This was a surprisingly easy week in the Top Five Wednesday world! I say “surprisingly” because, no matter the topic, I always seem to end up over-analyzing both the topic and my choices. Don’t get me wrong; I have fun doing that :). But more often than not a substantial amount of thought has to go into narrowing down my choices to see what makes this list. But it was easy this time! Our T5W stewards over at Goodreads have designated this week as the top five books you want to read by the end of the year.
For me, my choices came to me in the matter of a few moments. When I first saw the topics for August, I knew what I was going to be writing about for this week. Last week I wrote about how deeply I’d fallen in love with the world of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Suffice to say I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THESE BOOKS. After reading the first novel two years ago, I quickly devoured Dragonfly In Amber, Voyager, Drums Of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, and A Breath Of Snow And Ashes. I only stopped because, as a teacher, I feared I would eventually become too absorbed into the world of the books to ever think of grading an assignment again! While my students would happily approve, the idea bothered me. (Also, while Mom was ahead of me in reading, my friend Kelly had fallen two (substantial) tomes behind. Since we began reading Outlander in the same week, I kind of wanted to give her a chance to try and catch-up a little too.) So I put the series on hold…and it’s gnawed at me. I need to know what’s happened to everyone!!!!
I was eagerly waiting for summer to come so I could return to Outlander and rejoin the characters I love so much on their journey. Well, obviously I’m writing this on 23 August so something went awry. First, Kelly wasn’t quite where I thought she’d be when June rolled around. However, she’s catching up now! And second, Kalie is beginning her PhD work this fall! She’ll be at IUP working towards a PhD in Literature and Criticism. (Incidentally, I can imagine the phone and Skype conversations now…Me: “Hey honey! How was your day??” Kalie: “Great! We really got into our post-colonial critique of Kipling’s works, deconstructing with an eye towards the postmodern/modernist overlap! How about you?” Me: “Uh…well I read more Ghostbusters International today. It was awesome. Ray totally got slimed.” I’m going to need to up my conversational game accordingly :).) I figured, with Kelly still catching up and this summer being the last extended time for several years Kalie and I will be in the same town with nothing to do save enjoy summer vacation, becoming completely absorbed in wildly engrossing novels that consume my whole days and nights could probably be saved for later.
Soooo…now Kelly’s about half a book behind me. Kalie’s moved and settled into her lovely new apartment in Indiana. And I have a lot of important Outlander ahead of me! Normally I do these lists and count down to the #1 choice. This time I’m going to invert the order and present these books in the order I’ll read them.
1) Diana Gabaldon’s An Echo In The Bone – This is the seventh book in the series and first on my to-be-read list this fall!
2) Diana Gabaldon’s Written In My Own Heart’s Blood – This is (currently) the FINAL book in the Outlander series!!! I am already emotional at the thought of reading this. I cannot even IMAGINE what it will be like WHEN I’M ACTUALLY READING THIS. Educated guess? I am going to be crying. A LOT.
3) Diana Gabaldon’s The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel – This was THE BEST Birthday Surprise this year! Kelly found me an Outlander comic book! FOR REAL. Not only is it a comic book version of my second favorite book of all time but I also learned that Diana Gabaldon got her start writing comic books! (I know that because I already took a look and read the introduction!) As if I needed another reason to love her as an author even more than I do now…
4) Diana Gabaldon’s The Scottish Prisoner: A Novel – This was another fantastic birthday gift from Kelly. This is a novel with a story that accompanies the events in the main Outlander books, featuring one of my FAVORITE supporting characters from the novels, Lord John Grey. Diana Gabaldon’s written a series of novellas and novels about the adventures of Lord John Grey. I’ve avoided the (significantly smaller books) because a) I was too into Claire and Jamie’s story and b) I was scared of unintentional spoilers. But, once I’m all caught up on the series, it’ll be time to jump into Lord John Grey’s adventures!
5) Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God – This is Kalie’s favorite book of all time. When she realized I’d never read it, she gave me a copy. Well, I thought she’d given me her own personal copy. I was overcome by the gesture but, given my rabid case of book OCD, I was too scared to read her own copy of a book that means so much to her. What if I ruined it?!? I got anxious whenever I thought of reading it. I couldn’t handle the stress!!! Well, I finally told Kalie why I hadn’t read it…and she clarified she’d bought me a copy of the book. Oh! Now I could read without imagining I was on the verge of ruining some precious, personal memory (something that Kalie would never think of but would have plagued me the whole time…I know – I’m insane). So, I figure as the fall wears on and I start to miss Kalie more and more, jumping into her favorite book would be a great experience. I imagine it will be like the book equivalent of a big, warm, welcoming hug!
Well, there you have it folks! Does this seem like an excessive amount of Diana Gabaldon to you? Well IT ISN’T. As I said last week, once I encountered her writing, everything else seemed a little flat comparatively. It will be the easiest thing in the world to surround myself with her gorgeous prose, vivid settings, and rich characters once I start back up. What will be difficult will be reading something else again once I’m all caught up!
The discerning reader may note that the school year is upon us once more. You may wonder why I feel I can focus on both the captivating world of Outlander and still get my grading done in a timely fashion now when I feared I couldn’t before. Well, with Kalie out of town at super smart people school, I have to do something with my free time :).