“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Happy Thanksgiving! In the spirit of the season, I’d like to give thanks to books, my friends old and new. Here are the top ten writings for which I’d like to give thanks for. What are yours?
1. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss
The first book I could read all by myself. I can still quote most of it verbatim.
2. The Naked Ape, by Desmond Morris
Especially Chapter Two, which taught my 12-year-old self all I needed to know (at the time) about sex. It was a big hit at all the slumber parties.
3. Self-Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sister Esther introduced this essay to me when I was a sophomore in high school, and I fell in love with Emerson and the idea of nonconformity: “Whoso would be a man would be a nonconformist.”. For an Army brat, this was a revelation–and a revolution.
4. All the President’s Men, Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein
The news story that informed my adolescence–and the reason I was proud to be a reporter, back in the day.
5. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
This taut novel marked the beginning of my lifelong fascination with spy stories.
6. Heartburn, by Nora Ephron
Which proved to me that my grandfather was right when he said, “It doesn’t matter what happens to you as long as it makes a good story later.”
7. A Midsummer’s Night Dream, by William Shakespeare
My introduction to the Bard, the writer who keeps on giving.
8. Two Happy Lovers Make One Bread, by Pablo Neruda
My favorite poem among many. I read poetry like some people read the obituaries–because it makes me feel alive.
9. Angels in America, by Tony Kushner
Because it’s brilliant, and reminds me what art is supposed to do.
10. Emma, by Jane Austen
The Jane Austen novel I’ve read the most times–with the possible exception of Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility or, well, you get the idea. Between Shakespeare and Austen, you can learn all you need to know about writing great characters.
11. Anything by Anne Lamott
Who reminds me that the best writers are as hard on themselves as they are on their subjects. And that humility–however hard-won–can be very, very funny.
Of course, there are countless works and writers to be thankful for–too many for this blog or a million blogs. But if you had to choose: What are your top ten?