I got it! John Dufresne’s Is Life Like This?
Although it isn’t one of the actual daily assignments toward writing a novel in six months, he suggests in the opening chapter to write about five favorite novels. Maybe with more time to think I’d choose others, but these are the first 5 that came to mind:
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
I discovered my first favorite book when I was 7. Absolutely fell in love with the girls, the time period, everything. I wondered about their absent father, off fighting in a war I had yet to learn about. I wanted slippers and handkerchiefs like Marmee got for Christmas. I was the oldest like Meg, sick with scarlet fever like Beth, and occasionally hot tempered like Jo. I would have traded my roller skates and denim jumpsuit for one afternoon of ice skating with Laurie.
This is the first book I really got lost in. It also made me feel self-conscious– “different”– as I was constantly (and condescendingly) told it was too big for a second grader.
People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks
A book about a book. History, multiple cultures and time periods, religion– all topics of interest to me. There were also heartbreaking scenes of romance and sometimes abuse that were all the more hurtful because of my ability to identify with them. A great idea for a novel, and lots of fun following the book.
One thing I cannot believe I haven’t read yet is her March, the story of the Little Women’s father! Moving that one from the should-read to must-read list.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Awesome, awesome, lemon awesome. I really admire the world building Clarke did. The alternative history is so well written, I sometimes got tangled up as to what was real history and what was made up.
LOVE the footnotes! The fantasy aspect is also very fun, and anything magical always sparks interest. Every couple of months I check to see if she’s said anything about the sequel…no news yet, but I’ll be in line when/if it ever comes out.
This one led me to discover Neil Gaiman, so big props for that. American Gods is good stuff.
Cloud Atlas: A Novel, David Mitchell
Six stories nested like Russian dolls. Mitchell’s ability to create believable characters in diverse time periods and contexts is amazing. Is it possible the same guy who gave us Robert Frobisher also created Sonmi-451? Each novella is written in its own unique style, and Mitchell is absolutely a master of them all.
Skip the movie; the book is a million times better. Also loved The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.
The Alienist, Caleb Carr
John Moore, a reporter, befriends a criminologist who embraces as yet unheard of methods of crime solving, including fingerprinting suspects and psychological profiling, to track down a psychopath. I loved it for its portrayal of New York City before the turn of the last century, the real history details like Theodore Roosevelt and Delmonico’s. There’s a sequel, The Angel of Darkness, which is almost as compelling. I’d read a whole slew of books about Dr. Kreizler and friends.
Ah! My five choices are up, and I didn’t even get Vince Flynn on the list. So many great reads, great authors, great memories!