Friday, May 04, 2012

Posted by Laurel Garver on Friday, May 04, 2012 14 comments
How would you characterize "favorite" books? I tend to think of them as ones I read over and over. Perhaps they take me to wonderful places I want to revisit again and again, or they allow me to spend time with characters I love.

But then there's this other kind of "favorite": books created a shift in my life--either how I understand the world or how I want to live in it. But these are not necessiarily the kinds of books one can read over and over. You read them, they change you. Were you to approach these texts again, you would not experience the same tectonic shift, because you're already different. But by golly, you sure want other people to experience that transformation, too.

Here are just a few of my "tectonic shift favorites," and themes they touch on:

Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton (injustice and atonement)
Dead Man Walking, Helen Prejean (justice)
Glittering Images, Susan Howatch (authenticity)
The Heartbreaker, Susan Howatch (redemption)
The High Flyer, Susan Howatch (authenticity)
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (regret)
Sapphira and the Slave Girl, Willa Cather (powerlessness)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte (courage)
Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott (grace)
Witchwood, John Buchan (deceitfulness of sin)

What are some of your "tectonic shift favorites"?

14 comments:

  1. Wow! I haven't read any of the books on your list. I guess it's time to hit the library.

    Off the top of my head, books that have really impacted me are Jane Eyre, Persuasion, My Name is Asher Lev, and Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History.

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    1. You've got some great ones on your list, Connie. I have read loads of Potok, and also really loved the Asher Lev books (did you pick up the sequel, The Gift of Asher Lev? It's amazing.)

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  2. Illusions by Richard Bach (the essence of God)
    The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (believe it or not, the essence of God)
    Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (great literary romance writing)
    Walden by Henry David Thoreau (the essence of man)

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    1. Based on your list, I think you might like Garcia Marquez for the romance, the Lamott for an alternate take on Christianity, and Howatch's High Flyer as an example of women's fiction that takes on clashing ways of understanding spirituality from the POV of a skeptic.

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  3. Man, I have so much to read. The only book I've read on your list is Cry, the Beloved Country. I should make a reading list based on your tectonic shift books!

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    1. I think a few of these might be available for free on Kindle--possibly the Bronte and Cather, since they're now in the public domain.

      I've begun keeping a book "bucket list" that I try to chip away at year after year. I have several Russian tomes on mine.

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  4. Thank you for the list. I've saved this in my favorites to refer to when I need a new book to read. christy

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    1. You're welcome. A few of these are in the public domain and may be available free for Kindle.

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  5. Drinking the Rain, by Alix Kates Shulman (instead of a mid-life crisis, it's about a mid-life rejuvenation)
    The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac (influenced my writing style and led me to discover the writing of the Beat generation, and also to do a lot of wonderful reading about Buddhism)

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    1. Mid-life rejuvination sounds appealing. My friend who's a life coach might especially love this one! I've read a fair amount of Beat poetry (another tectonic shift--poetry can be angry and earthy, not just butterflies and daffodils!) but not much of the prose. Scratch that, I do remember reading a fair amount in a literary journalism course I took: "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" and some others. There is a gritty fearlessness to the Beats that's invigorating.

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  6. I haven't read any on your list. But I love books that stay with me long after I read them. The Sky is Everywhere did that for me. And many others I just can't think of them all.

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    1. You're in launch day zone, so you're totally off the hook for remembering book lists! :-D

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  7. I was wondering whether you would be happy to put up a link in my brand new monthly series called “Books You Love”. The idea is for people to link up posts about a book they loved – it doesn’t have to be one they just posted about. It could be an old fave. I am hoping we will end up with a nice collection of books that can go on our reading lists. Here is the link Books You Loved May Edition

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    1. Thanks for the invitation, Carole. I'll go check it out.

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