“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Ditching my to-do’s at the southern California border came back to bite me already. (Of course, I’d happily do it all over again.) The semester started up today, and I’m still trying to gear up. It shouldn’t be hard, right? But I’m still in a golden state of mind. Despite the reality jolt, I’ve got books on the brain. I have every new student of mine interview another to answer life’s pressing questions like what is your favorite book and your best brush with fame; oh and what’s your most embarrassing moment because once we know that, we can read each other’s writing without pretense. Besides, you can learn something important about a person based on the books they love. Book profiling…it’s a real thing.
Anywho, I’m always interested to hear which books get top billing by some of today’s brightest and best students. The variance is big. In my three classes, taught back, to back, to back, here are the books whose titles I heard 3 or more times. Since 3 is the magic number, you may want to put these winners on your short list:
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
When Jane Austen was just 21 years old, she began writing Pride and Prejudice. In less than a year, she completed her manuscript chronicling the highs and lows of the 5 Bennet sisters. If you haven’t read this, you should drop everything and have at it. Immediately. You’ll be hard pressed to find a character more endearing than Elizabeth Bennet. Jane (yes, we’re on a first-name basis) humbly admitted, “I must confess that I think [Elizabeth] as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.”
I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read this masterpiece. Tolstoy is my favorite Russian writer. He wrote Anna Karenina, which he considers his first true novel, in serial installments from 1875 to 1877. This magnum opus recounts Karenina’s life story during late-nineteenth-century feudal Russian society. Dostoyevsky proclaimed it “flawless as a work of art.” Faulkner believed it’s the best novel ever written (along with 125 contemporary authors of a decade ago).
Every semester, at least one of my shiny new student’s raves about this read. I’m not a science fiction sorta girl. But the adoration of Ender’s Game is getting incredibly difficult to ignore anymore. The book, set in Earth’s future, won the 1985 Nebula Award for best novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for best novel. From the sound of things, this book shares insights about compassion and empathy—making it not just an entertaining read, but an important one too.