Friday, February 17, 2006

Favorite Books

10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
I love this book despite what Disney tried to do to it.

9. A Portrait of A Lady by Henry James
Anything by Henry James but this story about Isabel Archer is his best.

8. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
I love anything by Willa Cather (my heart is with the turn of the century American writers) but this is my favorite, though My Antonia is worth a nod. The Hallmark Hall of Fame movie with Jessica Lange is quite good.

7. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Another sad story about a tragic woman. Notice a trend? I've read everything by Hardy and this tops my list. Also has a decent movie to go with it.

6. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
You get the feeling after reading a few of Rand's books that she's not the kind of person you'd ever want to know but she can write a great story. The Fountainhead is fabulous too--the movie with Gary Cooper with good.

5. Captain from Castille by Samuel Shellabarger
You may not have heard of this one but it's an historical romance set in Renaissance Spain which follows the hero, Pedro de Vargas, from the Old World and the threat of the Spain Inquisition (which one never really suspects) to the New World as he follows Hernando Cortes' conquistadores. You can't get any more exciting than torture, sword fighting, romance, evil noblemen and friendship against all odds.

4. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
I love a story of honor and this is one of the best, though I know some may not read it quite that way. I had a hard time deciding between this novel and The House of Mirth or the Buccaneers--both good--but this is her best.

3. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Not much more you can say about this one that hasn't been said, I'm reading it to Spencer now which will be his first time and my fifth and it's still fabulous.

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
For the record this was my favorite book for many years before Oprah ever picked it up--a story about one happy family, one unhappy family, choices and consequences and it's oh so good (though I've had a harder time getting through War and Peace).

1. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
The all-time best book. It's a deeply moving, moral, touching, sometimes tragic, thoroughly American book. Stegner is the best modern writer who, unlike Roth, McCarthy or Proulx, actually creates sentences that mean something and Stegner's sentences mean a lot. Crossing to Safety and The Spectator Bird are also terrific.