Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And Then There Were Three.

Choosing a Top 100 whatever is easy.
Narrowing it down, is not.

Personally, I don’t place much emphasis on what The Times newspaper says you should experience, taste or visit in your lifetime. To me that’s just some editor with a half page gap to fill on page 7 of a Holiday Special Edition. I know. I’ve had to write them before.

This week I was challenged to think about what my Top Three Books are. Now this was not an easy task. I’m an avid reader and nothing puts me more in my Happy Place than an unknown title, with euphoric ink scent, picked off a shelf at a second-hand book store.

Seriously? Three? If I was allowed 10 that would be a different story…many different stories. But no. I am given just three. So these are the ones I choose…

'The Elements of Moral Philosophy' by James Rachels. It’s a book I came across in my first year at university. One of those ones you look at and think, ‘This is going to require concentration…’ which may not sound all that appealing, but from the first page I was hooked. It deals with ethics and explores different moral theories such as Utilitarianism, Egoism and the Social Contract Theory – put simply it’s a challenge to the way we live – for the greater good of ourselves and others or survival of the fittest? Where other philosophers have put people to sleep in their explanation of morals, Rachels managed to write in understandable terms and include relevant examples such as what would you do if put in the position of giving up your own life to save a thousand others? Well, that’s always something to think about, isn’t it…

'Letters of a Portuguese Nun' by Myriam Cyr. History, mystery…what more does a romantic heart need? First published anonymously in 1669, the debate
continues about whether Mariana Alcoforado (1640-1723), a 17th century Franciscan nun, wrote five love letters to Frenchman Noel Bouton, Marquis de Chamilly (1635–1715) a fighter in the Portuguese Restoration War. The correspondence caused a sensation; raw in their honesty, intimacy and yearning. What of faith and a life consecrated to Christ though? Myriam Cyr explores the historical accuracy of whether the nun, her lover and the letters ever existed and the likelihood Mariana penned those passionate epistles. Perhaps this is one story whose origins will never be completely known and that, for me, is good reading.

'Adventures of the Wishing-Chair' by Enid Blyton. Ahh the memories of Mollie, Peter and Chinky the pixie. [insert smile here] All of Enid Blyton’s novels are an adventure so it was hard to select a specific one. Although I’m going with this particular title, the author is the influence. My eldest niece recently discovered The Famous Five and part of her delight is knowing how many books are in the series. I understand her enthusiasm. I’m still drawn in by the characters, places and dialogue. Although I can lie back on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a Blyton in my hand knowing I’ll have consumed it in an hour, I can’t pass them by. They are a reminder of a childhood filled with magic and imagination; where anything seemed possible if you bought a rocking chair at an antique store owned by fairies.