Dec 3, 2007

Little house

I thought I'd blog about something much more innocuous today, literature-wise. Not less important or less salient, but less controversial.

I've read a ton of books for a person of my age. Reading is and always has been my addiction. I'm proud and ashamed of this fact. I don't know how many books I've read and I don't care to count, and some of it has been crap. You have to wade through the garbage sometimes to find a treasure. Every once in a while I've had to put a book down, but at this point I can usually identify a book I'm not going to want to finish by it's cover (tee hee, yes, you can judge books by their cover, you just have to have the right sorts of prejudices) and the summary blurb on the back. So here, I've made a fun list. The twelve best young adult/childrens' fiction authors of the 19-20th centuries. This is strictly my opinion, without cross-referencing with literature experts or critics of any sort. It's the list of my favorites, based upon my own insatiable consumption of young adult/child fiction.

In no particular order:

Frances Hodgson Burnett
Mark Twain
Joan Aiken
Beverly Cleary
Rhoald Dahl
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Robert Louis Stevenson
C.S. Lewis
Mary Mapes Dodge
J.R.R. Tolkien
Judy Blume
Cynthia Voigt

Of these authors, I'd say #1 for me is based upon writing quality, wow, hard choice, but... Mark Twain.

Of the books of these authors, I'd say the very best one is either Huckleberry Finn, the Secret Garden, or Little House on the Prairie. My favorite is the third.

I love the little house books. First of all, they are true stories of an amazing family. My favorite character: Pa. He digs wells, he hews logs, he hunts for bears and brings them home to feed his family, he plows and plants acres and acres of wheat year after year even through all the meager yields, the constant crashing of his hopes and dreams.

My next favorite character: Ma. She keeps her dirt floors swept, her bread fresh and delicious even for want of most major ingredients, her little girls learning their letters and numbers even in the middle of the harshest blizzard. She can make apple pie when there aren't any apples to be had. She makes sure that there is a Christmas even when the family is on the brink of starvation.

My favorite line of the book (repeated a few times throughout the books)...

"Caroline, do you realize that you are the light of my life and the joy of my existence?" (Pa, to Ma.)

A-MA-ZING books. Read them. Gobble them down. Feel amazed and a little guilty at the safety and pleasure of our lives nowadays. Feel stunned and a little jealous at the adventure and exploration of the frontier. Learn what sacrifice really can mean, sacrifice for the greater good and the health of the community. These people were friends with their family and close neighbors, because they had to be to survive physically and emotionally. The warmth of the pioneer society has died out in our own; this is the primary jealousy I feel as I read these books. I mourn the loss of that.

Plus, there are absolutely no atheists in this book. From what one can tell. Laura Ingalls Wilder has never been inclined to preachiness.

*disclaimer... anything that has not been published in English, I haven't had a chance to peruse. So if my list seems biased toward English and American authors, that's why. :)


Margaret said...

NO SURF! You need to start, if you haven't already, on the Shannon Hale books, AND on Jeanne Ray. These are two FABULOUS authors that I have found recently that I LOVE. I feel like there has been less "buzz" about Jeanne Ray, but I read "Step Ball Change" this weekend and laughed out loud SEVERAL times, and that doesn't happen too often when I'm reading a novel. She is GOOD.

Shannon Hale - Princess Academy, Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets.

Jeanne Ray - Eat Cake, Julie and Romeo, Step Ball Change

YAY for books, and I totally share both your sense of addiction to reading AND your sense that that might not always be a good thing. ;)

Fern said...

It's funny that you mention Mark Twain, I just finished rereading Huckleberry Finn last night! Good stuff, I'm going to start another of his famous tales "The Prince and The Pauper" next! Also, some of my favorite authors are Alexander Dumas, Dickens, Robin Mckinley, and Louis Lamour (His book "the Walking Drum" is fantastic!), just for starters. Surprisingly, I enjoyed "Gap Creek", although it was written by a man, when the point of view in the book is a woman's. But I too like to read stories about frontier life. I always enjoy reading classics such as Jules Vern, but occasionally you run into inappropriate stuff too, such as Jane Eyre - not one of my favorites, or even worse books(which I feel worse off having read them): Beloved, The Sound and the Fury, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and the like. I also enjoy the ones you mentioned, it looks like you enjoy classics as well! I'll have to read the "Little House on the Prairie" books, I'm ashamed to admit I've never read them. Do you have any other good authors I should know about? I'm thinking about compiling a list of books that everyone should read in their lifetime.

NoSurfGirl said...

I'll have to try louis lamour, I haven't done any of him. IT's so nice to find/remember authors that I've missed. I also loved "I know why the caged bird sings," but you're right. It's a very sad, difficult story in places. The only thing that gets me through stuff like that is if the stories are semi-autobiographical; I think that books written for children/youth ought to address certain issues carefully and sensitively.

I haven't read Jane Eyre *gasp* becuase it looks so dang depressing. Someday, when I'm not worried about getting in a slump from reading it... right now my reading time is my break, so it has to be uplifting!! Margaret... I have had so many reccomendations for "goose girl" that I think it might be next on my list :)