In June, library staff has been sharing some of their favorite books. One of the books I mentioned, “The Power and the Glory” by Graham Greene, is on a short list of books I have re-read multiple times. As a teen and young adult, I would often intersperse new reads with old favorites, cycling back to books I loved. These days, with more work and family responsibilities, I’m much more protective of my limited reading time — not finishing books that don’t keep my interest and always moving on to something new. However, reflecting on “The Power and the Glory” got me thinking about what other books are on that list. Some I still love, and some I probably won’t pick up again.
“Pride & Prejudice” by Jane Austen.
Oh, Mr. Darcy. Sigh. But, really I think it is the wit with which Austen tells her — what is now a paint-by-numbers enemies to lovers — romance that makes this so enjoyable. Her use of language hits my brain in its happy place. Reading this is like curling up with a warm blanket.
“Circle of Friends” by Maeve Binchy
Speaking of warm blankets: I have read all of Binchy’s heartwarming novels about families and friends in Ireland. My favorite was “Circle of Friends” which centers on Benny, and her efforts to fit in and feel valued.
“A Passage to India” by E.M. Forster
I think the reason I’m so drawn to this classic is that Forster is a surprisingly progressive writer. He is very sly. His novel pokes at the assumed superiority of English culture and champions our common humanity.
The Lord of the Ring Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
I was introduced to Tolkien in sixth grade when my class read “The Hobbit.” I loved it — a novel-length fairytale! I soon sought out the trilogy (much heftier tomes) and re-read them until the binding fell apart. Fantasy is one of my favorite genres. It can be both escapist and profound. Tolkien is where it all started for me.
“Wizard’s First Rule” by Terry Goodkind
Well, if Tolkien was my introduction to fantasy, Goodkind was my first contemporary fantasy author. I was introduced to “Wizard’s First Rule” and the following The Sword of Truth series by high school friends. Until that point, I didn’t realize that fantasy was a whole living genre and not something that just Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were famous for. Now that I have read authors like N.K. Jemisin, Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss, I will not bother going back to Goodkind.
“The Clan of the Cave Bear” by Jean Auel
I honestly don’t know why, as a young teenager, I read this really long book about pre-historic people multiple times. Perhaps it was because it was from my mother’s bookshelf and was considered slightly inappropriate for my age. I’m assuming Auel put a lot of research into this book because there is a lot of anthropological details … but I’m sure there is some speculation too.