Unlike the Hermit of the Southern March,
I’ve only got 31 winters under my belt–
but I think I agree.
Quote from The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
This was originally going to be a top ten list, but I should have known that that would about KILL me. So, in the end, I simply present to you a list of some of my favorite lines of literature:
Jude stopped in front of her and, with both hands cupping her face, tried to make a smile. Narnie flinched.
‘Leave her alone,’ Tate said.
‘I need a revelation,’ Jude said. ‘And you’re the only one that can give me one, Narns.”
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
“The words were on their way, and when they arrived, she would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain.”
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
“And Dimble, who had been sitting with his face drawn, and rather white, between the white faces of the two women, and his eyes on the table, raised his head, and great syllables of words that sounded like castles came out of his mouth.”
That Hiddeous Strength by C.S. Lewis
“The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
“He thought, or said, or sang, I did not know that I was so empty, to be so full.”
The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle
“I remember it as October days are always remembered, cloudless, maple-flavored, the air gold and so clean it quivers.”
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
“Do you remember all of your audiences?” Marco asks.
“Not all of them,” Celia says. “But I remember the people who look at me the way you do.”
“What way might that be?”
“As though they cannot decide if they are afraid of me or they want to kiss me.”
“I am not afraid of you,” Marco says.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
“Remember how it was when we kissed? Armfuls and armfuls of light thrown right at us. A rope dropping down from the sky. How can the word love and the word life even fit in the mouth?”
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
“It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
“It was such a romp as no one has ever had except in Narnia; and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind.”
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
“It was a jumble, it was a mishmash, and somehow she pulled it together, somehow she threaded every different thing through the voice of a solitary mockingbird singing in the desert.”
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
“There’s more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.”
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
“I saw a beached red dory. I could take the dory, row out to the guy, and say: Sir. You have found a place where the sky dips close.”
For the Time Being by Annie Dillard
What are your favorites?
It was time for me to re-evaluate my top 10 young adult books. So, without your seeing my raging internal debate*, I very cleanly present to you the following:
1) The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
2) Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
3) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
4) Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
5) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
6) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
7) Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
8) Fire by Kristin Cashore
9) Unwind by Neil Shusterman
10) Every Day by David Levithan
*Ugh, I hate making top 10 lists of books– it’s so hard for me. Even now, I see that I’ve favored books I’ve read more recently over some of the “classics.” Tuck Everlasting. Bridge to Terabithia. The Secret Garden. It seems like a crime to leave these off the list. The Pigman. When You Reach Me. A Monster Calls.
Oh gosh. Anne of Green Gables. How could I leave Anne off this list– especially when I’ve included other books much more controversial? Or The Sky is Everywhere, which is better written than several books on the list?
Next time I do this, I need to be more specific with the name of my list. Top 10 YA Books I’d Never Want to Live Without … if that were the list title, it would be different than the list above. Top 10 YA Books That Made Me Think. There! That more accurately fits the list above.
Okay, it is time to quit obsessing over this list, which only 100 people are even going to see anyway.
What I’d rather do is give you a must-read book list personalized to your reading tastes. I LOVE doing this, so let me know if you’re interested.
There are essentially three reasons I will like a book:
1) The writing is beautiful. If the writing is lyrical, or the prose almost reads as poetry, or if the writer has great diction and uses sounds to her advantage, I’m captured. When an author does a dance with words and creates images that burst like berries on the tongue, I’m sold.
2) The plot is fascinating. I love books that have twists and turns and surprises. I don’t need them to be action-packed, just interesting, with interesting scenes and a great storyline.
3) The message is profound. When the story tugs at my heart or opens up my mind to new ways of understanding something, the book touches (and sometimes changes) my life.
Some books fall under one of these categories, and it is enough to make me love it. For example, Annie Dillard’s book For the Time Being is beautifully written (for that matter, pretty much anything she writes is!), but there is not really a plot to it, nor did its message truly change my life. Harry Potter has a thrilling storyline that completely pulled me in, and the series also has a wonderful theme of good versus evil, but I wouldn’t say that Rowling (in those books) is a lyrical writer, although she does have her moments! Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard is an allegory, and as such, the plot is pretty obvious, but the message deeply touched me and wrenched tears from me left and right. As you know, The Chronicles of Narnia are my absolute favorite for their fun plots and the deep truths in them, but the writing is not as beautiful as some other things Jack Lewis has written.
To me, some of the best writers are those who combine all three of these elements. Some of the best examples I have of this are The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (gorgeous writing, super fun storyline, excellent message), C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy (the writing is so masterful it makes me want to curl up inside of it, the plot is riveting, and the takeaways are tremendous), Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (literary writing at its very finest, interesting characters and storyline, an underlying message that is like a rock to stand on), and The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle (breathtaking writing, intriguing fantasy plot, message that lingers long).
Your turn. What makes you like a book? Are you drawn to one of these three reasons over the others? What are your best examples of books that fit these categories?