If asked to pick my ultimate, all-time, top 3 desert-island books, I’d be paralyzed with indecision and fail to choose before being exiled to said island. But I enjoy the game enough to play a little, and talked about it briefly with Tiffany Trent on Twitter last week (hers are here). So, with heavy qualifications, here are my 3 Favourite Books (reflecting my reading passions from ages 8 to 25, presented in chronological order).
1. L. M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon.
I read the Anne books first, but this is the trilogy that stayed with me. Emily Starr is, like Anne Shirley, a fiery, much-misunderstood orphan raised by loving but emotionally stunted adults in Prince Edward Island. But despite the similarities, the Emily novels are a bit darker, a bit subtler, and that much more perceptive. At least, I think so – I’m terrified to re-read them because they’ll never live up to my childhood experience of reading.
2. Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
Oh, the Murrys: they were the first intellectual family I read about, and I was absolutely enchanted. As much as I loved Meg’s and Charles Wallace’s adventures (Mrs. Whosit! Aunt Beast! Meg, declaiming poetry to save Charles Wallace!), it was the family bond that I found truly addictive. They’re such serious, thoughtful, nuanced YA novels.
3. George Eliot, Middlemarch
I love this novel so much that I have trouble talking about it critically. I first read it as an undergrad and it changed the way I thought about Victorian novels. It’s rich and subtle, and every time I re-read it I marvel at different aspects of the story. It’s beautifully written, utterly moving, and I think everybody in the English-speaking world should read it. Really.
And that’s my desert-island 3. For now. What are yours?