Yesterday Mary posted her top ten favorite books, inspired by a program she had heard on MPR. After reading her post I thought, "Well, that should be fun.. what are my top ten books then..". And here is where I got stuck.
What criteria should I use? Should it be books that have inspired me? Can't think of one. How about books that have changed my world view? The only one I can think of is 1984 by George Orwell and I wouldn't really call it a favorite book. I'm sure my world view has been affected by my reading, just not overtly. Just not in a way where I put down the book and think "Gosh, I've had it all wrong" or "Well, that changes how I think about that". It is perplexing.
So, finally I decided it should be books that I loved so much that I would read it again, and again, and again. The kind of book that grows in the retelling. That you can sit down on a cold day, snuggled in an afghan with a pot of hot tea, and just savor. Books that I just can't get bored of.
Ok. Well, when I stopped to think about it that came to a lot more than 10. And they were all by a handful of authors. So, instead of a top ten list of books, I give you my top ten authors (with annotations).
1. Terry Pratchett. I have read nearly every book this man has written as well as his short stories. Not only is he amazingly prolific, but his books never disappoint. He takes events in the real world and examines them in a fantasy environment. His books are always filled with humor and heart and are surprisingly insightful into human nature. My favorite books: Reaper Man, Wyrd Sisters, Wee Free Men, Guards! Guards!, and Good Omens (with Neil Gaiman).
2. Neil Gaiman. I was first introduced to Mr. Gaiman by reading Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett. It was such a wonderful book that I immediately sought out his other work. He has a wonderful talent for taking the world and bending it slightly to make you see it in a fantastical way. I simply can't get enough. My favorite books: Fragile Things (collection of short stories, must read Study in Emerald!), Good Omens, American Gods, Stardust.
3. J.K. Rowling. Does this one really need an explanation? Harry Potter has changed the world of children's literature for the better and has touched the hearts and minds of millions, nay, billions of people around the world. My favorite books: All :)
4. Douglas Adams. My, and many others, introduction to the genre of comic fantasy. He is an icon, with good reason. Unfortunately, he wasn't very prolific and the few books he has left I savor like the sweetest nectar. I sorely miss him. My favorite books: Hitch-hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, The Long Dark Tea-time Of The Soul.
5. Jane Austen. She is the only traditional literary figure in my list. As you can tell, I have a fantastical bent to my reading taste, which makes her seem a little out of place. But as many readers of fantasy know, you have to have very strong characters to make it work and Ms. Austen was the best at writing strong characters. The people in her stories are very real. I hope for them, and cry for them. That is very rare. My favorite books: Emma, Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice, Northanger Abbey.
6. Christopher Moore. He is an American version of Douglas Adams & Terry Pratchett. Need I say more? My favorite books: Lamb, Blood Sucking Fiends, A Dirty Job.
7. Shel Silverstein. I still enjoy his absurd poems and songs. I think everyone needs a little whimsy. My favorite books: Where The Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, Lafcadio, Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book.
8. Dr. Seuss. You are never too old for a good bed-time story. Every now & then Honey or I will pull out a Seuss book and read it aloud. Honey said that the Cat in the Hat was his first introduction to the idea of anarchy! :) My favorite books: The Lorax, Cat In The Hat, Horton Hatches the Egg, The Sneetches.
9. J.R.R. Tolkein. He is the father of epic fantasy. Creating a world so beautiful, and filled with such brave, heroic beings, who wouldn't want to visit as much as possible. My favorite books: The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings Triology.
10. Susanna Clarke. This last one was a tough one to decide, but I had to give it to Ms. Clarke. I have only read one of her books (she has only had 2 published), but it was one of the most glorious books I have ever read. It was a book that I kept thrusting upon people, saying "Yes, I know it's 800 pages in small print with footnotes, but you HAVE to read it!". The book? Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. Yes, you now have to read it. Seriously. You'll thank me.
So, that is my list. I hope you will make one as well. I would love to know who you love to read; I'm always looking for a good book, and it is cold outside.