Books I Have Known and Loved

It’s odd sometimes the books we love, the books we find by chance. When I was 10 years old or so, I had a cheap paperback of Hugh Lofting’s The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle that someone bought for me at the supermarket. I read and reread that book until it was in tatters. There is a scene in the book where the young hero is blindfolded and asked to choose a destination for their voyage by bringing his finger down on the open pages of an atlas. He picks Spidermonkey Island, a floating island that is never long in the same spot. Because of that book, I begged my mother for my own atlas. The paperback is long gone, but I still have the atlas, along with vivid memories of the Doctor’s travels on the bottom of the ocean in the shell of a great glass sea snail. Here are some other books that have transported me (and gotten me in trouble more than once when I was supposed to be shelving books at the Mary Riley Stiles Public Library).

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • The Long Secret by Louise Fitzhugh (the sequel to Harriet the Spy, this was my first encounter in children’s literature with an honest portrayal of adults from a real kids’ eye view, unusual for the time)
  • Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson and Watership Down by Richard Adams (yes, I did have rabbits for pets)
  • The Little House books of Laura Ingalls Wilder (my favorite, when I was growing up in tropical Manila, was Little Town on the Prairie, in which the Ingalls family is dramatically snowbound)
  • The Ghost of Opalina, or Nine Lives by Peggy Bacon The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander Half Magic by Edward Eager and his many other books The Borrower books by Mary Norton
  • The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit (I didn’t read too many of the others, somehow)
  • The Time Trilogy by Madeleine L’Engle, starting with A Wrinkle in Time
  • The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (also her Over Sea, Under Stone-fine and atmospheric)
  • The Egypt Game and The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  • Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
  • The Earthsea Quartet (Quintet? it keeps growing) by Ursula LeGuin
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein (I confess, I like it the best)
  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, etc, by Joan Aiken (I can’t read Lemony Snickett without these books coming to mind)
  • The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip
  • Mistress Masham’s Response by T. H. White (as well as The Sword in the Stone)
Books for Older Readers (18 and up)
  • The Nine Taylors by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
  • The Girl Green As Elderflower by Randoph Stow
  • Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner (or start with her collected short stories or the wonderful but badly titled Scenes from Childhood)
  • Unexplained Laughter by Alice Thomas Ellis
  • The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies (though I started with The Rebel Angels before discovering the more well known books)
  • The Gastronomical Me by M. F. K. Fisher
  • Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
  • Angels and Insects by A. S. Byatt
  • Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy

2 thoughts on “Books I Have Known and Loved

  1. I just finished reading the “Magic” book series, and am wondering if Ann Downer will be continuing the storyline. There were several characters left hanging at the end of “The Dragon of Never Was.” Especially the bad wizard, MacKenzie Murdoch a.k.a. Septimus, who fell through a seep hole along w/a dragon. Now he has Margery MacVanish captured in a enchanted painting along with her spell desk. He still is angry w/Therodora for claiming the Moten Eye and wants revenge. So when is the next book coming out? This inquiring mind wants to know!!!!! 🙂

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