As part of another blog hop, I’ve been asked by Newfoundland writer Kate Robbins to list my five favourite books of all time. You’ll see I’ve shown a blatant disregard for the rules here by choosing a series and a collection.
Here they are, in no particular order.
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen: I admit there’s a bit of the “Colin Firth factor” happening here, but I was a fan of the book long before the A&E miniseries. It’s cleanly written with every scene contributing to the overall plot and major themes of the book. There’s nothing gratuitous. No fluff. I love that in a book. Austen has also managed to create a cast of characters who are as alive and vivid to modern day readers as they were to her contemporaries two hundred years ago.
This Can’t be Happening at MacDonald Hall, Gordon Korman: My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Griffiths, read this to my class. Each afternoon we’d sit on the floor in a circle around her chair. I can still remember laughing at the antics of Bruno and Boots. I’ve since read MacDonald Hall to my children – they adored it, and laughed just as hard as I did. And here’s an interesting note: Korman wrote it as an English assignment when he was in seventh grade. Impressive eh?
James Herriot (collected works): James Herriot is the nom-de-plume of Alf Wight, a Yorkshire vet who practiced in the village of Thirsk for over fifty years. Upon his retirement he wrote a number of books and short stories about the animals he treated, and their owners. If you haven’t yet read any of them, do yourself a favour and go get them. They’re a charming and hilarious portrait of country life. I wanted to be a vet because of these books … but the notion of sticking my arm up a cow’s behind turned me off. In the 80s, the BBC produced a wonderful TV series based on Wight’s books, called All Creatures Great and Small. I highly recommend those as well.
Good Omens, Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: This is the book that introduced me to Neil Gaiman and I’ve been a fan of his ever since. I read it instead of studying for my final critical theory exam in university. I still consider it a far better use of my time. It’s a cheeky account of Armageddon and the attempts of two characters to avert it. The characters are Aziraphale and Crowley otherwise known as the angel and serpent from the Garden of Eden. In the hands of a lesser author this book would probably be a straight-up dystopian novel. But Pratchett and Gaiman are brilliant and so Good Omens is a hilarious, downright delightful read.
Harry Potter (series), J. K. Rowling: These books are just plain fun! A colleague introduced them to me with a warning. “Be careful,” she said. “These things are like crack! You’ll be hooked forever.” Oh, how right she was. I stayed up all night reading The Philosopher’s Stone. I read the second one the next evening – didn’t even wait to change out of my work clothes. By the time the last book was published, I had two children so we turned the global launch party into a family outing. We love these books. We talk about the characters, retell Ron’s jokes, quote passages … they’ve become one of the ties that bind us together.
And now it’s over to Irish author Lesley Richardson for her top five favourite books of all time.