This week marks the return of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, a celebration of book blogging, originally started by Amy and brought back this year by Andi, Heather, Jenny, and Ana. You can read all about it over at The Estella Society.
Today’s task is to introduce yourself by selecting five books that represent you. Only five? That’s a challenge! But here goes!
Teresa’s Five Books
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I suspect this won’t be an unusual choice, but Jane represents the sort of person I most want to be—and on my best days, I think I am a little bit like her. She’s easily overlooked and sometimes taunted, but she has a strong core of moral strength, great intelligence, and intense feeling that I can’t help but admire. Whenever I read this book, I relate to Jane’s struggles and am inspired by her courage.
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. A list like this wouldn’t be complete without a fantasy or science fiction novel, so I’m choosing the novel that cemented my love of fantastic fiction and that helped me envision the kind of person I’d like to be in the face of challenges. Frodo, Merry, Eowyn, and Faramir in particular represent the qualities I’d want to have.
- Stet: An Editor’s Life by Diana Athill. Like Athill, I make my living as a editor, although, unlike her, I don’t get to work with leading lights of the literary world. However, some of her descriptions of what it’s like to help shape a writer’s work behind the scenes are spot on.
- Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. As an unmarried woman of a certain age, I often get exasperated at pictures of what the single life is like. The reality is that it’s neither all loneliness and misery nor all freedom and exhilaration. Pym captures the mix of joy and pain perfectly.
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I’m not a seventy-year-old preacher, and I don’t have much at all in common with John Ames, the narrator of this masterpiece. But his compassionate yet strong-minded approach to theology and life is one that I deeply respect and aspire to.
Jenny’s Five Books
- Any list representing who I am (and who I am as a reader) wouldn’t be complete without Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This book has humor, sadness, ambition, courage, a love of literature, and a deep understanding of sisterhood (genetic or chosen) that has appealed to me since I first read it decades ago.
- Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers helped me see early on the sort of person I’d like to be in an academic context: a strong woman, full of intelligence and integrity. (Its many intertexts, its setting, and its detective who loved Harriet for herself, sharp temper and all, were also extremely beguiling.)
- The Translator by John Crowley. My professional life is spent teaching people how important it is to be at home in another language: to have that shift of perspective that another culture and vocabulary and idiom and literature and poetry can give you. Crowley arches the wings of his prose over all these questions that are so important to me, in a slow, beautiful novel.
- The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. Lewis’s theology has shaped me in many ways, even though (or perhaps because) neither he nor I are perfect. But it’s this short book I come back to again and again: a bus trip to heaven that reveals how much our unhappiness is due to our disinclination to let go of it.
- Lila by Marilynne Robinson. Anyone who has ever had trouble believing her own worth — anyone who has ever created defensive barriers because of it — will read this book with deep understanding and compassion. Lila’s slow journey from exile to love is a masterpiece that touches me deeply.
And you? What books represent you? Let’s hear it!