There's a challenge going around on FaceBook to post the covers of your seven favorite books. I'm skipping the daily portion and condensing this in to one post.
This is a lot easier to pin down than the movie list. While I like to read, it is easier to pin down the books that have really impacted me, the books that I will come back to, than it is film. Perhaps due to the nature of the medium, but a great book sticks with me more than a great film.
And, to me, these are seven great books.
In no particular order:
- East of Eden, John Steinbeck - I said in no particular order, but for this one at least, it's a little different. This is hands down my favorite novel of all time. An epic tale of family drama. A semi-autobiographical fiction based on Steinbeck's own family. A midrash on faith and determinism. This is the great American novel.
- To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee - The quintessential Southern novel and a great courtroom drama. A coming of age tale regarding the right questions that should be asked of Southern life. Especially for those of us from a small town in the South, Lee wrote people you knew. Plus, Atticus Finch remains one of the greatest characters created and perhaps the role model that all attorneys strive for. One of the books I most enjoyed from school.
- Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury - This is the second book that I most enjoyed reading in school. A science fiction novel dedicated to the importance of the written word. I love Bradbury's use of language in general and this novel is no exception. A reaction to McCarthyism, Bradbury highlights the need for independent thought and understanding. It is truly amazing how many visions of the future contained in the book have come true. Wall sized televisions that can act as communication devices, social media, 24 hour ATMs, earbuds. And the core message is as much, if not more necessary now than when it was written.
- The Little Sister, Raymond Chandler - I've taken to reading a lot of noir. Chandler, Hammett, Cain. And while there are other books in this genre that I've enjoyed, this is the one that I could not put down. Chandler's most biting critique of Hollywood and a twisting-turning mystery to boot.
- Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis - To me the best apologetic book ever written by another master of the English language. Lewis explores the foundations of faith in deeply challenging but ultimately foundational terms. Something I feel needs to be revisited every so often. We over-complicate a lot the world around us. We need returns to Happily Ever After, to Common Sense, and to Mere Christianity to center us.
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman - I love Neil Gaiman's use of language and story. How he treats the importance of story. I can listen to his voice talk about story and mechanics, and I love his comics like Sandman and short stories and novels. And while American Gods is perhaps the more well known, I adore the Ocean at the End of the Lane. Another semi-autobiographical novel, this time with a horror-tinged supernatural element. Another coming of age story, but this time one that has some downright unsettling passages. Plus, I always like it when he uses the mother, maiden, and crone triumvirate.
- The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster - My favorite book from childhood. An love letter to learning. Norton Juster created a version of Wonderland, Oz, or Neverland filled with wordplay and puns, celebrating language and math. A world in which Reason and Rhyme must be restored? Yes, please.