I wrote this some time ago as a response to a Facebook thing that floated around, demanding my attention. You were supposed to take no more than 15 minutes to write down 15 books that "stuck". The books didn't have to be your favourites, but you had to remember them for one reason or another. I notice that a large part of the books I’ve chosen are children’s books. This is not (just) because I’m so childish, but probably partly because I frequently reread books (and not just twice) as a child. I rarely have that privilege (or that desire) now. However, not all books that I read several times stuck, so I still think this is a fairly representative list for me (though reading through it I can think of at least two-three notable omissions. Oh, well...).
1) The Secret Garden by Francis H. Burnett: Since I learned how, I have read this book at least once a year (spring). I don’t know if it’s the “morale” of the story; or the orphan side to it (I’ve always been drawn to books about orphans for some reason; but then again, they are hard to avoid); or simply the idea of a secret garden. Either way I still count this as my favourite book.
2) Lise og Lotte eller omvendt [Das doppelte Lottchen] by Erich Kästner: this was probably the first book where I noticed the writing style, which I liked and frequently adopted when I was younger. In addition the story is pretty entertaining, even if Lindsay Lohan tried to ruin it with The Parent Trap (okay, I confess - I don't hate the movie either)…
3) Ronja Rövardotter by Astrid Lindgren: the imagination and skill of Astrid Lindgren was remarkable, and this is in my opinion one of - if not the - best book(s) she ever wrote.
4) Kabalmysteriet by Jostein Gaarder: the famous book was Sofies verden [Sophie’s World], and I gradually learned to like that one as well, but Kabalmysteriet always struck me as equally well constructed (if not better), and far more entertaining. I do believe that as an adult, though, it might be more rewarding to read Sofies verden (even if that wasn’t the one that stuck).
5) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens: actually, Dickens is the key word here, not David Copperfield specifically. I’ve read many Dickens books, and they had an impact on me collectively, though I have trouble keeping some of them apart. David Copperfield and Great Expectations are the ones I most vividly remember reading.
6) Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: aside from the fact that I’ve read them over and over again, in several languages even, these are the only books from which I’ve joined a fansite, where I met people I actually stayed in touch with, and several of whom I have met in person.
7) Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë: though sister Charlotte has received more praise from the critics, I preferred Emily’s novel over Jane Eyre. Never a fan of spooky books, this one somehow hit me. Maybe it’s the tragic love story that stuck?
8) Three Comrades [Drei Kameraden] by Erick Maria Remarque: the description of the “between wars” German society made a huge impression on me, as did the friendship and love affair between the main protagonists. Plus the tone is elegantly shifting between humoristic (car race) to serious (political development) to sad (illness and death).
9) East of Eden by John Steinbeck: the whole “epic family saga set in a specific area using the traits of this area to drive the story ahead” has always impressed me, and Steinbeck is using this to perfection in East of Eden.
10) Markens Grøde [Growth of the Soil] by Knut Hamsun: I am tempted to mention this together with Pan, and not as two separate entries, mainly because the reason that they stuck is that I compared these in a high school “særemne” (project). I chose them because I already thought they were awesome books, though. This one is comparable to Steinbeck’s book as well, since a great deal of what makes the book is the interdependency in the text of the location (nature) and the families it describes. Wow, that sounded intellectual…
11) Pan by Knut Hamsun: (see above) ”…the eternal day of the Northern summer…”
12) Life of Pi by Yann Martel: it is a very good book, but there are many very good books I have read that didn’t stick. This one did. Maybe because it is so unlikely, so unique, and so clever at the same time?
13) The Wind-up Bird Chronicles by H. Murakami: I read it in Japan, and frankly struggled a little with it, but what stuck was the incredible writing skill of Murakami (not wasted through English translation), and the many, many layers of this story that eventually are tied together. Murakami has a mystical element to everything he writes that I never quite can grasp, and I don’t always appreciate it, but in this book I enjoyed it. The only book that has ever made me want to climb down into a well.
14) The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak: one of those books that speaks directly to your heart. I laughed and cried from beginning till end.
15) American Gods by Neil Gaiman: since this list is supposed to consist of books that “stuck”, there should be a rule not to include books you have read less than a year ago. However, even though I put this one down only last week [blogger's note: this was the case when I first wrote this. It must be more than a year now, though, and it's still "sticking"], I have no doubt that it will stick. Gaiman is an extraordinary story teller, and this book is so complex in so many levels that I will continue thinking about it for a long, long time ahead.
That's my list. What 15 books can you come up with in 15 minutes?