Friday, September 24, 2010

Read Me First!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I've started to get rid of books I'll never read again.  I'm not proceeding at a very rapid rate because I keep getting sidetracked by old favorites.  Today someone I'd mentioned the project to asked which books I'd keep if I could only save ten.  Well, that completely derailed me, but here they are for your reading pleasure: 
  • How to Cook without a Book, Pam Anderson.  The title says it all.  This is the book I would give any young person (or older person) who wants to do more than heat frozen dinners in the microwave.
  • Logo, Font & Lettering Bible, Leslie Cabarga.  I learned more about lettering, principles of design, and using graphics software from this one book than from any other five on my bookshelf put together.
  • A Woman’s Life in the Court of the Sun King.  My favorite in the biography/autobiography/diary/historical letters category.  See my “Historical Voyeurism” post for details.
  • A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle.  Food, travel, home remodeling, living among the French, and non-stop good humor – never a dull moment in this classic.
  • The Borrowers, Mary Norton.  My favorite children’s book, this is the story of a very small family that lived under the hall clock in an Edwardian mansion.  The recent movie didn’t do it justice, but may keep it alive for a new generation of readers, which is a Good Thing.
  • Rifles for Watie, Harold Keith.  Winner in the young adult category.  The story of a young man who fights on both sides during the Civil War, this book is packed with historically accurate details and human interest.  When originally published, this novel won a Newbery award for excellence.
  •  Crocodile on the Sandbank, Elizabeth Peters.  I love everything Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels/Barbara Mertz has ever written, but I think this is her best book.  It’s hard to categorize: historical novel?  Egyptology?  Mystery?  Romance?  Comedy?  Feminist manifesto?  It’s all that and more.  Read this and you will never look at an umbrella the same way again.
  • Sorcerer’s Son, Phyllis Eisenstein.  This book beat out many more famous candidates as my favorite fantasy novel because of the beauty of the language.  Although the bulk of the book is an action adventure comprising the hero’s coming of age and magical apprenticeship, the backstory is a hauntingly unusual romance, and the ending ties all the pieces together in an unexpected and satisfying way.
  • Shards of Honor, Lois McMaster Bujold.  Another hard-to-categorize book.  Ostensibly science fiction, this book is also about finding your own center and trusting your own judgment.  Sorry, guys, it also contains an unusual love story and more than a little feminism.
  • The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare.  This is probably cheating, since it includes all the poetry and plays in one binding.  One of my college professors claimed that every educated person’s bookshelf should include Shakespeare, Milton, and the King James version of the Bible.  I’d jettison Milton and King James, but not my Shakespeare.
Some of these books are still in print; others can be purchased used through and its ilk.


"Lord! when you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life.  Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book."  ~Christopher Morley

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