First off, A list of Pending Favorite Books

Strange to think about, but there are some books or series I haven’t been with long enough to know if they really are my favorites. Again, these posts are basically for myself, but if others enjoy them then I have no complaints! Also, this list may grow bigger over time as I scan the archives of my mind. I have read a lot of books. . .

KArden

  1. The Winternight Trilogy (2016-) Katherine Arden

Since coming home from my mission to Russia, I am naturally drawn to stories with Russia origins. Miss Arden was actually a student in Moscow for a time and I can sense her own deep love for Russian culture.

What makes this series so engaging for me is not that it creates something new from Russian folktales or culture. It is how she builds off of and immerses readers into the Medieval Russian world. Vasya is a relatably flawed, beautiful, fiery heroine, the winter king is intensely human despite his inhumane nature, and her family doesn’t understand her but accepts her. There is romance in the novels, but not Romantic love. There is much grief but it defines character development and there are religious aspects but not in the traditional sense.

In other words, it has a refreshingly Russian atmosphere I can’t forget and such an engaging story I cannot wait to read the last book in the series.

So, why isn’t it on my favorites list? Well, for two reasons. Number one: it isn’t finished so I don’t know if the author will do anything to make me hate myself for reading it: aka, gratuitous sexual content or anything else morally ambiguous. Number two: honestly I have only known about these books for a year. So, who knows how I might change in the future.

But we will wait and see.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“I do not understand “damned.” You are. And because you are, you can walk where you will, into peace, oblivion, or pits of fire, but you will always choose.”
Katherine Arden, The Bear and the Nightingale

“‘Should I live out my life as a false Lord, until they find me out and put me in a convent? She demanded. Should I run away? Go home? Never see my brothers again? Where do I belong? I don’t know. I don’t know who I am. And I have eaten in your house, and nearly died in your arms, and you rode with me tonight and I hoped you might know.’

The word sounded foolish even as she said it. She bit her lip. The silence stretched out.

‘Vasya,’ he said.

‘Don’t. You never mean it,’ she said, drawing away. ‘You are immortal and it is only a game.’

His answer was not in words, perhaps, spoke for him when his fingertips found the pulse behind her jaw. She did not move. His eyes were cold and still: pale stars to make her lost. ‘Vasya,’ he said again, low and almost ragged, into her ear. ‘ I am not wise as you would have me, for all my years in the world. I do not know what you should choose. Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen. Decide as seems best, one course or the other; each way will have its bitter with its sweet.‘

‘That is not advice,’ she said. The wind blew her hair against his face.

‘It is all I have,’ he said. Then he slid his fingers through her hair and kissed her.”

Katherine Arden, The Girl in the Tower

Wiki-background

2. From Far Away,彼方から (1993-2003), Kyoko Hikawa

I wrote my review for this series several years ago and recently reread it when I returned home from Russia. Honestly, it is one of the sweetest testaments to free will, growing love and virtue I have ever read. Its emphasis on choice and our personal responsibility to choose the light have stayed with me since I read it perhaps four years ago.

I also like its characters, especially Noriko for her determination, flexibility and gentleness as well as Izark for his susceptibility, empathy and genuine desire to choose good. The art is also very pretty and consistent. Overall, it is one of the few manga which I have continued reading after so many years.

Now, it is not on my favorite books list simply because I don’t feel I return to it often enough. I think about it sometimes, but usually I remember it only in passing.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

Izark: “Don’t go! Don’t leave me! I’m not just being nice! I love you. I mean it. It’s true that because of you I am closer than ever to becoming the sky demon. But remember what Zena said? She said the future is not predetermined. She said we make our own futures. I can change my future even if I don’t know how yet. I just want to protect you. If anything horrible happened to you I couldn’t stand it. I’d rather become a monster than lose you. So stay with my Noriko. Please stay with me.”

[Noriko embraces him]” Of course I will stay with you. No matter what happens to us. I’ll never leave you.”

[Izark collapses onto his knees and weeps]

despereaux

3. The Tale of Despereaux (2003), Kate DiCamillo

Though the movie adaption for this book was incredibly underwhelming, I remember reading Kate Dicamillo’s book when I was fourteen. Truly, this is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read. It deals with real issues of fitting in the worlds we are born into. Of seeing more to the world then fear or darkness. And of course, about growing and doing incredible things for love.

Honestly, though this used to be one of the few books I named as my favorites, it has been too long. I need to read it again before I can know for sure. But I have waited so long because I needed to relive its magic again anywa.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.”
Kate DiCamillo, Despereaux = Tale of Despereaux

“Love, as we have already discussed, is a powerful, wonderful, ridiculous thing, capable of moving mountains. And spools of thread.”
Kate DiCamillo, Despereaux = Tale of Despereaux

“This is the danger of loving: No matter how powerful you are, no matter how many kingdoms you rule, you cannot stop those you love from dying.”
Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux

A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness.

4. A Monster Calls (2011), Patrick Ness, conceived by the late Siobhan Dowd

With some of the most beautiful illustrations I have seen, and a thought provoking story made for our day concerning loss and acceptance, I have never forgotten this book. I have read it once but only recently thought of it again when I myself experienced several deaths in my family. I really would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with immense grief, especially concerning the suffering of their loved ones.

I can’t name this as one of my favorites quite yet. As of now, I have only just started reading it again. But I reaffirm this book is truly beautiful. Achingly so to be exact.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“You do not write your life with words…You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”
Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

Because humans are complicated beasts, the monster said. How can a queen be both a good witch and a bad witch? How can a prince be a murderer and a saviour? How can an apothecary be evil-tempered but right-thinking? How can a parson be wrong-thinking but good-hearted? How can invisible men make themselves more lonely by being seen?

“I don’t know,” Connor shrugged, exhausted. “Your stories never made any sense to me.”

The answer is that it does not matter what you think, the monster said, because your mind will contradict itself a hundred times each day. You wanted her to go at the same time you were desperate for me to save her. Your mind will believe comforting lies while also knowing the painful truths that make those lies necessary. And your mind will punish you for believing both.
Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

But what is a dream, Conor O’Malley? the monster said, bending down so it’s face was close to Conor’s. Who is to say that it is not everything else that is the dream?
Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

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5. Life of Pi (2001), Yann Martel

Many are most likely familiar with this story because of the 2012 film directed by Ang Lee. Some may also know it is one of my all time favorite films. (THAT I know for sure.) I love the complicated, wonderful, almost perfect way Yann Martel tells the story of faith: how in life, though a life without God seems more believable and logical it is also cruel, empty and jarring. I also love how it emphasizes how diverse religions have more in common than they think.

So, this is a unique situation because I really think I love the book because of the movie. I actually refused to read it in my teens because I thought there was cannibalism. But now, I am caught between my love for the movie and book. And that is where it stands. But I would read it even if you have seen the movie. There is more in the book which was omitted from the film, though the main theme is still the same.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”
Yann Martel, Life of Pi

“These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.”
Yann Martel, Life of Pi

“I couldn’t get Him out of my head. Still can’t. I spent three solid days thinking about Him. The more He bothered me, the less I coul forget Him. And the more I learned about Him, the less I wanted to leave Him.”
Yann Martel, Life of Pi

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6. Leven thumps and the Gateway to Foo (2005), Obert Skye

Hmmm, I remember seeing this book for the first time at Deseret Book in Showlow, AZ. I bought it with my own money if I recall correctly and fell in love with it. Leven, the main character, was born on my birthday exactly. October 15, 1990. That meant we were kindred spirits! Looking back, I remember how many times I read it and love its sequels. I wanted to go to Foo, the land of dreams. I also cared deeply for Leven as a person. I don’t often feel that way when reading.

But I never finished the series. I can’t recall why. Like many other books on this list I need to revisit it and remember anew what it meant to me. Which is why it is here.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“There is no moment more precious than the exact moment you are living now”
Obert Skye, Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo

“Leven Thumps, you are incredibly more than you believe yourself to be.” – Clover”
Obert Skye, Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo

1 Comment

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