November 23, 2012 by Vicki
I have been inspired by the “Impressions of a Princess” blog to write about my top ten books that I am most grateful for. Now, I would like to specify that these are not, necessarily, my favourite books. These are the books that I am most grateful that I have read. Please go check out the original blog post at “Impressions of a Princess” here: http://gongjumonica.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/ten-books-i-am-grateful-for/ .
1) The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad was the first novel that I read in University which really forced me to think and re-evaluate. It was my first exposure to an unreliable narrator and that taught me to look for unreliable narrators all around me. The Heart of Darkness taught me to look critically at everything that I read, see, and experience. It also taught me about the realities of the human heart and the evil that resides within.
2) The Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser awoke my enjoyment and appreciation for 16th Century literature. I had read Shakespeare in high school but it wasn’t until Spenser that I really appreciated how much impact 16th Century literature still has today. I never expected to find shadows of the movie Star Wars within a novel from the 16th Century but I did.
3) Black Beauty by Anna Sewell is the first novel that I can remember reading as a child. I loved horses and to be able to read an entire novel about one was simply wonderful. Black Beauty started my reading habit and I haven’t kicked it yet nor do I want to. It also taught me incredible lessons about the relationship between animals and humans and the responsibility that lies on human beings as a result. (Yes, I balled my eyes out through most of the novel.)
4) Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes changed the way that I viewed my own life and challenged me to push the boundaries of my own expectations. It changed my views on my own spirituality and is still my guidebook to a healthier life. (Please click on the links to see my full review.)
5) Dictionary by any reputable source. I have lost count of the number times that I have resolved a disagreement by looking up the definition of a word. A dictionary has also saved my reputation when I misunderstood the meaning or use of a word. I will never forget the time as a child that I thought the word “lust” meant the desire for friendship.
6) Wacousta by John Richardson introduced me to the mythology of Canada, my home. It forced me to examine those myths critically and recognize their links back to older myths such as the myth of Eden. I love Canadian literature but Wacousta taught me the myths behind that literature.
7) Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery was my introduction to Canadian Literature. She is also my mentor about how to be a loving yet audacious woman. Anne took each day’s challenges and enjoyed them and rejoiced that tomorrow “had no mistakes in it yet.” I still read Anne of Green Gables when I need to be cheered up.
8) Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman I will cherish forever for introducing me to the works and world of Neil Gaiman. I love reading Fantasy and I believe that Neil Gaiman is the best modern Fantasy writer available today. His imagination is unbelievable and yet can sweep you into believing the impossible.
9) Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert also had a huge impact on how I view my life. It taught me to appreciate the stomach, the soul and the heart in everyday living. The stomach enjoys the simple pleasures of life such eating, drinking and having friends. The soul needs the attention of meditation, praying and considering spiritual matters. The heart seeks love in all of its guises whether it is family love, passionate love or the love of a friend. Until all three of these have full and equal consideration, a happy life is not possible.
10) Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle I cherish because my grandfather used to tell his grandkids stories about Sherlock Holmes. He had the entire text memorized and would tell the stories with passion. Reading Sherlock Holmes now, I can hear my grandfather telling the story in my mind. For that I will always be grateful.
None of the above is in any kind of order. I find it impossible to order my level of gratefulness. These are the books that I remain grateful that I have read and enjoyed for a variety of reasons. What books are you grateful for? Can you make a list of ten? On a separate note, in honour of the season, I will be posting my review of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott on December 11, 2012. I hope you will post your experiences of one of my favourite novels.