Thursday, 2 July 2009

Books that have stayed with you meme

I'm pinching this idea from deslily who originally got it from Susan and where it came from before that I have no idea. :-)

So what books have you read over the past decade that stay with you? What are your favorites? If you've always kept a books-read list, is there a theme to what you end up liking the most?

Fiction:

Grass - Sheri S. Tepper
Probably my favourite science fiction book ever, and I only read it for the first time about four years ago. A world completely covered in grass which has been settled by some not very pleasant people. And there is something about 'the hunt' that you immediately realise is all wrong but you're not told what. I've never read a book with a more well defined sense of extreme menace. Brilliant.

The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell
A strange mix of religion and science fiction - but it works. A team of scientists and explorers headed by a RC priest go off on an expedition to the planet Rakhat. This one could be summarised by the phrase ' They meant well...' A brilliant 'first contact' kind of warning.

Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb
I've only read the first three books in Hobb's nine strong 'Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man' sequence but even based just on those I still believe she's the one of the best fantasy writers around at the moment. Her world building and story telling abilities are second to none, imo.

The Hollow Kingdom - Clare B. Dunkle
All three books in this trilogy are excellent but I particularly love this first book. I've a thing about elves and goblins anyway but this YA fantasy with a touch of romance where the 'hero' is a very strange looking goblin who kidnaps the heroine in order to marry her, was just perfect. I loved the humour and the underground setting and well... just everything about it really.

The Harper Hall trilogy - Anne McCaffrey
I love all the Pern books but this particular little trilogy is one I read over and over. It's the story of Menolly who is a talented singer and musician, but on Pern girls never get to be harpers. Betrayed by her father, she runs away to a coastal area where she discovers tiny dragons and teaches them to sing. These books are quite simply perfection.

The Island of Adventure - Enid Blyton
It might seem odd to choose an Enid Blyton book for this meme but I believe in being honest and this lovely little book has stayed with me since I read it. Blyton conjures up such a wonderful feeling for the Scottish Isles, where it's set, that I haven't been able to get the atmosphere out of my head.

The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
Vampires, history, East European travel... what more could a person want? Loved it.

Frederica - Georgette Heyer
I could name any one of a dozen Regencies by Heyer but Frederica is the one I reread the most. I love its mix of a romance between the older man, Alverstoke, and the younger Frederica, and the way her younger siblings and a mad dog complicate the issue. Joyous.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
Francie Nolan's story. Born into poverty in turn of the century New York I found her story of survival completely inspirational. Beautifully told.

Saplings - Noel Streatfield
WW2 story of how a well-to-do family fell to pieces as a direct result of the war. I worried endlessly about the children while I was reading it.

The Mist - Stephen King
This longer short story tells how a strange mist envelopes a town and a man and his son get trapped in a supermarket with a group of people. What's outside? And why is it trying to get in? Probably the scariest thing I've ever read - I just don't look at mist in the same way since I read this...


Non-fiction:

Lost Lands, Forgotten Stories
- Alexandra Pratt
The author follows in the footsteps of Mina Hubbard who made a 600 mile journey into the interior of Labrador in 1905 to restore the reputation of her dead husband. Ms Pratt canoes up river with a Native American as a guide and the resultant descriptions of scenery and happenings and discussions on Indian history and the future of the province, with her guide, are just fantastic. I want to go Labrador but realise it's never gonna happen.

Stargazing: Memoirs of a Lighthouse Keeper - Peter Hill
An account of the author's six months spent on lighthouses when he was a student - the people he met, lighthouse routines, cogitations etc. There is just something wonderful about this book.

My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell
Durrell's account of his boyhood on Corfu with his eccentric family. Hard to get the atmosphere of Corfu out of your head once you've read it.

I'm sure there are others I could add to this list - *many* more in fact - but I'll stop here before the list gets completely out of hand. So, is there a theme to the books that stay with me? Erm... I seem to be keen on sci fi and fantasy, but I already knew that. Truthfully, I don't think there is a pattern... I'm an eclectic reader and I think this list is evidence of it.

15 comments:

DesLily said...

good list ! I've toyed with getting Robin HObb books for some time but haven't tried them yet.

and of course anything Pern is pure perfection!

ask you know I totally enjoyed the Hollow Kingdom books but I thought my list was too long lol.. I also totally forgot to put on the list a book that has stayed with me REALLY long which is Chariots of the Gods. I don't think that read will ever leave me.

Cath said...

The Hobb books are fantastic, but quite political and not 'happy' books if you get me. Might not be for you just yet.

I know what you mean... I could sit here and write a *really* long list so I restricted myself too. I can't remember - is Chariots of the Gods non-fiction or fiction?

DesLily said...

Chariots of the Gods is non fiction it was written by Erich von Daniken. he proposes a theory and ONLY a theory that we were put on earth by beings of another planet. (basically as their "retarded" as we are the only ones to kill others like ourselves for reasons other than food for survival. and the fact that we use so little of the brain)

Danielle said...

I'm not sure which books I would pick--I'd have to think about it! I read The Sparrow and you're right that is one that stays in the memory. I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, too and definitely have Frederica and Samplings on my list of books to read! And I am going to have to check out that Peter Hill book--now that really does sound fascinating (I would love to visit a lighthouse someday!).

Cath said...

Pat: One of these days I will certainly grab Chariots from the library if I see it. I'm always intrigues by these speculative books about the origins of life on this planet.

Danielle: I'd love to see your choices if you decide to do this.

I did tour a lighthouse once... up on the N.Devon coast. I'm sort of fascinated by them. The Peter Hill book is so worth reading, interesting to see what kind of person made a career out of lighthousekeeping. Another book I would highly recommend on the subject is 'Lighthouse' by Tony Parker. Together both books give a real insight into the subject.

Jeane said...

Wow- I've read Grass- but so long ago I'd forgotten about it. Thanks for reminding me of its existence, now I want to go get a copy and read it again. I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I think I've read it five times. And the Harper Hall books were always my favorite of the Pern series.

Cath said...

Jeane: I hope you enjoy rereading Grass - if you can get hold of a copy. Another book by Tepper that I could easily have added to my list is Gate to Women's Country. Quite different to Grass but just as memorable. If you haven't read it, it's worth a read.

I plan to reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at some stage. I was soooo knocked out by it.

Nymeth said...

I love this meme! I'll have to borrow it at some point. Note to self: read Sheri S. Tepper! Also, I was reading about Saplings somewhere else (I can't remember where) just the other day, and it sounds great.

Vipula said...

I have not read any of the ones mentioned in the post so this gives me a new list of books to look out for when I go to the store next time

Cath said...

Nymeth: I'd love to see your choices! Sheri Tepper has some excellent books to choose from, my favs being, Grass, Gate to Women's Country, Family Tree and Beauty (a 'sleeping beauty' retold fairytale). It's true, quite a few people are reading Saplings at the moment. It's well worth it too.

Vipula: I'm glad some of the books appeal to you.

Robin said...

That's a great list! The Sparrow is the first book that came to my mind as I started to read this post. It's stuck with me a long time. Also, I just read The Whispering Land, by Gerald Durrell, and really enjoyed it, so I know I'd enjoy My Family and Other Animals.

Cath said...

Robin: The The Sparrow is a powerful novel and no mistake. I've read the sequel but nothing else by MDR, so I must rectify that.

I have The Whispering Land on my tbr pile, a nice illustrated version, so am looking forward to reading that. I'm sure you would enjoy My Family and other Animals, it's a book that's very well known in the UK due to the TV series from years ago. I'm going to read the second book in the trilogy (known as the 'Corfu' trilogy), Birds, Beasts and other Relatives, for the non-fiction challenge.

Susan said...

Oh, wonderful list, Cathy! I love the Farseer Trilogy too....and I've added Dunkle's book to my list (point to you!), and I read Grass a long time ago, and have to re-read it now! I like her Wrapt in Crystal book very much, a detective murder-mystery with a sci-fi setting and women's religion! How much better could it get? lol and Enid Blyton *sigh* I grew up on her too. your list brought back a lot of memories for me too! thanks for doing it - it was my own idea, so I love that you and Pat had fun with it too!

Susan said...

PS I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn years ago and cried so much that I'm afraid to read it again!

Cath said...

I think you would enjoy The Hollow Kingdom books, Susan. I coerced Pat into reading them too and she enjoyed them as well.

I haven't heard of Tepper's Wrapt in Crystal so will go and look that up in a moment.

Yes, I think a lot of us 'Commonwealth' children were brought up on Enid Blyton. She introduced me to adventure books and I devoured them from the library like there was no tomorrow.

Yes, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has that effect doesn't it? :-)

I spotted a book I think you'd approve of in a charity shop last week: Tainted Blood by Arnaldur Indridason. And of course I brought it home...

Thanks for creating this meme, Susan, I had a lot of fun with it.