Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ten Books to Read Before You Die

by Kerry Blair

I guess I can die now.

A couple of weeks ago AOL put up a list of Ten Books to Read Before You Die. I've read them all, so I guess I'm good to go.

Seriously, except for the Bible and possibly Lord of the Rings, I have issues with that list. Not that I don't like many of the books, I do. A few I even love. I just know for a fact that if I made a list of my own, it probably wouldn't have included any of their picks besides the scripture.

AOL's list:

The Bible (Well, good for AOL, but it was #10)
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (I really like it, but . . .)
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (More impressive to me in college than today.)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Would make my top 20 -- I'm not sure about 10.)
Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (Brilliant man, but ick.)
DaVinci Code by Dan Brown (Oh, come on! This is where AOL lost me, truth be told.)
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (What were they thinking?)
The Stand by Stephen King (Yes, really. This is one of those books I possibly loved -- until he copped out with a deus ex machina at the end -- but again, really? It's not even King's best book.)
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling (Give me a break.)
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (Well . . . maybe.)

I read lists like this every day and wonder A) what the world is coming to and B) why I continue to subscribe to AOL. But it has made me think. If somebody asked me for a stack of ten books from my shelves to read before they die, what would I give them? More importantly, what would you offer? Put your list in the comments trail. Next Friday, I'll post my list and then draw a name from a box containing all the lists of everyone who responds. Winner gets their choice of one of the books from my list -- a paperback version, shipped from Amazon. You may count scripture as one book -- as if a quad -- and include non-fiction if you must.

Please play! I'd really like to know what you think.

NOTE: A few of you are now thinking what a cop-out this is. Okay, you caught me. It is a rip-off of a Now & Here blog I posted earlier this month. And it isn't. It's a whole new prize, after all, to a mostly different group. (And you three or four can play twice. I'll even transfer your lists for you, if you like.) I moved it here for a couple of reasons. The first is that I'm sick today and ran a guest blog last week. But the second reason is the real one: I've found three or four new books to read from the two dozens lists or so I've received thus far. I love them! So I really do want a list from each and every one of you. In case I die from this latest malady, I'm desperate to know what to read first. Respond fast, just in case! :)


At 7/25/2008 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ten books to read before you die (not in any order... just read them all!):

1) Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (however you should probably read Twilight and New Moon first to understand it)

2) The Host by Stephenie Meyer

3) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

4) Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

5) The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein (yes, its okay to skip the really descriptive boring parts :o)

6) Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (Extras is good too)

7) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

8) Hymns by various artists (you know those rectangular books that rest in every LDS chapel... and if you dont know, they have songs in them.)

9) Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

10) Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (although I know some of you dont agree with this :o)

**this is my list for now... ask me again in 6 months and probably half of them will have changed!***


At 7/25/2008 12:29 PM, Blogger Michael A. Cleverly said...

I'd invite people over to my Wisdom from the 42nd Page blog where I'm taste-testing three books per day (1,095 a year). Hopefully they'd find ten that would interest them.

As for an actual top ten list (to be eligible for your contest)... I'll have to think about it and try and narrow it down that far.

At 7/25/2008 12:55 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

It's such a personal thing, isn't it? I can't say what books I think anyone else should read before they die, but I can share the books I'm glad I've read, that have actually had an impact on my life:

1) The Scriptures
2) Ten Virtues to Heal Our Hearts and Homes
3) The Cosmic Trilogy
4) Speaker for the Dead
5) Anne of Green Gables
6) Little Women
7) The Screwtape Letters
8) 8 Weeks to Optimum Health
9) Jonathan Livingston Seagull (It's weird but I love it)
10) My Own Journal

At 7/25/2008 1:21 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

The Book of Mormon
Lord of the Rings
Fahrenheit 451
Little Women
Pride and Prejudice
Merchant of Venice
Charlotte’s Web
The Diary of Anne Frank
A Wrinkle in Time
The Chronicles of Narnia

At 7/25/2008 1:27 PM, Anonymous Meredith Dias said...

These books are the cautionary tales that scared me senseless. They're the masterfully written novels that compelled me from the first page. They're all a beautiful mess of chaos, pain, moral ambiguity, and the earth-shattering events that can turn entire societies upside-down. Without further ado, my list:

1. 1984
2. A Brave New World
3. Fahrenheit 451
4. Slaughter-House-Five
5. Ulysses
6. The Brothers Karamazov
7. Othello
8. Night (Elie Wiesel)
9. The Grapes of Wrath
10. The Diary of Anne Frank

-Meredith Dias (erstwhile guest blogger and friend of Julie Bellon)

At 7/25/2008 1:45 PM, Blogger Keri said...

1. The Bible
2. 1984
3. Atlas Shrugged
4. Les Miserables
5. The Scarlet Letter
6. Hamlet
7. Believing Christ
8. Plato's Republic
9. Locke's Second Treatise on Government
10. To Kill a Mockingbird

At 7/25/2008 1:48 PM, Blogger Melanie J said...

Hm. The AOL list is an interesting one in terms of cultural literacy but in terms of actual quality, I'd beg to differ on a few points. Like Kimberly, I don't think I could decide for anyone else what they should read before they die, but here's my list of ten books that in some way have become a part of me:

To Kill a Mockingbird (my son's middle name is Atticus)
Anne of Green Gables
Ender's Game
Pride and Prejudice
The Fountainhead
Nine Stories
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Book Thief
I Love You, Stinky Face

At 7/25/2008 2:15 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Let's see your list then, anonymous.

At 7/25/2008 2:45 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

I don't see how there can really be a definitive list like this. It's too... personal. I love Stephen King, but he's not for everyone and it would be wrong for me to say that you have to read one of his books before you die.

That being said *grin* let me take a stab at it:

The Bible (everyone should, really)
Pride and Prejudice
Harry Potter (Sorry, Kerry, but one should read this for cultural relevance)
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
A Brief History of Time (Hawking)

Ok, I feel solid about this half-list, so I'll stop here. =)

In good conscience, I can't put Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia on the list. I couldn't get through the Tolkien, got too bogged down. And while the themes in CoN are good, seriously, have you read Magician's Nephew lately? Bleh.

***Out of curiosity, what would you say is King's best book, Kerry?

At 7/25/2008 2:46 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Also, read Hillary's disclaimer. =P

At 7/25/2008 3:17 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Any list that tells me I have to read Dan Brown before I die automatically disqualifies itself.

At 7/25/2008 4:40 PM, Blogger Michael A. Cleverly said...

1. Mormon's Book [shameless plug] and the standard works in general

2. Approaching Zion (Hugh Nibley)

3. A Geography of Time (Robert Levine)

4. Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing (Philip Greenspun)

5. Os Tambores de São Luis (Josue Montello)

6. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)

7. The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism ((Michael Novak)

8. The Wrinkle in Time series (Madeleine L'Engle)

9. My Stroke of Insight (Jill Bolte Taylor)

10. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (Harold Abelsonn and Gerald Jay Sussman with Julie Sussman)

At 7/25/2008 4:52 PM, Blogger Michael A. Cleverly said...

If I had to actually finish reading Dan Brown's Digital Fortress before I could die, I'd live forever...

... Hey, there is an idea... Who needs the fountain of youth? We could just sell horrible books to the masses instead. :-)

At 7/25/2008 6:28 PM, Blogger Weston Elliott said...

Okay, here's mine:

1. The scriptures, of course!

2. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (anyone who thinks that the Chronicles of Narnia are outmoded deserves to be shot! Maybe only with a marshmallow gun, but shot nontheless!)

3. Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Patterson

4. Mosquito Coast

5. The Hiding Place by Corrie TenBoom

6. Angels Among Us by Joan Westerfield

7. Anything by Dr. Seuss

8. Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book (be warned, that is not for children!) by Shel Silverstien

9. Dragonsinger & Dragonsong (I'll count them as one since they're two of a triligy - the third isn't necessarily worth reading) by Anne McCaffery

10. Jane Eyre - by Bronte

I could easily make this a list of twenty or thirty - but ten will do for now.

At 7/25/2008 11:14 PM, Blogger Just_Me said...

1. Guards! Guards! by Terry Partchett

2. Stand a Little Taller by G.B. Hinckley

3. Price of the Stars by Debra Doyle and James MacDonald

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

5. The Bible by Various Authors

6. The Potentially Sane Mothers Guide to Raising Your Children by Tamara Fackrell

7. Dauntless by Jack Campbell

8. Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon

9. I, Robot by Issac Asimov

10. Consider Love by Sandra Boynton (did I spell that right?)

If someone was dying and asked for books, that's what I would pile on them. We will ignore the fact that most of those start a series and I would (of course) give them the rest of the series so they can die happy.

I'd also add a few unpublished works and several heavy comic books. The complete works of Bill Waterson should be required reading in high school. Shakespeare is on my list too, but it's difficult to pick a favorite.

Really, if you only read 10 books in your life you've wasted the time you had anyway. No 10 books are going to make up for a lifetime of reading.

At 7/26/2008 2:12 AM, Blogger Cheri J. Crane said...

I'm late chiming in here, as usual. I'd like to begin by siding with Kerry, and just about everyone else who responded: Anonymous, your comment was rude and uncalled for. I've met this young woman and she is a lovely, talented, "polite" young lady who will be a great teacher one day.

Now for my list. I copied and pasted this from the other blog, so I hope it works. These are in now particular order:

"I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to go to Boise," Erma Bombeck

"Follow the River," by James Alexander Thom

"The Hunchback of Notre Dame," Victor Hugo

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," by Betty Smith

"The Song of Bernadette," by Franz Werfel

"The Robe," by Lloyd C. Douglas

"The Christ Commission," by Og Mandino

"Tathea," & "Come Armageddon," by Anne Perry

"The Quad" (Bible, Book of Mormon, etc.)

At 7/26/2008 11:25 AM, Blogger steve said...

Here's my list:

1. Lord of the Rings (read > 15x)
2. Abel’s Island (read > 3x)
3. Gormanghast Trilogy
4. Gilead
5. Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, Illustrated man
6. War and Peace
7. Sherlock Holmes complete Short Stories
8. Middlemarch
9. A Hundred Years of Solitude
10. Dune

At 7/26/2008 4:58 PM, Blogger Pat said...

I'm not sure I even qualify to play this, since these are just a few recent favorites, and not "life altering" stuff...
(In fact, you'd better weep for me too, my list is very similar to Hilary's)

1- Book of Mormon
2- The Gift; R.P. Evans
3- At Home in Mitford; Karon
(call me corny, but I love it!)
4- The Westing Game; Raskin
5- The Taming of the Shrew; Shakespeare
6- Anne of Green Gables
7- Harry Potter (the last one was the best - sorry Kerry...)
8- Twilight series; go Stephanie!
(she went to BYU for gosh sakes)
9- I love the Stargirl books too Hilary
10- The Lord of the Rings was pretty amazing...

I'd really like to add a few from authors here, but wouldn't want to be accused of playing favorites (in my defense, I haven't read you all yet, still working on it)

At 7/26/2008 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since I have made a goal of only going to blogs once a week, I'm late on this, and my choices are not the usual because I don't read a lot of the usuals. These are in no particular order and they are not the ones I'd say everyone should read but more some topics rather than fiction that I read a lot and enjoy and that might bring other similar type of reading material to the mind.

1. Scritures and patriarchal blessing.

2. Counting Blessings by Blair (finished it last night. Love it.)

3. The Little Prince by De Saint Exupery

4. Christie by Katherin Marshall

5. Believing Christ

6. Daily Life in Medieval Times, and The History of Hancock, New Hampshire (representing a group of historical non-fiction which help with family history. Not necessarily the most original or well written but intriguing to me as they tell of my ancestors' life style)

7. My family history "book" with charts, lists and life stories.

8. A compilation of my daughter's missionary letters.

9. Oh, The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss

10. Jesus the Christ by Talmage

There. I hope I qualify for the drawing. I love Kerry's contests almost as much as her blogs.

Marlene Austin

At 7/26/2008 8:03 PM, Blogger pwells said...

My list (for right now) would be:
1) The Book of Mormon
2) Les Miserables - nearly as heavily marked as my scriptures
3)Pride and Prejudice - with Persuasion as a close second
4)Jesus the Christ
5)Jane Eyre
6)Little Women - my first "real" novel, I have read it close to 50 times and can quote long passages from it
7)While Still We Live - the book that first woke me up to serious political thought
8)The Robe
9)Harry Potter 3 or 7
10) any of my sons' novels!

At 7/27/2008 12:05 AM, Blogger Edje said...

I presume we are distinguishing the TBTRBYD list from the TBTRBY-turn-thirty, the TBTR-right-now-if-you-haven't-read-them-already, and other such lists. Thus, the principle texts of your religion aren't on my list---you should be reading those all the time already. So... assuming you already have a healthy literary diet that edifes, enlightens, and entertains, I recommend try reading the following at least once.

1. Someone else's religious text. The Quran or the Popol Vuh come to mind for Mormons.

2. A book-length work of fiction in its original language (that is not your native language). Juvenile lit might be a good choice, for example, Maikäfer flieg in German or Le Petit Prince in French.

3. A diary of someone older than your grandparents. Of particular interest to Mormons might be the Mormon Missionary Diaries and the Overland Trail websites sponsored by BYU. (For bonus points: read A Midwife's Tale by LT Ulrich first.)

4. One of _those_ long Russian novels: War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, The Grand Inquisitor.

5. One of the best-selling sci-fi/fantasy/magical series, such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Ender's Game (all eight books), A Wrinkle in Time, Twilight, and so on.

6. The complete collected works of a poet whose collected works fit in one volume. English-language possibilities include Wilfred Owen, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Emily Dickinson.

7. A collection of "world" folk tales, emphasizing non-European and non-North American tales.(I don't have any particular volume in mind.)

8. Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm's Children's and Household Tales. (Make sure it's a faithful translation and hasn't been sanitized by anyone other than the Grimms.)

9. Dante's Commedia. I like the Ciardi or the Mandelbaum translations. Be sure to read all hundred cantos and all the footnotes.

10. One of James Michener's trans-historical fictions, like The Covenant or The Source. (That is, one of his books that starts when a piece of land first came out of the ocean and then follows that land through to the present.)

(If I have to name specific books, then take the first suggestion for each of the ten above.)

At 7/27/2008 1:57 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Absolutely wonderful lists! I've been impressed and inspired by every single one and hope they keep trickling in. Not only is my list of must-read books growing, but I agree whole-heartedly with many, many of your selections. When we're done next Thursday, I'm compiling a "Best of the Frog Blog" and sending it to AOL. (Alas, it seems Harry Potter will still be there! :) Just goes to show what I know.

edje: Welcome! I'm glad you dropped by. Your list is the closest to my own thus far -- except that I read Inferno and had to put aside the Grimms because my version was so unsanitary it gave me the creeps. :) I'd love to read The Little Prince in French -- I loved it in English -- but the only language I can read relatively well besides my native one is Latin. Possibly Spanish. Is there a title in that language you recommend?

Jon: Now that I've said The Stand isn't Stephen King's best book, I'm hard-pressed to pick his opus. I'm not ignoring you, and I'll answer the question...eventually. But I might do it privately because I know that some things King offend some of our blog readers.

Again, thank you, thank you, thank you! I've learned something from every one of you and am deeply grateful.

At 7/27/2008 7:19 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

I'm going to list just ten novels; I could easily do a second ten of non-fiction. (By the way I liked parts of the Quoran, but other parts are pretty boring and I've read quite a bit of Goethe in German)) These really aren't books "everyone" should read. They aren't even necessarily the best novels I've ever read. They are merely ten novels I'm glad I read and they mean something to me.
1. The Winthrop Woman- Seton
2. As I Lay Dying - Faulkner
3. Desiree - Selinko
4. Exodus - Uris
5. Kingdom and the Crown series - Lund
6. Prairie Bouquet - Williams
7. Redemption Road - Brown
8. Mary and Joseph - Marcum
9. Silas Marner - Eliot
10. Far Pavilions - Kaye

At 7/27/2008 11:14 PM, Blogger Edje said...

Kerry: Thanks for the response. I'm a long-time fan who rarely comments.

I've never read any book-length Spanish-language fiction, so I have no recommendations (though if you like poetry, Neruda's Cien Sonetos is good). If you can do Spanish and Latin, you could probably do Portuguese; O feijão e o sonho by Orígenes Lessa is an interesting, accesible story about an author.

At 7/28/2008 6:59 AM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Kerri Blair, you are saved. I own a book called "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die".

How about my list. 10 AUTHORS who have changed the literary world (and who wrote books I actually read and enjoyed):

1. Jane Austen
2. Mary Shelley
3. Mark Twain
4. Wilkie Collins
5. Nathaniel Hawthorne
6. John Steinbeck
7. Margaret Mitchell
8. J.R.R. Tolkien
9. Nevil Shute
10. Khaled Hosseini

At 7/28/2008 2:13 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

No rush, Kerry. I'd like to see your response before... well, you know. =)
( I was this >< close to adding a Steven Brust book to my list, too.)

It does look like a topic that uncovered a lot of lurkers. Nice to see new, um, faces.

At 7/28/2008 11:52 PM, Blogger Janice said...

These aren't in order and some may have been a few years since I've read them. I mention them because they've stuck in my mind.

Alice the Fairy - one of the few children's books that I don't mind reading over and over and over and over. (Modern day children read where pioneer children used to walk)
Mrs. Mike
Anne of Green Gables
Harry Potter
Xanth (But I don't recomend any other books by Pierce Anthony.)
Chronicles of Narnia
The House of the Scorpion
The Hero and the Crown
This Just In
Enders Game

At 8/27/2008 1:46 PM, Blogger Rob M said...

As if I could narrow it to TEN, but here goes in no particular order. (I am leaving off some obvious picks like the Scriptures.)

A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
(This should be titled "Christ's Atonement can live for You" and everyone should read and study it in Sunday school.)

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier; Ishmael Beah

An Inconvenient Book: Real Solutions to the World's Biggest Problems; Glenn Beck

How to Date Your Wife; Stan Cronin

Man's Search for Meaning; Viktor E. Frankl

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families; Stephen R. Covey

The Alchemist; Paulo Coelho

The Holy Secret; James L. Ferrell

The Peacegiver: How Christ Offers to Heal Our Hearts and Homes; James L. Ferrell

Think and Grow Rich; Napoleon Hill

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