There seems to be a theme here…

Us old-skool bloggers (did you know I’ve been blogging for five years? It’s been five long years and I love you just the same) sometimes miss the fun and joy that was the meme. Well, I’m bringing us back to early 2008 with a good old-fashioned book meme.
 
There is a meme going around Facebook, to name ten books that have stayed with you long after you read them. My lovely friend (and my editor, hi Ali!) did this meme on her blog and what with the holidays approaching with two lazy freezing cold hell-no-I’m-not-going-outside weeks ahead of us, I’m thinking about books. I’ve always been a bookworm, but more than that, I’m a re-reader. If I love a book I read it over and over; it’s comforting to me and also brings me joy to pick up a book to find that passage that I love, or that chapter that charms me. And so many of my favourite books are ones that are basically falling apart.
 
So without further adieu, I bring you the books that stayed with me long, long after I read them.
 
1) A Little Princess
 
When it comes to Frances Hodgson Burnett, you are apparently either a Secret Garden person or a Little Princess person and I, most definitely, am of the Princess persuasion. Not just because I’m spoiled either. I first read this book when I was seven and my little brother was a sick newborn. I spent a lot of time at my aunt’s house and – sorry, Alg, if you’re reading this – I couldn’t stand my younger cousin. Basically I just read this book over and over as a form of escapism and to be honest, I still could escape into it. It’s a magical story – riches to rags back to riches – with lots of imagery about the beauty of India and the dreariness of wintry London. I also fantasized about going to boarding school when I was a child, because of this book.
 
 
2) These Happy Golden Years
 
I am tagging my friend Swistle here because she has NEVER read this book. It’s not about old people even though that is what we think of when we say “Golden Years”. I obsessively read all the Little House books when I was a child but this one – with its old-timey, courtly romance – was my favourite then and it’s still my favourite now. Who could have possibly bought Laura that beautiful comb set for Christmas? Why, Pa saw Almanzo buying that VERY SAME one. Sigh. Courting. The crazy Mrs. Brewster just adds to the fun, for me. I loved this book so much and I regretted ever reading The First Four Years. I wish I had ended the series with this one.

 
3) Little Women
 
One of my all-time favourites. My maternal grandmother gave me that old copy on the left, that was gifted to her in 1927. What a treasure. The other book is from my dear Grandma Fern. It contained not only Little Women but the second part, which used to be called Good Wives. And look what’s on the flip side:

Little Men is not my favourite, but that book is falling apart because I read it over 20 times one summer that I was at her house. I always regretted leaving that book behind when I went home to Calgary. About ten years ago, I asked her if I could take that book home with me, and she said “Well, of course. I thought you should have taken it twenty years ago.” Aw, Grandma, I miss you.

Along with Little Women, Louisa May Alcott wrote Rose in Bloom, the sequel to Eight Cousins. How I loved that book, even if it does have an icky undertone of “which cousin will Rose marry?” which is, well, icky. But yet, it’s a beautiful period piece and after reading a biography of Alcott’s actual wretched life, I like to think about her writing this lovely society story. I hope it brought her happiness.

4) The Mists of Avalon

My aunt gave me this book when I was a teenager and wow, is it an amazing read. It’s a retelling of King Arthur’s story from the women’s point of view. While I could care less about reading about knights and dragons, reading about queens and affairs and magical witchcraft? Fabulous. I’m not someone who enjoys fantasy stories, but this is the exception to my rule.

 
5) To Kill A Mockingbird
 
Amazing, beautiful book. I don’t think Harper Lee published anything else after this and why would she? It’s perfection. I always, always tear up. “I may not be much, Mr. Finch, but I’m still sherriff of Maycomb County and Bob Ewell fell on his knife. Good night, sir.” It also contains my favourite line ever in a book: “I thought Jem and I would get grown but there wasn’t much else left for us to learn, except possibly algebra.”

6) Pride and Prejudice

I was in second year university when I read this book and I can’t believe I wasted 19 years of my life without it. I am a slavish Jane Austen fan – love the wit, love the romance – but this book is the very best of the bunch. The dialogue is amazing and Mr. Darcy’s speech about how he MUST tell Elizabeth how much he loves and admires her? Sighhhhh.  

 
I bought it at the Student Union used bookstore for five dollars. Best five dollars I’ve ever spent.

 
Love this trio of books, but they are more of an honourable mention.

7) Diary of a Provincial Lady

This is the wittiest, most entertaining book ever. I read it when I’m feeling down or need to be inspired. It’s falling apart such that I have to put individual pages in order when I read it.

8) Of Mice and Men

This is NOT one of my favourites but it is a book that’s stayed with me a long time. In fact, I’ve only read it once. This should be telling. I practically have a sobbing breakdown when I think of the ending and so NO I WON’T READ IT AGAIN. Such a sad, moving story. I read it when I was a teenager, in the car on the way to Saskatchewan, and I was upset about it for DAYS after. DAYS. My older brother took great pleasure in leaning over and saying “What about the rabbits, George” which would make me burst into tears.

Ack, I’m running out of room. Honourable mention to Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, alhough Kite Runner is a one-read-only kind of book.

Also, props to one of my favourites, The Godfather. I burst into emotional hormonal tears when reading this in the doctor’s waiting room while pregnant with Jake. I had gotten to the part where Sonny is shot, look at how they massacred my son, and I started crying with I don’t want his mother to see him this way. Because I am a mother! Not that my husband is a mafia boss but still….


9 a) Lives of Girls and Women 

I love Alice Munro’s works, I adore her writing, her dialogue, her mastery of the short story. Lives of Girls and Women was the first story I had ever read by her, and I was hooked. You can see by the spine that I’ve read it a few times.

 
 

9 b) Cat’s Eye

It’s HARD to choose ten books only. Cat’s Eye is astounding. I remember reading it for the first time, and then flashing back to being girl-bullied in fifth grade. If you’ve ever had experience with mean girls – and who hasn’t, really – this is an incredible read. But see in the shelf below, there’s a gap in my Margaret Atwood books?

10) The Blind Assassin

Possibly my all-time favourite book. It’s an epic, and threads so interestingly through different eras. A passionate romance, a family epic, a history of wars and Bolshevism and unionism and riots and civic unrest, but shown through the eyes of a pampered society girl. I love everything about this book: the description of the fashions, the dialogue, the romantic tension, the politics. It is on my nightstand right now.

And now it’s your turn! I’m tagging EVERYONE in this meme. If you’re a blogger, consider it a topic! If you’re not, tell me ten books that have stayed with you through the years in the comment section. xoxo

Comments

  1. SO FUN reading this. I feel so overwhelmed by this meme, so I’m going to try to do it without overthinking. I feel the same way about These Happy Golden Years, although I have a feeling it might not stand up to rereading. And would you believe I OWN THe Blind Assassin and HAVEN’T READ IT YET? You’ve inspired me to….take it off the shelf and put it in the pile closer to my bed again. Sigh. (also, I’m sorry for snort-laughing about your brother torturing you with the bunnies). Love the pictures too.

  2. I so love that you did this…and that you included the photos of your falling-apart books! xoxo

  3. Steph Lovelady says:

    I just read Allison’s version of this and commented that I’d have Cat’s Eye on my list, too. I was a Secret Garden person, though, and am trying to get my daughter to listen to it, but she’s not that interested. Maybe 7 is too young. Also, I didn’t care much of the LIW books once she grew up. I had the opposite reaction to romance as a child (icky!).

  4. Kate Linnea Welsh says:

    So much fun! I answered on my blog, and we have some of the same answers: here it is.

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