Life seems to be getting in the way of me putting this information in proper order but I will start and put it in final order later this week! For now, here are my choices and reasons for #2, 3, 4,and #5 on my list!
#2 The World According to Garp - the first book where I realized it was the entire arc of a person’s life. Born into circumstances that both enriched his life and haunted him, the theme of the book for me was obsession. He is obsessive about wrestling, those he loves, writing and of course his children. Strangely enough he doesn’t understand the obsessions of others and at the point where he meets the woman who is his mother’s ‘follower’, he cannot grasp her fanaticism. I was enthralled from beginning to end, and that book reminds me of a time (university) where the world was opening up to me and knowledge was flying at me furiously. Okay, I will mention the movie. Robin Williams was a near perfect Garp but the movie was not a good adaptation of the book; however, there is one scene that has stayed with me and rings truer and truer with each passing year. It's the scene where Garp's mother (played by Glenn Close) is at the big house on the shore with her grandson. He asks her what it's like to be old and she responds: "Well, if you're very lucky, you'll have lots of memories and when you are old, you can sit and think of them."
#3 Little Women – the first ‘real’ book I read – I remember the apartment we were living in so I was eight years old. Especially at that age, I felt completely connected to the world of an all women household and the character of Jo (imagine that) whose heart wanted more than her current circumstance was providing. She loved her family desperately but she longed to be out in the world. Even at eight, that was exactly how I felt – and in my heart I wondered if perhaps Louisa May Alcott named the character after me. I’ll mention all of the movies of this book to say that none of them were MY version of the book (!) although I did like, as a movie, the June Allyson/Margaret O’Brien, Elizabeth Taylor version. Be warned, when the Grandfather next door gifts the piano to Beth, I cry so much I'm almost inconsolable - believe me, you will too!
#4 Trinity by Leon Uris This book, though not always easy to read (in terms of structure and, sorry, writing style) did what I think Uris wanted it to do: it gave me a genuine perspective of the political scene in Northern Ireland which, up to that point, I hadn’t a clue about. I also feel it gave me an understanding that I didn’t have to agree with a cause even if I might understand and sympathize with how and why it happened.
I read it initially (I’ll admit now 30 years later) because it was the favourite book of a Sociology professor that I adored. I wanted to know and understand everything about him – the professor, not Leon Uris – as you do when you’re twenty one years old, you’re lusting and you’re in love with a soulful intellectual type. He was a great guy, witty, handsome in a geeky unhandsome way, he wore clogs and brown cords and listened to cool music. He was thoughtful (as in full of thought) and when he spoke at meetings, everybody nodded as if to say “yes, well, NOW it makes sense”.
Sorry, I digressed. I was talking about books, wasn’t I?
#5 The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion this is the only book on my list that I didn’t read all the way through to the end. But, I didn’t have to. The grief process is different for everyone but there is a particular kind of grief connected to the sudden death of someone who is your everyday. My ‘everyday’, the person I loved with all my heart, died very suddenly in 2008. That’s all I can really say here other than this book means a lot to me.
Rest of list to follow shortly!