Friday, November 16, 2012

Reader Friday: Favorite Novel

Last week we asked about your favorite movie of all time. What's your favorite novel? Or let's put it this way: What's the one you'd take to that fabled desert island? (If you must, you can have a couple).

But also why? What is it about this particular novel that speaks to you? What can other writers learn from it? 


  1. I'll keep it to two this time.

    1. Once an Eagle, by Anton Myrer
    Once An Eagle is the epic tale of good versus evil. Protagonist Sam Damon is a soldier’s soldier, brave under fire and dedicated to his men. He faces off over a forty plus year Army career with promotion hungry Courtney Massengale who destroys mens lives to build his own career.

    Once An Eagle is a remarkable study in leadership that has become a touchstone for military professionals who aspire to emulate Sam Damon. On both the West Point and USMC required reading lists.

    2. Stonehenge, by Bernard Cornwall
    This historical novel is the enthrallingly dramatic story of patricide, betrayal, and murder; of bloody brotherly rivalry; and of the never-ending quest for power, wealth, and spiritual fulfillment as an ancient civilisation builds what we know of today as Stonehenge. Fascinating look into what may well have been.

    coming in at a close 3rd is The Saxon Chronicles, also by Bernard Cornwell, amazingly lifelike historical fiction that I pray one I may be able to emlulate .

  2. Kinflicks by Lisa Alther

    Impossible to describe. To me it is the epitome of wry awkward humor. Ginny makes the girl's journey (with a few odd twists) from Daddy's little girl, to girlfriend of the football star, to bad girl, to overachieving good girl, to rebellion, to escape into marriage and the "joys" of motherhood, to an ill-chosen affair to suddenly find herself alone with no one to talk to except herself and having no clue who that is.

    For runners-up, there are too many to count, but Kinflicks is one book that never lets me down, no matter how many times I read it.

    And Basil, I have read Stonehenge. It is incredible.


  3. The Collaborators, Reginald Hill, 1987

    I love this novel because of the setting—occupied Paris 1940-45, because of the characters, and because it is so different from Hill's other books and yet bears his stamp.

    It is about Janine Simonian, outspoken in her condemnation of the Nazis who yet collaborates with them—does she collaborate in order to save her children or because she is falling in love with a German officer whom she tells herself she hates. Who is the collaborator? Who is the hero? Powerful writing.

  4. Hey Basil, I remember watching that mini-series they did of Once An Eagle, starring Sam Elliott (whose voice I want).

    My two novels, if I'm going to be on an island, would have to be such that I could go back and get more out of them. And classics are classics for a reason. So, for its depth on the important questions, The Brothers Karamazov. And then I could switch to entertainment with David Copperfield.

    And back and forth I would go.

  5. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier - love the romantic but creepy type of writing.And the fact you never know the narrator's name.

    To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee - great voice. Always inspires me to write, so I would also need a brand new Hilroy notebook and a case of pens. Fine tip. Water would be nice.

  6. First of all, I hope we're all going to the deserted island together, so at some point we can trade books. Because even two isn't going to last me very long.

    The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen, because it's a wonderful story of flawed human beings, but full of hope and redemption. Plus, it includes books that appear out of nowhere. Who wouldn't love that??

    To Kill a Mockingbird, because every time I read it I'm reminded of what a great book it is.

    However, at the last minute, before the boat leaves, I might switch these out for Gone with the Wind and/or Les Miserables because they're WAY longer. Or, something by James Scott Bell.......

  7. Or, something by James Scott Bell.......

    Ha! Slip that one in your back pocket and sneak it on board, or else they'll confiscate it. Victor Hugo he is not!

    Wow, great list of books coming here in the comments! Firing up my Kindle now...

  8. Oh and every word Leon Uris has ever written. I'm going to cheat and bind them all together into one really big ebook. I've read all of these multiple times and plan on starting all over again.

    The Haj
    Mila 18
    Mitla Pass
    A God in Ruins

    And I'll step out on a limb here and say that Exodus was my least favorite of his books.

    I was having trouble channelling at 1 a.m.


  9. !) The Stand (unabridged version) by Stephen King

    This is one of my favourite books which I've read multipe times. King's ability to create so many diverse characters, the setting, the imagery...I could go on an on.

    2) The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

    (Published with the title 'Someone Knows My Name' in the US, Australia and New Zealand)

    Not only is author Hill a fellow Canadian, his writing is beautiful and the story of his inspiring main character will never get old. A must read....again, and again.

    Diane Krause's idea is a great one - do we get to exchange books once we all end up on the island?? I had beter bring some extra pens and writing paper to trade with!

  10. I don't have a favorite novel, but there are series I wish I had the time to reread. Horatio Hornblower comes to mind, along with some current sci/fi fantasy authors.

  11. 1. Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett.

    An incredible story about the building of a cathedral in the middle ages. Great characters, plots, and beautful writing from a master of the historical novel.

    2. The Testament, by John Grisham.

    An eccentric billionaire leaves all his money to a secret illigitimate daughter who is a missionary in the jungles of South America, and a failed alcholic lawyer is sent to find her. The most accurate portrayal of Christian conversion I've ever read.

    I read these two books again at least once a year.

  12. The Bible.
    I'm not a religious person. The Bible has so many stories in it that spending years on an island could easily the time.

    If I may have a second, THE STAND.

  13. Robinson Crusoe, the ultimate desert island book.

  14. Shogun by James Clavell. I've yet to be drawn into a time and place like I was with that book. He really made feudal Japan come alive.

  15. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and David Malouf's An Imaginary Life. If I could take more then Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights would come too! By the way desert Island Discs on BBC radio (can get podcasts) is a great way to hear what music famous people would take to an island and at the end they ask for one book too. Fascinating what people choose!

  16. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Le Guin, although it's hard to choose between that and the Wizard of Earthsea trilogy.

    Le Guin's books taught me how to think about what's really important in life. I read the Wizard of Earthsea as a teen and loved it. When I reread it as an adult, I was surprised to find a whole new set of themes and lessons that I needed life experience to recognize.

    And the Lathe of Heaven is a great reminder to be careful what you wish for.