Top Ten Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time:
1. Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson.
Full disclosure here. When I saw Dances with Wolves when I was about 13, I didn’t crush on Kevin Costner, but rather, on Wind-in-His-Hair, the fierce long-haired Sioux warrior. As a kid, I daydreamed about being an orphaned pioneer girl who was captured by a party of raiding Indians (I had to pretend I didn’t have a family somehow or else the daydream would be unconscionable... hence my orphan-hood). Then one of the fierce warriors—who could be surprisingly gentle—would fall in love with me and: Happy Ever After. On the plains. In a teepee. With four papooses and a travois. (Hmmm, is this weird?)
So maybe that's why Ride the Wind spoke so powerfully to my 14-year-old heart: it was the stuff of all my favorite Indian warrior daydreams. This novel is based on the real-life story of Cynthia Ann Parker, who was captured by Comanche raiders from the Texas fort where she lived. She was renamed Naduah and fell in love with and married a chief. One of their children was Quanah Parker, the "last chief of the Comanche." I’m not gonna reveal what happened to Naduah or her Indian chief husband... because you should find out for yourself. But it was said that when Cynthia Ann Parker died, she died of a broken heart...
2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
Not because I loved it, but because I think I was too young to give it a proper chance. All I can remember is the titillating scene in which Rosasharn breastfeeds a famished stranger. Remember that? Now that will get your attention in the middle of class.
3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
I read this in a passionate fit of reading one summer when I was about 12. I'm going to read it again when we're on vacation Down South in a week or two. That will basically be like reading it for the first time, because 15 years is a long time in between reads, especially since I was pre-pubescent the first time. (Now if only I could delete the image of Clark Gable as Rhett Butler. That has always damaged Rhett for me.)
4. We the Living by Ayn Rand.
Based on the author’s own life during the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. It’s about how the heroine, Kira, maintains her strong sense of Self in an environment that denies Self. It’s a beautiful, beautiful story about love and betrayal and survival and the strength of one girl. And a memorable bad boy: Leo Kovalensky.
5. Mila18 by Leon Uris.
A fictional account of the true story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, during which a handful of beleaguered Jews held off the Nazis for something like 40 days. They know they are going to die, but they are going to die fighting. Another powerful story of the human spirit. Just heart-breaking, profound, amazing, beautiful. Really, there are no words. Knowing that this really happened is just unbelievable.
6. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
OK, I started reading the Twilight series before Rob Pattinson was cast and forever ruined my image of the dreamy Edward. For those hazy days of August 2007 when I inhaled these books, I was totally in love with Edward. Apparently I had some residual teenage hormones flowing through my system, because Edward made me giddy. Then, as I said, the world went nuts for Twilight, horrible movies were made and those hazy August days were nothing but a memory.
7. Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.
I read these seven novels, which total about 8,000 pages, in a 40-day-frenzy last summer. Um, but maybe I shouldn’t broadcast that. I couldn’t stop reading about/ thinking about Jamie Fraser, the hunky Highlander who captured Claire Randall’s heart (and mine). I attempted a Scottish accent. I burned the candle at both ends. I ignored laundry, meals, and my husband. And then I exhausted the series (don’t worry, world, there’s more coming!) and I mourned for a week. I don’t remember much from that period of my life… there was Jamie and that was all. I’m not sure if it would be a good idea to replicate this period. My husband might be opposed to losing me to another man again, but it was fun while it lasted. I have no regrets.
8. 9. and 10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
I'm going to lump Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, and the Little House books in one entry. My mom read these (and many, many other great books) to us when we were little. These titles captured my imagination because they were about strong, smart, imaginative girls who dreamed and adventured and survived. These are good books to read your daughters (and sons) to show great examples of strong and sassy girls. I'd love to go back in time and observe when my mom read these to us and experience it all over again.