29 May 2009

The Lazy Woman's Way to Blog

... reposting a Facebook meme. So sue me. It's Friday and I'm on the couch in my jammies and just realized I forgot about a friend's birthday. I feel bad, but not bad enough to get dressed again and go out out to a crowded bar. (Sorry, dude. I'll buy you a beer soon, okay?)

Fifteen books that stayed with me.

1)The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies. It's funny, it's perceptive about what makes people tick, it's learned, it's well-plotted and the devil shows up in a bunch of cameo roles.
2) Hamlet - Shakespeare. I re-read Hamlet periodically, mostly when I'm feeling really sorry for myself, because no one knows more about self-pity than Hamlet.
3) Bleak House by Charles Dickens. It's kind of fashionable to despise Dickens as a schlocky wordbag, but unpalatable as that kind of saccharine is to the modern reader, he was usually using those moments to make a larger point about a social injustice. Once he was rich and famous he used his writing as a platform to call for social reforms, which rocks. Plus he is capable of some genuinely gorgeous passages and can create as complex a character as any in literature.
4) All the Calvin & Hobbes books - Bill Watterson. I learned a lot from watching Watterson toe the fine line between funny and bleak, and I respect the hell out of him for stopping at the top of his game.
5) The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken. McCracken's prose is simple and beautiful, and she navigates the weighty themes of love, death and the frailty of the human condition without ever breaking a sweat.
6) The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. I have a weakness for re-told fairy tales and Carter's lush, dark writing.
7) Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones. Another fairy tale re-telling. The plot reads as though it grew organically but she's got layers and layers of classical references in there. I think it is technically brilliant as well as a sympathetic portrait of the extent to which children are disenfranchised.
8) Portrait of a Lady - Henry James. I really think it was James's work that first got me interested in psychology.
9) The Chronicles of Barchester - Anthony Trollope. What can I say? I have a thing for 19th century drawing room stories. Plus the man can plot.
10) Everything Jane Austen wrote. There is nothing new I can say about her.
11) The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. I have loved this since I first read it at 15 and now that I'm 31 I still love it. It is just so beautiful.
12) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson - a hundred years later, this is STILL a creepy story as well as, you know, a discussion of good vs. evil and a virtuoso example of literary showmanship. I always think Hitchcock must have learned a lot from this book.
13) The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis (pretend I put the accent over the a.) Admittedly strange reading for an atheist, but this got me through a lot of long, hard nights in my late teens and early twenties. Pain is pain, yo, whether it's religious or secular.
14) The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. I'm not normally a short story person but oh my god, these were so wonderfully written.
15) From Hell by Alan Moore. This was the book that made me finally understand what the big deal was about graphic novels.

What are y'all's 15 big books? I had a hard time narrowing it down and probably if I did it again tomorrow, I'd have 15 different books, but still fun.


Maya said...

Funny, my mom just gave me Interpreter of Maladies. I find short stories just so hard to deal with that I haven't started it, but you're pushing me towards it...

Cara deBeer said...

My copy came from my mom, too. It's worth the effort.

Becky Malaria said...

I have a blanket ban on doing fb quizzes but I do love receiving them (I know, weird.) I'm printing your 15 out for future reference. There's some I need to check out and some I need to revisit. I'll send you mine... today's list, anyway

Cara deBeer said...

Cool! Please do.