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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ten Books to Read Before You Die

By A.J. Llewellyn

That’s a headline grabber if ever I saw one and being a former journalist I can’t resist a good I perused this list as compiled by a recent Harris Poll and yeah it’s pretty good: The Holy Bible, Gone with the Wind, Harry Potter, The Stand, The Da Vinci Code, To Kill a Mockingbird, Angels and Demons, Catcher in the Rye and Atlas Shrugged.
Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn about some of them – but Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird and Atlas Shrugged would be high on my list. Others…not so much, which of course got me thinking, what are my top 10?

I’d like to hear about yours – but since I’m here, let me start. In order of chronological influence:

1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton because this is how you feel when you are 14 years old. Stay Gold, pony boy.

2. For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke. A searing, unforgettable portrayal of an Australian convict’s life. Rufus Dawes is a remarkable character and Clarke’s research is impeccable and yet, humble. This book shaped my urge to place the reader right there. I wept right through this the first time I read it. I still do.

3. Waffles with Everything by Polly Horvath. This whimsical yet perceptive book is how you feel when you lose a parent. You can take my word on that.

4. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend. The most subversive, hysterical novel you will ever read. You can take my word on that, too. Written during Thatcher’s era in Britain, it rips her to shreds but I’m betting she got a laugh out of it, too.

5. On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Come on, he’s dead and he’s still sexy as hell. Besides, we’ve all loved a train wreck at least once in our lives.

6. My Place by Sally Marshall. An Aboriginal woman dissects her people’s displacement. Brilliant and lyrical.

7. Monkey Grip by Helen Garner. A gut wrenching examination of love and addiction. Give it to somebody who is in love with a drug addict. An extraordinary novel.

8. Joe Wilson and his Mates by Henry Lawson. One of the two greatest Australian writers who ever lived, the other being Banjo Paterson. I really couldn’t choose between them…sneaky way to mention ’em both, eh? P.S. I named my cat after Banjo…

9. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. I love everything she has ever written but I busted my literary cherry on this one…the only English language book I could find in Athens, the year I went to school in Greece, age 15.

10. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. If you have lost a loved one, this will give you hope and an explanation you can live with. I believe her definition of heaven. If Hollywood ruins this one, heads will roll. I will see to it personally.

So how about you? What’s your must reads? I really want to know!

Aloha oe,



Erin Sinclair said...

To Kill a Mockingbird, East of Eden, Of Mice and Men. The Outsiders because I was one of them (my 8th grade English teacher went to school with her, she told me stories about her,she and SE were awesome), The Belljar, Much Ado About Nothing, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Bluest Eye (I thought my life would be perfect if I were slender, blonde and blue-eyed and therefore acceptable to my peers), Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, The Red Tent, the first Harry Potter, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, All Quiet on the Western Front, A Modest Proposal, Frankenstein...I know it's more than ten but these are some of the reads that made a profound impact on youthful development. Truth be told though there are too many to list.

Erin Sinclair said...

PS The more recent titles mentioned reminded me of my youth and its journey.


Jambrea said...

I read On the Road and was didn't really like it. Sorry AJ. :( I LOVED The Lovely Bones. It made me cry, Alice Sebold know how to pull emotion that is for sure! Gone with the Wind is one of my all time favorites. I think it is mostly for the movie though! lol I LOVED Angels and Demons. It was SO much better then the Da Vinci Code. It is cool that I've read 7 of the top 10. :)

Wally Lamb is someone that would be in my top 10. His two books, She's Come Undone and I Know this Much is true are WONDERFUL!

Dean Koontz would be on my list too, but only for Intensity. The title says it all. It is VERY intense!

I guess I don't have a whole top 10. I didn't start reading until later in life and never read some of the YA books. I do have a few authors on my top 10 that I would read anything they wrote.

AJ Llewellyn
TA Chase
Linda Winfree
Mari Carr
Dana Marie Bell

I know there are others, but those are the 5 that come striaght to mind.

AJ Llewellyn said...

Hi Erin,
I love Harry and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
I had the pleasure of spending the entire day with S.E. Hinton in Tulsa, OK many years ago. I had no idea at the time she was a woman and she was awesome. I absolutely loved her.
You need to read Kerouac after a cocktail or love ya both!!

jsquilter said...

Mine are Harry Potter 1-7, Anne McCaffrey Pern novels, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Romeo & Juliette, Jane Eyre, all Jane Austin novels, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Adrien English mysteries, Christy (my first romance novel), Island of the Blue Dolphin.

Notice most of mine are escapism vs. coping with realism, like AJ's? I think that says it all about me...LOL

jsquilter said...

Oh, this is Jen Swanson

AJ Llewellyn said...

Jen, what a wonderful way to put it: escapism vs coping...we need to hang out soon my friend!

Lynn Crain said...

Wow...mine are so very different than all of yours...guess that's what older is about. LOL!

Here's mine, in no particular order:

The Stand
Gone With the Wind
Lorna Doone
Harry Potter (any of them)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe
Rings of the Masters
A Soldier's Heart
The Artist's Way
Bird by Bird
Raintree County

I do have tons more BUT these are the ones that immediately come to mind.

Thanks...this was fun!


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