The other day my friend Tsh tagged me in a little Facebook literary challenge. You’ve probably seen it. You write down 10 books that have stuck with you and share then right away. They have to be right off the top of your head. You can’t hem and haw and try to pull out the fancy classics you haven’t thought of since college. And it was fun!
So, I’m sharing my list. Although, I did change one thing from my original list. I took off LOTR because you already knew that was a fave, right? And I added The Once and Future King, which I love, but haven’t shared much about.
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1. Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
I read this book when I was on a flight between TX and FL to visit my mom when she was going through chemo. It’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve read. And it was awkward when I was visibly crying as I read it on the airplane. It’s not sappy, I promise. It’s just GOOD.
2. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
Sigrid Undset is one of the best writers I’ve ever encountered. Be sure to get the Tina Nunnally translation (the original is Norwegian and this seems to be the best translation). It’s a long book. It’s epic. And it’s glorious. Kristin is my favorite female protagonist of all time. I read KL every couple of years and am more amazed by it each time.
3. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
I’ve written about this one a bit. It’s my absolute favorite. I’ll never be able to explain how the story changed me. It’s like trying to explain a poem…if you could…well…it wouldn’t be a poem anymore, it would be an essay. Does that make any sense? Maybe not.
4. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Although it’s not my favorite Austen novel, I think it’s made me think the most. I have learned to love Fanny Price. And I die laughing at Mr. Rushworth’s “four-and-twenty speeches.”
5. Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
I’m a big fan of Anthony Esolen and I was spellbound by this book. Esolen eloquently articulates so many things that I have felt in my gut, but could never have communicated in a million years. I would describe it as life-changing. And as my kids get older, I think I need to read it again.
6. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
I have loved Arthurian tales since forever. And I think I love this one the most. Every page is a delight. A heartbreaking, glorious delight.
7. The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry
Berry’s agrarian essays really changed how I view food, community, and vocation. I can’t recommend this one enough. It will make you think and change your life.
8. The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor
My favorite of Flannery O’Connor’s works. I won’t try to summarize it. It’s weird. It’s southern. It’s full of the terrible mercy of God.
9. Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis
I still can’t believe that a man created such an amazing female protagonist. This is such a beautiful and haunting book. Lewis at his best.
10. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
It’s like Rowling meets Austen and Dickens. So fun and more footnotes in a novel than you could have thought possible. Delightful.
OK, I shared some favorites, now tell me about 10 books that have stuck with you in the comments!