Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Again and again with pleasure

The prompt today on YA Highway is what books you'd pick to read over and over for the rest of your life.

As I thought about it, I decided to list books I already devoured more than once--time tested to make me hungry for their landscapes, their tales. One thing they all share is a magical sense of other worldliness. It's escape that may, at times, be terrifying but is always fascinating.

HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynne Jones

I don't know how one author can be so prolific, imaginative and funny as Diana Wynne Jones. I adore Sophie, a young girl who gets turned into an old woman by a witch in Howl's Moving Castle.

Some people love the movie, but for me the spunk, humor and fantasy are best in the book. This is where Sophie shines.
Here she is soon after her transformation, aching, cold and feisty as she discovers the castle bumping along on the moor:
She raised her stick and waved it imperiously at the castle.
"Stop!" she shrieked.
The castle obediently came to a rumbling, grinding halt. . . "



I don't know if I will ever love a wizard more than the conflicted Ged/Sparrowhawk of LeGuin's masterpiece.

I've often quoted her opening verse, "The Creation of Ea," because it is the essence of great fantasy and of real life.
Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk's flight
on the empty sky.

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

Katniss. 'Nuff said.


STARDUST by Neil Gaiman

I have listened to this on audiobook numerous times. For one thing, I love the way Neil Gaiman reads his stories, and I've disappeared with him into the worlds of NEVERWHERE, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, CORALINE, FRAGILE THINGS and the wonderful THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS.

STARDUST feels like an old-time fairy tale with the nuance of an omniscient storyteller taking you to a faraway land that somehow has roots in ours. Every character has multiple layers, intriguing inconsistencies.


THE CHANGELING SEA by Patricia A. McKillip
McKillip has her own shelf in one of my bookcases. She is amazing at weaving fantasy in all sorts of different tales.
What enchants me about this little book is the sea as an extension of the characters' lives.
The tide was low that afternoon as Peri walked home, so low that even the great jagged spires stood naked in the glistening sand, and all the starfish and anemones and urchins that clung to their battered flanks were exposed.
Have you books you read again and again?


Aleeza said...

Both The Hunger Games & Stardust (and neverwhere, too, actually) are in my TBR pile. can't wait to read all three really soon!
great picks! :)

Golden Eagle said...

I love Howl's Moving Castle! Definitely agree with you on that one. :)

I've never read Stardust although I've enjoyed several other books by Neil Gaiman.

Tere Kirkland said...

I've read THG about six times, I think, and Stardust probably ten times. Love that book. I'm sure I've read something by McKillip, too.

There's one I reach for over and over again—the Last Unicorn. I've probably read it dozens of times. I'm a big re-reader.

Love this post!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love seeing these stories through your eyes. :-)

Bish Denham said...

The Neverending Story, The Last Unicorn, the Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, and, most recently, The Underneath. I'm also in love with Islandia.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Aleeza: Hi and welcome! I envy you that TBR pile because it's going to be awesome.

GoldenEagle: I'm such a fan of Howl's. I love knowing you are, too!

Tere: I'm glad to know I'm not alone in the re-reading! Seriously, I listen to audiobooks to fall asleep and so favorites I've heard before are perfect. Stardust is a land I love to dream in.
Oh, yes, The Last Unicorn. Magic. I heard Peter Beagle do a reading once. Quite wonderful.

Shannon: Aw! I love that comment.

Bish: Great list!

Tracey Neithercott said...

Great picks. I love The Hunger Games, of course. I could read that forever. I've never read Howl's Moving Castle and from your description it's something I need to do!

Alison Miller said...

Yes. I definitely think I could read The Hunger Games and immerse myself in a world with Peeta daily. Good choice.

BK Mattingly said...

I <3 Peeta! I'd pick the Hunger Games just for him! And of course the Harry Potters would come with me and The Giver...oh, and the Percy Jackson books :) Great post!

Alicia Gregoire said...

I haven't read any of these and I'm so embarrassed about that.

Hannah said...

You've llisted a bunch of books I love! Fantastic! Neil Gaiman especially fabulous speaking in person. I loves him.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Tracey: Hi and welcome. What I love about Howl's is the way Sophie is such a force, because Howl is equally a force. They're great characters.

Alison: Even though THG is a terribly dark world, the characters each take such stands, keep each other up with so much depth of soul.

Bethany: Ha! Yes, those all would go with me, too. I could be happy surrounded with those worlds.

Alicia: Oh, my, don't be embarrassed, just think of all the fun you're going to have when you get to them!

Hannah: *waves* I'm a total Neil Gaiman fangirl and not the least bit shy about that.

Jemi Fraser said...

I do have some faves I've read several times: Lord of the Rings & the Hobbit, The Giver, the Pern series and the In Death series. I haven't reread them yet, but I'd add the Hunger Games series to it as well!

Wen Baragrey said...

I've read The Time Traveler's Wife several times now, and listened to the audiobook probably six or seven times. I just never get sick of it. I also love all Neil Gaiman's audiobooks, including Anansi Boys with Lenny Henry narrating, he's also awesome. I could listen to either of them read all day (and often do!)

Anonymous said...

A lovely list, and one that reminds me I should reread Stardust!

Char said...

i've re-read the secret garden, little women, a tree grows in brooklyn and to kill a mockingbird over and over.

Donna said...

Confession: I seldom reread books, even those I love. So many books, so little time. Occasionally I look at parts of them, like the ending to Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible or the opening to Neil Gaiman's American Gods. And I look at pages I marked with Post-it notes either to enjoy the writing or to study a technique I need to master. Occasionally I'll revisit short stories or flash fiction again, studying their structure. I often reread "Stones" from a 1992 anthology called Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories. The Sun Magazine recently ran a short story entitled "The Stew" which I consider perfect, so I'll look at that again.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

This list has me heading for my library site for new audiobook possibilities...thanks!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jemi: Yeah, I've read LoTR and The Giver more than once. Some stories have staying power.

Wen: I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who can listen to a book multiple times! I'm embarrassed to even count how many times for Stardust or for Alice Hoffman's The Probable Future. I guess I feel at home in those landscapes. I've read The Time Traveler's Wife, now I'll have to see if the library has got the audio version!

katelyn: Hi and thank you!

Char: Another wonderful list of books, thank you.

Donna: I like to look at books again for craft, as well. But some books I purely re-read for the journey.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jennifer: Oh, so glad to find someone who enjoys the audio, too. If you haven't heard Gaiman read, it's awesome.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donna said...

Guess I'm always eager for the next journey . . .

Ben Langhinrichs said...

Great books. I love Stardust, and am on book 3 of the Hunger Games now (yeah, I'm late to the party). Excleent picks, all around.

VR Barkowski said...

I adore your choices! I'd probably add The Hobbit in there, since I read it annually. The only one I'm not familiar with is Howl's Moving Castle, but I just added it to my TBR pile (if you can call something that deserves its own zip code a pile). I, too, love the way Neil Gaiman reads. His voice is a perfect match for his stories.

KatOwens: Insect Collector said...

A great list-- I haven't read them all, but the ones I have i loved.

Suzanne Casamento said...

I haven't read any of those books. I better get crackin'!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Ben: Thank you, and always better late than never, right?

Viva: I've reread LoTR but not the Hobbit. I best pick up a copy again. What a world Tolkien created. Neil is such a great reader. I bet his kids had the best storytimes.

KO: Thank you and welcome!

Suzanne: Yeah, crack open a few. ;)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Donna, just saw you returned. I think new journeys are wonderful, as well. Something for everyone.

Mark said...

+1 for Howl's Moving Castle, awesome!

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Super choices! It makes me think you really should be going to World Fantasy Convention this year. Not only is Neil Gaiman going to be there, but it's just a great convention, especially for fantasy with a literary edge. Plus, it's in San Diego this year.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Mark: :D :D :D

Carolina: OH! I'd love to go. You went, didn't you?
*scurries to check it out*

Leila Austin said...

All such fantastic choices! Ursula Le Guin is one of my favourite authors ever!

I really need to reread The Changeling Sea. I read it years ago and the story has stayed with me ever since.

Angela Ackerman said...

What a great idea for a post.

For me, The Hunger Games, I couldn't agree more. Also, Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. I also love The Witch of Blackbird Pond (an oldie!) and Rick Riordan's Lightning Thief. These are all ones I'll read again and again.

Some of your choices I haven't read..I will look for them now tho!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Donna said...

Carolina, thanks for the reminder on the World Fantasy Convention.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Leila: Hello and welcome. It's such a pleasure to meet someone who also loves LeGuin and the Changeling Sea. Enjoy the re-read!

Angela: Oh, I hope you love the others, as I do. And I haven't read Blackbird Pond in forever, but I loved it back when.

The Words Crafter said...

I haven't read ANY of those! But I've heard lots of good stuff about them, so I need to check them out. One of my choices would be Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Love it!

Anonymous said...

Ive just read Hunger Games, wow! Cant wait to read the next two books.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

WordsCrafter: I love Neverwhere, too. His stories always take me by surprise.

Niki: Yeah,that first book is such a breathtaking page-turner. She created an extraordinary world.