Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top Ten All-Time Favorite Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

My Top Ten All-Time Favorite Books
Post by Krazy Book Lady Contributor, Kayla

This is Freebie Week for Top Ten Tuesday, so I chose to share some of my favorite books with you, so you can get to know me a little better. I have to be honest with you – just writing that title made me feel terrible. I have read many, many books throughout my life, so choosing favorites among them was quite difficult. Even as I would choose one, I would immediately change my mind because there was another that I liked, too. It was quite a schizophrenic experience for me due to the sheer amount of self- argument going on in my head. I finally put my foot down, made myself scrap some of the sci-fi/fantasy because that is not all I read, and managed to come up with the following titles. (They are in no particular order, because that would have meant even more arguing with the voices in my head.)

When I was in middle school (junior high), this was on my reading list. I was in the Gifted and Talented program, and the teachers knew better than to give us only one book to read. None of the students in the classes would have read it. Instead, we would get a list of about one hundred recommended titles, and then the teacher would show favoritism to whichever student had the most read on the list. It was a dirty ploy, but it had us all reading numerous books. I was the insufferable class pet, so I had read nearly everything on the list except for this book. I did not want anything to do with science fiction, but I read it to maintain my lead.

I was hooked in the first paragraph. The utter silliness had me laughing like an insane person within the first few sentences and then throughout the entire book. I am sad that the significance of digital watches has lessened, but I think most people who enjoy British humor will enjoy Adams’ finest work. The science fiction elements are there, but the story is more focused on the interactions between the characters and the little back stories that explain why things are happening the way they are. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

"I don't want to die now. I've still got a headache. I don't want to go to heaven with a headache, I'd be all cross and wouldn't enjoy it.” – Arthur Dent

One of the major difficulties Trillian experienced in her relationship with Zaphod was learning to distinguish between him pretending to be stupid just to get people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn't be bothered to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending to be outrageously stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn't understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid.

For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.

The quotes really do give you an idea of what to expect from the novel. It is a classic for a reason and well worth attempting to read.

The only reason I read this book was that I wanted to see if Pulitzer Prize winning books were really as good as everyone said they are. I force myself to read literary fiction from time to time in order to keep my brain sharp, and this was as good of a candidate as any. It was unlike any other novel that I have read in my entire life. The novel gives a greater insight to Dominican history, overflows with allusions to other literary works, has numerous themes, and the style of writing is what made it stand out to me.

I will not go on for as long about it as I did with Hitchhiker’s Guide, but I am not exaggerating when I say that this is the most beautiful and heartbreaking book that I have ever read and the best I’ve read this century.

3. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This is an extremely short book, so I will not subject you to a long-winded explanation of why I think it is so awesome. Quotes again!

“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…” – Fox

Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: "What does his voice sound like?" "What games does he like best?" "Does he collect butterflies?". They ask: "How old is he?" "How many brothers does he have?" "How much does he weigh?" "How much money does his father make?" Only then do they think they know him.

You risk tears if you let yourself be tamed.

This book makes me ugly cry (you know, with the snot and sobs) every time that I read it. It is a book that I own multiple copies of, and I try to live by what I have learned from it. I have learned to not only treat other people well, but all living creatures. The main thing that I have brought away from this book is the idea that you are responsible for that which you tame.

4. The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

After Interview with the Vampire was released as a movie, I fell madly in love with Brad Pitt. I was not nearly old enough for the content, but I sneaked into my mother’s Anne Rice collection. I do not know if I expected to find Brad Pitt lodged in the pages, but I found something else. The book version of Interview with the Vampire was very dull to me (Louis loves to whine), but I decided to try The Vampire Lestat. (I learned early on that people do not buy book series unless they believe they are good.) The creature that I found in the pages was delightfully wicked and such an enjoyable monster to read.

Under no circumstances would I recommend this to squeamish or conservative readers, but it is worth reading. I wouldn’t blame you if you skipped the first book in the series.

5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

I know I went on and on before about #1 bringing me over to the sci-fi genre, but I loved this book before I even realized how it was labeled. It is a book that I revisit quite often because I have always wanted to be a Murry. Charles Wallace is one of my all-time favorite literary characters, and I tell everyone that I will name my son after him if I ever have a boy. Though this book has many scientific themes, it is mostly about family. Everything each of the characters chooses to do is based on love.

I must say that I wanted to be an astronaut for a long time because I thought I should go search for Aunt Beast among the stars. My terror of heights turned me away from that eventually, but I studied physics in college much longer than was required for a history major.

6. Question Quest by Piers Anthony

This is the fourteenth book in Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, so there is really not much point in saying too much about this. Yes, it is stand alone, but I am one of those people who want to read all of the books first. I assume that you are too. If you are interested, pick up A Spell for Chameleon sometime. It is a great family-friendly series that is thick with puns, allegories, and hilarious nonsense. I read as an escape, and Xanth is my destination of choice. I have read the book the most out of the series, so I guess it’s my favorite.

7. Duma Key by Stephen King

I feel like Stephen King wrote this novel for me. I do not think many people who are not writers or artists will understand this book. Sometimes when I write or paint, it feels like it is coming from somewhere other than inside me. That is what happens in this book. Yes, this is a horror novel, but it lacks the gore and ick that other King novels possess. I usually recommend this book to people who come into the library wanting to try something different, but safe.

8. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

For fear of spoilers, I will say absolutely nothing except that you should read this book. It was required reading in one of my British literature classes, and I was hesitant to read it. I think it is safe to say that I am glad I did. I mean, it made my top ten!

What begins as a simple game if hide-and-seek quickly turns into the adventure of a lifetime when Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy walk through the wardrobe and into the land of Narnia. There they find a cold, snow-covered land frozen into eternal winter by the evil White Witch. All who challenge her rule are turned into stone. Narnia, once filled with all manner of Talking Beasts, Dwarfs, Giants, and Fauns is now a dark, joyless wasteland.

The children can only hope that Aslan, the Great Lion, will return to Narnia and restore beauty and peace to the land. But will the power of Aslan be enough to conquer the dark magic of the White Witch?

Honestly, that says everything you need to know. I wouldn’t be surprised though if you already know it and love it. It was one of my childhood favorites (like most of the list), and I’m currently reading this to my daughter. She is falling in love with it, so I think I just might keep her.

I am unsure whether it is this book that I love so much, or if it is Lewis Carroll’s beautifully insane writing. He manages to pay tribute to the terrifying old fairy stories by the Grimm brothers and their like while still entertaining and winning the love of children. Carroll is a word-smith and a world-weaver, and I do not believe there will ever be another like him.


  1. I have only read Alice in wonderland from your list. Looks like I need to read lots more. :)

  2. I still have not read Rebecca. I don't know how I missed this book. They just released a new cover that is not the red silk cover.

  3. I absolutely LOVE King's Duma Key! Under the Dome was also excellent!

  4. Wow, I've read half the books on your list! The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would make my top 10 of all time too. I also enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

    I've never been a fan of Stephen King. Should I give Duma Key a try?

  5. @reviewingshelf - If you read anything on my list (not knowing your reading preferences), I would suggest The Little Prince. It is extremely short, but it's lovely.

    @Ashley - It's a really good book. It's like Jane Eyre, in a sense, but it is more fast-paced.

    @lindsey - Duma Key is pure awesome sauce, and the audiobook for it is stellar.

    @H.S. You should definitely give it a try! You don't lose anything if you don't like it, and you may end up finding a gem. I know that most King fans get angry at me for this statement, but I prefer his writing style since he was run over. (Is that terrible?) I also feel like he put more of himself into this book, because Edgar is recovering from a horrific accident.

    Kayla @ Krazy Book Lady

  6. Thanks, Hugh!

    Kayla @ Krazy Book Lady

  7. I know how hard this must have been, choosing your favourites. There are just way too many great books out there!! :)

  8. These are all good books, and a few are on my top 10 list too. I must say I particularly love Hitchhiker's Guide. I was introduced to this through the old radio series. Of course, whenever I read the book I hear the radio voices :)

  9. @Nina I have already thought of several that should have been there. It's truly impossible to pick just ten. :)

    @Terri I have to go back and reread Hitchhiker's quite often. I may have to try the radio series next time. I have listened to a few episodes, but it's been years.

    Kayla @ Krazy Book Lady

  10. Great list I feel that Hitchhikers is almost a cult classic. Only a few dare to read but once your into it your laughing out loud at the laundry mat.



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