Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Salon: Top Ten Tiny Treasures (plus a cheat or four)

This past Monday night, I went to one of my very favorite bookish events of the year. The Charlotte Chapter of the Women's National Book Association has hosted Bibliofeast, a movable feast with authors, for many years now. It's a fantastic event where you get to meet and mingle and chat casually with a whole variety of authors. They come to your table as you're eating and sit and chat with you for ten to fifteen minutes on everything from their current book to their writing life to their personal life. It's friendly and intimate and completely charming and low key. This year, as always, offered up some wonderful authors; some I knew and some I didn't. I enjoyed every last one but one in particular made me think about something I noodle on every now and again. J. Peder Zane, author of Off the Books: On Literature and Culture, has an earlier collection called The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books. He said that whether writers picked the books that influenced them the most, shaped them as writers, had great literary merit, or any number of other nuanced reasonings underlying the lists said a lot about the writers. Of course this inspired me to think about the books that I'd put on such a list. Then I finally read Deb at Readerbuzz's blog post about Tiny Treasures: The Books You Have to Dig to Find. And I thought it might be fun to combine the two concepts: a list of ten books that mean a lot to me which are books that are not well enough known or are perhaps forgotten and shouldn't be.  The unifying theme is simply that all are fabulous to me for a variety of reasons. And because I asked Peder if any of the authors he interviewed had cheated and given him a list of more than ten (he said yes), I too will cheat some.

The Top Ten Tiny Treasures:

Silk by Alessandro Baricco
Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsie
Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye
The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman
The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch
Blessed Are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch
The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Add a couple for kids:

The Fabulous Flight by Robert Lawson
The Witch's Buttons by Ruth Chew

I have, of course, left off quite a few novels that continue to be well-known but that have indisputedly and indelibly shaped me as the reader I am today. But that's okay. No list can possibly be comprehensive and fixed, at least not for me, not as long as I have unread books on my shelves and the means to read them.

Does your list bear any resemblance to mine? (Spoiler: Peder said there was a surprisingly lack of overlap on the 125 authors' lists in his book. And isn't that a marvelous thing?!)

My reading week has been busy and interrupted as usual so my reading travels weren't so extensive as they sometimes are. This past week, I visited scandalous places in Regency England as a notorious rake tried to keep an inquisitive newspaper woman off the scent of his real purpose in life. I witnessed the birth of bobsledding in St. Moritz and watched as an American man, enamoured of speed, came to dominate the sport as it made its debut in the 1928 and 1932 Olympics. I suffered the stress and pressure of a California family with a child applying to Harvard. I am still in the early stages of a learning about a man who claims to be able to reanimate the comatose and the father eager for his son to come back to him and I am in the middle of England with two privileged sisters as World War II upends their whole world. Where did your reading travels take you this past week?


  1. Certainly made me happy to see your list of top ten tiny treasures. I must get busy with that meme and post it soon.

  2. Can't believe you have The Fabulous Flight on your list! One of my all-time favorite childhood books and definitely a treasure.


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