There is no time for classics like the holiday season, and that includes books as well as music. We’ve noticed lately that the seasonal music is a little lighter, a little more fun. So herewith is a holiday classic book giving guide with a frothy little ditty to go with it. Happy shopping — and remember: used books need love too!
- One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Beginning with what is quite possibly one of the best first sentences in the history of literature, Garcia Marquez spins a yarn of love, redemption, war, and magic. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
- The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway. The poetic lilt of Hemingway’s dialogue is some of the best ever written and makes me fall in love with words every. Single. Time. “Everyone behaves badly – if given a chance.”
- The Diary of Adam and Eve, by Mark Twain. One of Twain’s lesser known works is nonetheless an enchanting lesson in love. “How I wish I could make him understand that a loving good heart is riches enough and that without it intellect is poverty.”
- Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf. Not an easy read but a dazzlingly brilliant classic. Woolf delivers this Valentine of book in stream-of-consciousness prose and begins with another amazing first line: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”
- A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor. This is a collection of short stories that will scare the wits out of you as it nabs you by the collar and whips you around with a command of language that is both naked and forgiving. “She wouldn’t stay at home to be queen for a day.”
- The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s actually difficult to choose just one Kingsolver novel as a stand-alone but if you must choose, this is a good start: a story about love, friendship, abandonment, putting down roots, and a girl named Turtle. “I had decided early on that if I couldn’t dress elegant, I’d dress memorable.”
- Housekeeping, by Marilyn Robinson. There is a haunting quality in Robinson’s work as she writes about the small details of ordinary life. Her examination of the glue that holds our worlds together is at once pointed and astonishing. “You never know when you will see someone for the last time.”
- Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, by Louise Erdrich. If you have any tender sensibilities at all, this writer will pierce your heart. Erdrich’s sense of irony, poetry, and social justice mingle in a tale that is at once outrageous and plain in about a million ways. “To love another human in all of her splendor and imperfect perfection, it is a magnificent task. . .tremendous and foolish and human.”
- Ragtime, by EL Doctrow. A literary classic in its own right, Ragtime reaches into the early 20th century to capture the hope and the optimism of immigrants and millionaires in America before the great wars changed everything. “And though the newspapers called the shooting the Crime of the Century, Goldman knew it was only 1906 and there were ninety four years to go.”
- Illusions, by Richard Bach. You can never go wrong with a book that contains both magic . . .and a barnstormer with a messiah complex. Deceptive in its simplicity, Bach’s story is an open door into a world beyond the ordinary. “Nothing good is a miracle, nothing lovely is a dream.”
There you have it: a short list of classics. Enjoy the season, and happy reading!
naturally, this list is nowhere near complete. You could say it’s an abbreviated list. A desert island list. A list of books which, if I was confined to just 10, I would choose. A list like this is, by its very nature, deeply personal. What’s yours?