The Greatest Story Ever Told
I have a hard time choosing favorites. Blame it on indecision, ADD or that I simply enjoy too many things immensely. Whatever the reason, I can’t exactly pick just one favorite anything. Movies, music, colors, adorable puppies my husband won’t buy for me – the list goes on and on. Much like qualifying the question of ‘what is your favorite color?’, I will say that when it comes to books, I have many favorites from throughout the years.
Favorite book from middle school: Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
It is no secret that I love allegories, and the Chronicles of Narnia are beautiful examples that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike (many times over, of course). I have read the set at least ten times, though I don’t really keep track. I’ve even seen the old BBC version of the movies (not the latest Disney versions, but the ones with the corniest puppets and green screen effects you’ve ever seen. Yes, I said puppets – and I don’t mean the cool muppet type). While most people have either read or seen “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”, I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has read “The Magician’s Nephew” or “The Last Battle“. As it turns out, those are two of my more favored tales from the collection. The Magician’s Nephew details the account of the creation of the world (pretty creative stuff in there, involving an in-between world full of pools that lead to various realms). The Last Battle is a bit darker, and involves a lot of speculation as to ‘end times’. Whether you are a person of faith or not, it is an interesting and compelling story that portrays characters seeking to deceive for the sake of power. Ultimately, that craving for power and control leads to selfish violence and destruction. Heavy stuff for a kid’s story, but if the books are read in order, the development of the characters and events paints a picture of human nature that is hard to deny. While it may sound that the books just point out our innate flaws, it also offers hope in the redemption of characters. Stories that confront truth while offering hope are the ones I am drawn to.
Favorite book from high school: The Source – James A. Michener
For many, history is a subject that often puts us to sleep. I’ll admit: I love the idea of loving history…but my ADD won’t allow me to in reality. In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean..Hey! I like sailing! See what I mean? While traditional history books are quite boring to me, I was surprised to be enthralled with “The Source” when it showed up on my high school required reading for world history. It is a chronological history of the Jews from ancient times to modern day – told in fictional novel form. While the details of the book are a bit fuzzy (I’m a visual person, so if they made a movie, I’m sure I could recite the whole thing from heart), I remember being excited to read each chapter and find out what happened next in the story. My advice to history professors: write more novels! I’ve been meaning to give this one another read, now that I’m much older and wiser – ehem.
Favorite book from college: Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
While in college, I was fascinated with apologetics, and towards the end of my studies, I finally picked up “Mere Christianity”. Now, you may be wondering why I would include two books by the same author in my list. Although I think Lewis was a brilliant writer, I don’t get behind a single author or genre simply because of labels. I read a variety of authors and topics and in the end, I find that these books simply made more of an impact on me than others. That being the case, I can say with certainty that this book is quite compelling and convincing in its position and arguments. However, even if you don’t care for the theme of the content, read it as an exercise in debate. The manner in which Lewis presents his evidence, makes his case, and closes the deal is amazing. I constantly found myself in awe of how he was able to make complicated statements seem so simple and obvious. If I had the ability to reduce my musings to a single sentence the way Lewis does in Mere Christianity, I could convince someone of anything.
Favorite book after college: The Shack – Wm. P. Young
This one is a bit of an oddball in my collection. While it does deal with spiritual themes (did I mention I love allegories?) it really doesn’t fit with any of the other styles of writing to this point. The writing itself is nothing amazing, but the story captivated me. The story follows the journey of a man who returns to the shack where his kidnapped daughter was murdered. There, he has an encounter with God that surprises him, and changes his life. The authors interpretation of God is quite unusual and though I found it odd at first, by the end of the story, I understood the purpose for this choice. The story can be difficult to follow emotionally, and has a bittersweet ending. However, the story resonated with me because of the many losses I have experienced in my life. Journeying step by step alongside the main character was a sort of therapy for me in a way. Going through the emotions of grief, despair, anger, and then hope once more struck a deep chord with me as I recounted the times I had challenged the very concept of a loving God, much like the character in the story. The personal revelations I had through reading “The Shack” kept me thinking about it long after I had turned the last page. I think it helped me deal with many of the darker questions I was always afraid to voice. I recommend the book for the simple reason that it caused deep personal reflection.
Favorite book now: The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
Kept you hanging, didn’t I? Surely there has to be an architecture book in the mix (besides pop-ups, that is!). I find it amazing that I knew I wanted to be an architect since middle school, but it took me this long to even open Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead” about the greatest architect of all time. While I haven’t finished the book yet, I can already tell that it will be my favorite book (okay, one of my favorites – I can’t choose, remember?). The writing is beautiful and complex. The plot is thick and detailed. The characters are developed slowly, and thoroughly. Almost every page contains a brilliant sentence or paragraph that perfectly describes every sentiment about architecture and design I’ve ever had. Ayn Rand’s novel is by far, one of the most accurate and thought provoking depictions of architects. It presents the obstacle each one of us face: pursue pure, unadulterated design for the sake of the design and be poor or work ‘for the man’ doing mundane projects that pay the bills. While this thought was distilled into over-simplistic labels, the manner in which Rand paints this picture is uncanny. You understand the struggle of the architect and you cheer for him as if your career depended on it.
I wish I had more time for reading. As it is, I find my time going towards writing and subsequently proof-reading my own articles – not exactly broadening my horizons, so to speak. However, when I have the chance, I love picking up a good book, reading a great story and examining how it relates to my life.
If you’d like to spend more time reading true literature, you can buy a copy of The Fountainhead (or any other book) through my store. Happy reading!
Written by: Brinn Miracle