Books of a lifetime

Amazon, that online repository of books and just about everything else, recently released its list of 100 books to read in a lifetime. As I thumbed through the digital listing of books, I was amazed at how many of the books I had actually finished.

Of course, there were a several that I hadn’t read but have added to my book list for the future. I’ve never read “The Book Thief” by Markys Zusak but after seeing the movie trailers for the film of the same name, I think I’ll have to track down a copy.

The list reportedly spans nearly 200 years of books, along with a vast selection of genres for infants through adults. The authors selected ranged from J.R.R. Tolkien to Laura Ingalls Wilder; from Hunter S. Thompson to Jacqueline Susann.

One of the selections that surprised me a bit was Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight Moon.” But then I thought about how many mothers have read that story to their little ones through the years. It was Daniel’s favorite book when he was a toddler and it was a surefire way to make sure he drifted off to sleep (it’s all in the quiet, hushed voice). I had that book memorized. Now, I read it to my two grandchildren when they come to visit. It has the same effect on them.

One of my favorite books of all time that I have read over and over again is “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Originally a classroom assignment, I found the characters to be so compelling and genuine that I’ve never tired of reading about Atticus Finch, Scout, Jem and Boo Radley.

“The Diary of Anne Frank” is another favorite. I had an opportunity to really delve into the work when I directed a production of the play version at the local community theater. There is so much emotion – joy and sorrow – all mixed into one true story.

My son would be glad to know that “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” made the list. He’s read the entire series of stories about a boy’s adventures and trials through middle school. He’s now discovered the Lemony Snicket series, including “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Lemony Snicket also made Amazon’s list of must-reads.

Stephen King’s “The Shining” also made the list. I think that some of the choices are representative of an author’s entire body of work. “The Shining” is a great example of King’s work, but perhaps not my favorite. He’s written so many startling, scary pages that it would be hard to pick which I liked best.

King’s books are a good example of why you should always read the book before seeing the movie. Many seem to lose something in the translation.