We become friends with book characters. We wonder what they’re doing during those times when we’re not reading. They are real to us. The Booker Award is “for those who refuse to live in the real world,” which is a perfect description of all readers everywhere.
There hasn’t been enough time to tackle awards lately, but I felt compelled to post this one because its focus is favorite books. The Booker Award was given to me by Amira. She lives in Maldives and writes from the heart about life. I’m glad we’ve gotten to know each other this way. From one living outside of the real world to another, thank you for thinking of me for this.
The rules are to list five favorite books and to include why we loved them before passing the award on to five others. Most of my all-time favorites are classics, but I’ve tried to think of more modern or obscure favorites for this.
The Passion Dream Book by Whitney Otto
This book is about the passion of art and artists during different renaissance periods. It opens with the Italian Renaissance and a woman who spies on Michelangelo while he creates David. At one point, she picks up a curl of marble from the floor of his studio and pockets it. Then in 1918, her descendant carries the marble curl with her without knowing its history. This main character, Romy, lets her art consume her as she moves from place to place based on the art scene at the time (Hollywood, Harlem, Paris, San Francisco). Here’s one of the many excerpts I love: “Romy has always been what might be called a private rebel, that is, her contrary manner is not apparent but hidden, dormant, closeted until the day arrives when it expresses itself and everyone says, shocked, ‘What’s gotten into her?’ When, of course, it was there all along.”
Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card
I read this a long time ago but it’s stayed with me because of its futuristic and historic vision. In the future, people learn history by watching the past. Once they devise a way to travel back in time, they decide to correct history with the goal of creating a better world. The focus is on Columbus and what would have happened if Europeans hadn’t been able to decimate the New World cultures. I loved everything about this book.
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
This is set in Boston after World War I and shows the time period so well that by the end, I felt like I had lived through all of it with the characters. They struggle with industrialization, class, and race issues while trying to make a difference in an increasingly complicated world.
The book opens with Babe Ruth and he becomes a fun side character. Descriptions of the Great Molasses Flood alone are worth the read.
As It Is In Heaven by Niall Williams
This book has some of the best descriptions of love and loneliness that I’ve ever read. The main character is transformed when he hears a woman play the violin at a small concert in Ireland. Here’s an excerpt describing the main character’s father: “For the measure of his pain in losing Anne Nolan was the measure of his love; perhaps if he had loved her less he might have endured the world better afterwards; perhaps it was never intended that we give ourselves so much to one person that the vanishing of their face makes us feel the world is only a shadow. So, as he sat there in his armchair looking towards the street, he prayed that his son would feel the emptiness of the kitchen like a pain, and somehow realize he must not love too deeply.”
The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy
I just read this one a little while ago. It’s about an archaeologist who sees the shadows of ancient people everywhere around her. While researching a Mayan field site in Mexico, the shadows become more real to her than the people in her life. Here’s an excerpt: “Do not look for revelations in the ancient ruins. You will find here only what you bring: bits of memory, wisps of the past as thin as clouds in the summer, fragments of stone that are carved with symbols that sometimes almost make sense.”
Now it’s time to pass the award to:
I’m always looking for more book suggestions…
What are some books that have stayed with you through the years? Have you read any of the books listed here? What did you think of them?