Top 10 Books and Authors I'm Thankful for

9:41 AM

Yesterday's Broke and Bookish Top Tuesday's meme is more than appropriate: Top 10 Authors and Books I'm Thankful for.

While compiling this list it occurred to me: wouldn't it be nice to meet these authors one day and thank them in person? But for now, here's my virtual thanks:

5 Books I'm thankful for:

1) Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I begin with one of my childhood favorites. This was not the first book I've ever read and it saddens me to say I actually don't remember what was the first book I read, but there's something special about books you read as a child. Part of the appeal they had to you at a younger age lingers on when you grow up. This in particular played a key role in my taste for books, which is why it's so important to give children great books to read.

2) Poetics by Aristotle
"It's a book you finish in 20 minutes and then you spend the rest of your life thinking about it". That's what my  Classics professor said when he assigned this book. He was right: I read it in my first semester and was using it to write papers on my last semester. The most useful book I've ever bought during college (I didn't actually buy this book because I was lucky to live in a house which already contained a copy of this book (something else to be extremelly thankful for)) . Many people are sorry for the fact that the part on comedies was lost, but I prefer to take the glass half full approach (who cares about comedies anyway, right?

3) Life of Christ by Perez de Urbel
There are many, many religious books I'm thankful for, the most obvious of them being the Bible. I love the idea of fishermen writing the most profound and inspiring books of all times. Isn't it beautiful to imagine an angel helping them write the Gospels?

But there's one book in particular I'm thankful for: Life of Christ. In the beginning of this year I went on a retreat and parts of this book were read to us. I get back home and look for this book in used book stores, because there are no new editions of this book. I actually found only one copy online. I looked for the bookstore's address and it's in my neighborhood! If that's not Divine Providence I don't know what is. This book retells Christ's life story based on the Gospels but in a much more detailed "novel-like" way.

4) How to live a life on 24 hours a day by Arnold Bennett
I've talked about how much I love this book and it is one of those books I actually don't have a lot of memories connected to it, because I read it by myself, not for college, no one recommended it to me. I didn't even buy the book. It was a time I was really into audio books and I saw that on Librivox and just listened to it. His idea using the time you commute to reflect on what you read really changed my commuting routine. I didn't feel like I was wasting my time in traffic anymore which decreased a great deal of stress. At one point I was even writing down topics to think about when I was in the bus.

5) I dare you by Willian H. Danforth
Another book that is very similar to the one above. Written in 1938, I dare you is a relatively unknown book that came to me almost by accident. I was at an antique shop browsing the books section. A small red cover  called my attention. Like many old books, it had nothing written in the back and no book jackets. I had no choice but to actually read the first pages and once I did I had to buy the book. It dared me to! It is a very motivational book, so you have to actually put it into practice, but I still like it very much.

5 authors I'm thankful for:

6) Jane Austen

How could I forget my little Janie? I'd punch Mark Twain for you, Jane. But she probably wouldn't want that and frankly, who am I kidding?, neither would I. She's one of my favorite writers ever, the one who gave me full access to a delightful world I'll never know in real life. Every single novel of hers gave me immense joy  (except, of course, Persuasion, but let's not go there).

7) Oriana Fallaci
For those unfamiliar with Oriana Fallaci, she was a journalist and non fiction author who in the past years wrote adamantly against the rise of Islamic terrorism. Needless to say, that attracted a lot of criticism and even personal attacks against her. I imagine it must have been very difficult to write the books she did and to face criticism everywhere. When you read her book you can understand very subtly how she is trying to convince people of an imminent danger. She reminds me of the tragic heroin, Cassandra. She died rather young (cancer) a couple of years ago.

8) Shakespeare
I feel like every list I write has Shakespeare in it. There's not one book of his that didn't blow my mind (Ok, there's Twelfth Night, but I like to think that's the exception that proves the rule). His books are timeless. The ones you can always talk about, because people have read it (at least in high school) and if they didn't they have seen the movie. I have this goal of reading a lot of his plays and once I'm finished I'll keep re-reading them forever. I can't find this quote anywhere, so maybe I'm hallucinating, but Virginia Woolf once said you can see a person's growth on the notes he makes on Shakespeare's books. I couldn't agree more (that is if she actually said that).

Like Oriana, Arenas had a very difficult life. He was a Cuban poet who suffered political persecution from the Cuban government and spent many years in prison. While there, he continued to write and because of it was punished and even threatened with death. After being released from prison he managed to flee to the United States when Fidel Castro allowed Cubans to leave the island. Years later he was diagnosed with AIDS and in 1990 he committed suicide. When asked why he wrote he answered: "Revenge".

10) Elizabeth Barrett Browning
In a nutshell, Elizabeth Barrett Browning is my new personal hero. I'll talk more about it next week, when I discuss Sonnets from the Portuguese.

What books and authors are you thankful for?

Images via Tea, Coffee and Books except #2 which is a detail from the painting Saint Matthew and the angel by Caravaggio

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  1. The Bible is certainly the most important book that I'm thankful for.

    Some of the novels/stories I'm thankful for because they inspired me or somehow led me on to other experiences include The Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper, and the Merlin trilogy by Mary Stewart (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment.)

    Poetry-wise I'd mentioned the collected W B Yeats, Shakespeare (though more his plays, really), T S Eliot (mainly THe Waste Land but also Four Quartets), P K Page, and yes, our Louis MacNeice... :)

    I'm looking forward to reading your post about Sonnets from the POrtuguese - I've been thinking I need to explore Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

  2. Those are great books and authors. I am also thankful for Yeats, detective stories and definitely Louis MacNeice!

    And you reminded me: I must give Lord of the Rings another try. I read the first two books or so after watching the movies, but the movies made a stronger impression on me.

    I am very happy to have discovered the work and life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Sonnets from the Portuguese seems like a great introduction to her and I'd really like to read more of her poetry, but I'm so slow when it comes to reading poems!


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