June 13, 2011

Basking in Ink

Summer is usually the time when people first eye the tremendous stacks of books they have been meaning to read, then eye the calendar and the somewhat-less-hectic months, and set themselves reading goals. I don't have a set reading list, but I do hope to be able to bathe in ink this summer as much as possible - reading books, writing letters, and writing White Sail's. There will probably not be half as much ink this summer as I should like, but oh well! At least there will be some.

In honour of the ink-theme of summer, and because I don't have a list of all the books I hope to read in three months, I thought I would do a writeup of books I have already read - my top ten. It was a bit difficult limiting it to ten, but I managed it, and so here they are (in no particular order).

1. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. This is a rather surprising choice for a favourite, since it was a book assigned to me in American Literature and I have little to no love for the classic literature on this side of the Pond. I slogged through the first chapters, grumbling about it as I went, until I discovered a little ways in that the storyline and the characters are made of pure Awesome. Not, I admit, a highly sophisticated analysis, but true nonetheless.

This book has two people in it that made it onto my list of top twenty fictional characters - not Hawkeye, although I liked him, but Uncas and Cora. Uncas I adore, and if he is not my absolute favourite character, he at least makes it into the top five. I also love Cora's strength and faith (although I would not go so far as to call it a Christian novel).

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Who could not like Jane Austen's classic novel? I have read all of her works, but this one still takes the cake with its delicious wit and array of characters. It needs no explanation.

3. The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall. A children's book, to be sure, but one that can be enjoyed at any age. I love everything about it: the whimsical writing, the characters (particularly Muggles), the land of the Minnipins - oh, everything! It is just the thing to curl up with on a blue day when you want to read something cheery. The Gammage Cup is a classic, and ought to be better known than it is.

4. The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. I'm not as big a fan of Rosemary Sutcliff as some people. Because of the emotion she elicits in her writing, I have to be in the right mood for Sutcliff's books; they aren't ones that I can pick up any rainy day. But I do enjoy many facets of her writing and am steadily pulling together a larger collection of her works, and this first book of her Dolphin Ring Cycle is absolutely fantastic. The setting, the quest, the "this is just the beginning" atmosphere all combine to give me a tight-throat feeling while I read it. But the characters are what I especially love. Marcus, Esca, Cub, Cottia, Uncle Aquila - they are all unique and wonderful.

5. The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. I seem to be especially fond of books with "of the" in the title. This work on the attributes, or perfections, of God has more meat between its covers than you would expect from so thin a book, but it is also written in a style easy to follow and understand (as easy to understand as such a subject can be) and should be a part of any Christian's library. A simply splendid book.

6. Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace. Positively the best book set in the time of Christ's life on earth. I cannot express adequately how wonderful this novel is - strong, profound, rich, thrilling, satisfying... This book is all of the above and more. It has a fantastic hero, a fantastic villain, and a fantastic heroine, too, and treats with reverence the true Hero of the story: Christ.

7. The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. Yes, yes, I do realize this is three books and that I'm cheating, but how am I expected to choose a favourite? Many people have only read Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, but while that is an excellent series, stopping there will leave you with the mere milk of his writing. Though he was by his own admission no theologian, his fiction and nonfiction are brilliant with truth. Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength are his contributions to the realm of science fiction, but as with most of Lewis' writing, he delves into the glory of Light and Goodness and the truth of fairytales.

8. The Iliad by Homer. Crazy choice, I know. But I happen to have a soft spot for Achilles (not shared by many) and I always experience a thrill when I read about him. And the opening line is one of my favourites: "Sing, O goddess, the wrath of Achilles, son of Peleus..." I have no other excuse to offer.

9. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. Because, in case I haven't mentioned it before, Lewis is awesome. This novel was his last and his favourite, and though many people struggle with it, it has just as many riches to be mined as any of his other works. He takes the Greek myth of Psyche and Cupid and retells it in a vastly different light; it is an allegory, but not after the style of Bunyan. It is so deep and so thought-provoking and so evocative that, as with Rosemary Sutcliff's novels (and more so), I can't just pick it up any old day and read it. But that doesn't make it any less fantastic.

10. The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henry Scougal. I have only read this little book once so far, but it is so rich with truths that I expect to return to it many times. Written in the 1600s, it was originally a letter of encouragement and edification to a friend; that friend was so blessed by it that he subsequently published it. Like The Knowledge of the Holy, it is a must-read. This is perhaps my favourite quote from it: "They know by experience that true religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation of the Divine nature, the very image of God drawn upon the soul, or, in the apostle's phrase, 'it is Christ formed within us.'"

I have many other books that I love, but these, despite being a motley collection, are the cream of the crop. These are the ones at the mention of which I either go shaky with happiness or become warm and content. These are my favourite sources of Inklight to bask in.

5 comments:

  1. This is an excellent list of books, all worthy of being in the top number of any list, I think. As for the quote by Scougal, all I can say is, "Amen."

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  2. The Gammage Cup! *squee* (You girls are infectimg me, I never used to say "squee").

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  3. The Gammage Cup is simply fantastic. Jenny and I saw the sequel at a bookstore the other day, but we decided against buying it because we didn't want to ruin the effect of the first one. Apparently the second isn't as good (which is usually the case).

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  4. I must admit I really enjoyed reading this, Abigail. Even thought I haven’t read all of them, I think I would agree with you when I see your reasons. Many of those books seem to be forgotten by most people, and I am very glad you pointed them out for others to see.

    What more is, I heartily echo you when it comes to The Gammage Cup. It’s such an adorable book. “The only good mushroom, is a cooked mushroom.” Ah, Muggles is so witty. I don’t feel anywhere that I want to read the sequel. I read a review of it somewhere, and apparently, you couldn’t understand (unless it was told) that this was the prequel to The Gammage Cup. (Pfft, and yes, why ruin something that is good? Very few can write a book that's better then the last one from the same story, I think.)

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  5. I agree. On the one hand I want to snatch it up off the shelf because it's by an author I like, but on the other hand I would rather not be disappointed.

    I just love the chapter headings in "The Gammage Cup"! "No matter where There is, when you arrive, it becomes Here."

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meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
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Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
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Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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