Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Friday, October 15, 2010

15 Books in 15 Minutes (I cheated)

There's been a blogger/Facebook meme going around about making a list of 15 books in 15 minutes--books you've read that have "stuck with" you over your life. Here's my list, in the order in which they occurred to me. The top four are on my all-time list of hands-down most "sticky," influential books in my own life:

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

3/4. Atlas Shrugged and We the Living by Ayn Rand (also her other novels and writings)

5. My Brother's Keeper by Marcia Davenport (also her other novels, her biography of Mozart, and her autobiography)

6/7. 1776 and John Adams by David McCullough

8. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

9/12. Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear by William Shakespeare (and his other work)

13/15. From Bauhaus to Our House, The Painted Word, and Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (and his other work)

16/17. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (and his other work)

18. Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon (I liked him better than Jack Kerouac)

19. Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut (I'm dating myself here)

20. Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris

21. Our Town by Thornton Wilder

22. Ethnic America, a History by Thomas Sowell (also his other books and autobiography)

23. I Passed as a Teenager by Lyn Tornabene

24. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer

25. Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey

26. The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

27. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Quite a jumble. This exercise brings to mind very pleasant memories of years of reading binges in my long-distant past, including also the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Bradbury, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, James Michener, J.D. Salinger, John Steinbeck, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Theodore Dreiser, Henry James, Homer (in the Fitzgerald translation) and Dr. Seuss. In fact, there have been so many favorite authors and favorite books in my long life that I am sure I have now forgotten the bulk of the individual titles. This exercise is just a poor, momentary effort made to beat the clock. But on reflection: what a fantastic heritage I've been able to enjoy!

(The links to books above are informational only, not an endorsement of specific individual purchases at I am very keen on Amazon as a satisfied customer of several years. I have received no subsidies from anyone to say this and in fact receive no subsidies whatsoever as a blogger, not counting my husband's paying the electricity and computer bills.)

Next: 15 Films in 15 Minutes

UPDATE: I keep wondering if schools still turn out "English majors" (do they even call them that anymore?) who read works by "dead white men" as I did--or am I a dying breed? (I am sure that somewhere the ghost of a 19th-century scholar is lamenting that I didn't read enough Virgil and Cicero in the original Latin.) I just hope the California taxpayers who paid my way to college in the 1970s feel that they got their money's worth. And what, if anything, do I owe them in return?



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