Sometimes you come across a book that will become an old friend -- one that you buy in hardcover, because you know you will read it often enough to justify having a well-bound copy.
Because I change apartments frequently, it is important to try and keep my book collection small: books take up a lot of space and weight, especially if you ever move between Canada and Korea.
Here is my list, in no particular order (other than the order in which they came to mind, which says something in itself).
The Little Prince - Antoine de St.Exupery
Haroun and the Sea of Stories - Salman Rushdie
Ahead of All Parting - The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke - trans. by Stephen Mitchell
New American Standard Bible - breast pocket edition
The Annie Dillard Reader
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzerald
The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
Franny and Zooey - JD Salinger
Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Speaker For The Dead - Orson Scott Card
Mirrored Minds: A Thousand Years of Korean Verse - trans. by Kevin O'Rourke
Tao Te Ching - Lao Tsu (my translation is by Sam Hamill, and highly recommended.
The Art of Happiness - Dalai Lama and another guy.
Several of John Keats' best poems.
Coraline - Neil Gaiman
Batman: the Dark Knight Returns - Frank Miller
Batman: the Dark Knight Strikes Again - Frank Miller
Others that nearly made the list, or are somewhere in an anthology on my shelf, etc:
The Collected Short Fiction of Flannery O'Connor
Hamlet - Victor Hugo
E.E. Cummings - Selected Poems
Oedipus Rex - Sophocles (I once tried to write an essay on this one, and after reading it, was so impressed I didn't want to write about it: I just wanted to read it to people instead.)
The Iliad - Homer (translated by Robert Fagles - thought it would be dusty and dry, but this translation is vivid, visceral, and quite stirring!)
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
Where the Sidewalk Ends - Shel Silverstein
Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
if my apartment building burnt down, I'd grieve the loss of some irreplaceable things, particularly some photos, old drafts of old poems, and the painting my best friend Melissa made for me, but those are the books I'd buy again.
For a guy who loves reading and storytelling as much as me, that list is pretty darn short!
But the reason I'm writing about this is because I just reread Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
(Ender's Game, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, The Catcher in the Rye, Rilke, The Little Prince, Mirrored Minds, and the Tao Te Ching are the books end up off the shelf and in my hands most often)
My friend Tamie wrote on her blog that Seymour, from JD Salinger's works, is the fictional character she'd most like to meet.
I'm gonna add to that list, the Little Prince, and Ender Wiggin, the protagonist of Ender's Game and Speaker For The Dead.
Ender's story touches me deeply, because I really feel like he is the most human, most representative everyman I've ever read. He contains the genius, the potential, and the sorrow, the compassion and the viciousness, the insight and the need for redemption, that made the human condition so baffling, and all these features are displayed believably and compassionately in a character that is so human, I feel like I know him. I don't want to give away any plot points if you haven't read the books, but Ender's flawed, confused greatness is the most touchingly human portrayal I've ever seen of a protagonist in a book.
I highly, highly, highly recommend you read Ender's Game, and Speaker For The Dead: they will teach you something about compassion and healing, in a more profound way than you'd ever think, given that it's a pair of science fiction books. I think maybe there are some things that we can only learn from stories. The Talmudic Tradition, and Jesus, were onto something there.
(My other favourite everymen (everyhumans) are Holden Caulfield (Catcher In The Rye), and, though he's a little too perfect, is Jean Valjean. I love him, but I don't feel like I know him, the way I do with Ender.)
If you want to know why I love Catcher in the Rye, and especially Holden Caulfield, so much, ask.
PS: It's my birthday on Monday. I feel kind of bad doing this, but here's a low-grade, and low-class call out:
(shameless begging for my friends in Canada to send me something that can't be found in Korea. . . more shameless begging for my friends in Canada to send me something that can't be found in Korea. . .more shameless begging for my friends in Canada to send me something that can't be found in Korea. . .)
. . . please? If you really want, I'll send you some compensation.
(just in case this wasn't shameless enough already. . . )
This begging can be used as wallpaper, too.
so, uh, enough of that.
what books are YOUR best friends?