15 Books ...
These are the instructions that came with the list: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
1. "Bread and Jam for Frances" by Russell Hoban – My favorite children's book.
2. "Winnie-The-Pooh" by A. A. Milne – "Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin." My Aunt Chick (and the rest of her family) gave me a slipcased set of Pooh books for my birthday one year. I still have them.
3. "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White – I promise that this list will not be solely children's books.
4. "The Tiny One" by Eliza MInot – Minot's debut novel. I was completely captivated by her power of description. Sometimes I read it out loud. I love the cadence in the language she uses. She tells the whole story from the perspective of a young girl and the voice is just perfect, exactly the way I think a child would perceive the events unfolding around her.
5. "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden – I remember not wanting it to end. I would have read the end papers if there had been anything on them. Or an index. I would have read an index.
6. "Animal Dreams" by Barbara Kingsolver – This should probably be the first book on the list, as it's the one I cite most often as my favorite book. It contains my all-time favorite sentence in a work of fiction. No, I won't tell you what it is. Read the book and see if you can guess it.
7. "The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay – I cite this as my second-favorite book. Again, masterful powers of description. Don't see the movie first.
8. "On Writing" by Stephen King – [Just in case he runs across this list whilst vanity Googling: Hi, Uncle Stevie!] Second only to "The Elements of Style" when it comes to books on writing. But so different from "The Elements of Style" that it stands alone.
9. "The Seat of the Soul" – I read the entire book out loud to myself, a highlighter in one hand, a pen in the other. I highlighted and underlined and wrote notes to myself in the margins. I really should read it again. I'm sure I'd take away entirely new messages today.
10. "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho – I don't think I've ever heard anyone tell me that they read it and didn't love it. The ultimate parable.
11. "Ernest Hemingway" by Kenneth Lynn – The best biography I've ever read.
12. "Never Come Morning" by Nelson Algren – Nelson figures very prominently in my life, but this novel figures most prominently of all. He had a way with words that still stuns me.
13. "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis – Just popped into my head. I love it. I pull it off the shelf and read it from time to time.
14. "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky – C'mon, get happy! But seriously, I read it in high school and was blown away. Definitely one I need to read again as an adult.
15. "The Fourth K" by Mario Puzo – To date, the worst book I've ever read. So I felt compelled to put it on the list. But now I feel like I've wasted a slot. So I'm going to add a No. 16.
16. "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" by Mark Haddon – Utterly charming. I devoured it and then regretted not taking more time to savor it.
I'm sure there are a zillion more I could add to the list, but I'll (kind of) stick to the limit. But 15 minutes from now, I'd probably revise this.