Author: Luisa Perkins
•3:38 PM
For today’s Scavenger Hunt topic, three separate commenters asked for a list of my favorite books: Pezmama, Dedee, and the prodigiously talented Jen at A2eatwrite. A list of my Top 100 would have been easier. But top ten is what was requested, so top ten is what I give you, along with a few comments.

But first, a caveat: of course the scriptures are my favorite reading material. But I put them outside the bounds of this list, the way I put chocolate outside of the bounds of candy.

Also, I didn’t rank these. That would be just too hard, and somewhat pointless besides. So just pretend they're all tied for first place.

Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin
Mark Helprin is the most gifted living American writer (his photo graces this post). This book, told as an old Italian man’s memoir of his experiences in World War I, is lyrical, funny, spellbinding, and uplifting. The writing is breathtaking (and I don't mean that in the Seinfeldian sense).

The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco
Eco is the most gifted living European writer. I love all of his writing, fiction and non-fiction, but The Name of the Rose is my favorite. It’s so brilliant; just thinking of it makes me want to re-read it. Again.

The Diamond in the Window, by Jane Langton
This is my favorite kids’ book of all time, bar none. I first checked it out at the Woodland Public Library when I was ten. We moved roughly once every two years after that, and I judged every new library by whether they had a copy of this book or not. I’ve bought countless copies and lent or given them away, because I believe every ten-year-old should read it. Jane Langton writes funny mysteries and has published many other children's books, but none comes close to the genius of this one.

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
I’ve written elsewhere about my deep love for this book. I’ve read it probably 20 times. For a long time when I was single, I’d just pick up this trusty novel when I was pining for a little vicarious romance.

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
I have been a serious Tolkien geek from age ten onwards. We’re talking: teaching myself to write Cirthish runes and speak Elvish. That level of geekdom. I went to a panel discussion on Tolkien at the World Fantasy Convention last weekend and felt entirely validated in my lifelong devotion. High adventure, vivid characters both good and evil, timeless themes of the struggle for agency and the power of love and friendship: it just doesn’t get any better than Tolkien.

The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
I love a good allegory, and this is one of the original great ones. It tells the story of Christian, an everyman character, who travels from his home in the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, having many harrowing adventures along the way. It is no accident that our first boy and our first girl are named after characters in the book.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Somehow I wasn’t required to read this in high school, so I didn’t pick it up for the first time until I was nearly 30. I’ve made up for lost time; this is another favorite re-read. There is no better father in all of literature than Atticus Finch.

Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin
Yes, Helprin is that good: he has two books in my Top Ten. This book made me fall in love with New York City long before I ever moved there. It reads like a historical novel (except for the fabulous magic). So gorgeous.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
Published in 2004, this is the most recently written book on my list. Clarke evokes a unique and heady atmosphere in its pages, the perfect mix of English gothic and alternate history fantasy. The amazing footnotes are not to be missed.

Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner
I love all the Stegner I’ve ever read, but this is my favorite for very personal reasons. It’s just lovely.

So there it is! How many of them have you read?

And stay tuned until later in the month, when I reveal my ten least favorite books of all time.
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On 9/11/07 , painted maypole said...

sigh. more books to add to my must read list.


On 9/11/07 , Kimberly said...

I need to go to the library tomorrow. I've only read one of those.

On 9/11/07 , Annette Lyon said...


On 9/11/07 , Catherine said...

You KNOW I got excited when I saw the word "books" in your title. :)

Can we still be friends if I confess that I've only read three of those books? :S


On 9/11/07 , Jenna said...

So far, I win! I've read 5, and am reading Jonathan Strange right now, for 6! Whoo-hoo! Obviously, I've been your friend the longest, because most of these YOU either turned me on to, or gave to me as gifts. And now I have a few more to add to my list!

On 9/11/07 , Alice said...

Mary made a comment to me the other day..."Sister Perkin's favorite books is code for the best books in the world." I thought that was pretty funny. And fitting.

On 10/11/07 , Sirdar said...

Ya know...if I keep reading about books, I might actually have to go and buy one...and then take the time to read it.

On 10/11/07 , Cindy Swanson said...

Hi Luisa...clicked through to you on Blogrush, so apparently Blogrush does work, right? I'm delighted to find a like-minded person, and I will be back! EXCELLENT list, although I'm ashamed to say there are some I haven't read. I've heard so many good things about "The Name of the Rose"; why haven't I ever read it?

I'm adding you to my Bloglines feeds. Visit me when you can!

On 10/11/07 , s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

On 10/11/07 , dawn said...

Confession time. I have heard of half of these, and only read Gone With the Wind. I have been planning to read Pilgrm's Progress to the kids, but reading time just isn't what it used to be.

On 11/11/07 , Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Fascinating list, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't read Helprin. I think I shall have to VERY soon!

And thank you for the kind words - I'm blushing!

On 11/11/07 , Deb said...

Yay!! I'm not the only one who picked up Harper Lee's amazing book late in life. (What is wrong with schools these days?) I love it, too. I've read everything on your list but Tolkien. I just can't bring myself to do it. Maybe I'll crack when Kiddo is old enough to want me to read them to him?

On 12/11/07 , Karen said...

Hey Luisa,
I've read six, and only three at your recommendation. I'll get on the other four soon.