Following my brief stop at the ponderings of movies, my thought train dropped me off at a more popular station: favourite books. A topic I thought I would be able to condense myself down to a Top 5.
Or so I thought, when sitting with pen & paper in the St Martin’s in the Field Crypt cafe I planned to jot down my Top 5 books last saturday afternoon. Of course you already know that I suddenly found myself somewhat stumped to compile a top 5 list. Do I rate my top 5 based on re-read ability & comfort. Or perhaps the criteria should be books that are amazingly well written/educate/change your view etc (Wolf Hall would top this particular list).
In the end I decided to settle with books that are the equivalent of my favourite movies – ones that I have re-read (I do feel this is a book crime considering that there is so much to read out there that I will never be able to read it all in my lifetime; but I have come to the self-reconciliation that its necessary for good mental health to ocassionally re-read a favourite) or intend to re-read & provide the equivalent comfort of warm apple crumble and vanilla ice-cream.
(in no particular order):
1) The Transit of Venus – Shirley Hazzard
I bought a copy for 50 cents at a Uni book sale many moons ago during my first degree. However I don’t remember that I actually read this straight away or at any rate I don’t think i liked it that much on first reading. I have subsequently re-read this at least once, and also read several other books and short stories by the author which have satisfied my love of understated prose. The inclusion of this book in my top 5 is also partially about my love of second hand paperbacks.
2) Frenchman’s Creek – Daphne du Maurier
A much loved light novel combining adventure and romance in a delightfully witty mix. I can’t say exactly what the appeal of this novel is, perhaps its shortness, ease of access and lack of intensity provide mental relief.
3) The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Beautiful, emotive and raw prose. a cleverly constructed narrative. engaging characters that don’t end up doing dumb things (I do really dislike when characters go off on some ridiculous pathway – ok this is more likely to happen in TV series, but books also commit crimes: see the Twilight series). I haven’t watched the movie as I have created in my mind particular images of Henry and Claire, which the movies does not align with. Also, its not a story that I feel would translate well onto the screen.
4) Looking for Alibrandi – Melina Marchetta
A book for teenagers set in Sydney in the early 90s. Much enjoyed during my high school years.
5) The Thorn Birds – Colleen McCullough
I have only read this once, so this could be scrapped on second reading. But the first time round it was fabulous – I even stayed up one night till 1am just to finish it as it was taking over my waking existence. The complex relationships, the back drop of rural NSW, the length of the novel itself. Like Pillars of the Earth and the Harry Potter series, I do enjoy a book that I can sink my teeth into and be swept along for the journey.
What would make it into your list?