I loved it the first time I read it for a college course, and have read it since, gobbling its rich and dynamic and slightly crazy story.)
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (dazzling writing, wild and gorgeous story and craft)
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (moved me as a kid, when I didn't fully understand it, and as an adult, when I did)
Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Undset (masterful on every level, with an unforgettable characters and setting)
Moby Dick, Herman Melville (once I got past the "assigned reading" mentality, I loved it–pure writing, as good as it gets in parts)
A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens (I love his work, but of all of his books, this and A Christmas Carol speak most closely to me)
So there's a few of my all-time ultimate champion books … I'm sure there are more, and there are a TON of romances to add. As soon as I go downstairs, I'll look at my bookshelves and smack my forehead: "Oh yeah! that one! and that one too!"….
I'd love to know some of your all-time favorites. We all respond to books individually and the favorites may differ widely…and yet, some of them I am willing to bet are exactly the same….