Books I Can’t Live Without, Part Eight

This post is eighth in a series analyzing my own connection with the “top 100 books the UK can’t live without” (pdf). In previous posts (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six and Part Seven), I discussed books 31-100. In this post, I will examine books 21-30.

30. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

I’m not sure if I ever read all of this or just part, but I am familiar with it. My husband really enjoyed it as a kid; he’s mentioned that several times. I guess it didn’t make much of an impression on me.

29. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

I don’t think I read this one until I was in high school or college, and the first impression I had was that this was no children’s book. It was hilarious and absurd in a way a child reading it wouldn’t really get. I liked it very much.

28. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

I began reading this one in high school — not as part of an assignment, but on my own. I didn’t finish. I need to finish it some day.

27. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Believe it or not, I tried to read this one on my own in high school, too. I wanted to be ready for college, and I read or tried to read a bunch of books I had heard were classics. I didn’t get very far into this one, but maybe I’ll come back to it some day.

26. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.

I actually haven’t read any Waugh, and I have been meaning to do so.

25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

I started reading this one in sixth grade, but I don’t think I was ready for it. I haven’t tried to pick it up again, but I have been meaning to.

24. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

Haven’t tried it. Too intimidated by the length.

23. Bleak House by Charles Dickens.

I haven’t read it. Sure does sound like a cheery book, doesn’t it?

22. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I am surprised to see this quintessential novel of the American Dream on a list of favorites by Brits! One of my all-time favorite books. So many pretty passages. You can read some thoughts I wrote about this book nearly six years ago. Nothing’s changed.

21. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

This was the first “adult” book I read. Up until that point, I’d read only children’s and YA books directed toward my age group. My mom had just re-read Gone with the Wind and her paperback copy was on the coffee table. I picked it up and looked at it, turning to the back to read the synopsis or reviews or whatever they were. I remembered my Girl Scout leader had a big hardback copy of the book, and it really impressed me. I thought it must be important if she had to have a hardback copy. My mom noticed me looking at the book and asked me if I wanted to read it. I was astonished. Me? I could actually read it? It hadn’t occurred to me that I could read a book like that. For some reason, my mom’s simple question made me feel like I could tackle it — I really could. I said I would. It took me two weeks. I read it between classes, at lunch, at every free moment I had. I was irritated when Ms. Snyder told me it was a good book (one of her favorites) and so clean. In fact, she said, the only racy thing in it was when Scarlett’s husband raped her. I was in a foul mood that she had ruined what seemed to me to be a major plot point. I felt a major sense of accomplishment after I finished that book. I was thirteen years old and in seventh grade, same as my own oldest daughter is now. I would ask her if she wants to read it, but after she finished The Witch of Blackbird Pond, she made it perfectly clear that historical fiction was not her thing.

[tags]World Book Day, literature, reading[/tags]

One thought on “Books I Can’t Live Without, Part Eight

  1. RE: Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I actually read Brother's K, Demons, and started Crime and P. Made it about 1/4 through. It is the names in Russian Lit that keeps me from enjoying the read. So many different names for one person, and all the characters….argh!!! I have trouble following. Had the same trouble with Brother's K., but just plugged through. Love Russian Poet Yeftushenko though.

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