Emily tagged me to do this on Facebook, but I can’t have two places in my life for memes, so, having seen Natalia do it on her blog today, I’m doing it here – the Facebook 15 Books in 15 Minutes Meme.
Instructions: Don’t take too long to think about it. List 15 books you’ve read that will always stick with you — the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Copy the instructions into your own note, and be sure to tag the person who tagged you. (Like Natalia, I listed the books first and then went back and wrote descriptions.)
1. The Narnia series by CS Lewis Books I read over and over again as a child, which served as an escape from then-unpleasant reality and simultaneously offered hope. I have since read them with delight to my children.
2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott My first vision of the sisterhood – and what a good one it was! Also, I believed I was born to be Jo, with a smattering of Meg thrown in for good measure.
3. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery I was sold on the romance of the little orphan girl who makes a place for herself in the world by being garrulous, funny and frank, and still am. I’ve read this to my children and watched them laugh and cry as I did.
4. The Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter The first book that brought me an awareness of how good writing can capture the natural world. Her descriptions of the forest, the moths, the lunch-pail made me want to swoon. Also, it brought me the friendship of my dear G, who now lives far too far away from me.
5. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver A triumph of imaginative and honest writing. For me, the best of Shriver’s many excellent books. It sticks with me despite the horror of its content and because of the brilliance of her writing.
6. Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh This sticks with me as I’ve just read it, but also because it is written in the most glorious, riotous and dazzling language. As one reviewer said, if the next two books in the series are as good as this one, it is going to be one of the first classics of the twenty-first century.
7. Saturday by Ian McEwan The writer in me loves how he sustains the conceit of a single day in someone’s life throughout this long novel. The reader in me loves it for its immediacy and the brilliant building of suspense.
8. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger A perfect love story. It will stick with me for the genuine, sincere love that the time traveller and his wife had for each other, and how Niffenegger sustained her challenging conceit from beginning to end.
9. Carrie by Stephen King I met the uncanny and fell in love. This book was my first introduction to how a writer can brilliantly work a theme and make your stomach churn at the same time.
10. Master Harold and the Boys by Athol Fugard This writer, above all other South African authors, wrote my political education and opened my eyes to the inequities of the land where I lived. Master Harold is a play, not a novel, and perhaps it was the immediacy of first the words and later seeing the play itself helped wake me from dreaming into reality.
11. The Group by Mary McCarthy This was written in the Fifties, and will stick with me for its excellent writing and its vision of the sisterhood, but particularly for an incredibly graphic scene in a gynaecologist’s office. I’ve never read anything like it.
12. The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer I studied this in my final year of school and adored it for the vivid characterisations that brought another age to life. That Chaucer was quite a storyteller.
13. What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt I love this beautiful book of Hustvedt’s. It contains one of the most gut-wrenching, acute descriptions of grief that I have ever read. I don’t know if I will ever have the courage to re-read it.
14. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie I have said that this will be a classic, and I stick by my guns. It’s a superb novel, that manages to combine political exegesis and humane characterisations without losing the latter to the former. An object lesson on how to bring history and politics to vivid life.
15. A Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver This is not the Kingsolver book that you find most people talking about, but I love it for its suppressed eroticism and lush descriptions of nature. It will always stick with me for the sex scene that never happens.