Monday, June 25, 2007

A Literary Essence of Thora

On Aleatha's blog she made a list of 10 books. I too wanted to make such a list (in fact, everyone who heard of the idea has also been making a list of ten books as well), and so here it is. My list of books are not always ones that changed my life, but more are old friends, that I love, and maybe have changed me by that love, rather than any brilliance.

1. Anne's House of Dreams, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I've always loved Anne; when I was a child it was Anne of Green Gables, but as I've grown up, I've found that I appreciate the older Anne more than I ever had before. I love Anne; I've always wanted to be Anne, and have red hair, live on PEI, and marry Gilbert. In Anne's House of Dreams she gets to do all three. Plus she has her own little home, and is a newly wed. The next book picks up when she has five children, so this is the only young, married Anne. If I couldn't be Anne, the next best thing would be to be her friend. And to me these books are my friends.

2. These Happy Golden Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've also always wanted to be a pioneer. I've loved reading about Laura and her family, and even better knowing that they really lived. I picked this specific book because she's also older in this one, and it's a good, prosperous time for the Ingalls family. I've always wanted to have been born in the last century, instead of when I was born.

3.Praise to the Man, book 6 of the Work and the Glory series, Gerald Lund. Pioneers and the Church; how can you go wrong? Nauvoo is my favourite of the restoration time period, and although Joseph Smith dies in this book, in a way its the beginning of the end of persecution for the Saints, because soon they will move to the Rocky Mountains and live in peace. I love pioneers, and when I was a child I would lay down in our backyard, which was where George Q. Cannon's orchards were originally, and where still today many fruit trees grow, and hope that if I fell asleep in just a certain way out there, I would wake up a hundred years previously and get to be a pioneer. Sadly, this never occurred, and so I've had to read about the time period as a second-class prize instead.

4.Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte ( I think). I'm a sucker for romances, particularly British, upper-class 19th century ones.

5.Persuasion, Jane Austin. see above. Also, I love this particular book out of all of Jane Austin's because the heroine is so mature and likable. Although I love Pride and Prejudice, sometimes what Elizabeth really needs is some good parental discipline (ie, a spanking{I don't actually believe in corporal punishment, don't worry}). Elizabeth is very witty and intelligent, and hence interesting to read about, but Jane is someone with whom I would like as a friend; I could trust her. And I love uplifting people, perhaps because sometimes I"m rather catty or critical, and I don't like that part of myself. I'd much rather be someone who was nice all the time, because then people could always trust me with everything, because they would know that I would never make fun of them later for what they said. Like Jane, who reminds me of Carol Crapo Vezzani, because of their forthright kindness. (Gentle Reader; I didn't have a copy of the book nearby, so if the heroine's name actually turns out to be Hephzibah or something, just make the appropriate substitutions).

6.Sonnets from the Portuguese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I don't like poetry. It's true, 'tis a pity. I'm rather embarrassed to admit this, because I instinctively feel that the onus of this dislike lies within me, and is not indicative of the true status and worth of poetry at all. Unfortunately this doesn't mean I really like it any better. I grow bored while reading poetry, and am never carried away by it, unlike with novels. I guess I just prefer a great celebration of words, with adjectives, synonyms and other verbal profusions next to a few, carefully chosen words to describe all. Anyone who has heard me talk can attest that I follow this guiding principle in my own speech. You may be asking yourself at this point why I am having an anti-poetical diatribe at this point, under a listing of sonnets.

For whatever reason, Sonnets from the Portuguese remains the only true sole exception to my feelings on poetry (excepting perhaps Leaves of Grass, which I also love. However, I've never actually finished it, so it can't count on this list, nor can I consider the whole work. Also, I love the idea of Idylls of the King, partly because Anne (see #1) loved it, but I've also never read much of it, because it was due at the library).

When I was a child, Don (my step-father) gave me a small, dark blue copy of these Sonnets, that had belonged to his mother Bea, and came from sometime between 1930-1950s. I loved this book. I still love this book, and still own it. It sat proudly on my handsome books' shelf. Although I love the sonnets by themselves, I must admit my love for them is greatly increased when I read them out of my own copy. Reading is such a physical experience with the book one reads. That's why I don't like reading on the computer. I've read it countless times, and whenever I've liked a boy (I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit this), there has been a particular sonnet in the book that I came to associate with him. Avram's turned out to be "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...," because of these lines, "I love thee with a passion put to use in my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith...--I love thee with the breath, smiles and tears of all my life! --And, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."

Even as I write these lines, my heart thrills to them. They contain so much, in so little space; a life of love, eternal marriage, a lot more that she says better than I. I do realize as I write these words that I'm currently showing why sometimes less words are better than more, but hey, I'm an inconsistent person, so I don't care if I both refute poetry for the same reasons I love it. Moving on from this Paean....

7.The Grey King, Susan Cooper. I love the whole series (I tend to love series, have you noticed?), but this is the best, in my opinion. That, and the first one, The Dark is Rising, which is also the name of the series. I love the old traditions of the book. I love the very Britishness of it. I love it that Will Stanton has 10 or so siblings (I don't know for sure), because people in books never seem to have more siblings than will come into the plot comfortably. The only thing I don't like about the series is that Christianity is somehow outside of the battle of Good vs. Evil. This book is also special in that it is one of only three books on this list that weren't either written in or written about the 19th century. What can I say? I love that century. Of course, this book does take place in Britain, so that may make up for it.

8.Beauty, Robin McKinley. I also love Deerskin, although these two are very different books. I love fairy tales, and Robin writes fairy tales, not fantasy (there is a difference). These are two old friends books. They're not life changing, but they are a comfort and very re-readable. Deerskin is a dark fairy tale, but anyone who's read the complete Grimm's fairy tales has a grounding in just how many fairy tales are very different than we tend to think of them today as.

9.Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke. This book is unusual as well; I've only read it once, while the rest I've read countless times. However, it's the first book I've read in several years that has really hit me. She writes with the style of Jane Austin meeting a research book, while going into subjects (magick) and angles that real Nineteenth century Authors never would have. It's a gem, and a hefty one, weighing in at 800 pages.

10.Silver Pennies, collected children's poems (published in 1952.) This is another entry where the specific book is as meaningful as the poems. When my Great Grandmother died, my Grandmother gave my mother this book of poems from the little money that she received as an inheritance. In turn, I've come to possess it, and I love its history. My favorite poem from this collection is "The Spirit of the Birch," by Arthur Ketchum, although I've been unable to find the actual poem. If anyone can get it, please send it too me, as my book is packed up. This poem made me want to be a dryad, and I used to make up short stories about dryads, which I would tell Halley every night when we shared a room. The dryad's name was Myriam who of course, compliments of this poem, was a birch dryad, and her father was an oak dryad. Although this was a "Mary Sue" (ask Avram), it was a lovely one.

Looking over this list, one learns that I love the nineteenth century (7of10), England (50f10), and reading about a girl's life (50f10).

What books move you, dear reader?


  1. Bork, you and me both on the Anne books and ditto on the little house on the prarie.
    Another book that I really love is "A tree grows in Brooklyn"
    Oh to be so tragicly (sp) poor and smart and imaginitve (sp). Oh well
    I also really love anything 1700-1800's. I really like the books that center around wartime for some reason.
    I love series because it feels like you are catching up with old friends when you read about them in the next book.
    There is this really good series called the Fountain Creek series. 1800's Wyoming. it isnt LDS but it is Chistian. You might like it.
    Love ya sis and I wish that we could talk books all the time.

  2. I actually almost put in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" instead of Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell. How funny. I also loved that book growing up. I'm glad that we thought of many of the same books; love you too, schmork.

  3. I'm interested in how many books you love among your most choice 10 that I've not only not read but some I have not heard of. Some lazy day I'll try to compose my ten and see what they end up being. Probably there would be very little overlap. I'd have to think of a criteria for choosing this or that book.

  4. I tried creating my own list, then winnowed more than half, including many on your list. (and yours, Mary!) Here's my list:

    1. The Elements of Style Strunk & White’s classic little reference. How to write well. I’ve internalized it, use it’s principles every day of my life. What more can an author want?

    2. Science and Sanity Alfred Korzybski’s treatise on General Semantics, which he invented. Impossible to read, but worth the effort. Semantics is wonderful stuff.

    3. Off the Map Mark Jenkins’ autobiographical story of bicycling across Siberia. A dangerous book. Everyone I know who has read it has been changed by it.

    4. Seven Pillars of Wisdom T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”). The Arabian campaign in excruciating detail, told with wit and humility by a certifiable genius. Formed my character. I love his sense of humor. Example: Lawrence included his proof-readers notes and his own responses in an appendix. My favorite (from memory): “Jeddah the she-camel was Jidda on page 79 and Jedda on page 173.” Lawrence’s response: “She was a splendid beast!”

    5. One by Richard Bach. Science fiction, life after death, spirituality, philosophy, parables, aviation, and adventure. Nearly poetry. How can it miss? Touches virtually all my favorite genres, and is G rated.

    6. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain’s masterpiece. Meant to be read aloud, to an audience, which I love to do. I “discovered” Mark Twain when I was twelve, the perfect age for him.

    7. The Little Prince Antoine de Sainte-Exuperie. Who says children can’t appreciate tragedy? I suspect more adults read this book than children, though. I love tragedy. Only reason I didn’t include Shakespeare in this list is that his tragedies are meant to be performed, not read.

    8. Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. The best science fiction novel of all time. Heinlein claimed he wrote it deliberately to challenge all of the moral values of western civilization. At one time, I tried to live by its precepts. Didn’t work. Great learning experience, though. If I had to include only one SF novel in this list, this would be it.

    9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Another great learning experience. Rand is a wonderful writer and a terrible judge of character. I worshipped her when I was 18.

    10. The Canterbury Tales I love Geoffrey Chaucer, but never really appreciated the Tales until I learned to read them in Middle English. Another book which must be read aloud. Audiences who can understand and appreciate Middle English are uncommon these days. What a pity!

  5. 1. well Like you..and mary.. i LOVED the anne books. I had a really fancy hard bound version of Anne of Green Gables that I had proudly displayed on the window sill in my room in washington. you know those rooms were a bit drafty and during hte winter there was a lot fo condensation on the windows. needless to say one cold snowed in day I went to read my old favorite book and found it was moldy and warped. I cried and cried i was so upset about it. it still makes me sad that my poor book was ruined. It was the most fancy lovely book i ever owned.. :(

    Anyways back to the books-

    I loved the whole Anne series and often imagined I was her as well.. I wanted to do all the things she did! i wish I could have graduated from college at 16 and already been a teacher! I read the books so much i dreamed them and I was a part of that wonderful time period. I wish so much I had been born a different time as well Thora. I try to remember that we have some good things.. like healthcare and the internet so i can corospond with my long lost far away sisters all over the states! Can you even imagine how long we would have waited to pass letters back and forth?

    2. I do enjoy myself a good historical fiction.. Love them! So of course I must also say I grew up loving the little house series as well. Its a classic and even though i have boys I think they will be having them for bed time stories in a few years! I cant even tell you how many times I read that series... about 25 i think?? one summer while I was at pageant i stayed with the hallings who were a bit poorer and had 7 kids. I slept in a room with 2 of their daughters and shared a full size bed with the younger one who was about 8. i decided she needed to hear them so over the 2 months I lived there I read to her every night out loud the entire series. Its interesting the different things you get out of the books when you read them as you get older...

    3. children of the promise series loved them . its written alot like the work and the glory books. it follows a large lds family through WWII. I got really into this series and was so inlove with the characters i was depressed when the series ended.

    4. Work and the Glory... the whole series really. although I liked book 6 and 7 alot. I loved being a part of their lives.. feeling giddy for them as they courted and got married. ( dont you just love the word courted? It just sonds so lovely.. and romantic.. and proper.) cried when they had losses, laughed at the good times, rejoiced in Joshua coming around finally. The many hours i spent on reading these books were wonderful.

    5. Night. by Elie Wiesel
    This book is about a young boy in a consentration camp. its self written. Its so sad becuase it really happened to people. if you have not read this book, do. it puts your whole life in perspective.

    6. Robert Frost book of Poetry. I cant pick a favorite... I like so many of his work.

    7. Wordsworth poetry. I came across him while I was in the phych ward at primary childrens hospital when I was 16. I found a book of his poems there and devoured it. i felt so conected to him, which was weird since I was a depressed young girl in modern day in a hospital and he was an older man who lived in the country in europe in the 18th centrury. but at any rate his words spoke to me. a couple of my favorites :

    A slumber did my spirit seal;
    I had no human fears:
    She seemed a thing that could not feel
    The touch of earthly years.

    No motion has she now, no force;
    She neither hears nor sees;
    Rolled round in earth's diurnal course
    With rocks, and stones, and trees.

    and another:(they dont have titles just jump right in)

    She dwelt among the untrodden ways
    Beside the springs of Dove,
    A Maid whom there were none to praise
    And very few to love:

    A violet by a mossy stone
    Half hidden from the eye!
    Fair as a star, when only one
    Is shining in the sky.

    She lived unknown, and few could know
    When Lucy ceased to be;
    But she is in her grave, and, oh,
    The difference to me!

    okay well I could go on with more books but Theo needs to nurse and be put to bed... not only do i not have time to read anymore, I dont even have time to post about books I have read!!

  6. I'm glad I've had such a good response of books; I'm actually reading the Canterbury Tale right now, Don, and am very much enjoying them, although they are a lot more, let us say, "earthy" than I was expecting. I never knew you liked poetry so much, Camilla.

  7. Thora, if you don't dig earthy, don't read The Miller's Tale! I personally think it's the funniest thing ever written in the English language, but it is NOT G-rated!

  8. I've already read it; that's what engendered to me my opinion. Now I'm on the Man of Law's tale.

  9. I think I will try to post my ten books. These are basically Old Friend books (in one case a poem) that have made a difference because I know them.

    1. Keeko. This is a children's book about a little Indian boy. When I was at BYU, I took a pre-school class. One day I had to read the story for the pre-school. They had a little library of books there and I went to choose one. I saw Keeko and it was like I had found an old friend I had forgotten completely about because it was a book from my childhood. I knew Eris loved it too so I bought a copy for her and took it to Manti to give it to her. When she opened it, she exclaimed, "Keeko!" just like I had. Rojer walked in and saw it and also said, "Keeko!" My mother said, "Who's Keeko?" That told me we had met Keeko in school, not at home since my mother was not familiar with it. I choose Keeko because it represents how books are friends to me.

    2. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I love the child's philosphy so well represented here: Life is unfair, nothing goes right, too bad. Move on. I quote from it a lot. I think Mandie could write the pregnant woman's version of this book.

    3. Mrs. Mike. This is a book is about married love surviving tragedy.

    4. Dibs in Search of Self This
    book was a new genre for me when I found it and I was fascinated by this story of this brilliant child coming out of emotional hiding.

    5. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. When I took philosophy at BYU, I wanted to have deep and significant thoughts but I couldn't even relate to most philosophical posturing. This book was kind of a everyday man's approach to philosophy that I felt some kinship to.

    6. Off the Map. This book was a happy accident. I was doing research on Russia when I found it. It didn't address my questions at all but I was enchanted by it. The author, Mark Jenkins, tickles my funny bone. He is an adverturer and a marvelous writer. He does all of those crazy things that you wish you had courage to do but you have too much common sense to actually do. This was the first book I ever read where as soon as I finished reading it, I started immediately over at the beginning reading it outloud with Don because I got such a kick out of it.

    7. e. e. cumming's if everything happened that can't be done. For me, this a poem about being twitterpatted. I met it at Snow College in Freshman English. I was wanting to be twitterpatted but had no one to lay my feelings on.

    if everything happens that can't be done
    (and anything's righter
    than books
    could plan)
    the stupidest teacher will almost guess
    (with a run
    around we go yes)
    there's nothing as something as one

    one hasn't a why or because or although
    (and buds know better
    than books
    don't grow)
    one's anything old being everything new
    (with a what
    around we go who)
    one's everyanything so

    so world is a leaf is a tree is a bough
    (and birds sing sweeter
    than books
    tell how)
    so here is away and so your is a my
    (with a down
    around again fly)
    forever was never till now

    now i love you and you love me
    (and books are shutter
    than books
    can be)
    and deep in the high that does nothing but fall
    (with a shout
    around we go all)
    there's somebody calling who's we

    we're everything brighter than even the sun
    (we're everything greater
    than books
    might mean)
    we're everyanything more than believe
    (with a spin
    alive we're alive)
    we're wonderful one times one

    8. Prelude to Munich by Bodie Thoene. This book opened a whole new genre of reading to me and has kept me on a reading jag that has lasted a long time.

    9. Secret Garden. There was several years when I wasn't able to find books I enjoyed reading. This was one book which I came across at this time and it got me excited about reading again.

    10. The Face on the Milk Carten. This author tends to take situations like you read about in the news and putting a face on them in the sense of developing it into a story where something that seems to only happen out there happens here to the character in the book.