My friends -- and, I suppose, friends of friends, etc. -- have begun a chain letter-esque "15 books" list.
The point is to list 15 books that your mind wanders back to again and again. Not necessarily the best books you've ever read, or your favourite books of all time. Just the ones that immediately come to mind, that perhaps you talk about a lot, the ones that have nested so far in your head they are part of who you are.
Briefly, my friend TSS's list begins with these five:
No Country For Old Men
The English Patient
What Is The What
Go Jump In The Pool
While my friend R's list starts:
The Sword of Shannara
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The English Patient
Infinite Jest (Also, Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again)
Granta 33: What Went Wrong?
And here is my complete list with -- bonus! -- explanations:
At the end of the day, I have to say Austen's last novel is my favourite. Yes, the plight of Anne Elliot -- she of disappeared bloom and waiting around for Capt. Wentworth -- can read a little slow. And Austen goes into overdrive to wrap it all up in happily ever after. But under all that, under the boy-meets-girl, away from the fairy tale, lies layers of character development and painful, cringe-worthy, gut-wrenching human interaction.
Speaking of gut-wrenching. Teen and pre-teen girl drama haunt a woman's whole life in this Atwood classic.
Message from Nam
Yes. This was written by Danielle Steele. This is where we judge me freely for liking a Danielle Steele novel. But my defense? I was about 12 when I read this. And when you're a 12-year-old girl who dreams of becoming a reporter, the story of a war correspondent in Vietnam is something like a super hero comic book.
Fighting for Canada
This Diane Francis book about Quebec's separation movement was probably the first piece of non-fiction I read without a teacher breathing down my neck. I was fascinated by all things related to the 1995 referendum for years -- including all the newspapers my dad sent me from Montreal, English and French -- and as far as I'm concerned this book pushed me in the direction of political reporting years down the road.
The Vagina Monologues
Cunt! That's right. I said it. Out loud. Kind of. Eve Ensler's collection is a must-read for empowered women everywhere.
I successfully gave up chocolate for a year thanks to this Carol Off investigation.
Late Nights on Air
How awesome is Elizabeth Hay? In this book, she actually captures Yellowknife and puts it on the page for everyone in the world to enjoy. Granted, I have only ever been in Yellowknife for about five days altogether. So maybe I'm not the best expert. But when I was there, I couldn't stop thinking about the world Hay created.
Gone With The Wind
"Fiddle dee-dee. Tomorrow is another day." Actually a thing I say, more than a decade after discovering an author can have enough guts not to give her hero and heroine a happy ending.
The Queen's Fool
Philippa Gregory + history of the United Kingdom + romance = Unforgettable.
Fact: Henry Fielding is the only man to sneak onto this list. Also, his is one of the first English novels that looks like the kind of novel you'd read today. Tom Jones is the perfect haphazard, accidental lady's man. He's a 17th century hero, yes. But you know who else he might be? Rob Lowe in St. Elmo's Fire. Bret in Flight of the Conchords. Matthew McConnaughey in everything.
Pride and Prejudice
Wanted: Mr. Darcy. Nuff said.
The Diary of Anne Frank
The ultimate proof, I think, that the mundane details are what pull you into a book. So, I was 10 years old, and here was this girl who talked about boys and crushes. And then, this girl I totally got was in the middle of a tragedy I could barely wrap my head around. To this day.
Anne of Green Gables
I learned about Tennyson -- my favourite author -- from this book. When Anne floats down the river in a boat? And nearly dies? Classic.
Rilla of Ingleside
This is L.M. Montgomery's ode to Canada, to pacifism, to Harlequin-esque romance.
Ok, this is weird. But every sex scene in this Judy Blume book -- for adults, obviously -- is super memorable. I know, it's weird. But it sticks with you. Read the book, and you'll find yourself thinking about how one might lay down towels in a hotel bathtub. Or best ways to do it in the front seat of a truck.
What I missed.... The Bell Jar. The Diviners. The Wars. The Piano Man's Daughter. (Ha! Two Timothy Findley books! I do like male authors!)