10.02.2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Older Books That Should Not Be Forgotten

There are a lot of possible ways to define older, and I'm going to go with "anything that wasn't released in the last couple of years" with a preference for things much older. This is not an attempt to start off your day with a little chronological snobbery. I just figure that if it was released in living memory, especially my living memory, it hasn't been entirely forgotten yet.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Do come join the fun...

More importantly, when it comes to "books that should not be forgotten," I don't feel the need to list books that aren't in any immediate danger of being forgotten. Nobody's planning to forget Dostoevsky anytime soon.

Here, however, are a few works which might need a little help getting remembered.

1. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. For all J.K. Rowling named this as a childhood favorite, I've yet to hear tell of millions of young girls rediscovering how thoroughly beautiful it is. I'm not J.K. Rowling, but I'll do my part.

2. Anything by Patricia M. St. John, whose books are to Christian fiction as Keith Green is to Christian music. They surpass the rest of their category not for being less heavy-handed, but for being so achingly sincere. My favorites are the children's story Star of Light and the Lebanese war novel If You Love Me.

3. Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace. Everyone still knows about this book, but when was the last time anyone read it?

4. Summer's Song by Linda Massey Weddle. This book has been so thoroughly forgotten that the handful of available copies online are priced over $20. For in-fair-condition softcovers of a short, light, simple summer-camp novella aimed at young teen girls. My sisters and I read our copy almost to bits, and our dog finished the job (the same dog that chewed the corner off my Bible.) It's far from being the greatest literary work on the planet, and it's not Catholic, but I loved the heck out of it when I was fourteen. Dear Mrs. Weddle: please put it on Kindle! :)

5. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. People have complained so thoroughly for so long about the title character's innocence and persistent cheerfulness that it's unlikely the story will stick around for the next generation of young readers who happen to like their characters on the sweet side. It's a perfectly good kid's book, and I always found Pollyanna inspiring.

6. Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. Everyone remembers Rawls for Where the Red Fern Grows. Summer of the Monkeys is rather less pathetic and far more hilarious. It's a great family read.

7. No Flying in the House by Betty Brock. This is the first book I remember discovering in a school library, and I loved it madly.

8. L.M. Montgomery's minor works, especially The Blue Castle. Anne and Emily will live as long as the girls of my generation do, but let's not forget Valancy and Pat and Kilmeny and the others!

9. Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl. I don't understand why this isn't as well known as A Wrinkle in Time.

10. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. This recent release had a movie made out of it, which may or may not have been any good—I never saw it—so it may not be likely to be forgotten very soon. But it's also one of a handful of superb children's books that made me cry and smile as a grown-up. It's just lovely.

What books would you like to see remembered?

14 comments:

  1. I'm not sure I have time to write down what I think should be remembered. :)

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    1. HAHA. As much as you read, I bet you don't. :)

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  2. I don't know any of these book but I shall check them out and see what they're about :)

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    1. Hope you find something you like! Thanks for coming by.

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  3. Now that's a list of books I haven't heard about before, well most of them anyway. Of course I'm always curious about "new" old books, so that's perfectly fine! I just feel like an idiot for not knowing that "Ben Hur" was more than a movie *facepalm*.

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    1. Curious about 'new' old books is a great way to be! And LOL--it happens to the best of us. ;)

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  4. Trilby. Hugely popular and culturally ubiquitous in the 1890s (and almost certainly a submerged influence on Anne of Green Gables, though with 4000X more sexual menace, and an acknowledged parent of The Phantom of the Opera), Trilby today survives only as a handful of tropes and the rapidly disappearing term "Svengali," used to refer to an unsavory but powerfully charismatic character. It's not hard to see why the book was so popular: it's funny, dramatic, and full of engaging detail.

    There's a problem, though, and it's a huge one. The antisemitism in Trilby is a massive semi-sentient being that periodically rampages through the text with a mouth full of foam. That's really what it feels like to read it. It's like every fifteen pages or so the narrative just blacks out and a booming voice goes, "JEWS JEWS JEWS" to the tune of the Imperial March from Star Wars. Then the lights go on and it's back to the novel. So it's not something I can really recommend whole-heartedly for revival even though I do want more people to know about it. Liking old books can be complicated :( Well, I guess liking new books can be complicated, too.

    Quo Vadis is another ex-bestseller of the epic Ben-Hur type. I thought for a while that the author had won the first Nobel Prize for Literature, but actually it was the sixth. It was published in Poland in the same year Trilby came out, 1895, and was a global phenomenon.



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    1. Laura, my father-in-law has been reading Quo Vadis lately. :D

      And you are SO right about liking old and new books being complicated. I've never read Trilby, but now I'm curious. And afraid. And amused. I keep reading through your description and snickering. (At the mental imagery, not at the topic of racism. Just in case anyone needs that clarified. O_o)

      Ooh, and I should DEFINITELY read the Betsy-Tacy books. I keep forgetting they exist--but someday...

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  5. As far as children's books go, I think the Betsy-Tacy series is still moderately well-known; if not, it should be. Same time period as Anne of Green Gables, but US-American, suburban, and nuclear-familial; they follow a group of close friends from about age 5 through high school a trip to Europe, and the first few years of Betsy's marriage. The author has a great ear for the social nuances of all age groups and the books are charming, breezy, and fun.

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  6. I put a lesser-known L.M. Montgomery title on my list too - LOVE her books. Great picks, and thanks for sharing!

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    1. I should really read Magic for Marigold! Thanks for coming by. :)

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  7. We have two repeats! I should have realized that given our excellent shared taste :) (The Blue Castle and Pollyanna!)

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    1. Cheers to great shared taste! I loved your list--well done. :D

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  8. Great list! A few I haven't read, but I completely agree with The Little White Horse and Blue Castle. Love those books!

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