I've been reading Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island recently. It's not the first time I've read the book. Not even the 2nd or the 10th. I've been reading the book every year for...well, ever since I was about nine years old. In other words, a long, long time. The marvelous thing about the book, to me, is that no matter how many times I read it, the story is always exciting, the suspense always gripping, and the characters always fresh. I love Stevenson's descriptions. His dialogue, too.
From Treasure Island
...about three o'clock of a bitter, foggy, frosty afternoon, I was standing at the door for a moment, full of sad thoughts about my father, when I saw someone drawing slowly near along the road. He was plainly blind, for he tapped before him with a stick and wore a great green shade over his eyes and nose; and he was hunched, as if with age or weakness, and wore a huge old tattered sea-cloak with a hood that made him appear positively deformed. I never saw in my life a more dreadful-looking figure. He stopped a little from the inn, and raising his voice in an odd sing-song, addressed the air in front of him, "Will any kind friend inform a poor blind man, who has lost the precious sight of his eyes in the gracious defence of his native country, England -- and God bless King George! -- where or in what part of this country he may now be?"
Even now, after all these years, the tap-tap-tapping of the blind man's stick still haunts my dreams.That's the power of well-written prose, and a story well-told.
There are other books, too, I count on my all-time favorites list. They include, in no particular order:
- Room at the Top by John Braine
- A Separate Peace by John Knowles
- The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
- Morgan's Passing by Anne Tyler
- Final Payments by Mary Gordon
- The Women's Room by Marilyn French
- The Finishing School by Gail Godwin
- Hotel by Arthur Hailey
- The Darkness and the Dawn by Thomas B. Costain
That's my top-ten list of stories that have excited me, inspired me, made me stop and think, or in some other way have etched themselves indelibly upon my mind.
What's on your "top-ten" list?