A Writer’s 7

Dreaming the day away, as I am often found doing, I began to contemplate a scenario:

If I were told I could read only 7 books for the rest of my life — as many times as I wanted — which 7 would I choose?

As someone who reads with the same voracity as breathing, I quickly dismissed the challenge, deciding I could never ask this of myself. Oh, but the question gnawed on me. I am a glutton for these kind of chimerical, purposeless inquiries, and can be rather ruthless in garnering an answer. If you had three wishes . . . ? Body hair: inability to grow any, or inability to keep it from growing at an unmanageable rate? Booger smoothie or beetle omelet? Extra large feet or itty-bitty hands?

I could go on and on like this for a while . . .

While the odds of my being confined to the same 7 books for the rest of my life carries all the likelihood of my growing a second set of armpits, I decided I would force myself to answer — just to see if I could do it.

I did. It was actually much easier than I thought it would be.

The next part of the challenge was to see if I could write one sentence, describing why I had chosen each book. This was not at all easier than I thought it would be. Starting from the bottom and moving up:

(Side note: and this doesn’t count as part of my sentence. The book I wanted to put in the picture was Outlander, but I’ve loaned it to a friend. This is the second book in a series of 7. Highly recommended!)

1) Diana Gabbaldon writes intelligently, passionately, and with the restraint of a Kansas tornado, sucking her reader into 18th century Scottland, where the lives and characters of those you meet come to mean as much as those living in your home.

2) The bible is both my map and my compass.

3) A refreshingly pleasant dose of superfluous information, this book answers mysteries such as, Which bird lays the smallest egg for its size? and How long can a chicken live without its head? making it both humorous and informative — my two favorite methods of learning.

4) Besty Lerner’s The Forrest for the Trees remains to be my most beloved writing tool because she very practically, firmly, and honestly delves into every writer’s deepest fear: Am I good enough?

5) Whether you hail C.S. Lewis as one the most profound theologians and philosophers of our time, or regard him as just another zealously religious nutball, there is no arguing the fine mind, perspective, and wisdom this man acclaims.

6) You’ll find some of what Simon Hertnon has to say over in Mr. Webster’s neighborhood, but not all, for tucked inside this little treasure of a book are some of the coolest words I have ever had the privilege of learning, including anacampserote, chavish, and elzoable.

7) ?

Did you notice there were only six pictures in the photo? I have one last picture to show you.

It is a book of sorts, I suppose; it’s my book — my journal, where I keep all those disjointed crumbs of ideas, with the hope that one day they might become more, and bloom into a story worth sharing with you.

Okay, now it is time for me to pass on the challenge to you:

If you were told you could read only 7 books for the rest of your life — as many times as you wanted — which 7 would you choose? 

If you happen not to be a advocate of the literary, pick something else: Foods, destinations, imagery, shoes, music — whatever! It’s a very easy blog, and I honestly had a lot fun doing it. This was a good exercise for me, and I imagine it will be for you, too. I found it quite telling in terms of who I am.

Happy Saturday, everyone.


17 thoughts on “A Writer’s 7

  1. Nice list. I love the last one.

    Mine would be:

    1. The Bible
    2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    3. Les Miserable by Victor Hugo
    4. Matthew Henry’s Commentary
    5. Lessons in Classical Drawing by Juliette Aristedes
    6. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    7. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

  2. Ooooh! This is a challenge I’ll be coming back to after my son’s in bed for the night. I stumbled upon a 30-day reading challenge (each day with its own particular prompt), but I couldn’t commit to 30 days of blogging on this. This is something I’ll have great fun giving a shot, knowing it’s a single shot. 😀

    • Hi Deborah!

      Wow . . . 30 days? That is quite a commitment; though, I’m sure a lot of fun if you have the time. I’m so glad this challenge fits in with what you’re realistically able to do! Looking forward to checking out your list!

  3. CARA!! Don’t do this to me! Have you no mercy? Really, seven is a lot if you think about it. I’ll try to make the list and get back to you…if I remember. You’re going to cause me trouble when I’m trying to go to sleep tonight…or in the morning. Remind me if I forget. This makes the other challenges look like a tired cakewalk. 😉

    • Okay, George . . .

      I’ve supplied you with ample time. Now you must choose. Dun dun dun!

      Oh, but just thinking of you tossing and turning at night, unable to sleep because of my ruthless challenge churns my stomach. If you need a pass, I’ll give one to you, but I think you can do it. I think you can, I think you can, I think you can . . . 🙂

  4. Boy, some books came easily, some I really had to think about and weigh out…
    …the Bible for me is more than a book; it is life…
    1a. Wuthering Heights ( I think I stretched your rules a wee bit)
    2 All Creatures Great and Small ( any Herriot book would do)
    3. Secret life of Bees
    4 Jane Eyre
    5 To Kill A Mockingbird
    6 The Cather in the Rye
    & 7 Pride and Prejudice

    I am reading; Little Bee now..a moving read.

    • I know, right!? I kept reminding myself that this was FOREVER, and to choose wisely. I hate when I do this to myself . . . LOL

      Jess, your picks, though they differ from mine vastly, could very well have been mine, if that makes any sense at all. I have read and re-read most of these, and wouldn’t mind doing so again. Little Bee? Who’s the author of that one?

  5. I would likely use the lot of these for kindling after about 4 reads; especially if I did not have a means to write my own philosophical notes and summaries.

    1. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl (so I could suffer my fate with grace)
    2. A Joseph Campbell Companion – (closest thing to a Bible I would keep)
    3. A Wrinkle in Time – L’Engle (in case there were any children left with whom to share)
    4. A Movable Feast – Hemingway (so I could keep Paris and EH close in one book)
    5. Lord of the Flies – Golding (so I could remind everyone who might be left how NOT to behave)
    6. The Complete Works of Shakespeare – so I could direct, produce, and star in the greatest one man shows ever
    7. An Italian Dictionary – so I could continue to learn a language that no one else would likely speak with me
    8. (since a dictionary should not count) – The Alchemist – Coelho (because parables and the like are essential for the propagation of man)

    Cheers Cara!

    • Michael,
      Burning these books/literary devices would be a crime! You must never do this. Oh, your number 6 is fabulous, and I would very much like to see this Michael Housewright reproduction. Just send me the link to the box office so I can order Michael and I front-row tickets. 🙂

  6. Not sure if I can come up with 7 but I’d have to say:
    1. The Bible – my road map as well
    2. An encyclopedia – my son is always asking me questions I have to look up
    3. The Hiding Place – for inspiration on how to forgive
    4. The Great Divorce – a reminder of how bitterness can grab ahold of us and rob us of joy and God’s will for our lives

  7. Pingback: A Writer’s 7 | oliviasopinions

  8. AAARGH!

    Phew! I feel much better with that primal scream out of the way.

    Okay, here’s the scoop. I put your post in my NIFTY NEWS folder and had an ACK ATTACK while fixing dinner.

    I never went back to that NIFTY NEWS folder.

    So, here I sit. Brain on auto shutdown (always happens around 9 p.m.).

    If I only have seven books to read for THE REST OF MY LIFE, I would hope to have advance notice so I could purchase and memorize the info in your selections on odd words and random facts. We could drive the others crazy by running about spewing apparent nonsense.

    If I only have seven books to read for THE REST OF MY LIFE, the first has to be The Big Book of AA — because that restriction might drive me back to a drink.

    The rest require thought. Brain cells.

    More brain cells than are currently active between my ears. Shoot me a tweet if I don’t get back to you in 48 hours. @gloriawrites.

    FUN idea.

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