I always have a book on hand: I’m either reading, about to read, or just finished. This has been my life for the past 50 years. And there are books I have reread, there are books I have never finished, and then there are books I have read once, will never read again, yet have impacted me greatly. I present those to you today.
- “Animal Farm” George Orwell. This book blew me away when I read it in 9th grade. “All animals are equal, some are just more equal than others” stands out in my mind as the single greatest quote in literature.
- “The Sun Also Rises” Ernest Hemingway. The gorgeous prose, the exquisite portrayal of characters. I considered naming my daughter Brett Ashley….then I chose a plucky Disney heroine name. Lady Brett was a great character but not sure if it was the right mentor name.
- “The Great Gatsby” F. Scott Fitzgerald Another brilliant character reveal. “Her voice is full of money.” How I wish I could write words and ideas like that.
- “The Scarlet Letter” Nathanial Hawthorne. Is there a better treatise on hypocrisy other than this book?
- “The Bonfire of the Vanities” Tom Wolfe Best book depicting the 80s ever. But I mean the book- not the movie. For the love of God do not ever watch this movie. The worst casting of a movie ever.
- “Invisible Man” Ralph Ellison. Nameless, but clearly not forgotten. This book haunted me. Powerful.
- “Heart of Darkness” Joseph Conrad “Your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others”. Tell me you haven’t thought that at least once in your life?
- “Madame Bovary” Gustave Flaubert No book so clearly defined the ennui which comes from seemingly having it all, yet having nothing.
- “Gulliver’s Travels” Jonathan Swift. This book introduced me to the glory of satire in books. Wonderful”.
- “mrs. Dalloway” Virginia Woolf “What does the brain matter compared with the heart.” I wish I had written that line…
- “A Home at the End of the World” Michael Cunningham. Friendship, love, and the backdrop of what would become the AIDS crisis. After reading this I knew Cunningham would win a Pulitzer- it, and he, are that good.
- “The Shining” Stephen King So terrifying I could not read this book at night. Freaked me out completely. No novel has ever scared me as much as this. Never read King again.
- “Life after Life” and “A God in Ruins” Kate Atkinson. I still do not completely get these books. I get the broad strokes, I even get the smaller strokes, but no two books have ever left me completely with my mouth open. These books made me think way more than most.
Now your turn: which books just wowed you when you read them, but never needed to read again? Which books answered your questions, or got you thinking, or whatever?