Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Best Books Ever (According to Me)

Okay, I know putting together a list of my own favorite books opens me up to criticism, but whatever. The following books are my faves. It's, of course, super hard to assemble a list of favorite books, so I made it a little easier on myself by breaking the lists into three categories: prose, poetry, and children's.

The categories didn't make it a whole lot easier, but it did make selecting books a little bit more of an apples to apples experience. If you think I made any crazy omissions, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Who knows? Maybe I just haven't read your favorite books yet and will eventually see the light.

Prose
  1. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This is my favorite book, and I read it every year or two to learn something new about myself and the world around me.
  2. Birds of America: Stories, by Lorrie Moore. Moore is my favorite short story writer. She has the ability to make me cry and then with a sparkling one-liner get me back laughing.
  3. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner. I love segmentation in stories when done well, and this is the text book of telling a story with multiple narrators.
  4. The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger. Some books grab me because of the story they tell, while others hook me with their characters. This book has one of my favorite narrators ever.
  5. A Good Man Is Hard to Find, by Flannery O'Connor. No one is safe in O'Connor's world of fiction. If you don't have your guard up, then you're bound to get bamboozled.
Poetry
  1. View With a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems, by Wislawa Szymborska. Every poem in this collection seems to either transport me or surprise me or both.
  2. The Darkness Around Us Is Deep, by William Stafford. Something about Stafford's voice allows him to take me by the hand and show me the world I know in a different way.
  3. Paterson, by William Carlos Williams. I love WCW's shorter poems, but this epic poem held me from beginning to end--and I'm not a person easily impressed by long poems.
  4. Transformations, by Anne Sexton. Tammy and I both love Anne Sexton's poetry, and this is my favorite of her collections.
  5. The Captain's Verses, by Pablo Neruda. If you want to woo and woo right, then you should probably read this collection of love poems. They are the nuclear bomb of woo.
Children's
  1. The Monster at the End of This Book, by Jon Stone and Michael Smollin. The lovable, furry Grover reads the title of the book and tries to keep the reader from reaching the end (and the monster). Will he succeed?
  2. Dinosaur vs. Bedtime, by Bob Shea. I love this book, because it affords me the opportunity to roar right before bedtime. It's a super fun book--as is the sequel: Dinosaur vs. the Potty.
  3. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. It's not the wordiest of books, but it's still a classic for a reason.
  4. Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book, by Dr. Seuss. When I'm ready to close the deal (on getting Will to go to sleep), I break out this baby. The rhymes and characters are great, but it's super long and--usually--puts Will out for the count before I reach the end.
  5. Corduroy, by Don Freeman. A little stuffed bear named Corduroy wants to find a friend and decides all he needs to do to make that happen is find his lost button.
Okay, these are my favorite books. What do you think?

*****

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16 comments:

littlewayofthefamily said...

I loved "The Monster at the End of this Book". I had forgotten all about it!
Here are mine, with no comments as I am typing with my thumbs.
Prose
The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maughm
A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Children's
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBrattney
Go, Dog Go! by P.D. Eastman
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Suess

I kept them to four just because!
Thanks!

Robert Lee Brewer said...

I started The Grapes of Wrath, but had a life event distract me from finishing. I have a feeling it would be a Top 5 contender if I were to finish.

jgpoetry said...

There are so many steinbeck contenders -- but the top two would be "east of eden" and "the wayward bus." And why not the complete short stories of Flannery O'Connor? They're all so good. But you may have picked the best. I agree with one comment on "guess how much i love you" for a children's book. and "where the wild things are" may be better than "in the night kitchen," but i think i may like the latter better. As for poetry, where's Ezra Pound's Translations? And have you ever read Virginia Hamilton Adair's "Ants on the Melon?"

Lisa Lane said...

I agree that AS I LAY DYING and THE CATCHER IN THE RYE are exceptional novels.

For children's books, I don't think any list is complete without Shel Silverstein's THE GIVING TREE and Dr. Seuss' THE LORAX.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

You know, Joshua, I've read a lot of Steinbeck, but I've still never read "East of Eden" or "The Wayward Bus." I've never read "Ants on the Melon" either.

I love those two children's book too, Lisa.

Jeff Newberry said...

*The Monster at the End of this Book* is wonderful. It's nearly conceptual fiction! I love your picks. Your post made me track down William Stafford, a poet I'm well aware of but have never seriously read.

richardfcrawley said...

Mark David Chapman ruined "The Catcher in the Rye" for me. I know, it's stupid.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude," Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath," Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea," Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine," and Adams' "Watership Downs" would be my top five. William Faulkner and Kent Haruf would round out much of the rest of my top ten.

What about non-fiction books? Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris, Thich Nhat Hahn, Jimmy Carter and George Sheehan would complete that top five.

Poet on Poetry said...

Velveteen Rabbit, The Book of Tea, The Things They Carried, Promises at Dawn, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintence, Olive Kitteridge, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Don Quixote,

Go Dog Go, all Suess and Silverstien and Mercer Mayer, The Brimmingtown Musicians, Drummer Hoff, Wind in the Willows, The Velveteen Rabbit, Pig I Will, If You Give a Pig a Pancake,
Poetry- Pablo Neruda's Selected Poems, Texas Poetry Calendar,
all Billy Collins books except the last one, The Moon is Always Female,

Poet on Poetry said...

Make that The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert Lee Brewer said...

It does it in a silly way, Jeff, but The Monster at the End of this Book teaches a powerful lesson.

Richard, I tried getting a nonfiction book on there, but I just couldn't do it without feeling like I was throwing in a token nonfiction title. A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson, came the closest.

richardfcrawley said...

Robert, that's when you add a category to avoid tokens.

I will have to check out Bryson's book.

Jessie Carty said...

Happy that I've read so many of these as well :)

Julia Munroe Martin said...

I've read many of these -- but two are on my absolute all time favorite list too, interestingly one in adult (As I Lay Dying) and one in children's (Corduroy). Loved A Tale of Two Cities, too, that another commenter mentioned. My very favorite nonfiction (and one of my all time favorite books period) is House by Tracy Kidder, fascinating character descriptions. (I loved a Walk in the Woods, too, especially the first 1/3 -- very very funny and super good.) Great post!

Joshua said...

The Wayward Bus was one of the last Steinbeck books I read thinking I would like it the least, but it ended up being one of my favorites. The suspense of "when's he gonna get her?" kept me from putting it down. And don't let the movie version of East of Eden stop you from reading the book. Oh yeah, and treat yourself to Ants on the Melon. :)

PS -- interesting that Giving Tree was suggested, as it's message is a bit on the controversial side. I controversy, I believe, that would never have occurred if both the tree and the boy's gender had been switched by the great Mr. Shel.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, everyone! I've got a new reading list now--and confirmation that I need to re-visit The Grapes of Wrath.

Collin Kelley said...

I'm always happy to see Anne Sexton on a list. :)