List of Top Books Continued

11. One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Scheherazade
I have always enjoyed the magic and Oriental wonders of Arabian Nights. Arabian Nights is about a very wise and scholarly minister's daughter, Scheherazade who marries a king and tells him an unfinished story each night to prevent herself from being executed, as the king has done to his former wives on their wedding night. I started reading Arabian Nights when I was about eleven years old. Now I own the complete fine, unexpurgated Richard Burton translation set by Easton Press, which has Arabic writing on the cover and many beautiful illustrations. Each story of Arabian Nights is outside-the-box and has its own unique moral. I love that there are many layers of story within Arabian Nights. I have developed a fascination for the Middle East from Arabian Nights. The Arabian Nights celebrates the power of storytelling.
12. Childcraft

One of my fondest memories growing up was reading Childcraft! The collection is a must-have for any child's library (and adult's library as well), and I am very fortunate that my parents so generously bought it for me and my brother when I was about five or six years old. It has volumes covering a range of topics in a delightful way, from fairy tales to children's books to mathematic to birthdays and horoscopes to countries of the world. I cherished reading the fairy tales in the first volume, Once Upon a Time. I also remember reading selections from children's books, such as Pippi Longstocking and Ramona and her Father from the second volume, Time to Read. I was delighted to find that they were now illustrated in color! I also enjoyed reading Holidays and Birthdays, which provided an introduction to horoscopes for the child! And I remember reading a selection of The Phantom Tollbooth in Mathemagic. I love that they put the magic in math in the title, "Mathemagic." In one of the books, I read about dreams and how they are formed. I believe that in anther book, I read about names and what they mean. I need to dig up my Childcraft collection from my attic! I know that I will love revisiting old memories of innocence and wonder. The Childcraft collection is also a great way for an adult to look at and learn things through the eyes of a child.  
13. The Diary of Anne Frank

I was first introduced to Anne Frank in third grade by my favorite teacher ever. It was by reading The Diary of Anne Frank that I became inspired to keep my own diary! Anne Frank's diary reminds us of how important it is to archive the precious moments of life and share our heartfelt feelings. When looking over the book again recently, I skimmed the bits of Anne's birthday in the beginning. It is sweet to see how Anne's birthday was celebrated, and in Europe. I grasped from that how during the birthday, everyone makes the one celebrating feel special and how Anne seems to have a lot of friends. I thought when reading the book when I was young that Anne really wrote in a mature tone even though she was just thirteen years old and imagined a mature voice when I was reading the book. Recently, my friend, Carly was mentioning to me how she looked over the diary and particularly noticed how Anne was boy-crazy and liked a lot of boys! I would like to buy the revised, critical edition of the diary. It is amazing how critics can annotate even the simplest of books and even a diary!
I learned in middle school that Anne wanted to be a writer, something that she would definitely be good at, as is evident from the explicit narration and sophisticated tone of her diary.
14. Highlights

My family subscribed to Highlights regularly when I was a child. Like Childcraft, every child should have access to this delightful magazine full of wonder! I remember that there were new stories illustrated in color in every issue. Since I love stories, I loved reading all of them in each issue. One story that I particularly cherish is about catching falling stars and how a princess finds a star in an apple and maybe even in soup. I always think of that story whenever I have soup and imagine that there are falling stars in the soup. I also would love to catch a falling star!

Highlights also educated students on general knowledge in an enjoyable way. I particularly remember that when I was ten years old and in fifth grade, reading a section about how people made up nursery rhymes about current political events and paralleled real life figures in characters to avoid being arrested. One such character that commented on a current event was Humpty Dumpty.
15. Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes
I have always loved nursery rhymes, just as I have loved fairy tales. One of my favorite nursery rhymes is "Wee Willie Winkie." I guess that I just liked the idea of a little boy going out into the night and enforcing bedtime.
I also love the rhyme, "There was an Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe." I find it cute and outside-the-box that the woman lived in a shoe. I love the idea of a madhouse full of children!
"Jack and Jill" is probably the most popular nursery rhyme. I was ecstatic to find that Louisa May Alcott wrote a book based on the rhyme.

16. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women was officially my favorite book as a child. I think that I mainly loved it because I enjoyed the story and its position as a children's classic. Out of the four sisters, I could relate most to Jo and Beth and feel that I am a mixture of both of them. Like Beth, I am sweet, soft, and shy and love music. I relate to Jo in her hot temper, fiery spirit, and love for books and writing.

17. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge

My Mom introduced me to What Katy Did, saying that it was another book that she liked to read over and over again, like Little Women. I think that Coolidge is ingenious in starting off the story with katy-dids! I would love to emulate that style! I appreciate that the children in the book have a classic childhood. Just like Katy, I had a ton of resolutions, which I could not keep. I love the poem about the School of Pain and all the poetry that Katy writes for her brothers and sisters for Valentine's Day. I also once again love the madhouse of the big family. I think that I was most like Elsie in the family, as I was a loner that was rejected in a group and Clover, being sweet and good-humored.
18. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

I first came across Alice in Wonderland while watching a movie sometime in elementary school. I believe that I must have read the book when I was about nine years old since I clearly remember reading a pretty edition of Through the Looking Glass that year. I reread both books a few years ago before going to watch Tim Burton's movie with my friend, Leslie. It is only when I grew up that I really began to understand what it was about. Alice in Wonderland has been said to be one of the hardest children's books to interpret scholastically. I observe that the book is about having a wonderland in your imagination, something that I always do. I loved entering into the wonderland of Alice with all of the different magnificent characters. I need to keep rereading the book to understand more about how to have a dreamy wonderland. I love that book ends up being a dream sequence! So I would like to also interpret it psychoanalytically as a dream. When I was young itself, my Dad told me that the books are paralleled to the game of chess. I actually discovered that Alice in Wonderland is about a game of cards while Through the Looking Glass is about a game of chess. I love the medieval game of chess! I need to reread Through the Looking Glass so that I can get some excellent chess tactics! I love how Alice becomes a queen, Queen Alice, after going through one full round as a pawn!

One of my favorite places to go is Alice's Tea Cup, based on Alice in Wonderland. I went there just before seeing Tim Burton's movie. I also celebrated my birthday there just now.
I would like to interpret more of Alice's influence on literature and culture.
19. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I first heard of The Secret Garden in third grade when our teacher told us that it was her favorite book. I also think that she said that we were not ready to read it yet so of course I went to read it! I really like the element of secrecy in the book. I need to interpret it more closely now. I have the glossy hardcover version above, which also, like A Little Princess, came with something in the paperback edition--a key pendant! My friend, Gen said that this is one of the children's classics that she cherishes. I think that it is interesting that there is an Annotated Secret Garden available. So then I guess that it can be interpreted scholastically.
20. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I first read Jane Eyre in sixth grade, a time when I also felt like Jane Eyre, ostracized and lonely with no one to love her, as my ungrateful sixth grade classmates always excluded me and made fun of me. I would often compare my life to Jane Eyre and think that only she was comparable to me in misfortune. I like to reread Jane Eyre for the many references to literature.
21. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

I read this book in seventh grade Enriched English class. The tagline for the book is "Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins." As I grew older, I found that the book is replete with symbolism for a children's book! In the book, the main character, Salamanca Hiddle keeps finding anonymous messages with slogans at her doorstep. I guess that the messages could be relevant to the lesson that she is learning at that point in time. Salamanca is very mature for her tween age. I love her! Possibly the book tries to mainly teach us not to judge anyone, a very important lesson.
22. Matilda by Roald Dahl

My aunt presented me with Matilda for my eighth birthday. It quickly grew to become one of my favorite books as a child. I liked that it was about a genius and English culture. I tried to read all of the books that Matilda read to prove that I was also a genius! I was elated to find that there was a selection of Matilda in color in The Book of Children's Classics. 
23. A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

My friend, Nora presented me with a beautiful illustrated edition of A Child's Garden of Verses for my tenth birthday. I found in there a lot of delightful children's poetry! As you can see from my comments on the other books, I love experiencing English culture. Some of the poems that I liked were "At the Sea-Side," "Pirate Story," "Good and Bad Children," "Fairy Bread," "The Unseen Playmate," and "The Land of Storybooks." The poetry explores the marvels and wonders of life!
24. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings is the trademark of modern fantasy. I read this trilogy when I was twelve. I love the magic and the battle between good and evil and the many magical creatures. I wish that I could write more about the trilogy, but since I read it so long ago, it deserves a reread now.
25. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in fourth grade. I also fondly remember reading part of the story of Digory and Polly in The Magician's Nephew in fifth grade. Years later, I bought the complete Chronicles, as displayed above, and read all of them. I love the glossy color illustrations of the children in their boarding school uniforms! I also like how, in The Horse and his Boy, there is an Oriental-like setting. The Chronicles of Narnia have many allusions to Chaucer, the Bible, and Christianity. I particularly remember a chapter entitled, "Parliament of Owls," a reference to Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls.
There are many important lessons from that book. One lesson that I remember is Aslan's advice that he can never tell us how it would have been, he can only tell us how it is and is going to be.
Lewis and Tolkien were good friends and collaborators at Oxford and conversed regularly with a group of scholars at the Eagle and Child Pub in Oxford. That makes me definitely want to visit that pub when I go to England.
26. Phantastes: a Fairy Romance by George MacDonald

Phantastes is known as a "fairy tale for grown-ups" and is the first modern fantasy. It is in the form of a medieval romance. The book is about the dream sequence of the protagonist, Anodos on his twenty-first birthday as he enters into Fairy Land through a door. I look forward to interpreting the dream psychoanalytically and analyzing the quest and Fairy Land.
27. Telling the Time by Lynne Bradbury

I think that we got this adorable book in London, when I was nearly five, right before we moved from India to the United States. Telling the Time shows pictures of what children and grown-ups do in each hour. I have looked over this book for years as I have tried to relate to these activities. Each picture tells its own story of life in England. I have always wished that I could disappear into the book where life is so delightful!
28. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

The Thorn Birds is about a charming, emotional girl, Meggie who falls in love with a priest. My Mom recommended the book to me. She particularly related the beginning of the book of "the little girl on her fourth birthday." Indeed, I love that the book starts with Meggie getting a beautiful doll on her fourth birthday! I love dolls and how McCullough illustrates the importance of a doll in a girl's life:
"So perched in the buggy beside her mother, on her best behavior, she had been too excited to see or remember much. Except for Agnes, the beautiful doll sitting on the store counter, dressed in a crinoline of pink satin with cream lace frills and over it. Right then and there in her mind she had christened it Agnes, the only name she knew elegant enough for such a peerless creature. Yet over the ensuing months her yearning after Agnes contained nothing of hope; Meggie didn't own a doll and had no idea little girls and dolls belonged together."
Meggie is a very fascinating, colorful character. I think that her left-handedness represents that she is right-brained and emotional and imaginative. I like the theme passage of the book, which would make a great monologue:
“There is a legend about a bird which sings only once in it's life, more beautifully than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves it's nest, it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, it impales it's breast on the longest, sharpest thorn. But as it is dying, it rises above it's own agony to outsing the Lark and the Nightingale. The Thornbird pays it's life for that one song, and the whole world stills to listen, and God in his heaven smiles, as it's best is brought only at the cost of great pain; Driven to the thorn with no knowledge of the dying to come. But when we press the thorn to our breast, we know, we understand.... and still, we do it."
I would like to find such a passion that brings out the beauty in me and brings me such joy.
29. My Antonia by Willa Cather

I read this book for sophomore English class. I enjoyed it because I liked the charming Bohemian girl, Antonia. I remember when we were analyzing the Latin quote at the beginning of the book, "Optima dies prima fugit." It translates to, "The good days are the first to flee." I felt like that quote was very apt to my feelings at that point in life. I had many friends whom I cherished earlier in my life. They had deserted me, but I still cherished the memories. I also feel that childhood is the best time in life, yet fleeting.
30. The Three Princes of Serendip

The Three Princes of Serendip is a charming Persian fairy tale, which has been adopted in many cultures. It is about the quest of three brothers. I like that the book is all about serendipity. I actually made a serendipitous discovery of Princess Padmini within the book!
31. Lisa and Lottie by Erich Kästner

I first heard about this book when I read that The Parent Trap, one of my favorite movies, is based on it. So I knew that I had to read it. The particular above edition that I read it, with its pretty illustrations, contributed greatly to the feeling of the story. The book is about twin girls separated at birth who try to reunite their divorced parents. It was in this book that I learned about the delight of opera and wanted to explore that area further. I like how in the book, it is narrated something about the performing world in opera. I also got to appreciate Hansel and Gretel, which makes an appearance as an opera, better. I think that fairy tale is particularly relevant to the story of Lisa and Lottie.
32. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

I read this crazy book in elementary school and reread it after a heartbreak in college. I love how crazy the school is and how all the students are united as a family. My favorite character is Alison, the sweet girl. I am so touched by the passage, "She was very pretty so a lot of boys teased her, especially Jason." I particularly like it since my first elementary school crush was on a boy named Jason and my first crush also teased me because he liked me.
33. The Chicken Soup for the Soul Series by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

These series feature heartwarming, inspirational real life stories. I look to these books for inspiration and motivation on living my dream.
34. Enid Blyton books

As I said in the previous blog entry, Enid Blyton was my favorite children's author. Everything was just right in her stories. She wrote everything from school stories to mystery stories to adventure stories to toy stories to fairy tales. I loved the school stories, which gave me a taste of English boarding school life. In the St. Clare's series, my favorite characters were the twins, Alison, and Mirabel. I liked the twins for their cleverness and kindness. I liked Alison for her good heart. I liked Mirabel for her talent in music and rebellious nature. In Malory Towers, I related most to the shy Mary-Lou. I like to look over Miss Grayling's advice to the new girls:
One day you will leave school and go out into the world as young women. You should take with you eager minds, kind hearts, and a will to help. You should take with you a good understanding of many things, and a willingness to accept responsibility and show yourselves as women to be loved and trusted. All these things you will be able to learn at Malory Towers—if you will. I do not count as our successes those who have won scholarships and passed exams, though these are good things to do. I count as our successes those who learn to be good-hearted and kind, sensible and trustable, good, sound women the world can lean on. Our failures are those who do not learn these things in the years they are here.
I really hope that I can follow that advice and keep an eager mind, a kind heart and show myself to be a lady to be loved and trusted.
I also liked the fairy books and the toy stories. They really show that Blyton had a rich imagination! I would also like to imagine that all my toys have secret lives of their own when I am not looking!
35. The Rainbow Fairy Books by Andrew Lang

Last, but definitely not least, the Rainbow Fairy Books are a compilation of the classic fairy tales across cultures. I have this collection in both the Easton Press and The Folio Society editions. Before Easton Press actually published the books, I actually wished to see them by Easton Press!
As I have expressed over and over again, I love fairy tales. I think that it is important to keep tales of wonder in your life, no matter what age you are, and hope for a "happily ever after."

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