Over the weekend, a challenge was issued to myself and several
other Facebook friends to come up with 10 books that have “stayed with me.” I groaned when I
first saw this. How could I come up with as many as 10?
Before long, however, my mind had raced far past that original limit.
Moreover, though the challenge was to list 10 “books” in general, I noticed
that only two or three on the list were not fiction.
Eventually, I decided to tweak the assignment—not just
go beyond 10, but to limit myself to novels. (At some point, I’ll list 10
favorite nonfiction books—a roster that will surely include Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Thomas Merton’s The Seven-Storey Mountain, and Henry
David Thoreau’s Walden.) I decided
not simply to post this on Facebook, the origin of the assignment, but also—in
a mad attempt at, if you will, leveraging my brand (or, better yet, conserving my energy!)—post this on my blog, too.
In one important sense, however, I have stuck
closely to the original challenge. I’m not going to argue that these are the
best or most important books I’ve ever read, nor even—beyond the first two
choices—that their importance is in
the exact order of how I’ve listed them.. But the operative verb in the title—“stayed”—determines
these selections. Something about all of these novels have stayed in my
recollection, even after a number of years—a scene, a style, a sensibility
toward the world.
Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (pictured)
Sun Also Rises,” by Ernest Hemingway
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
in Samarra,” by John O’Hara
Karenina,” by Leo Tolstoy
Square,” by Henry James
Fixer,” by Bernard Malamud
- “The Way We Live Now,” by Anthony Trollope
- “Bright Lights, Big City,” by Jay McInerney
of Dunces,” by John Kennedy Toole
House,” by Charles Dickens
Woman in White,” by Willkie Collins
- “Cousin Bette,” by Honore de Balzac
House of Mirth,” by Edith Wharton
Road,” by Richard Yates
Onegin,” by Alexander Pushkin
Can’t Go Home Again,” by Thomas Wolfe
Choice,” by William Styron
- "Tom Jones," by Henry Fielding
by James Joyce