Monday, July 12, 2010

Alex's Books of a Lifetime

I'm pretty sure that any book lover when confronted with the need to choose the books of a lifetime immediately starts to panic while a never ending list of book titles scrolls down in their minds at the same time. As expected, it took me a long time to make this list, but here they are:


The Fairy Oriana by Sophia de Mello Breyner

This is probably the most important book of all my childhood. It's even the reason why I chose my internet nickname Oriana. This is the story of a fairy who takes care of a beautiful forest and its animals until one day, because of her vanity, she loses all her powers. We follow her adventures while she tries to go back to her old life and return to the place she loves most, her forest. I wished this book was translated in other languages!

The Twins at St Clare by Enid Blyton and all the other books of the series

Strangely, I always preferred this series to The Famous Five by the same author. The ideia of a college pleased me and I remember perfectly to ask my parents to be sent to one. For me it was terribly exciting and I often imagined myself in the role of one of the twins.

The Trixie Belden series

I still have all the books from this series and I don't think I will ever be able to part ways with them. The adventures of Trixie, her brothers and friends (I had a soft spot for Jim Frayne, the redhead of the group) were so exciting!


The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

The adventures of D'Artagnan, Athos, Aramis and Porthos are probably one of the best reading memories from my early teens. I was completely obsessed by Athos and I immediately read Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelonne. Years passed and these four still hold a special place in my heart and I'll read and watch any movies inspired by their stories.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My favourite Jane Austen and also one of my comfort reads. Each time I read this story, it feels like the first time. I'm convinced that 40 years from now, Pride and Prejudice will still work as it did when I first read it at 15. The witty conversations and disputes between Lizzie and the arrogant Mr. Darcy (the proposal!), all the scenes between the sisters or even the social events, everything is memorable.

The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye

A friend of my mother's, an Indian culture enthusiastic, lend me this with a promise that I would love it. She was right! The story of Ashton and Anjuli set in the 19th century India quickly became one of my favourite stories and also the new beginning of a love affair with India.


The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.

Umberto Eco is one of my favourite writers and I do my best to read everything he publishes, historical fiction, articles,... anything! The Name of the Rose is, for me, one of his best works. The gloomy atmosphere, the characterization, the historical background and mostly the omnipresent humour who always cracks me up even during the most difficult scenes.

The Greatest Knight all by Elizabeth Chadwick

Those who read Elizabeth Chadwick's books know how difficult it is to choose a favourite (this woman only writes magnificent stories!), but William Marshal stole my heart from the beginning. The Greatest Knight is one of those books where you hold your breath from the first to the last page.

MAUS by Art Spiegelman

For me, this is one of the most important and insightful books about anti-Semitism. The author tells us the story of his father while living in Poland before and during the WWII and his later years in New York. A must read even for those who aren't into comics.

Sophia's Secret by Susanna Kearsley (aka The Winter Sea)

Normally when I travel, I like to take with me books set in the same country or region. Last year, I was planning to go to Scotland when I saw Marg's review of The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. I immediately thought it was a perfect choice! While on the plane I knew it was a mistake... I couldn't put the book down! During the day I visited everything I could and spent my first couple of nights reading until my eyes couldn't open any more. I was exhausted but I bet I had a silly happy smile on my face. No need to say that I loved Scotland and Sophia's Secret. The memories of both are forever entangled.

Some of my new found favourites like Roselynde by Roberta Gellis, Katherine by Anya Seton or even my best reread of this past year Olivia and Jai by Rebecca Ryman could make part of this list, but I thought it was better to keep it to 10, otherwise it would be an ongoing project.:)


  1. I think it's quite funny that you, Marg and I all share Trixie Belden as a childhood favourite... ;-)

  2. Oh, I'm so glad someone else remembers (and loves) Trixie Belden. I liked her so much better than Nancy Drew, but when I mention her to friends (we're all "women of a certain age"), they look at me as if I've lost my mind.

    Also--we can't forget Anne of Green Gables and its various sequels. Absolutely wonderful books.

  3. Ana,
    I was expecting to see her in your list (we talked about it before), but it was a surprise to see her also in Marg's.;-)

    Deb, I completely agree with you! I tried some Nancy Drew and it wasn't for me. In the other hand, Anne of Green Gables is another favourite, just like the TV series.

  4. I think that is what I had surprised me Alex. Not the fact so much that they were in all our lists, but more the fact that we didn't discuss these lists at all and yet there were quite a few similarities.

    I should have mentioned Enid Blyton as well! I did love her books, especially the Wishing Chair books and the Magic Faraway tree (can't remember if that is what it is called) - the one with different lands appearing at the top each day.