As a reader I’ve never been able to fall into a single category; enjoying all genres from fantasy to historical fiction, to mystery or chick lit. I almost consider it a unique talent, being able to enjoy Twilight, then moving on to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with equal pleasure. I still have quite a few more books to read during my life, so this list is by no means complete, nor is it exhaustive. But I’ve been able to polish off a fair number so far, and these are some that have made the cut*:
Anne of Green Gables Series (also including Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne’s House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside, and The Blythes are Quoted)
These books seem like a wonderful dream to me. If I would ever be upset or depressed about something, these would be the books I would turn to. Written by L.M Montgomery and published between 1908 and 1939 (with the exception of The Blythes are Quoted), the series holds many reflections on the authors life. The beautiful setting of Prince Edward Island seems to inspire the wonderful story that is told; of the young orphan Anne, who by mistake comes to live with the Cuthberts and seems to beautify all those she surrounds. We watch our heroine grow up into a young woman, marry and grow old with a wonderful family that is also full of adventure.
Above all, these books are happy. They always put a smile on my face, and make the world seem a better place. What more could you really ask for in a book? The series reflects Montgomery’s Presbyterian faith, and her love affair with nature and other beautiful things, making the novels have a sweet purity about them. For those who have enjoyed the CBC films from the mid-eighties, I highly suggest you explore the novels, as you have only seen the tip of the iceberg.
I’ll be the first to admit that I usually enjoy more, for lack of a better word, lighthearted books. Where life is enjoyable and entertaining and sorrow is assuredly, quickly followed by joy. Atlas Shrugged beat out of this mold and has made me think more than any other novel previously (including university textbooks- which now that I think of it, don’t make me think much at all. Except for that last thought, though.) Written by philosopher Ayn Rand in 1957, it conveys Objectivism; a philosophy which, well, I think I’ll let her tell you:
“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”
— Ayn Rand, Appendix to Atlas Shrugged
Now I’m no philosopher, and I wouldn’t consider myself an objectivist, but I found this philosophy intriguing, new, and incredibly thought-provoking. So you’re probably now wondering what kind of story this is! Well it follows heroine Dagny Taggart, co-heir of Taggart Transcontinental, a railroad company with a near monopoly on rail transportation in the United States. The country is barely held together by what seems to be the few entrepreneurs left who work hard, and aim for good quality and productivity. Our heroine must struggle to make her company succeed amidst those who strive to succeed on the hard work of others.
It is a long book and quite polarizing to readers, but I enjoyed the story and will recommend it for any who would like some thought-provoking fiction.
Jane Austen Novels
If I had more skill in writing and had all the perfect words I could tell you why these books are so wonderful in such a short paragraph. So let’s see… I generally love stories from the romantic period, and these fall into that category beautifully. The language and style unique to this era are intriguing, not to mention the stories Austen weaves. This mixture of girl-power and cute boys, when diluted with sense and decorum, makes for a wonderful book. For more information, please check out my previous Austenfest posts. Also, if you would be so kind as to consider this my Austenfest conclusion it would be greatly appreciated. It’s been shoved down to the bottom of my to-do list, despite my desire to sum up the series.
Jean M. Auel
Author of the Earth’s Children series, (Clan of the Cave Bear (1980), The Valley of Horses (1982), et.al.), Auel takes her story to a place most readers have never been before: prehistoric Europe! Not only is the story of heroine, Ayla, intriguing and moving, it has a sense of authenticity- no doubt due to the mountain of research required to make this book possible. Set at a time when Neanderthals co-existed with Cro-Magnon’s, the focus is on little, blonde Ayla who is rescued and raised by a group of cave-dwellers. As she becomes a woman, Ayla struggles with the inherent physical and mental differences that exist between her and her new family. The series maintains a botanical and anthropological influence while creating a sweeping saga that spans thousands of kilometres, numerous cultures, and plenty of emotion.
*It appears this segment has been brought to you by the letter ‘A’. Perhaps one day I’ll get to the rest of the alphabet!