Top 10 Most Inspirational Reads

Full article in Telegraph.co.uk:

TOP 10 MOST INSPIRATIONAL READS

1. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (1960)

2. The Bible

3. A Child Called It – Dave Pelzer (2001)

4. Men are from mars, Women are from Venus – John Gray (1993)

5. Diary of Anne Frank – Anne Frank (1947)

6. 1984 – George Orwell (1949)

7. A Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela (2002)

8. The Beach – Alex Garland (1994)

9. The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger (2005)

10. The Catcher in the Rye – J D Salinger (1951

I've read five of these: To Kill a Mockingbird (multiple times), Diary of Anne Frank, 1984, The Time Traveller's Wife and The Catcher in the Rye.

Mockingbird doesn't surprise me, though it's not the only book to address racial issues in the South. It's not the best, either. It just happens to be one of the more accessible ones. If you ask me, Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust leaves Mockingbird by the wayside. But fewer people have read Faulkner than Lee. Lee wrote a great book. Faulkner wrote a masterpiece.

What does surprise me is Mockingbird beat out the Bible. Interesting. Maybe it's all that smiting that makes people uncomfortable. That, and the inadvisability of all those fun things. Like lust, gluttony and coveting.

Anne Frank, 1984 … I can see those two. Anne Frank was a remarkable young woman who lived through a period of true horror. Well, she almost made it through. And 1984? Alive and well in 2009. That one will never be irrelevant.

But Time Traveller's Wife? and The Catcher in the Rye? No comprendo. TTW was partially set in my undergrad alma mater. Or at least it references it. That makes it interesting to me, but though it was a good read it didn't inspire me.

Catcher … I re-read that last year and was underwhelmed. So, so many coming of age books do it better. A Separate Peace, for one.

This seems like a popularity contest. It's the sort of list people come up with when they haven't read an awful lot of books but can name a few they know the populace considers classic. Well, save TTW. That one boggles me.

But it's a book list, and I like book lists. It's just a weird one.

5 thoughts on “Top 10 Most Inspirational Reads

  1. And for that Southern thing … not Mockingbird or anything but Faulkner can come close to touching Carson McCullers! Not “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter” so much as her other stuff. She’s amazing. (Confession: I have never thought Mockingbird great.)

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  2. And what does The Telegraph know? That “Men Are From Mars …” crap … they should stop publishing from shame. Reminds me that when the great writer John McPhee’s first book was rejected by Knopf his mother comforted him by saying, “Oh, what does K-knopf k-know.”

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  3. Oh, yeah, the mars and venus book! Funny, that one flew right by me. I totally disregarded it.
    Lists are so subjective, just like book awards. A lot of it’s so prejudiced and political. It seems post-9/11 award committees were falling all over themselves giving awards to Middle Eastern writers – or those of ME descent. Tell me that wasn’t intentional.

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  4. I love Carson McCullers, too! Member of the Wedding’s pretty good, but Lonely Hunter is, as you mention, fantastic.
    I just hate the syrupy southern crap, where everyone’s a stereotype. It’s so damn “Dukes of Hazzard,” which should have all available copies nuked.
    In Faulkner both sides are represented, between the Snopes and Comptons, but they go deeper than stereotypes. They represent truths from someone who knows of what he speaks.
    I also recommend Gurganus’s ‘The Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All.’ Great stuff. Not genius, but an excellent read.

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