Thursday, January 16, 2014

Five favorites

Tiffany asked what my five favorite books and movies are.

Books first, in no particular order, and of course because I can't stop myself from blathering on and on, I can't just give you the titles, I must go into details about why I like them. If the book portion of this drags on I may show some mercy and come back tomorrow with the movies. I do realize you all have lives to live.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I've read this book several times and I never get sick of it. I love anything by Austen but this one is my favorite. It's romantic, but not sickeningly so, and amusing and completely engaging. Anytime I read the book I keep hoping and hoping that Darcy and Lizzie will just end up together and I get a little nervous that it's  not going to happen and then when it does I'm completely relieved. A good book will keep you guessing no matter how many times you've read it.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - The first time I read this I was in sixth grade. I loved it then and I've loved it each time I've gone back to read it. When I read it I felt like I really was friends with Scout and Dill and I imagined myself being with them and doing everything they were doing. I could feel the hot sticky weather and smell the southern air and strangely enough, even though it does not depict a pleasant side of the south, I would daydream about moving there when I was reading this book. I think a good book will always do that though - make you want to go places you never really even thought about before. When Jane and Kate were younger I read it aloud to them and they also fell in love with it. ( I need to stop using the word love. It's becoming redundant.) Kate returned to school this year and it was the first book they read in class and the teacher had to request that Kate stop answering all the questions about it.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - Like a lot of books I read as a kid and then went back and read as an adult, I loved and appreciated this book much more the second time around . The book is hilarious and brilliant and although a lot of children read it, you really should read this when you are an adult as well, because there are things you probably definitely missed the first time around.

No Man is An Island by Thomas Merton - This is not an easy book to get through, although nothing by Merton is easy to get through. I read it a few years ago when I found it while wandering through the Catholic section of the library. I was shocked that my small town in Florida even had a Catholic section and I think I may have looked over my shoulder a few times to make sure someone wasn't playing a joke. It is the south after all and boy do some people here not enjoy The Catholics and they have no problem telling you that while you are sitting on a bench in Donnelly Park minding your own business reading this very book. I was waiting for Anthony to finish a class one day and a woman whose son was taking the same class asked what I was reading. When I told her it was a book by a Catholic Trappist monk she said, oh my husband was Catholic but I made sure to get him out, and I thought, how sad for your husband and how amusing that you kind of are implying my religion is a cult. Then I looked at the book title and thought, gee why can't men just be islands because people like this woman are...not fun to talk to. I love this book firstly because it contains so much wisdom and truth and secondly because I found it while I was going through a really exciting time in my faith journey ( just threw up up in my mouth typing that phrase) and I found this book at the exact right moment. It made me think about love and God and many other deep things in a completely different way.

And lastly, really I have to include it because it was the first book I absolutely fell in love with and became obsessed with reading. It's a children's book called Frederick by Leo Lionni. I read it over and over and over again when I was 6 or 7 or however old I was when we learned how to read back then. (I cannot believe I'm old enough to say "back then" in reference to MY childhood. That phrase should be reserved for people who are at least a hundred.) Anyway, I'm pretty sure it was much older than when kids are expected to read now. This book is about a little field mouse who lives with his field mouse family and while they are all going around gathering food for the cold winter months, seemingly lazy Frederick is sitting around not helping and finally, as the busy among us are prone to do, someone gets a little annoyed that they are doing all of the work and Frederick is doing none and so they say hey, what's the deal. Frederick says he is gathering things in his mind and all of those things will help get them through the bitter, boring winter months and sure enough, when that time hits and they are all out of food and are completely at their wits end and probably suffering from severe cabin fever they all look at him and say well, and he gets a little nervous and then recites the sweetest poem about all of the colors he sees throughout the year and each of those colors represent something and when he is done everyone is happy and has forgotten just how miserable they all are. Frederick blushes because everyone cheers him on and tells him he is a poet. As a kid I was captivated by Frederick. I never got the hang of how to write poetry, but I have always enjoyed sitting around thinking about life while other people stay busy. So what can I say, that little field mouse spoke to me even way back in the first grade. When I was in college and got pregnant and then subsequently gave the baby up for a adoption, I was told I could give the baby something and so I went up to Clifton Country Mall on a very cold, bitter winter day and found Frederick in the tiny little bookstore that no longer exists and I sent it to the baby's new parents and hoped they would give it to him. I have my copy stored away safely and maybe the baby I gave up has his, too and wouldn't it be nice if someday we both happened to be reading it at the very same moment.

The movie portion of this post must wait. I have, as promised, blathered on and on far too long.


deborah said...


Jennie C. said...

Oh, that Frederick one. I hope he cherishes his copy, too, wherever he is.

Julie said...

You are my hero!! Seriously, I'm smiling and laughing through this whole thing, and then at the end I'm crying! You truly have a gift for writing!

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I've never actually read Pride and Prejudice, but when I do, you'll be the first one I tell. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorites too, and I definitely liked it better as an adult than when I first read it as a kid.

WHEN you write your book, it'll be my favorite!

Tiffany said...

You made me cry too and want to read the book, Frederick. I don't think I've read it but I will be going and finding it and reading it for sure.
I have a book by Thomas Merton that we got for our wedding from Ollie's' eccentric uncle. I read it back then, 18 years ago and it was a hard read but really good. Your post about him has inspired me to try to read it again, maybe this summer. Do you want to borrow it? It's called The Seven Story Mountain. Loved P and P! You should also try P and P and's so funny and ridiculous and funnier if you already are familiar with P and P. Huck Finn--haven't read but need to.

ann marie said...

Tiffany, i have read seven story mountain and it is also a hard one to get through. I kind of want to read the p and p zombie one because it sounds silly. Julie, thanks. Im blushing.

#1 Fan said...


Julie said...

I thought there was going to be a new post yesterday...

deborah said...

I am reading Nora Ephron collection and this prompted me to send you a request.
If you were asked to give a college commencement
address what would you say? And just for the fun
of it let's say not just any old college. Williams College class of 2015...

p.s. work is overrated

Kirsten said...

Ann Marie, I almost peed( sp?) my pants reading about your bike riding!! You crack me up!! I am loving your q&a series. I even got you a new KY follower! Hi Jennie!
keep it coming! How's the training going?