My Seminal Works

By Loretta

In one of my previous posts, I wrote of my efforts to weed the books I thought I would never read again, so they wouldn’t cave in on me.  This time, I thought I would share the ones that I return to time and again.

There was never a time I didn’t love books, but my real infatuation began with Little Women.  I was about 12 years old at the time and impressionable and Alcott made me feel a part of her family.  In large part, that was due to her talent as a writer, but may have also had something to do with me having three sisters of my own.  When Beth died, a little of me went with her.

Close on the heels of Alcott, I found Ivanhoe by Walter Scott.  Eureka – this was it!  I had found my niche: historical fiction.  Romance, adventure, love, loyalty, betrayal, heartbreak: what more could anyone ask from a book?  I left another part of myself in the Middle Ages.

I was so entranced by these two, I became ambitious.  I remember going to our school library and wandering up and down the shelves, looking for “old” books.  What I found changed me.  It was Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  It was a huge book with a worn cover and looked like it would be just the thing to keep me busy for a while. As it turned out, I devoured it in a short time, because it was such a beautiful story.  It was then I realized books could allow you to live anytime, anywhere, become acquainted with the people, their ideas and customs.  I became the perennial armchair traveler.  I have never looked back.

Books invade so quietly and conquer so completely,  like our very own personal Trojan horses. Before you know it, they have taken over your life and you have them in stacks on any level surface that is strong enough to support them.

Besides the three already mentioned, the following list includes some of the fiction keepers in my world.  (My nonfiction list would be so long, it would take on its own identity and I would have to send it to school.)  There are about 50 of them, more or less, some juvenile lit, some young adult, some adult.   If you haven’t already, I hope you get a chance to try one or two of them sometime and let them work their magic on you.

Adams, Richard.  Watership Down.
Aesop.  Aesop’s Fables.
Auel, Jean.  The Clan of the Cave Bear.
Babbitt, Natalie.  Tuck Everlasting.
Bowles, Paul.  The Sheltering Sky.
Briggs, Katherine.  Hobberdy Dick.
Bronte, Charlotte.  Jane Eyre.
Buck, Pearl.  The Good Earth.
Bunting, Eve.  I Am the Mummy Heb-Nefert.
Burnett, Frances Hodgson.  The Secret Garden.
Camus, Albert.  The Stranger.
Capote, Truman.  A Christmas Memory.
Dean, Pamela.  Tam Lin.
Dickens, Charles.  A Tale of Two Cities.
Doyle, Roddy.  The Snapper.
Fielding, Helen.  Bridget Jones’s Diary.
Follett, Ken.  The Eye of the Needle.
Follett, Ken.  The Pillars of the Earth.
Frazier, Charles.  Cold Mountain.
Gabaldon, Diana.  Outlander.
Gallico, Paul.  Snowflake.
Grahame, Kenneth.  The Wind in the Willows.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
Heinlein, Robert.  Stranger in a Strange Land.
Hesse, Hermann.  Siddhartha.
Hinton, Nigel.  The Heart of the Valley.
Hudson, W.H.  Green Mansions.
Huxley, Aldous.  Brave New World.
Keene, Carolyn.  The Nancy Drew mysteries.
Le Carre, John.  The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.
Levin, Ira.  The Boys from Brazil.
McCullers, Carson.  The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
McKillip, Patricia.  The Book of Atrix Wolfe.
Milne, A.A.  Winnie the Pooh.
O’Dell, Scott.  Island of the Blue Dolphins.
Paton Walsh, Jill.  Knowledge of Angels.
Pelletier, Cathie.  The Funeral Makers.
Pilcher, Rosamunde.  The Shell Seekers.
Pyle, Howard.  The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.
Robbins, Tom.   Still Life With Woodpecker.
Robinson, Barbara. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
Saint Exupery, Antoine de.  The Little Prince.
Seton, Anya.  Green Darkness.
Sheldon, Sidney.  The Other Side of Midnight.
Smith, Dodie.  I Capture the Castle.
Stewart, Mary. The Crystal Cave.
Stewart, Mary.  This Rough Magic.
Thompson, Kay.  Eloise.
Thurber, James.  Many Moons.
Tolkien, J.R.R.  The Hobbit.
Tolkien, J.R.R.  The Fellowship of the Rings.
Tolkien, J.R.R.  The Two Towers.
Tolkien, J.R.R.  The Return of the King.
Toole, John Kennedy.  A Confederacy of Dunces.
Trevanian.  The Eiger Sanction.
Trumbo, Dalton.  Johnny Got His Gun.
Wells, H. G.  The Time Machine.
Wells, H.G.  War of the Worlds.
Wilder, Thornton.  The Bridge of San Luis Rey.
Willis, Connie.  The Doomsday Book.

5 thoughts on “My Seminal Works

  1. What a great list — there’s some real heft to this selection. I like the variety. It reminds me of a visit to a tapas bar with a group of friends — so many delightful surprises.

    I’d imagine it’d be wonderful to sit next to you at a dinner party. This list indicates a nimble mind.

    Do you still cast your net as broadly as you did in your youth? That’s my goal for this year — exploring new genres. I started with Amish Romance, which I’ll now never have to read again!


  2. Tuck Everlasting was one of my absolute favorite books when I was younger. We read it for Battle of the Books and I still count it among my cherished childhood reads. There’s a movie out, but I refuse to watch it in fear that it will spoil everything I hold dear about the novel.

    Anyway, wonderful list, Loretta – this inspires me to let the new book shelves be for a little while and check out something older. Perhaps Les Miserables?


  3. Luke, Thanks and yes, I still cast that net fairly broadly, falling just short of technical manuals and business-related materials. ZZZZZZZZZ. But I am more selective. I will stop reading a book altogether if it doesn’t suit me, whereas before I would never quit until the end. Let me know how that Amish romance goes. 🙂

    Sarah, I’m like you: I worry that my favorites will be skewered by the film industry. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a few, though, so I hope they do a creditable job with Tuck. As for Les Mis, I read it as a young teen. I’ve wondered if it would strike a different note now that I’m older.


  4. You weeded…. You still have a hugh library. I keep books that were given to me as gifts all the rest go away.away.away to a new home. I do more books on CDs than I ever have. But the love of a book is something you cant give away or loose or forget. Re-reading an old book is like warm muffins and tea, fireplace and a cat on your lap. Or sitting down by the creek on a wondeful spring day. :_)


    • You’re smart, Margaret. You don’t have to deal with the stacks on the floor! I weeded about half of mine, but I still have enough to keep me busy. I can’t quite warm up to the cd-books yet. I’ve tried them, but I forget and leave the room, then have to restart them. After 2 or 3 tries, I usually give up. You are right about re-reading the old ones. I love pulling out one of my old favorites and settling in, finding out what they’ve been up to since the last time we met. 🙂


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