I've chewed and mulled over this post about books. Partly because I don't even own some of the books that have stuck with me through the years. And the other reason is because I always hesitate making lists of favorites, because they're sure to change within a year.
So I'm picking some of the books that I can recall paragraphs or quotes, characters or highlights at the drop of a hat. If the words of a writer can stick so close to my heart that they become a part of my language and storytelling, I know it's one that is around for a long time.
Here is such a list:
[The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte] This was my first, and subsequently favorite, Bronte book —
“But smiles and tears are so alike with me, they are neither of them confined to any particular feelings: I often cry when I am happy, and smile when I am sad.”
W.B. Yeats, favorite poet —
"When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars."
The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning. Picked up my ragged soul when I was ready to walk away completely —
“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”
The poems of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Nothing beats a real love story
“I would die for you, with triumphant happiness, God knows, at a signal from your hand!”
Walden, Henry David Thoreau
Feeding my love of solitude & the wild —
"We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
My first Austen book —
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
Let the Little Children Come, Amy Carmichael; Lois Dick. My first inspiration for missions work, and a woman I highly esteem in history.
"Let us not be surprised when we have to face difficulties. When the wind blows hard on a tree, the roots stretch and grow the stronger, Let it be so with us. Let us not be weaklings, yielding to every wind that blows, but strong in spirit to resist. "
One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp
I'm grateful to Ann for this gift.
“When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?”
Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea, Lucy Maud Montgomery
One of the first girls in the literary world I identified with, just after Laura Ingalls.
“After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
Hinds Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard
I am Much Afraid.
“O Shepherd. You said you would make my feet like hinds' feet and set me upon High Places".
"Well", he answered "the only way to develop hinds' feet is to go by the paths which the hinds use.”
Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli
I remember when a dear friend handed this book out to everyone who ever asked about it in high school. I understand now.
“She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day.”
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
My senior english teacher gifted me with my classroom copy of the book, inscribed with a letter from him to me. It's a treasure.
“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”
Mere Christianity, CS Lewis
This was the first book I read of Lewis after Narnia. As a child, he captured me with Aslan. As an adult, he was a father-figure who helped answer questions I didn't know I was asking.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Into the Wild, Jon Krakaeur
Both fueling and taming my adventurous spirit.
"Happiness is only real when shared."
Give Them Grace, Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson
Helping me learn how to be a parent of Grace."Even though our children cannot and will not obey God's law, we need to teach it to them again and again. And when they tell us that they can't love God or others in this way, we are not to argue with them. We are to agree with them and tell them of their need for a Savior.”
Renewed my love in poetry as a cynical 20-something.
You have played,
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
So am I.
Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Read this on a slow cruise into the Caribbean. So rich. Still sticks with me.
“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.”
The Giver, Lois Lowry
I have given away every copy I own of this book, which means I need a copy again.
"...now he saw the familiar wide river beside the path differently. He saw all of the light and color and history it contained and carried in its slow - moving water; and he knew that there was an Elsewhere from which it came, and an Elsewhere to which it was going”
The Cross Centered Life, CJ Mahaney
Once again, given away every copy. For a good reason, of course.
“Only those who are truly aware of their sin can truly cherish grace.”
The Space Trilogy
“A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.”
This not a complete list, and will likely change even more over the next 30 years. But for now, it will do. (I am telling myself to stop obsessing, and saying, Andrea. This will do.)
#30daysoflists so far:
1. Things I Would Tell Someone Turning 20
2. Movies for a Wintry Saturday
3. In Regards to Turning 30
4. Back to Work Monday
5. The Real Deal
6. A Winter to Love
7. Thoughts From One Mom to Another