This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
So here are my fifteen books that will always stick with me, more or less in the order in which they entered my life:
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte Emily Climbs, L.M .Montgomery Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
Macbeth, William Shakespeare
The Chosen, Chaim Potok
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
Greensleeves, Eloise Jarvis McGraw American Gods, Neil Gaiman The Invention of Love, Tom Stoppard
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
Showings, Julian of Norwich The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Salman Rushdie
These are all books that left me breathless. Is that what we were after?
You know what I don’t understand? I don’t understand why The Color Purple is so ridiculously awesome, and why when there are all these really subpar books running around, why people don’t just go ahead and read The Color Purple all the time. Why don’t people just read The Color Purple all the time, and forget about that Atonement crap?
The Color Purple. Wow.
When I was young, my mother had told me once that The Color Purple was one of her favorite books of all time, and I remember her telling me her favorite line (“White folks is a miracle of affliction”), and in early middle school I asked her where her copy was because I wanted to read it. And that’s the only time in my entire life I can remember my mother telling me not to read a book. She said wait a few years and I’d like it better. When I finally did read it (and oh my God, it blew me away), I assumed that she had been trying to steer me clear of it because of the fairly extensive sexual and violent content, but I asked her and she said no, she just thought I’d like it better if I waited a few years. She said that giving it to an eleven-year-old to read would be like giving To Kill a Mockingbird to a precocious kid of eight – the kid might be able to read all the words, but s/he’d be missing out on all the richness that’s there. She said you only get to read a book for the first time once, and there are some books that you just really deserve to have the best first-reading experience possible.
I totally agree with that. And this is a damn good book. It’s one of those books that everyone should read. Everyone in the whole world. In fact I’m just off to ship a few hundred copies off to world leaders. Do ’em good.
P.S. Although they are both Important Black American Women writers, I am forced to read Toni Morrison much more often than I am forced to read Alice Walker. In fact I have never had to read Alice Walker, except for one short story once, whereas I have had to deal with Toni Morrison kind of a lot. And you know what, you know what? I. Don’t. Like. Her. Beloved makes me feel queasy. The Color Purple is a much better book and everyone should just, just, just revise their damn syllabuses.