Thursday, September 20, 2012

Five Crazy Things: Indelible Books

Barbara: In another lovely serendipitous twist, last week I appealed to a local college for admittance into a creative writing course that had been categorized as “closed”. On Monday afternoon, they let me know I could take it. On Monday night, I was sitting in my first college class since, well, college! It was so so so so wonderful. One of our assignments was to list the first ten novels we thought of when asked which ones have made an indelible impression on us (and they don’t need to be fancy-shmancy, super-impressive books).

Now I throw the question out to you! But, of course, we’re doing FIVE only. I know you will all have dozens of favourite books for a myriad of wonderful reasons, but the real curiosity is: which FIVE do you think of FIRST?

1. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
2. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer
4. 100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
5. A Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

All of these stopped my heart over and over: the language; the stories that pull you in, revealing the contortions and marvels of life, its ugly side, and its (yes, here’s that word again) serendipity; the unending spirit; the circular symmetry of life; and the fascinating enigma that is the human soul.

1.  Father Joe
2.  The Lovely Bones
3.  Watership Down
4.  Rebecca
5.  The Chrysalids


  1. I'm a picky My list will contain only five this time! XD

    1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    2. You can heal your Life by Louise Hay
    3. Harry Potter Series (Ofcourse!) By Jo Rowling
    4. Sara, Books 1, 2 and 3 by Abraham-Hicks
    5. Ask and it is given by Abraham-Hicks

    BTW if any of you...know some good positive-vibey books.... please lemme know
    Barb you know the kinda stuff I like....if you know any books that might interest me let me know! :)

    1. Still reading mostly fiction, so can't really recommend any like that... will think on it!

    2. Shalaka~ i will leave you with my all time favorite 4.... ENJOY!

      "The Four Agreement" & "The Mastery of Love", By don Miguel Ruiz's

      "The Power of Now" & "A New Earth", By Eckhart Tolle


    3. XOXOX
      Sean'a!!!! LOL

    4. Thanks Seana! Sent you a THANK YOU message on facebook as well!! :)

    5. I was going to suggest "The Four Agreements" and "The Power of Now"!

      Other books you might like: "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown, "The Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain de Botton, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom (fiction), or any book by Byron Katie.

      Just a few suggestions :-)


  2. 1. Contract with an Angel by Andrew Greeley
    2. Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky
    3. In My Father's House by Corrie ten Boom
    4. The Bishop and the Missing L Train by Andrew Greeley
    5. Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

    1. Oops. Looking at other people's lists, I realized I may have violated Barbara's parameters. I didn't stay with novels. Three from my preliminary list are nonfiction. I went with picking from books as a whole. It's a rare novel that impacts me and stays with me on a soul deep level for years. I have a strong preference for nonfiction. Sorry. *shrugs*

      Let me try this another way. Barbara may classify this as cheating, but it is the most accurate and truthful way I can answer. This is the realest, truest, most sincere and honest way I can answer about indelible books.

      Top 5 Indelible, Personally Impactful (for whatever strange reasons) Fiction Books:
      1. Contract with an Angel by Andrew Greeley
      2. The Bishop and the Missing L Train by Andrew Greeley
      3. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
      4. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
      5. Uhura's Song by Janet Kagan

      Top 5 Indelible, Personally Impactful (for whatever strange reasons) Nonfiction Books:
      1. Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky
      2. In My Father's House by Corrie ten Boom
      3. Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott
      4. Tough Times Strong Women from Reminisce Books, editor Mike Beno
      5. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

      Sorry, Barbara, but doing this any other way felt off kilter to the point of making me feel all squirmy and uncomfortable.

    2. No worries, Rigel. And he did ask for "books", I interpreted novels, and more importantly, the "books" are the thing, right? PLus I LOVE Operating Instructions (haven't read the rest...)

    3. Barbara -

      I am CERTAIN that you would love, love, LOVE Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky. Please take that one as a must read!

  3. Have just been catching up on the last few weeks- I haven't had a laptop and my belly is getting too big and uncomfortable to let me go sit in our study at the desktop in the evenings. Btw Shalaka- I found out I'm definitely having a boy, when are you flying over to paint my nursery blue?? :)

    1. The Lorax- can Dr Seuss count as a novel..?? My mum used to read it to me every night as a kid and would say that the most important thing you can do is be an advocate for those with no voice
    2. The Dud Avocado- it made me pack up and move to Paris at 22
    3. Wide Sargasso Sea
    4. To Kill a Mockingbird
    5. A Handmaid's Tale- I read this when I was 17 and it has never stopped haunting me!


      YES!!!! I'M ON MY WAY!!!!!!! :D

    2. Yay, a boy!! My pastor and his wife (who I consider a second set of parents) are having a boy next month! Yay for boys! :D

    3. So happy for you!!! A BABY BOY!!!! YAY!!!

    4. Samara, woo-hoo!!!!! so excited for you!!!! xoxo

  4. 1. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
    2. The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende - truly a beautiful story. WAY better than the movies (although I love the first movie). Is is deep, a little dark and very magical.
    3. The Magician's Nephew by CS Lewis. I love all the Narnia books, but this one in particular is my favorite.
    4. Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden (big fan of the movie, too)
    5. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

    1. Oh, Molly! *hugs* I'm going to be singing this to myself ALL DAY! <3 :)

    2. The Narnia books were on my list of ten!

  5. 1. Geek Love
    2. A Fine Balance
    3. Little Women
    4. The Borrowers
    5. Brave New World

    1. Oh, somehow I forgot about Little Women, Little Men, and Jo's Boys. Little Women defined my childhood. I have read it so many times. Even started using the term "Marme" for my mother!

    2. Little Women, yes! Still remember that one from my young days...

  6. Can anyone else not see Deb's 5 books? They are appearing but are in some weird computer code looking stuff.....Odd, but maybe it is just my connection.
    Ok my five
    1. Sherlock Holmes The complete colection by Doyle
    2 Origin of the Species by Darwin.
    3 The Sarclet Lerrer...I forget who wrote this but its a classic so I'm sure someone here knows : )
    4 The Great Gatsby..Again I'm not too good woth authors....sorry
    5 To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
    and since you said novels I am making this number 6 sice it is just a story book : ) Growing up I loved a book called Dont Forget the Oatmeal. Basically Bert and Ernie had to go food shopping for oatmeal, and you guessed it they come home with everything but oatmeal : ) I dont know why but I loved this book as a kid. I made my mom keep this book and it is now on my shelf looking very worn and tattered because I read it so much as a kid : ) For some reason I loved that silly book.

    1. Yeah! I can see her list.... ya know what maybe its a internet glitch try refreshing the page.

    2. OOoooo, Kelly, that would be a GREAT topic for another day. "What Books Do You Most Happily Remember From Childhood"? Oh, I would LOVE that to be a Tues. or Thurs. Please, Deb and Barbara!?!?

    3. Or.....Favourite Cartoons!!!! ohhh Please girls lets have a 'favourite cartoons' post on tues or thursday. PRETTY PLEASE!

    4. YES!!! *runs across the internet to tacklehug Shalaka* YES! BRILLIANT!!! Oh, pleeeease, Deb and Barbara!?!?!?! Childhood books! Childhood cartoons! PLEASE?!?!

      p.s. I thought of you, Shalaka, while I was tidying up my pinterest last night (#teaminsomnia). Look for it... look for it... keep scrolling... keep scrolling...

    5. Oh I love the childhood and cartoon topics!!! Please Deb and Barbara!!! Please : ) <3

    6. *RUNS TO TACKLEHUG RIGEL* THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!! The childhood books topics inspired me!!!

      What am I looking for??? I saw and LOVED ALL THE ALL THE FILLION PICTURES.... Grrrrrrrrr.....!!! and Tennant....Grrrr!!! Is that what you want me see?

    7. Oh yeah...saw that......LOVE.THAT.SCENE!!!!!!!!! She's so cute <3<3<3
      Thanks Rigel :*

    8. Literature nerd here.
      The Scarlet Letter is by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Great Gadsby is by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Read both and loved Gadsby (just not a fan of Puritan literature, but respected the writing of SL).

    9. I can see them, no problem.

      OH, Great Gatsby. Love it!

    10. Great Gatsby, yes!!! PS I will jot down your 5 crazy things ideas, ladies. You are too adorable!

    11. Great that in school and in university, and never understood it. *lol*

  7. It was very hard to keep this list at 5, but here are mine. They are culled from different times in my life, and I have re-read them all at least once!

    1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    2. Marjorie Morningstar

    3. Handmaids Tale

    4. A Fine Balance

    5. The Road

    1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn -- why did I not remember that one? That truly was the single most influential book of my childhood!

    2. Me too! I still remember when I finished it. It was the longest book I had read to date. Gave me the confidence to read on!

  8. p.s. Barbara,

    "She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." - Louisa May Alcott


    1. Love Alcott!!! I have used this quotation so many times...

  9. the problem with being the only Irish person here is that by and large i have picked books by authors you might not have heard of . oh well i will do my best to explain as i go along .

    1: round Ireland with a fridge by Tony Hawks . this is a comedy travel book of an unusual trip round Ireland . Tony Hawks is an english comedian who , back in 1997 , made a drunken bet with a friend of his he couldn't hitch hike round Ireland with a fridge after telling a story about seeing someone else trying to hitch hike home with a fridge on a previous trip over here. i admit i had avoided reading this book for a good while as i thought it would portray the Irish in a totally stereotypical way . i am happy to be wrong the book is very funny and gives a very fair and funny image of the Irish . it is a true story too by the way .

    2:he barrytown trilogy by Roddy Doyle . doyle's first 3 books the commitments , the snapper and the van . they were written when he was still a teacher in killbarack in Dublin , in the late 80's early 90's . find out more about roddy doyle here

    3: Michael Palin's travel books . i love to learn about far away places .

    4: moab is my wash pot and the fry chronicles by Stephen Fry . part one and two of his autobiography .

    5 under the eye of the clock by Christopher Nolan . Christopher Nolan was an author who over came his cerebral palsy with the help of her mother and a small amount of medication to write 3 books . sadly he died in 2009 . this is the account of his childhood and how he became an author . he was 15 when his first book , dam burst of dreams was published .

    1. Linda,

      How funny - the Barrytown Trilogy, "Round Ireland..." and Stephen's autobiographies are firm favourites of mine as well. They didn't make my top 5, but they're in the top 10 for sure! I love how "Fridge" shows the Irish as extremely helpful and always up for fun (something which was proven right when we went there on holiday last year). "Barrytown" is just amazingly funny - love the Rabbitte family, especially James Sr. in "The Van".
      And Stephen...well, no need to elaborate, really!

      Anyway, just wanted to let you know you're not alone in your love for Irish novels ;-)


    2. That's actually amazing that Margo has so many on her fave-list! I haven't read any of them, but I do remember when The Commitments came out as a movie. Totally loved it! Love it, I mean.

  10. 1. Platonov by Anton Tsehov (read it and also I have seen the play with my friend. I might have also seen this from the telly when I was young)
    2. The Mother by Maxim Gorky (Had to read from a foreing writer in litterature class when I was younger and I chose this. It has just stuck with me ever since.)
    3. One thousand and one nights (We used to sit a lot in the car during summer time and me and my sister had these books as travel reading. It was a series of five or six thick books.)
    4. Misery by Stephen King (read it in finnish and english. Also seen the movie. I actually liked the movie (nowadays if it is based on kings book it is not a good movie).)
    5. Disc world series by Terry Pratchett (Read all that I have had my hands on. I think there still are few that I haven't read. I have seen two movies and can't wait to see the rest.)

    There's my five. :)

    1. When looking for movies from Stephen King stories, look for the name Frank Darabont. He has the PERFECT touch. "Shawshank Redemption" and "Green Mile" were both done by him and were EXCELLENT.

    2. I also read many of the "Disc World" series because my 2nd husband LOVED Pratchett. I lost my interest in them when we lost interest in being married anymore. :)

    3. Thank you for the tip, Dawn. I need to keep that name in mind. Oh I liked both the green mile and Shawshank redemption! It is so difficult to find a good horror movie these days. I wish I had more time to read books other than school books.

    4. Hey, I'm reading the 1001 Nights right now! Read them as a kid and loved them, but wanted to use them as inspiration for my next book. So excited to read them again!

    5. yay, Misery! Read the book, watched the movie, and a play (the play was so awesome! Two actors on stage for three hours without a break! Amazing!)

    6. Barb: That would definately be a one thing that I would love to get my hands on again.

      Becki: I would love to see it as a play!

  11. Here we go (there's probably going to be more than 5):

    1. The Hobbit- JR Tolkien
    2. Lord of the Rings series
    3. Harry Potter series
    4. Unbroken- Laura Hillenbrand (YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!)
    5. A Separate Peace- John Knowles
    6. The Stand- Stephen King (yes, it is long, but worth it!)
    7. The Five People You Meet in Heaven- Mitch Albom
    8. Tuesdays with Morrie- same as above (get some tissues)
    9. To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee

    oh gosh there's SO MANY MORE!
    I miss reading. I wish I did it more...

  12. Thanks for sharing that link Rigel. I had never seen the music video before. Although I've known for years it was a dude singing the song, I still have a hard time believing it. :)

  13. Okay gonna try this again : (

    1. To Kill a Mockingbird - loved the book and made my kids watch the movie

    2. My Friend Flicka - took this book out of the library so many times when
    I was a young girl the librarian finally took pity and said you know that
    Mary O'Hara wrote a series of three books based on the McLaughlin family?
    I have read all three numerous times.

    3. The Horse Whisperer (and The Loop) same author both excellent reads

    4. Five People you Meet in Heaven - Very good and very thought provoking, my
    favorite kind of book.

    5. Mustang - a true story of a woman named Annie who went to great measures
    to try to save the wild mustangs of Nevada from extinction and put a stop
    to the inhumane ways the herds were being controlled.

    * as an extra I have read any and all the Bonanza books that have come out based on the series because someone had to

    1. I read "Five People...", too, but I was kind of disappointed...maybe I should re-read it.

    2. I think it's a movie too, which I think we're supposed to watch for our Death and Dying class. I better confirm that and make sure we're not just supposed to read the book? But it is a good read like so many others mentioned here

  14. * The 5 People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
    * IT - Stephen King
    * Watership Down - Richard Adams
    * Shoeless Joe - W. P. Kinsella(the book that inspired "Field of Dreams")
    * Les Misérables - Victor Hugo
    * Harry Potter (even better when read by Stephen Fry!)


    1. I would love to read Les Miserable someday. Beyond excited for the movie in December. I've also seen it live in London- amazing! :)

    2. Holly, me too! Seeing the show in London made me want to read the book so badly. Starting with the abridged version - though nothing I think beats the complete version: you get to know AAAALL you ever wanted to know about the Paris sewer system ;-)

      Is the movie coming out in December already!? Can't wait to see what Hugh does with the role!

      PS love your book list btw

    3. Kudos for IT. I couldn't make it through Watership Down when I first tried to read it many moons ago. Maybe I'll try again.

    4. Liked Les Mis when I read it. Looking forward to the film too!

  15. . To Kill a Mockingbird
    2. The Little Pony
    3.Little House on the Prairie (1st hardcover I read)
    4. Travels with Charlie
    5. Rascal

  16. 1. Rose Madder - Stephen King
    2. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer
    3. The Object of My Affection - Stephen McCauley
    4. IT - Stephen King
    5. Strike Two - Ron Luciano

    1. OH, novels. Take out John Krakauer, put in Lightning by Dean Koontz.


    3. Honorable mention goes to "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle. Read this a LOT as a teen.

    4. Kudos for IT ;-) For me it was a tough decision between IT and The Green Mile, but since we're talking books, not movies, IT got the vote!

  17. Oh my, you have made this hard on me!
    1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Such an interesting study on what it means to be human.
    2. The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde. This is the book that I read during my first year of university that made me realize I had decided to pursue the right career and that I did, in fact, know a bit about literature.
    3. Jurassic Park by Michael Critchton. I grew up watching the movie and read the book when I was old enough and loved it. For a long time I wanted to be a paleotologist.
    4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. One of the first novels that I really examined from a literary standpoint. This novel made me realize that you don't always have to agree with the author of a text, and that your opinions and thoughts may be valid.
    5. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Just an amazing book by an amazing author. I loved the character of Raskolnikov.
    Okay, I am limiting myself to ONLY 5....*sigh*....for now...

  18. It seems a lot of people have books that actually fit into the category of "literature" on their list. My brain appears to appreciate the fine art of junk food instead. :)

    1. LOL! Dawn! Hey, don't worry. Only 2 of my 5 fiction choices are "literature" (The Good Earth and A Little Princess --- LOOOOOVE both!).

      And, the key with both was that I read both on my own and loved them. I think if I'd been forced to read them for school and had an English teacher pillage them, they'd've been ruined for me! A lot of people have told me they didn't like The Good Earth. First question I always ask is, "Did you have to read it for English class?" And, the dislikes always answer, "Yes!"

      I'm so glad I got to take both on my own terms and fall in love with them. I first read A Little Princess when I was in, ooohhhh, age 9 or so. And, I have read it MANY times since. Many, many. And, I first read The Good Earth in high school on my own as a checked out library book. I have since reread it many times.

      Deb - Did you ever read the copy of A Little Princess you got in London?

  19. 1.) "Invisible Monsters" by Chuck Palahniuk - The only thing (other than apathy) that got me through high school.

    2.) "Odd Thomas" by Dean Koontz - Makes you feel perfectly normal about being predominantly weird.

    3.) "Between The Bridge And The River" by Craig Ferguson - If a bumble bee can fly, so can you.

    4.) "Ordinary People" by Judith Guest - Don't hold grudges. It only feeds the monsters in us.

    5.) "Catcher In The Rye" by J.D. Salinger - Even though I thought he was mostly obnoxious, I REALLY wanted to date Holden Caulfield. Oh, and all that stuff about saving the kids was nice.

  20. Barb, maybe not surprisingly, I could easily put three of your five on my list... Now I'm trying to unsee yours to truly do mine off the cuff:

    1. Boys & Girls Together or Color of Light (both William Goldman so I can tie them);

    2. Prayer for Owen Meany;

    3. History of Love (which is the other side to her hubby's Extremely Loud and which is totally right up there with History...);

    4. A Wrinkle in Time;

    5. Marcelo in the Real World.

    1. Wrinkle in Time was my honorable mention. Good taste!

  21. and woot! to enjoying your class! :)

  22. Hey all, I was trying to answer every comment above, but my blogger wouldn't let me past the last one I entered!! Anyway, soooooo many great books here. Gae, you know now I'll have to check out History of Love. Dawn, I love some "junk food" reading too -- Stephen King is a fabulous writer (I think). The Stand made a HUGE impression on me. So many books here I want to read, or re-read. So many books that would've made my longer list (Watership Down, Catcher in the Rye, etc, etc)

  23. Ah no...difficult! I love reading soooo much.

    btw...I was named Rebekka (my Mom prefered the k-version :P) after the book.^^

    1. Misery (Stephen King): my first Stephen King novel. I've been a fan ever since, and have read almost every book.

    2. Waiting for Godalming (Robert Rankin): This book (or this author) is hilarious! I looove that book so much. And it has footnotes. I love footnotes!

    3. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak): What an amazing book! Set in WW2 (I can't stop reading about this period...or watching documentaries...or visit museums and places). It's wonderful!

    4. Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone (JK Rowling): I love them all, but this is how everything started.

    5. I guess I should add a German book...but I can't decide...oh and btw I prefer reading english books...the language always sounds better, don't know why...and it's kind of mean, because we have some really great writers in Germany.
    Ok....(I went to my bookshelf...discovered a bunch of books I adore...) and I take:
    Tintenherz (Cornelia Funke): She is amazing! And her books are like magic (maybe you've seen the movie...but trust me, the books are so much more intense).

    1. Oh...Tintenherz is of course Inkheart.

    2. My son LOVED reading the book Inkheart!

    3. Awww, did he read the others, too? It's a trilogy.

    4. I've read all three of them! I was thinking about putting it in as one, but decided to go with Prattchet instead. Wasn't too impressed about the movie though.

    5. Me, neither...but I hardly ever like a movie that was made from a book.

    6. Becki, loved The Book Thief! Speaking of WWII books - have you read these: "Boy in the Striped Pajamas" by John Boyne or "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana De Rosnay?

  24. 1. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. (Runner-up is her Ariel.)
    2. Annie on My Mind, by Nancy Garden.
    3. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
    4. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway. (It was impossible to choose on Hemingway; I love everything he's ever written.)
    5. Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw. (Technically a play, but probably my favorite of his, and that is also a very tough choice.)

  25. 1. The Hobbit
    2. Illusions - Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
    3. Brave New World
    4. Lord of the Rings
    5. Curious George Rides a Bike

  26. 1. Anne of Green Gables (Hellllloooo! Am I really the first to choose Anne?)
    2. The Color of Water
    3. Jane Eyre
    4. Secret Life of Bees
    5. The Grapes of Wrath
    This really makes me aware of just how bad my memory is...really wish I had a list of all the books I have read!
    Special shout out for the fifty or so books I read by Enid Blyton during adolescents.

  27. I have the 'gift' of forgetting, which means I can read a great book a number of times and every time its like the first (though I do remeber once I get into the meat of it) So without going to a book shelf, this is. What I do remember:

    By Grand Central Station I sat down and Wept

    The Bluest Eye (this one haunts me still)

    The Red Tent

    The Secret Life of Bees

    Any of the James Harriot series - read them all repeatedly.

    I would like to see top 5 self Help books, added to the list. That could be interesting.

  28. I too can NEVER remember the books I have read, which is why picking the ones I do remember is so frustrating: were they truly the best? were they the most influential? In the end, I have to trust that they might not have been the best books I ever read, but they were certainly the most indelible ... by virtue of the fact that I remember them! I've rarely tried to read a book more than once. I love the idea of it, and have gotten a lot of it the times I have, but am too worried I won't have time to read all the other books I want to read (I am, btw, a slow reader).

    And, yes, The Hobbit was enormously influential in my early years. Loved that book!

    1. I really need to read The Hobbit..have this book for years, but never even started it.

      And I'm so looking forward to seeing Martin Freeman playing the hobbit. He's so adorable.


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