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. Mel says:

    A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle.

  2. cc says:

    The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, here’s one of my favorite quotes –
    Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: “What does his voice sound like?” “What games does he like best?” “Does he collect butterflies?”. They ask: “How old is he?” “How many brothers does he have?” “How much does he weigh?” “How much money does his father make?” Only then do they think they know him.

  3. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. I’ve read it with three book clubs now (at my choosing, we move a lot) and won many converts to it. If you have a friend or a mom who love but sometimes want to strangle this is a great read.

  4. Man, I really need to start reading…..

  5. Aunt Murry says:

    “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck. Every time I read it I learn something new about myself. If that is not what you meant then…

    “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum

  6. Susan says:

    Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. Hands down.

  7. Bek says:

    Rachels Holiday by Marian Keys….British Chic Lit–totally fluffy and easy read…about an addict and her view of her life before and after rehab. Very funny.

    I just got A Known World…I can’t wait to read it.

  8. Dapoppins says:

    off the top of my head? Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin…
    (Emmersgingerbees put you on my pull down list so I thought I should come by and My you are famous!)

  9. Kristen says:

    “The Painted House” by John Grisham. First book that came to mind. Really. Not sure if it’s my favorite, just the first book that came to mind.

  10. MommyMaki says:

    The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.

  11. For some reason, even though it’s not my ALL time favorite book, my fist instinct is to say “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. I loved it so much, and it was such an amazing, all-consuming kind of read.

  12. Lisa says:

    The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

  13. Elena says:

    Catcher In the Rye by JD Salinger… thanks for doing this.. I’ve been wanting to get into reading in a bigger way now that my son is sort of sleeping better and i have the time in the evening. I can’t wait to look through all the favorites. Hello, by the way, it’s my first time commenting, and i look forward to continue reading your blog!

  14. Memoirs of a Geisha is my favorite recent read.

  15. Amy says:

    Since someone already said To Kill a Mockingbird, I think I will choose Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. Chilling!

  16. Wendopolis says:

    THe Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury.

  17. Bobita says:

    “Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting,” Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn. This book changed my life as a parent. I love it…and ALWAYS will!

    And (P.S.) I’m sooooo choked up by the post about your sister…that I still feel the lump in my throat…10 minutes later.

    I loooove that you love your sister so much. I have a best friend for whom I feel the same…and I’m trying to figure out how to blog about my feelings for her in such a way that “do her justice”…its a very hard thing to do!


  18. Pam in Utah says:

    The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, also. Read it as a kid and remember sitting in the hammock between the two weeping willows and the stream babling under me on the way to the ol sump and not wanting to quit reading-ever…. memories!

  19. Lynn says:

    Just one? Yikes!

    The Chronicles of Narnia.
    Since I’ve got them all bound in one book, it counts, doesn’t it?

  20. L’Aventure Ambigue, by Cheikh Hamidou Kane. Amazing, life-changing read. Also translated into English, The Ambiguous Adventure. 🙂

  21. Mama mia!! I know who is shutting down blogger these days!! everyone is here!!I am number 71 for petey’s Sake!! Ok enough with the !!s

    book recommended……

    Grapes of Wrath

    Learn something new everytime I read it.

  22. Caryn says:

    Wow. Mine’s comment number 72! At any rate, I’m going to have to go with Pride and Prejudice. This is just the one I’ve read the most, but there are so many others I love!

    As for opening an independent bookstore, I have the same urge, but it’s impossible in our town because we have THREE bookstores here, all owned by the SAME guy. And our town only has 6,000 people. Yes, it’s a monopoly. I worked for him for a while and hated it, though I loved his predecessor. So, no bookstore with cozy chairs and store kitties for me. Not here, at least. 🙁

  23. Sugarmama says:

    72 comments?! Now I’ll never know if 100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was someone else’s choice. But it sure is mine. I’ve read it countless times at this point, and plan to keep reading it every other year or so.

  24. surcie says:

    Three of my all-time favorites were mentioned here: Jane Eyre, Traveling Mercies, and To Kill A Mockingbird. I just saw the movie Capote. Nell Harper Lee was his best friend and is portrayed in the movie, so I’d like to reread To Kill A Mockingbird now.

  25. HangerMom says:

    Little Women. It’s been my favorite since I read it for the first time in 4th grade. Now it’s all mixed up in my head with the movie (Winona Ryder, Christian Bale, et. al.), which included a lot more of Louisa May Alcott’s real life experiences mixed up with the book, but still it’s my all time favorite!

  26. Heather says:

    Wow, Holy Comments, Batman!!!

    My reading list just got a WHOLE LOT BIGGER!

    Thanks for doing this.

  27. Domesticator says:

    “The Four Agreements” By Don Miguel Ruiz. This book has had a major effect on my life. It’s fabulous!

  28. HolyMama! says:

    heavens to betsy. beth patillo

  29. I am right about this one, trust me says:

    Watership Down by Richard Adams. Accessible to (and appropriate for) readers from age 8 to 88, with writing of near-poetic resonance on every page and a tale of terror and adventure that Homer himself would have envied. Did I mention that almost all of the characters who have speaking roles are rabbits?

  30. Lei says:

    Secret Life of Bees has been my unmovable favorite for 2 years now and counting….

  31. Naddin J says:

    Jane Eyre :: sigh :: Now I want to go read it again.

  32. Liz says:

    look at you with your 80+ comments! diva!

  33. Tiffany says:

    Have to comment.

    The Giver by Lois Lowry.

  34. SkiTheStars says:

    “The Great Explosion” by Eric Frank Russell.

    This is the best scifi intro to Cultural Anthropology that I’ve ever read. The story line revolves around the notion that one guy invents a faster than light drive that is cheap and simple to build and operate.

    Net result:

    Every Tom ****, and Sherry in a special interest group builds a ship for that group and takes off to find a planet for their very own. Nudists go to one planet, barter people to another and so on. So many groups leave Earth to set up their own special places that Earth basically loses all governemtnal control.

    400 Years Later….Earth sets out to “consolidate” all the runaways, with hilarious results, including crew going native. The book pokes playful fun at many of society’s sacred cows. It would make a great Mel Brooks movie.

  35. Helprin Fan says:

    Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin.

    As many others have said, I find something new each time I read it — and I think it’s the longevity, the freshness, the (and herein I coin my own word) “revisit-ability” that marks a true favorite.

  36. Jess says:

    This is a fabulous question! Gone With the Wind is my all-time favorite. Such great, flawed characters. Much better and more complex than the movie, although I love that too.

  37. Peach says:

    Doesn’t seem all that relevant to comment at this point, but here goes:

    I love Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It is a life-changing work of fiction, and I will probably read it every year from now until I can’t see. Then I’ll listen to it.

  38. I wouldn’t call it a fave, and it’s absolutely not heavy reading, but I loved The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis.

  39. Since someone already said The Time Travelers Wife (which I loved!) I am going to say
    A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

  40. harvestmoon says:

    luckily have have lousy long term memory (must be senilty or something) so I’d have to say the last book I read. Santasharmarma? What the HELL was the name of that book? I’ll see what Ms. Google says…


    It is not my favorite book, but the only one the brain cells could come up with when i read your question.

    Now, as a public service announcement, have you heard of Bookcrossing?


    Still waiting for the books I’ve released to be caught…

  41. Nutella says:

    I’m with Cynthia. “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel. It will change your life (or at least the way you look at it)

  42. Naddin J says:

    I went out with my girlfriends last night and bought Jane Eyre at Barnes & Noble! YESSSSS!

    I know, you were waiting for an update.

    By the way, my best friend and I were talking blogs tonight and she mentioned yours – she loves it. I think it’s awesome too.

  43. KEP says:

    Okay, I thought of a top five, and four of them already got listed, so here’s what’s left:
    Outlander- Diana Gabaldon

    I think I’m comment 93. Holy Cow.

  44. Gabriela says:

    Ok, my pick is East of Eden by Steinbeck. I love the message that we can decide our destiny and we are not trapped because of who raised us or the bad things that may have happened to us.

  45. Jennifer says:

    there are so many. and so many of the books listed above me have brought back such wonderful memories!

    i’m going to go with “silk” by alessandro baricco because it is one of those perfect stories you can read a million times and always love like the very first time.

  46. *also frets at the “just one” limit*

    “The Hero and the Crown” by Robin McKinley… prequel to “The Blue Sword” that Margaret mentioned. The theme for this one could be said to be about winning acceptence when the place you live doesn’t seem to fit you and about finding your own purpose and peace.

    For anyone interested, stop by my blog in the next day or so; I plan to get around “only one” limit by posting a list of everything on my bookshelf that I consider a keeper. 🙂

  47. kyrie says:

    babeltower, a.s. byatt

  48. Meg says:

    Obasan by Joy Kogawa – hands down.

    Though I love many, many other books, I read this the first year of college and it caused me to almost change my major to English. Kogawa’s writing is amazing reading her work is like eating a piece of the best dark chocolate you can find – smooth, sweet with a satisfying finish.

  49. earthmamma says:

    What looks like crazy on an ordinary day….by Pearl Cleage

  50. surcie says:

    A Girl Called Zippy by Haven Kimmel

    The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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