Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ben's List

Ben has his list of top 100 books in his life. Done with rollicking commentary, and inspiring to those who have always been readers. Plenty of comments from those who know him and knew him when. It may also be an enchantment to younger reading addicts to get A) a flavor of what a life of books can make of you and B) some new ideas of what to pick up.

Update: Here's an odd thought. One can't see such a list without wondering about a personal list. But a parent, or a parent who read out loud a great deal - or this parent who read out loud a great deal, anyway - can no longer make an individual list. I loved Watership Down (that's why I read it to the boys. Duh.) but I don't know as it would have made my all-time list. Certainly not in the top 30, anyway. But because it became an event for Ben (and lost in that shuffle was that it was quite important to Jonathan as well, which I why I jumped it so early on Ben. It was slated for a year or so later, but it just worked, somehow, against my prediction) it became part of the fabric of our family's culture, and thus rises on my list. Tracy and I would likely have put the Susan Cooper books, and some other Arthurian material on our lists. But they didn't read out loud very well, pointing up weaknesses we might not otherwise have seen, and they drifted downward in thought and eventually seeped out the bottom.

There are books important to me that are nowhere close to Ben's list, of course: acres of Lewis, Nine Nations of North America, Albion's Seed, many plays, especially by Tom Stoppard - dozens of things really. But my fiction list, and certainly my children's fiction list, simply has no meaning without reference to the two older boys.

We built a family culture, not one imposed by parents on children, but gradually including them in the making. I have entire confidence where they will take it next - more than where I might take it next, actually.

1 comment:

james said...

I like it, and understand quite well where he came from with TV and books. There was very little TV in our home either--the country's only channel only broadcast in the evening and we had poor reception--but there were thousands of books. And in the rainy season, what else is there to do? (Besides try to see what mercury would amalgamate with; but that's another story)
Perhaps it was easier to get British books shipped; my list of early books differs. My youth predates Brian Jacques' heyday somewhat.
All Hallows Eve and Descent into Hell by Charles Williams come high on my list of favorites (I only got to them in high school--not recommended as read-alouds for your 8-year-old)