This is also a Lucky Thirteen. I can’t be expected to stop at ten books. Nuh-uh.
Dream Girl says I need to worry about survival and getting the hell home. Well, sure, but I need something to do in between fighting off wild boars and building tonight’s signal fire. Here’s what would just happen to be tucked in my rucksack:
1. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, by Anne Tyler. This isn’t the Tyler book that won the Pulitzer, but it’s my favorite. Tyler has a gift for nailing those tricky little gotchas that make love so slippery and bittersweet. Her gift for colloquialism makes her characters so real I want to track down their Facebook pages and find out how things worked out after the book ended. This is my go-to comfort book. I’ve read it so many times I almost have it memorized.
2. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. My version is an omnibus volume that has the trilogy plus a short story about Zaphod. Since it’s one volume, it counts as one book. “I never could get the hang of Thursdays.” Hilarious, and deeper than it seems at first blush.
3. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins. This is a cult classic and a bit weird in parts, but one of my favorite literary moments ever is the argument between the two psychiatrists, known as the Shootout at the I’m OK, You’re OK Corral.
4. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle. This book was my childhood introduction to quantum physics and to magic (which are largely the same thing). I love Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit, and Charles Wallace remains the only literary wunderkind I don’t find insufferable.
5. Does a series count as a single book? Because if not, I’ve exceeded my limit with The Wheel of Time. Robert Jordan’s world is intricate and complete and very real. My words cannot do justice to these books, which are a must-read for any fan of fantasy.
6. The Book of Ash, by Mary Gentle. Again, I count these 4 volumes as one, because they do not stand alone. This series has it all: a 15th century female mercenary army commander, the Burgundian empire, modern archaeology, golems, a Visigoth Carthage, quantum mechanics, altering history, a love story. A blend of Jeanne d’Arc and Boadicea, Ash takes names and kicks ass but is still very human in her yearning for love and roots. Ash could be my best friend.
7. The Handmaid’s Tale is Margaret Atwood’s frightening contribution to the dystopian genre. This take on what an oppressive right-wing regime would do to women is particularly chilling because I can see it actually happening.
8. The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. Not necessarily my favorite poet, because there are too many to choose from, but Gibran fills my need for poetry and spirituality. Beautiful.
9. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. This whopper clocks in at almost 1,000 pages and it never lets up. It remains the best historical, cryptanalytical, technological, mathematical, strategic, nerd-heaven, looking-for-buried-treasure book ever.
10. The Glob, by John O’Reilly and Walt Kelly, creator of the comic strip Pogo. This is a battered old volume my grandmother used to read to me, an entertaining tale of mankind’s move from the primordial ooze. I can’t speak as to literary or monetary value, but the sentimental value of this book is without measure.
11. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. I’m not a big fan of science fiction but I’m a big fan of this book. Its principles are almost druidic.
12. Lord of the Rings. The all-time frontrunner of fantasy fiction. My terrible grades in junior high and high school math are Tolkien’s fault, since I spent most of those classes sneak-reading these books, wielding a sword like Eowyn and planning my wedding to Aragorn. (I know that’s not how it works out. I don’t care.)
13. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. A wonderful rendition of the King Arthur legend, told from the viewpoints of the women: Gwenhwyfar, Igraine, Morgause, the Lady of the Lake, and the infamous Morgaine le Fey. A rich, thick magical read to lose yourself in for days.
What Ajah would you pick?