Wednesday, September 14, 2011

50 Favorite Books

My friend Emma Straub posted a link on Facebook to the blog of a St. Paul bookstore, Micawber's Books, that has undertaken a great project: publishing the top 50 books of a book seller at every independent bookstore that cares to participate. Hans Weyandt, co-owner of Micawber's Books, explains the project here. His list is here, and he explains the project a little more, explaining that "My question was to list either a Top 50 or 50 favorite books to handsell. Out of print, new, all manner of genres, etc. Everything was fair game. Some booksellers/stores placed their own restrictions and I will list them as appropriate. Also noted is the fact that most people chose to list the books alphabetically by author and not do a ranking. I've done my best to compile them as nearest as possible to the way in which they were sent to me either by e-mail or handwritten letter(bless you, Mr. Joseph DeSalvo)."

There was a nice little article on his project in Publisher's Weekly, too!

I've been interested to see where children's books show up, and which titles.

So of course I've been trying to make a list of my own. Not being a bookseller, it's just my fifty top books. Fifty favorite books is so much harder than one hundred influential writers. This is the draft as it now stands, in the order in which I thought of them:

My 50 Favorite Books Ever

1. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Sainte-Exupery
2. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor
3. The Letters of Flannery O’Connor
4. A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
5. Walt Whitman’s Complete Poems
6. Kindred, by Octavia Butler
7. The Collected Essays of James Baldwin
8. The Adventures of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
9. The BFG, by Roald Dahl
10. The Search for Delicious, by Natalie Babbitt
11. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez
12. Ramona Quimby, Age 8, by Beverly Cleary
13. Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary
14. Ramona and Her Mother, by Beverly Cleary
15. Ramona and Her Father, by Beverly Cleary
16. Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst, by Lois Lowry
17. Anastasia Has the Answers, by Lois Lowry
18. Grimms’ Fairy Tales
19. Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen
20. Drown, by Junot Diaz
21. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
22. Pastoralia, by George Saunders
23. The Coast of Chicago, by Stuart Dybek
24. The Selected Stories of Alice Munro
25. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
26. Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
27. The Best of Marlys, by Lynda Barry
28. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman
29. The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White
30. Mariette in Ecstasy, by Ron Carson
31. Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh
32. A Bargain for Frances, by Russell and Lillian Hoben
33. Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell and Lillian Hoben
34. D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths
35. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
36. Angels in America, by Tony Kushner
37. Morris’s Disappearing Bag, by Rosemary Wells
38. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
39. The Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston
40. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
41. Goodnight, Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
42. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
43. Ship Fever, by Andrea Barnett
44. The Stories of Ray Bradbury
45. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, by Walter Mosley
46. Walkin’ the Dog, by Walter Mosley
47. Alabanza, by Martin Espada (Collected Poems)
48. Grief Lessons: Four Plays by Euripides (translated by Anne Carson)
49. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie
50. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien

Yeah, I stuck The Things They Carried on at the end, influenced by all of the lists on the Mr. Micawber site--but I have loved teaching it, and students love it too. It's not one of those books you like, but it's amazing.

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