Voice: Top 5 Novels

I’ve been avoiding the next voice exercise because I hate coming up with lists of favorite things. Hate it. Makes me cranky. Here goes:

What are your top five favorite novels of all time? 

Every time I try to come up with a list of novels, I wind up with lists of favorite novelists. I wind up thinking about the different genres I read and whether my list would reflect what I read all the time versus which novels have stuck with me. I talk myself out of making the requested list.

I could probably talk you out of expecting me to produce the list, too. But I won’t.

In no particular order:

Cat’s Eye, Margaret Atwood

Fifth Business or What’s Bred in the Bone, Robertson Davies (I can’t choose between these two)

Bet Me, Jennifer Crusie

Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase

The Lost Hero, Rick Riordan

What does this list tell me? It tells me I love novels that take place in Canada, romance, and kidlit.

I haven’t reread Cat’s Eye in years, but it stands out in the Margaret Atwood section of my bookshelf because it so accurately reflected the combination of anxiety and freedom that I experienced as a young girl in Toronto. It was the first novel I read that called out the emotional cruelty of girls for what it is: bullying.

Robertson Davies is on the list because I love his big-hearted classically literate style, his use of Jungian psychology, and his sense of humor. Things are always lurking under the surface, and they always come to the fore, where they’re dealt with lovingly. It’s how I’d like to live, embracing all the aspects of my human condition.

Bet Me is my favorite contemporary romance. It makes me laugh out loud. There’s a lot of great eating and cooking and banter. I love the kid fish expert who throws up when he eats too much. I love that the hero ties up the heroine and feeds her Krispy Kreme donuts. The hero and heroine wind up loving each other for who they truly are, and in the process, change each other. Wonderful. Hopeful.

Lord of Scoundrels is the best over-the-top historical romance. She hits all the tropes: big muscular man who acts like he doesn’t care about society’s rules; tiny beautiful woman who is intelligent and savvy and keeping her family together; two master manipulators who dance around each other, analyzing each word and gesture for what it means; they are forced into marriage and resist the idea that they may love each other. But it’s so perfect. Chase goes deep into what the characters believe about themselves and what they think they’re worthy of, and makes them face it. And change.

Making this list made me realize that I’d pick Rick Riordan as my favorite kidlit author over J.K. Rowling. I love me some Harry Potter. Don’t ask me to do anything when I’m rereading the books, because once I start, I have to get to the end. But I reread the Riordan books more often and learn more from them. They’re more disciplined, more focused. They’re funnier. He never wallows in the teenage romantic angst, although it’s definitely there. And I love the overt mythology. Out of all the novelists on this list, he’s the one I’d most like to be.

How about you? What’s in your five?

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4 thoughts on “Voice: Top 5 Novels

  1. Wow! I’m really surprised that not only have I not read any of these books, I’m also not familiar with any of them! Need to put them on my list of future reads–they all sound intriguing.

    My top five? Hmm. The list probably changes on any given day but some of my “tried and true” books that come to mind today are:

    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes–started reading and rereading these stories when I was a teenager and they can still suck me in and keep my reading until the end; love the atmosphere, the characters, the puzzles, the solution…

    The Hobbit–first read this when I was sick with the flu and it was a great distraction; still love to pick it up and read any portion of it, if not the whole book, wonderful characters, wonderful adventure.

    Rising of the Lark by Ann Moray–my favorite YA book; Welsh; perfect romance of a girl alone in a mansion with a male tutor whom she falls in love with.

    Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Leguin–yep, the Jungian psychology is there; amazing tale of discovery of self

    And finally one of Karin Fossum’s books…this past year I read all of her books which are psychological investigations/detective fiction that spotlight “outsiders”–no black and white solutions in these books, lots of gray areas and lots of questions left unanswered. Quite compelling.

    Thanks for getting me to think about this question; always an interesting exercise and I love hearing what’s on other’s lists and why.

  2. Thanks for your list, Rebecca. I’m going check some of those out. The Sherlock Holmes thing is funny: I’ve read take-offs on Sherlock Holmes, novels written with him as a character, but I don’t think I’ve read any of the actual stories in decades. I think I should get on that!

  3. I think it’s gutsy to make a list like that as it tells a lot more about you than you might feel like sharing. but, oh well, here goes…
    These are my favorite, selected by the fact that they popped into my head quickly and I read them more than once, or as in the case of Abbie Burgess — too many times to count….
    – Abbie Burgess: Lighthouse Heroine, Dorothy Holder Jones and Ruth Sexton
    – Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
    – Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
    – A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (ok, I could only bear reading this once)
    – A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
    – A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

    and then if i could choose a series….
    – Little House books, Laura Ingalls Wilder
    – The Earthsea Trilogy, Ursula LeGuin
    – Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
    – Time Series, Madeleine L’Engle

    1. Thanks for your list, Julie. I’ll definitely check out Abbie Burress book. I’d never heard of that story. I loved Owen Meany, too, but also haven’t been able to read it again.

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