July 29th, 2004

great wave

Top Ten Favorite Books (so far)...

1. Cry, The Beloved Country - Alan Paton

I read this book when I was 17 and did an hour-long oral presentation on it for a high school English class. Ten years later I re-read this book and was blown away by how much I just didn't get the first time I read it. I'm going to try to re-read this book every ten years to see what else I'm missing. Paton is an elegant writer. I have a thing for books set in Africa.

2. The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I read this book shortly after I became fascinated with everything Russian. After reading this book I read Elder Ambrose of Optina by Fr. Sergius Chetverikov. Optina is a famous monastery in Russia that Dostoyevsky visited frequently. Dostoyevsky wrote The Brothers with the specific intention of depicting the real-life, clairvoyant monk, Elder Ambrose, with whom he often sought spiritual counsel. Dostoyevsky's fictional character, Elder Zosima, was modelled after Elder Ambrose and Dostoyevsky put many of the words spoken by Elder Ambrose directly into the mouth of Elder Zosima.

I also just love Dostoyevsky because he was a tortured soul and I tend to like tortured souls because I myself am a tortured soul.

3. Till We Have Faces - C.S. Lewis

A re-telling of the classic tale of Psyche and Cupid. I really identified with the main character's god-angst. This book gives readers a picture of what it would be like to live with an orthodox pagan worldview, not this neo-happy-go-lucky-paganism that is popular today.

4. Middlemarch - George Eliot

They knew how to write back then (1871). If you think you're a good writer, read this book and realize that you're not.

5. Out Of Africa - Isak Dineson

Breathtaking, elegant, and a fascinating look into Africa.

6. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe

Another fascinating look into Africa.

7. The Chosen - Chaim Potok

A great book for young and old adults alike. A peek into the lives of Jews (Orthodox and otherwise) living in Brooklyn during WWII.

8. Love Medicine - Louise Erdrich

I read this book for a American Indian Literature class I took last fall. I love the way this woman writes and I copied entire passages into my offline journal.

9. Black Elk Speaks as told to John G. Neihardt

Another book I read for my American Indian Lit. class. I venerate Black Elk as a saint and hope to paint an icon of him some day and make a pilgrimage to his grave.

10, One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I'm reading this right now and I'm spellbound.

Honorable Mentions:
Youth of the Apocalypse - Monks John Marler and Andrew Wurmuth
1984 George Orwell
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Tonto and Lone Ranger Fist-Fight in Heaven - Sherman Alexie

***For extra credit tell me how many of my top ten books were written by women. Do not include honorable mentions.