10 (+2) Books I Couldn’t Live Without

I should subtitle this: “10 books that make me want to write.” Because I cannot separate “books I cannot live without” from books that influence me as a writer: The two activities, for me, are irrevocably intertwined.

These are books that use language, plot and/or character in delightful and astonishing ways, that engross me even upon multiple readings, that make me gloriously happy and terribly humbled over the human capacity for language. The +2 are books that I loved as a young reader. In some way, these books touched my core and spoke some truth. I hope, too, that I have many books left to add to my list.

This is for Kailana, who asked the provocative question in the first place. (No particular order).

1. Jane Eyre

2. Pride and Prejudice

3. Swann’s Way

4. Shakespearean Sonnets (or, to really cheat, Collected Works of Shakespeare)

5. On the Road

6. Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath

7. Bleak House

8. To the Lighthouse

9. Anna Karenina

10. Crime & Punishment

Little Women
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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10 Responses to 10 (+2) Books I Couldn’t Live Without

  1. Kailana says:

    Thanks for joining in! Who wrote On the Road? That’s the only one I don’t know.


  2. Beside On the Road, (Jack Kerouac) I also love the Dharma Bums …ten books, hmmm… that is a tough list to make! ten authors would be a list I might be able to do.maybe


  3. Andi says:

    Ahh, yes. Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice are two of my favorites, although they didn’t make it to my list (limited to 10 after all). And you remind me once again that I need to read Crime and Punishment and Anna Karenina.


  4. LK says:

    It’s too bloody hard to limit to 10…and I guess my list is full of pedestrian classics, but, for whatever reasons, they stuck with me for a long time.


  5. Dorothy W. says:

    Great list — I’ve read them all, or at least parts of all of them (haven’t read all the poems) — and I think the choices are wonderful!


  6. Shana says:

    I’m constantly reminded of how many great books there are to read and just how little time there is in a day! I’m down to the last six books on my list (for the test) and I can’t wait to not read for a day or so… and then start on whatever I’m in the mood for!!! 🙂 Loved your list and there are a few that I really need to read on there such as Crime and Punishment and Anna Karenina!


  7. I would list Turn of the Screw along with Jane Eyre


  8. Courtney says:

    Wonderful list! All this blog talk about Anna Karenina has made me decide to return to it and pick it up after I’m done with my library books because everyone loves it so much. I think I’m ready for it again.


  9. danielle says:

    I keep seeing these lists and thinking how wonderful they are all, which just goes to show I could not limit my list to just ten! I think you are the second person to list On the Road by the way!


  10. charlotte says:

    I’ve just finished Anna Karenina, and loved it. It inspired me to write but also made me think, “Well that was perfection, why bother?”, which is less great.I also am a P&P fan, as well as Little Women. Great list, LK.


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