Ten Books to Read Before You Die

Current mood:  cheerful
Category: Writing and Poetry

That’s a headline grabber if ever I saw one and being a former journalist I can’t resist a good header…so I perused this list as compiled by a recent Harris Poll and yeah it’s pretty good: The Holy Bible, Gone with the Wind, Harry Potter, The Stand, The Da Vinci Code, To Kill a Mockingbird, Angels and Demons, Catcher in the Rye and Atlas Shrugged.
Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn about some of them – but Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird and Atlas Shrugged would be high on my list. Others…not so much, which of course got me thinking, what are my top 10?

I’d like to hear about yours – but since I’m here, let me start. In order of chronological influence:

1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton because this is how you feel when you are 14 years old. Stay Gold, pony boy.

2. For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke. A searing, unforgettable portrayal of an Australian convict’s life. Rufus Dawes is a remarkable character and Clarke’s research is impeccable and yet, humble. This book shaped my urge to place the reader right there. I wept right through this the first time I read it. I still do.

3. Waffles with Everything by Polly Horvath. This whimsical yet perceptive book is how you feel when you lose a parent. You can take my word on that.

4. The Secret Life of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend. The most subversive, hysterical novel you will ever read. You can take my word on that, too. Written during Thatcher’s era in Britain, it rips her to shreds but I’m betting she got a laugh out of it, too.

5. On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Come on, he’s dead and he’s still sexy as hell. Besides, we’ve all loved a train wreck at least once in our lives.

6. My Place by Sally Marshall. An Aboriginal woman dissects her people’s displacement. Brilliant and lyrical.

7. Monkey Grip by Helen Garner. A gut wrenching examination of love and addiction. Give it to somebody who is in love with a drug addict. An extraordinary novel.

8. Joe Wilson and his Mates by Henry Lawson. One of the two greatest Australian writers who ever lived, the other being Banjo Paterson. I really couldn’t choose between them…sneaky way to mention ’em both, eh? P.S. I named my cat after Banjo…

9. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. I love everything she has ever written but I busted my literary cherry on this one…the only English language book I could find in Athens, the year I went to school in Greece, age 15.

10. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. If you have lost a loved one, this will give you hope and an explanation you can live with. I believe her definition of heaven. If Hollywood ruins this one, heads will roll. I will see to it personally.

So how about you? What’s your must reads? I really want to know!

Aloha oe,


Currently listening:
Tonight Not Again/Live at Eagles Ballroom (CD & DVD)
By Jason Mraz
Release date: 2004-08-24

One Response to “Ten Books to Read Before You Die”

  1. This would be a very difficult task for me! I don’t think I have even read the ten books yet! The problem is that I volunteer 2 hours a week in a public library and I have found that the following is true: too many books, too little time. Of course there are the greats of English classical literature, Russian literature, French literature, Italian literature, Japanese literature, Chinese literature, Spanish literature, you get the picture. There are many more countries than ten! I haven’t even come to America yet!!! Then there are popular favorites – where do I put them? Do you see my problem?

    My current favorite author is Diana Gabaldon who wrote the Outlander Series as well as some stories about her gay hero, Lord John, that are hystercial.

Leave a Reply