Sunday, January 24, 2010

Books You'll Never Forget

I've had a long love affair with books. Even before I could read, I'd open over-sized storybooks to look at the brightly printed pages and stare at them in wonder. I think more often than not, I'd make up stories on the spot to go with the pictures since I was too young to read the captions.

As I grew, I had other favorite books I'd read over again. A Wrinkle in Time, My Darling; My Hamburger, Nancy Drew Series, etc. You get the point. That need to revisit favorite books or passages hasn't really changed much now that I'm grown and writing my own stuff. Sometimes it's not even the book itself that is particularly memorable, but maybe a certain passage in the book that makes my heart stop or speed up or puts a lump in my throat. I might be a yummy hero, or a well-done cadence to the language in the dialogue. It could be the depth of angst in the dark moment, or the happiness of the reunion.

Here are some books that I go back to over again for particular scenes and are in no particular order of importance or impact.

1. White Lies by Linda Howard

Why? The black moment actually makes my upper arms go numb every time I read it. There is just something about the loss the heroine suffers in that passage that gets to me.

2. All Shook Up by Susan Andersen

This has nothing to do with the hero and heroine, but the secondary love story going on in the backgroung. All through the book the heroine's best friends from school, a man who has moved back to town after many years away, and a woman who thought he always hated her finally get it together. Just reading the way the guy goes about showing her the feelings he's kept inside for so long is very cute.

3. Paradise by Judith McNaught

Now, for me this is the grand dame of all achy-breaky angst-filled scenes. There are a few strung together that just kill me. And while this is one of those epic books of years gone by where the first half of the story takes place while the hero and heroine are in their late teens/early twenties and then jumps ahead like 10 years for the second half of the book, you really have to wade through all that in order for the middle of the book to have such emotional impact. And it does. Sweet baby, Jesus, does it ever. I'm not going to spoil the parts of the book I'm talking about, but I will say it has to do with the hero and heroine starting to rebuild their love. I still hold this up as the pinnacle of creating an emotional response in a reader.

4. Perfect by Judith McNaught

What can I say, she is the master of writing characters I keep coming back to. There are just as many scenes in this one that I read over and over again because they are just so stuffed full of emotion it boggles the mind. This is another book, however, where you have to wade through the chafe to get to the really super good stuff.

5. The Last Herald-Mage by Mercedes Lackey

There are simply no words to describe the beauty of this love story. Though I am very seldom moved to tears while reading, this is one where I sobbed at the end. There is a reincarnation theme for one of the characters in this book and the lover that got left behind. It's just an amazing book. Or books, I should say. It's three volumes, but I read it as an anthology with all three books in one.

6. The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle-Riley

Magical Realism at its finest. No one does it like JMR. It takes a while for the pay off between hero and heroine in her books, but when it happens it's just simply the best reading experience ever!

7. The Serpent Garden by Judith Merkle-Riley

A hero tortured by the love he has for the heroine. It doesn't get much better than this - and the end is worth the wait.

8. Lady of the Glen by Jennifer Roberson

Let me just say, that the end of the book when the hero and heroine realize the other one is still alive, OMG!!! Now that is romance. Though this is more strictly a work of historical fiction. It is definately a very deep love story.

9. Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

Really all the books in this triology are stunningly violent and tender in turn. Mediveal England during the reign of King John and the annexation of Wales. The story really revolves around King John's illegimate daughter Johanna and Llewyllen of Wales. There are so many highs and lows in this book- and indeed the ones in the series - that they are on my top ten favorite reads of all times. The dark moment in the love story of this book is one that made me actually yell out loud when it happened. I was just that emotionally invested in the characters. The other books, Falls the Shadows and The Reckoning are just as vivid, dramatic and emotional. Why these haven't been made into movies on the scale of Braveheart, I'll never know.

10. Outlander by Diana Galbadon

All right, I'll admit, I gave up on this series halfway through Voyager and haven't picked it up again since - except for thumbing through Drums of Autumn. I got a little tired of all the problems (some repeating themselves) that happened to Clare and Jamie. This first book, however, was really good, when the problems were still fresh. Granted there are some scenes I felt were unnecessary, but there are enough truly tender moments between Clare and Jamie to make up for them. I think my favorie scene actually happens in Dragonfly in Amber when Jamie tries to make Clare return to her own time and she finds him in the cabin with tear tracks on his cheeks. OMG!!! Is there anything more romantic than a man crying in private over the loss of the woman he loves. It just rips your guts out.


You might have noticed that for most of the books I didn't describe in detail why I loved the books, or the exact scene that stuck out. There was a method to my madness there. I had hoped to share the books with others and get you to pick them up at the library or bookstore and read them for yourself and see if you agree. If you've read some of these, drop me a line here or share some of your own. Maybe I'll pick them up when I've done reading my books for the Rita Awards. I'm always on the lookout for a few good books.

Happy Reading,



Anonymous said...

For me:

1. The Diary of Anne Frank. For two reasons. One, the story itself. Two, I used to have a first print of it. *tell ex-hubby thank you for throwing it away because it wasn't "needed", he also threw away a first print of a leather bound book of Robert Frost*

2. Little Women by Lousia May Alcott. I related so much to Jo.

3. Little House on the Prariee Series of books. I got a book from this collection every time I went to the hospital for surgery. Used to have the whole collection. Loved the drawings in the collection I had.

4. Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder -- I know this is Non-Fiction, but it helped to change my life. In fact to help save it. I used this to learn how to stay in the moment and to deal with things.

5. The Scarred Soul by Tracy Alderman. --Again, Non-fiction but it helped me to learn other ways to cope with emotions and memories other than cutting and burning. I am now self injury free for 9 years. I still have urges, but have learned with the help of this book how to deal with it.

6. Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laurie Davis --One more Non-fiction. It helped me to realize I was not unfixable due to abuse in childhood. That what I felt was "normal" to those who have survived.

Okay. I'll stop now.

Tierney O'Malley said...

Thanks for the post, Kate. You made me think about the past. I grew up reading comic books and magazines. They were cheaper. Mom would read the mags first and then my brothers then me. Novels...I got to read them at school or borrowed from friends.

Carol L. said...

Hi Kate, well I now have to go and read Paradise by Judith McNaught . You convinced me and also Lady of The Glen. Two of my favorites and all time greats were "To Kill A Mockingbird and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.
Thanks for sharing. I realize the 2 books I love date me but it is what it is lol
The Outlander series is an emotional tear jerker for me with every darn book,I love Jaimie Frasier. :)
Carol L.

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