And so, I've come up with a list of four books that I'm incredibly fond of. They aren't the literary classics you'd expect, nor are they overly popular. But they're books I love. And that's what counts, right? Three of these books are ones I read in my childhood, and the fourth is a book I read a few years ago.
In all four cases, it was love at first read.
I Want To Go Home by Gordon Korman
Okay, so, I was pretty anti-social in elementary school. Actually, let me re-phrase that. I was just really shy. To the point where my worried parents had to drag me to every social function, begging my sobbing eight-year old self to speak to at least one person at the party. Exercising my social skills, you know?
But really, all I wanted to do was read (and go to ballet class!). And when I was eight-years old, that was all I did. It's no surprise that my eyesight is pretty terrible these days, much of it a result of reading under the covers with a flashlight when I was younger, long after my parents told me to go to bed.
And it was in elementary school that I discovered my infinite love for Gordon Korman. Among all the books Korman wrote (and there were many), his 1981 children's novel I Want To Go Home is my absolute favourite. I think I've read this book more than twenty times since I first picked it up. Unfortunately, I don't own a copy, and to this day, I'm still trying to track down a copy to purchase. Sigh.
This story of a misunderstood prodigy trying to break out of summer camp is absolutely hilarious. I know, I know. The premise sounds lame at the outset, and the jokes may seem corny to those who read it nowadays, but I enjoyed this book so much when I was younger. And I still do. I promise you, this isn't just some lame children's novel. To me, it's a classic for readers of all ages. Forget Twilight, pick up a Korman children's novel and you won't be disappointed.
The Twinkie Squad by Gordon Korman
And on that note, we have my other favourite Korman book, his 1992 children's novel The Twinkie Squad. This story about a struggling band of unpopular, disregarded misfits is absolutely endearing. And the eventual camaraderie that emerges among these kids is a fantastic illustration of friendships that can form between people who are as different as night and day.
Plus, the jokes in this book are hil(wait for it)arious. I remember milk spewing out of my nostrils every time the Ambassador's son found himself in a compromising situation.
Other notable Korman books I love are the classic MacDonald Hall books. Enough said. If anyone would like to borrow them, I own the whole set. You don't be disappointed!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Need I say more? I know, I know. I fulfill the stereotype of a typical girly romantic. But there's always that book you love despite criticsm. You remember where you were, who you were, how you felt when you first read it. And this one's mine. I was twelve years old when I first discovered Mr. Darcy, and I never looked back.
There's always something about this time period that intrigues me. If nothing else, this story, dealing with the lives and loves of landed gentry in 19th century England has always piqued my interest. But that may be the history buff in me talking.
Also, Colin Firth. Forget the Keira Knightley version, the Pride and Prejudice BBC Miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth owns me, heart and soul. I absolutely loved this adaptation. Can we just admire him for a minute? Ready?
Ah, I love. To me, he will always be Mr. Darcy. Oscar Award, if he doesn't win you for The King's Speech this year, I'll need to have a few words with you.
Okay, moving on.
A Voice In The Wind by Francine Rivers
I've saved the best for last.
When I turned eighteen, my dear friend Liz gave me this book for my birthday. It took me a few months before I finally picked it up to read. And I'm eternally grateful to Liz for introducing me to the Mark of the Lion trilogy. This 1992 series is a classic, spawning worldwide recognition and loyal following.
A Voice in the Wind is the first book in this absolutely remarkable trilogy. It follows the life of a young Christian girl, struggling to hold on to her faith after being sold as a slave into a Roman household. I know, sounds cheesy, right? It isn't. Trust me. This book will quite honestly move you to tears. In a world where younger Christians often struggle to hold on to their faith, when religion is so easily dismissed as an archaic lifestyle or belief by family or friends, I think there are many who could sympathize with Hadassah's struggle. Myself included. This book is powerful, and compels us to understand the difficulties of staying (being?) a Christian right now, just as it was back then.
Politics aside, this book taught me more than I expected. And for this, Book, you will forever have my heart.
"Looking back, I have this to regret. That too often when I loved, I did not say so."
- David Grayson
"At eighteen, our convictions are hills from which we look. At forty-five, they are caves in which we hide."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald