a child's garden of verses, robert louis stevenson
my dad got me a copy of this book when i was 3 1/2 and i learned to read while sitting on his lap. i loved the illustrations, the words...just everything.
alice in wonderland
i read and reread this book so many times as a little girl. i adored the wordplay, the imagery, just everything about it.
to kill a mockingbird
this book introduced me to the injustice of the world.
Tolkien's big 4
i consider this one massive work of art. i have lost count how many times i've read it. the last time was during the long hospital stay when cait had her bone-marrow transplant. each time i read it it means something different to me, depending on my age/life experience level.
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
this book blew me away. i read it when it first came out. i was 16 and the writing took my breath away. literally. i have always loved capote's writing, but this was such a masterpiece to my mind.
Ten Men Dead, by David Beresford
this book is about the irish hunger strikers, including bobby sands. it describes the 'dirty protest' when the prisoners were striving for political status. i was so naive: i remember thinking that maggie thatcher would not/could not stand by and let them die. but she did.
The Troubles, by Tim Pat Coogan (actually, anything by T P Coogan)
a comprehensive, immensely readable study of the troubles. it goes beyond what most here in the states ever learned. it shows that for every atrocity blamed on the 'ra there were more done by the protestant unionists. coogan is a journalist, and tho he tends to support the republican beliefs, he is fair and unbiased.
Mystic River, by Dennis LeHane (actually, anything by D. LeHane)
again, i got into lehane's writing during one of cait's hospitalizations. i love excellent mysteries, and his are among the best i've ever read. he puts you in the places he writes about and makes you empathize with his characters.
The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
the amazing tenacity of the human spirit to survive in horribly oppressive conditions. a testament to both the worst and the best of humanity.
the bedside book of famous british stories, edited by bennet cerf & henry c. moriarty (1939 edition)
my favorite book in the whole, entire, humongous world. this book is 1233 pages of delight for me. my dad passed his copy down to me when i was about 10 yrs old. it goes from chaucer to evelyn waugh. i have always admired the art of the short story: how tightly woven the plot must be, how concise the characters are written to become full in fewer words.
the brits have always done the short story well. i wish i could read some of these again for the first time: mudford's 'the iron shroud'; bulwer-lytton's 'the house and the brain'; james' 'the mezzotint'; joyce's 'the dead'...my understanding of a lot of them has grown as i have, but even if i didn't fully comprehend every nuance as a child i learned to love words and the power of them from this book.
there are 80 stories, followed by short biographical notes on each author. how i wish i could share this book with each and every one of you!
i passed my copy down to cait when she was 10. it made many trips to you-know-where and finally wore out. bill went on ebay and got me another copy last year. i treasure it. when i can't stand 'life' any longer, i revisit this book and let defoe or some other genius carry me off to someplace else. it is an old, dear friend.