Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The 5 Books of My Life

It's been awhile since I've done these, but this one leapt out at me this evening when I saw it and it didn't take one minute to come up with my list. These aren't the most brilliant things I've ever read, but in some ways, they are. Because they've shaped me into  . . . me.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I've rhapsodized about Charlie in this blog before. I returned to him over all my other books from childhood time after time, and again in adulthood as a graduate student of Children's Literature. From both 7 year old Tori and adult scholar Tori, thank you Roald Dahl. 

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

Like Charlie. Hoff's tiny little book stuck with me from my teenage years through today. 
He snuck in here  and here on this blog, too.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

"It was the last time she'd see the river from that window. The last time of anything has the poignancy of death itself. This that I see now, she thought, to see no more this way. Oh, the last time how clearly you see everything; as though a magnifying light had been turned on it. And you grieve because you hadn't held it tighter when you had it every day."

Francie, I wish I'd met you when I was a little girl, but discovering you as a 35 year old might've been the next best thing.


The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

"You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw -- but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported. Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of -- something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat's side? Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it -- tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest -- if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself -- you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say "Here at last is the thing I was made for". We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work."

I might've chosen several other C.S. works, but for that quote. That quote does it for me.

The Fault in Our Stars

LOVELOVELOVE. Newest love, but sometimes you just know it's one of those books you will love forever, just like when I knew the first time I read any of the above.
I can't explain it beyond this post

P.S. Kate -- I'm fighting a wonky Chrome browser issue I think. I can't seem to access your comments after posting the link!


  1. Oooh great list! I've only read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so going to add the other to my wish-list :-)

  2. What gorgeous books and a really interesting list. My Dad adored all the CS Lewis books and would buy a copy of Mere Christianity for anyone who stood beside him for more that 5 minutes. I think you need a bit of quite in your life to fully appreciate his wisdom.