Tip Tuesday — Best Book, Alive or Dead

This is one of those “think fast” Tip Tuesdays where I ask you a question and you just have to say the first thing that comes to your mind without agonizing over it. I’d like the format to resemble the conversations the old men have in “Return to Me” while playing poker.

“Best singer of all time, alive or dead?”

They all give answers and then fight about them with fake Irish old man accents. Well, the old man part isn’t fake but I’m pretty sure the Irish is fabricated.

I’d like today to be like that, without the fighting and without the accents. List your favorite book at the moment you read this post. This doesn’t mean it’s the best book ever written or even in the top one thousand, scientifically. Just type something that strikes you as great.

-No books of scripture can be listed. I’m sure you’re all very spiritual and read all kinds of the Talmud but I don’t want all of the answers to be the same.
-No children’s books this week. We’ll do that next month or some time when I feel like it.
-You can only list ONE, not one per genre, not one for each hand, not one for every college degree you are currently pursuing, ONE – PERIOD.

I choose Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. It’s a Pulitzer Prize winner for Non-Fiction, typically found in the Nature or Essay section of your friendly neighborhood bookstore.

Speaking of bookstores, am I the only person who gets this ache inside whenever they see prime retail space available for lease and wishes they could open a successful independent bookstore that wouldn’t be crushed immediately by the Evil Duo? Ahhhh, dreams.

I opened the book and found this random excerpt to share with you:

Catch it if you can. The present is an invisible electron; its lightning path traced faintly on a blackened screen is fleet, and fleeing, and gone.

That I ended this experience prematurely for myself — that I drew scales over my eyes between me and the mountain and gloved my hand between me and the puppy — is not the only point. After all, it would have ended anyway. I’ve never seen a sunset or felt a wind that didn’t. The levitating saints came down at last, and their two feet bore real weight. No, the point is that not only does time fly and do we die, but that in these reckless conditions we live at all, and are vouchsafed, for the duration of certain inexplicable moments, to know it.

You can open to any page and find that she weaves her descriptions of the world around her with profound insight. Ah, to write with the power of Annie Dillard, to live for one day having a mind so alive and vivid. Sometimes I feel that she sees more in one sunset than I could see in a thousand hours of plodding along through my daily grind.

Now, let the games begin. Favorite book at this moment, alive or dead?

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114 Responses to Tip Tuesday — Best Book, Alive or Dead

  1. Abby says:

    The Personal Recollections of Joan of Ark, by Mark Twain

    Loved it, loved it, loved it!

  2. Abby says:

    Another little fav. Thought not fiction, saved my children’s lives.

    P.E.T (parent effectiveness training) by Thomas Gordon.

    A precious little gem in the “be a better parent” category.

  3. Abby says:

    Sorry I doubled before I read the whole post. Keep the first book, and ignore the last.
    My Bad.

  4. Mom on the Gulf Coast says:

    Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. (no relation to Toby from what I understand…)

    I have read Wicked, but liked this one a tad bit better.

  5. Brooke C. says:

    The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride.

  6. lauxa says:

    War and Peace, Tolstoy

    Not a light read, but I have read the whole thing twice, and I love how he weaves romance and intrigue with politics and history and battles. And I really like Russian literature for some reason.

  7. kaylang says:

    Wow, this is awesome. So many great books! I think my Favorite For the Moment would be “O! Pioneers” by Willa Cather. This book is soul food when I get impatient with life. Her descriptions of the inner workings of people just blow my mind. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts:

    “There was about Alexandra something of the impervious calm of the fatalist, always disconcerting to very young people, who cannot feel that the heart lives at all unless it is still at the mercy of storms; unless its strings can scream to the touch of pain.”

    Like I said, WoW.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Can’t believe no one mentioned Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

  9. Anonymous says:

    I just found this blog today and LOVE it. Such a great idea. Anyway, not my absolute favorite book but the last one I read. The Nanny Diaries, one that I can completely relate to as I was a nanny for a wealthy family at one time myself. I laughed out loud many times during my reading because I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about!

  10. Sridevi says:

    I’d go with Homer’s Odyssey- translated by WHJ Rousse. He’s got a great translation style, which is what I’d depend on, since my knowledge of Greek is rather non-existent. I found his translation much easier to read than others’.

  11. Jeanne says:

    I’m not sure why this popped into my head when I heard the question — because it’s true, there are too many to choose just one — but this is the first: “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

  12. Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I realize this is certainly not the best book ever written, but I just loved this story.

    I’ve been inspired by your blog to start my own by the way. Yours is a pleasure to read.

  13. Anonymous says:

    It has to be Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.

  14. Amy says:

    Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler
    I love anything written by her!

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