Happy World Book Day!
Back in the day (I don't remember when!), Rhonda from Shellbelle's Tikki Hut asked me what my favourite books were and suggested I write a post about them. Several months later, after jotting down the occasional title here and there, I figured the perfect time for me to answer her request would be on World Book Day!
If you don't know anything about World Book Day, then I'll send you back to my post from last year (or you can click on the wikipedia link above) where I went into its History with a bit more detail. In a few words, UNESCO selected this day to promote reading (which had been celebrated in Spain since 1923) as World Book Day in 1995 in honour of many authors who were born or died on this day, but particularly Cervantes and Shakespeare who both died on April 23rd 1616.
So on to my favourites! In no particular order, as they came to mind... I'm an avid bookworm and I'm sure I've left many out while some people might think I've included too many for a "favourites" list, but it's like asking me to choose a favourite child (or sister in my case)!
Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien -> for several years I read this once a year (I've read it at least 5-6 times), trying to limit myself to one volume per weekend. I hate the end... because it finishes! Sometimes I just skip the end and pretend that the road just goes on and on... ;o)
Les Trois Mousquetaires by Alexandre Dumas -> my swashbuckling favourite which I fell in love with in high school! I'll always have a soft spot for d'Artagnan, but as I've grown older my preferences have leant more towards Athos. I don't know how many times I've read it, but the sequels 20 Ans Après at least 3 times and Le Vicomte de Bragelonne twice (they're much longer and the third is a bit sad because once again it's the end of an era, our musketeers are old and they all die!!!)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen -> while I love all the Austen novels (except perhaps Northanger Abbey which just doesn't fit with me, or Emma who annoys me) this would be my favourite. I read it once every year or so... although lately I've come to acquire a noted preference for Persuasion as well...
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett -> One of those magical childhood favourites that I return to regularly when I feel the need of a comfort zone. It's like re-visiting an old friend. And I've always dreamt of having such a place myself, where I can hide myself away from others whenever I want, to share with a select few...
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis, particularly the first: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I like to take trips back to Narnia every so often...
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott -> Who can resist the March sisters? Not me!!! Another frequent re-read, and it never fails to bring me to tears at a certain someone's death... The first lines of the novel are right up there with those of Pride and Prejudice for "best beginnings ever"! ;o) And the story continues wonderfully on in Little Men and Jo's Boys.
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott -> I think this was my first foray into books for "older" people as a child (probably before the Musketeers) since I had seen a movie on TV (the one with Sam Neil) and loved it and spent some time admiring the lovely leather-bound edition on my parents' bookshelf. Since then I don't think I've met a book by Scott that I didn't like!
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -> my parents gave me the a complete edition recreating the Strand publications (with original illustrations) for my 10th birthday... and boy was that sucker heavy! Some of the tales scared me so much it took me a while to re-read them (The Speckled Band... *shivers*), but I have done so several times and always enjoy Holmes' analytical thought process.
The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart -> give me anything on the Arthurian Legend and I'll swallow it up! But of all those I've read this one is the best! It follows Merlin more than Arthur and takes us from a young boy who knows nothing of his parentage (son of the rightful king of England), who grows into an amazing and highly intelligent man dedicated to bringing about a golden age he foresees under his cousin Arthur's future reign. Britons, Romans, Saxons, Picts... this brings the dark ages to life and adds a magical touch to it all! :o)
The Wolfwalker series by Tara K Harper (whom seems to have fallen off the map... in the middle of a new trilogy in the series! Book 2 should have been out 2 years ago, and there's no sign! argh!!!), great story, characters, world-creating... where are the new books?!?!?!
Dune (etc.) by Frank Herbert (the series completed and extended not to badly by his son Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson), while at times hard to follow is so absorbing I can't help but wanting more!!!
A Tale of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin, my first introduction into more "fantastical" readings at the age of 13... I gain a better appreciation for it each time I read it!
I think that might it for favourites... I'm more familiar with 19th century literature than certain other ages and have greatly enjoyed books by Emile Zola (particularly Pot Bouille and Au Bonheur des Dames), Alexandre Dumas (duh!), Jules Verne, Victor Hugo and Balzac for France. From the US and UK those mentioned above (Burnett, Alcott, Scott) as well as the Bronte sisters.
I'm less well-versed with modern authors, but when I find one I like I tend to read everything by them! Currently these include Arturo Perez Reverte, Isabel Allende, PD James. I've also fallen head over heels for certain recent books (and given copies to many friends), such as La Sombra Del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
What else? I'll read just about anything that tells a tale of Robin Hood or King Arthur (among others I've got Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur, The Once and Future King by TH White and Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle which fascinatingly mixes in the legend of Atlantis! I love the retelling from the female point of view in the Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. And an interesting addendum to this category would be The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper). I'm fascinated with strong historical female figures, particularly Elisabeth 1st of England, Alienor of Aquitaine, Elisabeth of Bavaria (Sissi), Isabel of Castile... I love fantasy and historical fiction. I've got most of the Star Wars (expanded universe = telling more stories in the SW universe that Lucas created, but -some- much better!) novels which I either devour, or ignore for a couple of years (my favourites are those by Timothy Zahn). I got tired of crime novels at one point (but I always enjoyed Agatha Christie, my favourite characters of hers are Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, she also has two excellent and fascinating autobiographies, one centred on her archaeological work), but rediscovered it over the past couple of years through PD James' novels (who also has an excellent autobiography out!). I really enjoyed Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey westerns as a teenager (thx to a month-long camping vacation in the 4 Corners region: Rocky Mountains, and Canyons anyone?!). As a child I was all about Enid Blyton, the funny thing is I've read some of her books in English (fairy tales/adventures), others in French (Club des Cinq) and others in Spanish (Mellizas de Santa Clara)... and since these have all been re-written more than translated (to be more relatable to local readers), I can't bear reading them in any other language than those I read because the names change! I mean, who's George? There's no George, it's Claude!!! (a.k.a. Georgina vs Claudine). I just gave a couple of these books to my young cousins as First Communion presents last weekend, I hope they enjoy them as much as I did! Oh, and I mustn't forget A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l'Engle!
So, what about you? Can you name a couple (or just one) favourite books? Or like me do you it an impossibly limiting task?
Feliz Día del Libro!
now go read something!!! :p