What's in your personal canon?

By now everyone has published, or at least seen, a personal canon post.  The idea is to compile a list of books that have had a real and lasting effect on us, and that we consider 'great,' whether or not they're classics in the usual sense.  So here we go, a list (inevitably partial) of books that have had a lot of impact on me.

I used to have this poster on my wall!
 First, I have to list an awful lot of children's authors.  The inside of my head was, to a large extent, built or influenced by these names, and even if I don't read them as often now, they are still some of my most important.  Since I read as much as I could of each of these, I'm not going to put individual book titles down.

Diana Wynne Jones
Daniel Pinkwater
Madeleine L'Engle
Eleanor Farjeon
C. S. Lewis
L. M. Boston
John Bellairs
Tove Jansson

Now for the books I read when I was more of an adult, in no particular order at all:

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
The Quest of the Holy Grail
My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell
The Queen's Diadem, by C. J. L. Almqvist
Arranged Marriage (and other works), by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years - Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times, by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
The Book of the City of Ladies, by Christine de Pizan
Patterns of Thought, by Robert Foster
A Distant Mirror, by Barbara Tuchman
The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, and The Discarded Image, by C. S. Lewis
Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
Kindly Inquisitors, by Jonathan Rauch
A Time of Gifts and sequels, by Patrick Leigh Fermor
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak
Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
Up From Slavery, by Booker T. Washington
Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
 In the First Circle, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon
Eugene Onegin, by Pushkin
The Rosemary Tree, by Elizabeth Goudge

If you haven't done a personal canon post yet, I hope you will soon!  I've loved reading others' posts.

Acquired this one a few years ago :)


  1. Aw this is a great list. CS Lewis and DWJ for me as well, obviously, but apart from that, hell if I know what would be in my personal canon. How to choose! I'd just be staring at my bookshelves for ages and trying to narrow it down. :p

  2. You did it! And you remind me once more, I really ought to read some more Daniel Pinkwater. The only one I remember reading as a child was that book about the house that got splotched with orange paint, which I loved. Do you have any suggestions for an adult reader?

  3. Jenny, that is pretty well exactly what I did! I also have a tag 'books everybody should read' so I consulted that. But it was a tough proposition!

    The Big Orange Splot! That's a great one. Lory, I think Lizard Music is a good place to start. After that, Alan Mendelsohn, and then the Snarkout Boys books. Those are my favorites, but most of the others are good too.

  4. That poster of Sting is great!

    I still haven't read Northanger Abbey, but a good friend of mine said it is her favorite Austen; and you've added it to your canon. I need to get to it!!!

  5. Northanger Abbey is a delight. And very funny! I think you would love it.

  6. I think I would be much more successful listing authors rather than specific books. Jane Eyre definitely though.

  7. I'd love to see it! Please write one. :)


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