Here is Part Three of Five Parts.
These five lists constitute my Book List.
They are the results of my effort to remember what I have read, what I have liked and what I have not enjoyed reading and why.
I frequently read fiction as a diversion from the difficulty of other books I have chosen. You don’t have to try to remember anything about fiction unless you want to. Non-fiction is a different story. I read non-fiction to educate myself and usually try very hard to remember what I have read.
To my grandchildren I say
“read in some form for pleasure and for learning. Read with a pen in your hand and make notes. Circle words you don’t know and look them up but don’t write in Library Books. Share the important parts with others. Putting what you have read into words will help you to remember”.
I also pass along the quote:
“If you don’t like to read, then you are doing it wrong.”
My favorite forms are History, including Historical Fiction and Biography. I look through the non-fiction section first when I go looking for books but that is just me. You might like to read and learn in a different way.
I like to read several books at a time. I pile them up on my nightstand and on the small table by my reading chair. Some are paper-back books and some are hard-bound books. Some I have purchased but many I have thrifted. Thrifting is my favorite way to find books because I love old books, books are expensive and people even get tired of really, nice things.
Rarely, however, does any book I thrift have markings in it. That has surprised me. I can’t read without a pen in my hand.
How about you ?
I can’t believe that I ever got through some of the books found in these lists. I make that comment more frequently as I am growing older and have less energy, physically and mentally. Some books can only be read with great concentration and I am not always as good at that as I used to be but I have found that many books are more easily understood with some life experience.
If you are reading this and you are young, you may not understand right now and you don’t have to agree with me but one day you might.
Start reading now and don’t stop until you can’t hold the book.
Then, I guess you can listen to the book on tape
but you won’t be able to leave notes in the margins.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. Fiction. There is a special horror to learning about what goes on in an “insane asylum or lunatic asylum” as they were once called. It is true, however, that an insane asylum like those in the book are lightweight compared to centuries of asylums which were in basements where people were chained to the walls and floors. There was a time when people were severely mistreated. This was a popular book when I was quite young and it was followed by a movie starring Jack Nicholson. I only read it once and didn’t keep it. It is on most book lists and the movie is still popular.
The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Conner. Fiction. Since I love the southern style of Eudora Welty, I thought I might like Ms. O’Conner as well. I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy her writing and therefore didn’t read the entire book so my exposure to her was brief and I can’t name a single short story that I read.
1984 by George Orwell. Futuristic Fiction. So very popular in the 1960s and even more popular today as many of the prophecies of Mr. Orwell have truly come to pass. I enjoy talking about the book with Tom who has taught it as a teacher. He brings to my attention many important points and symbolism which I had missed. It is a must-read book, especially in these strange times of government over-reach and socialistic views, a propaganda press and open revolution.
The Compete Works of William Shakespeare. Fiction, Drama. Oh, what a long journey through the pages of his plays. There are a few that I enjoyed more than others. I love Othello, Macbeth and Hamlet the most. It is impossible to have a conversation with another reader without profound language and ideas from the works of Shakespeare coming up in the conversation. I haven’t read everything he has written but I have made a sincere effort to be familiar with his style and characters and his most admired and familiar plays. I have also read books about him that were biographical. I have also read a book of summaries of each of his plays which I recommend for anyone who doesn’t think they want to read the plays in their entirety but want a general knowledge of the plot and characters of each play.
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. Fiction. What a wonderful book. I have read it several times and especially loved the beautiful movie made from it just a few years ago. Whenever my grandchildren want to watch the movie I watch it with them. I especially love the scene where the baby elephant is rescued. There was a time when each of us had to create our own images of the story we were reading. Now, if a movie has been made from a book, and we have seen the movie, those images are the images that walk with us through subsequent readings.
Kim by Rudyard Kipling. Fiction. Also read The Jungle Book which was similar in style and subject matter. I only read Kim once and can’t talk about it the way I can about The Jungle Book.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Fiction. Read this as a young person.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Futuristic Fiction. Very much like Orwell’s 1984. How prophetic Mr. Huxley was about the future. It is actually uncanny. I have read it more than once as has Tom. Scenes and sentiments from the book come to mind as the world changes and attitudes become more socialistic. It is time to read it again.
Animal Farm by George Orwell. Futuristic Fiction. What an interesting vehicle Mr. Orwell used for his prophetic novel. It, too, has become a harbinger of the present and the future and that future is terrifying. I consider Animal Farm to be a trilogy with Brave New World and 1984. I love them all as testimonies to how insightful some people can be. They are especially timely to read right now as we see an explosion of revolutionary behavior.
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. Fiction. Read it when I was young and remember almost nothing about it. I have never been tempted to re-read it just like I haven’t been tempted to read The Little House on the Prairie series which my daughters read.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Fiction. I have heard more about this novel in my life than almost any other book. Tom has long taught it in school and so I have to say that I can’t even remember when I first read it or if my thoughts about it are even my own. There are many times when something will come up and Tom will say “you remember when Lenny this or that” and I will either remember or not. I have always thought it was a sad book but I have come to appreciate the craft Steinbeck used in writing it.
Heidi by Johanna Spry. Fiction. I read this book as a little girl. I still remember the cover. It made me feel so sad and helpless as I watched Heidi dragged around and deserted. I must have been close to her age to react so directly to her plight or maybe it matched my own young life to a limited degree. I do remember one scene very well. Heidi was given a place in the very top of the Grandfather’s house where she slept on straw by an open window. She talks about the sound the pines made as they swayed during the night and how lovingly it lulled her to sleep. I loved her description and I could hear the sounds myself.
The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett. Fiction. Beautiful book. Beautiful movies made from it. A sweet girly story. Who hasn’t dreamed of finding such a place? Funny how we go through life using phrases from books to describe things because we assume that everyone reads and will know what we mean. How many times have I seen a place and referred to it as the secret garden? Many times.
Beowulf. Fiction, Poetry. Read this book late in life. Wonder how I missed it in school or afterward. As a reader I am embarrassed. I have read two different translations of it and can say that the translation makes quite a difference. I loved the story, as strange as it was. There was an animated movie made of it in recent years which disregarded the the entire poem and concluded the story opposite of the ending intended by Beowulf’s anonymous author. It was terrible. Just read the book. Don’t watch the movie.
Beloved by Toni Morrison. Fiction. I have read several books by Toni Morrison as they have been released. All were depressing in one way or another. Beloved is terribly depressing. It actually left images in my mind that I had to work hard to erase. The Bluest Eye was another title I read but I am not recommending either book even though she is a prize-winning author. Her craft is wonderful but her subject matter, no matter how true it may be in the black culture, is not pleasant to read about. I would say her books are raw.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. I once read all of the Bronte’ family novels but I remember nothing about this particular book. The books appeared together in a compilation I owned which made for a very large and heavy book. How can it be that I remember nothing about it ? There is, however, a difference in the style of writing depending on whether the author is Emily, Charlotte or Anne.
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. I am fascinated with C.S. Lewis and his conversion to Christianity from atheism. Some of the evangelical churches consider him “theirs”. A person we know was very offended when we told her that our church General Authorities frequently quote him. She said we had no right to use him in our worship services because he belonged to her type of worship.( She was raised as a Southern Baptist but is now a Presbyterian.) We had no response to such a comment except to consider the source and we did. This is but one of many books I have read about or by Mr. Lewis, not the least being The Chronicles of Narnia.
Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat. Science, Autobiography. What a fun, amazing story. Some people are so adventurous and brave. Farley was one of those people. It is impossible to think of the book, which I read first, without thinking about scenes from the movie. I loved the scene where he ate a mouse sandwich, with the mouse tail hanging out because he was starving and I especially loved the scene where he ran naked among the caribou herd and came to understand and see for himself how the wolves selected the sickest animal to isolate and kill and left the healthy animals alone.
Hiroshima by John Hersey. History. This was high school reading. I read it once and since it was true and truly horrifying, I did not read it again. Later, it came up in everything I read about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, World War II or about Japan. I have, however, read other books about the subject during the years because I realize I know quite a bit about the decisions leading up to the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the development of the bombs within their secret programs, the people who were involved, how Truman made his decision to drop the bombs and how hard he tried to avoid it. Anything that is written about the end of World War II includes discussion about the bomb and how many Japanese and American lives were saved as a result of its use. We have toured the airport in Wendover, Utah where the Enola Gay departed for her terrible assignment and I have listed on this website a book about Mr. Oppenheimer, who designed the bomb and how he paid mentally and spiritually for how it was used.
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg. Picture Book. Children’s Fiction. I am in love with the picture books and stories of Mr. Van Allsburg. They are little stories so probably shouldn’t be included here but with children’s books. Nevertheless, I found this book wonderfully disturbing and scary because the children are so completely out-of-control and I hate to be out-of-control. Two movies have been made from the book many years apart. I have everything Mr. Allsburg has written and illustrated in my collection including The Polar Express. ( I have listed all of Mr. Van Allsburg’s books at the bottom of the page. ) Jumanji does have a dark side.
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson. Children’s Fiction. Considered an old classic, I read this as a child and cried. Then, Walt Disney made a movie from the book which I watched and cried. Why would you write a book and make a movie that made children cry so much? Anyone who has loved a dog will identify with Old Yeller.
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angelo. Children’s Fiction. Funny how so many small children’s books have found their way into my adult reading. Very interesting and easy to read but not among the children’s books that I have wanted to re-read.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Autobiography. Read many things written by Maya Angelou but I don’t remember very much about them. I am not certain why that is. There are several African-American female writers who became popular about the same time including Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. I have read a smattering of books from each author but have not re-read any of them.
The Autobiography of Malcom X as told to Alex Haley. Autobiography. He was a historical person and a contemporary. He was murdered. I also saw a movie made about his civil rights activities and his death. Very worthwhile reading especially in light of the current unrest among the black community. (2020)
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten boom. Biography and History. A wonderful true story of courage in Holland during World War II. Easy and quick to read. Holland was over-run and occupied by the Nazis.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Reference. When I was working, people used this book as inspiration for improvements in the workplace. I read it once and don’t remember much about it. It must not have been written for me.
The Naked Communist by W. Cleon Skousen. History. This goes way back to high school. It came on the heels of the 1950s and the notoriety of Senator Joseph McCarthy who was on a hunt for Communists everywhere. Mr. Skousen generally wrote books about topics familiar to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints but this was a speculative political book.
Frederick Douglas: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight. Biography. History. What an incredible, gifted man. Friend of Presidents Lincoln and Grant.
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. Biography. History. Excellent as are all of the books I have read by this author. They include Grant and Hamilton.
Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission by Hampton Sides. History. In the world of 2020 we think of military rescues in terms of Navy Seals and Rangers. Long before they were assembled as groups with special training there were successful rescues by ordinary military people which proved to be extraordinary. This was a very interesting and uplifting book.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks. Non-fiction. Studies in mental illness and its treatment.
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis. History. Small biographies of several Founding Fathers and their connections to each other.
Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandella. Biography. I knew almost nothing about Nelson Mandella except his name and that he was revolutionary in South Africa until I read this book. I was amazed at his courage, sacrifice and influence. He later became the President of South Africa. He spent years of his life in prison as a political prisoner. There are some fundamental differences between Apartheid, as practiced in South Africa and the slavery and discrimination as practiced in the United States.
Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. Biography. What an amazing man with gifts from God. He was a man before his time in all areas of knowledge. I can’t begin to describe his intelligence here. Do read something good about him so that when you meet him in heaven you can ask him questions. I have a list for him.
The Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison. Manic Depression. Biography. Very insightful in explaining the behavior of many people who are now termed “bi-polar”.
Black Boy by Richard Wright. Historical. Autobiographical and hard to read because of the terrible things he suffered.
The Souls of Black Folks by W. E. B. Du Bois. Historical. Helps to explain the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. (NAACP)
The Miracle Worker: A Play by William Gibson. Biography. The wonderful story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan. Made into a black and white movie starring Patty Duke. So much to learn about sign language, braille and how they evolved into salvation for the blind. A terrible reminder of the ravages of childhood illnesses in earlier generations which often caused blindness and/or deafness in children.
Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child who Became Theodore Roosevelt by David McCullough. History and Biography. Theodore Roosevelt is not one of my favorite presidents but I enjoyed learning about him and how he came to be so ambitious and hold the views that he did. People of privilege, as he was, often seem to be missing something in my mind. There seem to be some favorable attributes which don’t develop in wealthy people. They frequently seem out-of-touch with regular lives as he did.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave by Harriet Jacobs. History and Biography. Very interesting and worthwhile reading.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Erik Metaxas. History. Non-fiction. Extremely compelling true story of this brave man who was eventually imprisoned and executed in Nazi Germany for his rebellion and efforts to save lives. He lived to within two weeks of liberation by the Allies. I read a second book about Mr. Bonhoeffer but can’t remember the title. Will research and add.
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by John Meacham. History and Biography. I respect Mr. Jefferson for his writing of the Declaration of Independence and for sending Lewis and Clark on the expedition. For the most part, I am not impressed with his personal qualities. He could not manage money, was always in debt, had to have the biggest and richest of homes no matter where he was living or staying including homes he only rented and he did not emancipate his own slaves upon his death. Thankfully, because he needed money, he sold his enormous library to the U.S.Government and it became the beginning of the Library of Congress. He died deeply in debt and could not pass along his beloved Monticello to his posterity. His property had to be sold to cover his $100,000. in debts. Unfortunately, his efforts of collaboration with James Madison to undermine John Adams have stuck with me. John Adams, true to his character, forgave Jefferson and they died on the same day of July 4.
It’s Not Easy Being Green by Kermit the Frog. Tiny words of wisdom for everyday life from one of my favorite characters.
Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas. History and Biography. Very worthwhile for anyone interested in abolition and those who worked for it. This is another author whose books and writing style I generally enjoy.
Clarence Thomas: My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir by Clarence Thomas. Biography. I love Justice Thomas. His memoir was very revealing and worth reading. He is the current Justice of the Supreme Court who I feel has the most conservative and constitutionally correct views which suits me just fine.
Papillion by Henri Charterer. Historical Fiction. Exciting and horrifying at the same time. Basically a true story of a man expelled to an island as punishment. How he survived and prevailed. Also made into a movie starring Steve McQueen.
Martin Luther by Erik Metaxas. Biography. Martin Luther was a product of his times in terms of his personal behavior and lifestyle. He was not a saint. He did, however, challenge the supremacy of the Catholic Church, resulting in general dissatisfaction with the church and the emergence of various Protestant sects including the most obvious, Lutheranism. His story is also a story of the reduction in the dominance by the Catholic Church and the lengths it went to to hold on to it.
Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie and Vincent Sheean. History and Biography. Ms. Curie is one of my favorite heroines. She paid for her discoveries, which were blessings to the world, with her health and her life. God gave her an intellectual curiosity and gift which she used to improve the lives of all of us. Her husband also paid the physical price for his research which included his exposure to the radium which eventually also took his life.
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by John Meachem. Very interesting. I knew almost nothing about President Jackson until I read this book. He had good traits and not-so-good traits so he was just like the rest of us.
Fly Boys: A True Story of Courage. History. This group of World War II pilots included former President George H.W. Bush.
Mister Rogers: A Biography. I thoroughly enjoyed this biography and followed it by seeing the movie made about him earlier this year. I used to watch Mr. Rogers with my children and loved the quiet, easy way he spoke to the children and the slow pace of the show. It contrasted with the fast paced yelling of the characters on Sesame Street. I used to think it was campy and low-budget until I read the biography and realized that everything he did was intentional.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. Fiction.
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. Mystery, Suspense.What a great book and development of an idea. I have thought about it more than once as the COVID 19 pandemic of 2020 has covered the earth. At first, I thought that it was a science fiction story but it soon evolved into a mystery about contagion. I also saw the movie made from the book and would love to watch it again if I can ever find it.
The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. Historical Fiction. This is an older book which has passed the test of time. It is the story of the painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome by Michelangelo which took many, many years and cost him his health and eyesight. I was fascinated to learn how many times he started over on his commission from the Catholic Church before his providential inspiration satisfied him.
The Chosen by Chiam Potok. Fiction.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Fiction.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles. Fiction. I read three books by John Fowles, all within a short period of time. This book was an interesting story of a woman who wants people to think she is something she is not. She desires a mystery and cultivates a lie. I also saw the movie made from the book but would not take the time to either read the book or watch the movie again.
Travels With Charlie: In Search of America by John Steinbeck. Fiction.
The Collector by John Fowles. Fiction. Creepy and weird.
The Magus by John Fowles. Fiction. Very creepy and weird.
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. Children’s Fiction.
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Fiction.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Fiction. Difficult and terrible. I know that I was supposed to value the underlying points that were being made about man’s inhumanity to man and how power corrupts along with every other lesson I should have learned from the book. Sometimes, when a book presents too many negative or unpleasant images to my mind, I can’t enjoy the positive things about it. I do not plan to re-read it. Tom has much to say about it since he taught it in school for many years. Count on him to have the best take on every intention the author had to say something profound.
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. Historical Fiction.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Fiction. Since Tom has taught this book, I re-read it as an adult and benefited from his insights. It is a touching story of courage, strength and determination. It isn’t a long book but it is a difficult book.
Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin. Fiction.
Exodus by Leon Uris. Historical Fiction. Such a difficult reality to confront. I can’t imagine fleeing Nazi Germany and annihilation and being refused entrance into a safe country. That is what the book is about. I remember the song by the same name which was written for the movie. The first line was ” God made this land . . . he made this land for me,” speaking of the new State of Israel.
A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Fiction.
The Odyssey by Homer. Fiction. First read in high school but re-read as an older adult. I had a greater appreciation for the craft and the stories the second time around. I don’t think that I would consider myself to be well-read without at least a little exposure to this book and its partner.
The Iliad by Homer. Fiction. Same as The Odyssey.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Self-Improvement. There was a time when there were very few self-help and personal improvement books. Today, books on these subjects are so numerous that you have no idea what might be helpful and what might be quackery. I have been surprised how often this book and its title come up in conversation.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Fiction. This book remains controversial. Tom has taught the book for many years and knows it like the back of his hand. I have read it, but only twice and so I have welcomed his insights into Salinger’s craft and symbolism. I am not sure what I think about it.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. Children’s Fiction. Wonderful, wonderful. I love the author and have read many of her books. They are generally written for adolescents and are of reasonable length. I loved this one so much that I bought several copies to give as gifts. The story is heartwarming and has a universal application. I won’t spoil it by saying anymore about it. I recommend it.
The Complete Works of Chris Van Allsburg: Children’s Fiction, Picture Books.
The Widow’s Broom
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
The Wreck of the Zephyr
Zathura. Fiction, of course, as are all of his illustrated stories. Just like Jumanji, Zathura is about a board game. It is a white-knuckle story with beautiful-yet-uncanny illustrations. I have a copy of the movie made from the book on a DVD. My grandchildren often choose to watch it and I am pulled right into it with them.
The Polar Express, Children’s Fiction. What can I say ? Delightful, magical, imaginative. When I add the movie to the illustrated story I feel overwhelmed with the beauty of it all and love all of the lessons that are taught in the story. It is about kindness and faith. I watch the movie every Christmas and put the book on a coffee table with other Christmas books for grandchildren to read.
Just A Dream
The Sweetest Fig
The Wretched Stone