In a "they told two friends and they told two friends" kind of a deal on Facebook, Molly Snyder posted 10 books, off the top of her head, no hesitation, which led Katharina Hren to do the same, which led me to do the same.
I usually just look past these things on Facebook, because I'm not very good at lists like this. I read far too many books and listen to far too much music – and too much of it affects me in some way – to ever successfully narrow things down to 10. But the key is to name them without thinking too hard about it.
The books that pop up are by definition ones that stick with you, because they spring right to the front of your consciousness from somewhere down deep.
Here is my list, which I feel like is a pretty good nutshell of who I am and who I've been as a reader – and beyond – since high school, which is when I read two of these...
- "The Land of the Leal" by James Barke – Scottish author Barke was best known for his five-volume series of novels about Robert Burns, but I adored his epic novel of life across nearly a century in the poverty-stricken agricultural communities of Scotland's Rhinns of Galloway. Like Elsa Morante's wartime epic below, it was an emotional rollercoaster.
- "The Butcher Boy" by Patrick McCabe – McCabe's book is dark and funny (and tragic) at the same time and if you can find the book on tape, you can hear the author himself read the book. That's pretty unbeatable.
- "The Stranger/The Outsider" by Albert Camus – The book that (along with "The Fall" and "The Plague") made me think, as a high-schooler, that it'd be cool to go to Algeria. I still think it, now and again.
- "La Storia/History" by Elsa Morante – This has never been considered Morante's masterwork, but it sucked me in, held me tight and hit me hard when I read it in English. My attempts at reading in Italian haven't gotten far.
- "The Moon and the Bonfires" by Cesare Pavese – This one I've read in English and Italian and adored it in both for its p…