Who doesn’t love a book meme?!
This one was floating around Facebook for a while, and it recently migrated over to the blogosphere where I found it at Bibliomama. What are ten books that have stayed with you? Here are my ten, in no particular order. It was hard enough to narrow down my choices to ten, so my brain would definitely freeze if I had to rank them too. I also had to Google some of the plotlines because I forget everything I read soon after I’ve finished. It makes talking about one of my favourite hobbies awkward at times.
It’s a good thing I embrace the awkward.
Away by Jane Urquhart
This book was a Christmas present from my Mom (hi Mom!) a long time ago and it led to my collecting many many volumes of Canadian writers on my bookshelves. The book takes place in Ireland starting in the 1840s, and then ends in Canada. The author wrote this about how the idea for the book came about:
Midway through a casual conversation in a pub in Ballycastle, while I waited for the ferry that would take me to the mysterious Rathlin Island just offshore, an old man told me that a person could be stolen by “those from the other world,” and that if this were to take place, a seemingly exact replica would be left in the stolen one’s place. Except, he explained, there would be something distant and different about the one left behind, something indefinable, but perceivable nonetheless, and that this person would then be said to be “away.”
This is a magical and poetic book.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
When you don’t know what to read, turn to Twitter. Bel Canto was recommended to me by @janatude and is a fictional account of the Lima Crisis where in 1996 the Japanese embassy was taken over. The book explores the relationships between the hostages and hostage-takers in the house over a few months. This book is simply amazing.
Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada
My favourite of all my book club books, and also based on a true story, it tells the story of Otto and Elise Hampel in Berlin during WWII who wrote anonymous postcards telling people to resist Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. They left these postcards all around for people to find. Small but very dangerous acts of resistance that had big consequences. Everyone I have recommended this book to has loved it. The writing is just so simply elegant.
The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
The night that we were given this book as assigned reading in grade 11 English class, I stayed up until 3am reading it. I was finished it before the next English class when we were given class time to read. I was completely shocked – SHOCKED – when my classmates complained about it being boring. I love love love this book and would probably call it my favourite of all time if pressed.
The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
I could have jointly listed Carol Shields’s other books Larry’s Party and Unless here too. I think what I love most about Carol Shields’s writing is that she turns the lives of ordinary characters into compelling stories that you can’t put down. Definitely one of my favourite authors.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
I need to read this one again because I have forgotten so much of it. So, from Wikipedia: A Fine Balance is the second novel by Rohinton Mistry. Set in Mumbai between 1975 and 1984 during the turmoil of The Emergency, a period of expanded government power and crackdowns on civil liberties, the book concerns four characters from varied backgrounds…who come together and develop a bond.
The characters and story telling in this book are still with me, even if the plot has faded in my mind.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
I’ve read this book at least five times in my life, the first time being when I was ten. You read books on different levels at different ages, and so when I first read it, I could only see Anne’s perspective. The unfairness and the annoyances that were her life in hiding. The last time I read it was just a few years ago, and I deeply identified with what must have been the fears of Anne’s parents, about the uncertainties and hopelessness they must have felt and how they had to try to carry on no matter what.
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
I do seem to read a lot of tales of family tragedy. This one may just be the tragediest of them all.
Room by Emma Donoghue
I can’t possibly describe the plot for this one so from the author’s website (http://emmadonoghue.com/books/novels/room-the-novel.html )
Room (London: Picador; Toronto: HarperCollins Canada; New York: Little Brown, 2010), my Man-Booker-shortlisted seventh novel, is the story of a five-year-old called Jack, who lives in a single room with his Ma and has never been outside. When he turns five, he starts to ask questions, and his mother reveals to him that there is a world beyond the walls. Told entirely in Jack’s voice, Room is no horror story or tearjerker, but a celebration of resilience and the love between parent and child.
I would have thought writing an entire novel from the point of view of a five-year-old would have been impossible to get right. This book nails it. The filter of innocence is of the horrors of the story is amazing.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I read this one in the third grade and it was the first book I remember not being able to put down. This would have been the book that flipped the switch to make me a lifelong reader.
This post was hard to write. It’s not easy to explain why you love a book or to describe what it’s about without resorting to blurb speak. I’d love to hear your list of books that stayed with you too.