Ten Old Books I Love
Depending on your perspective, I’m old—at any rate, I’m past my mid-century mark. So by definition, the books I read and loved when I was young are now, well, old. (I don’t think of myself as old, though!)
That said, even as a child, I tended to read as many older books as current releases. So here, listed alphabetically by title, are ten books I love that were already older than I was when I first read them, and must certainly count as “old” by now. All are books I will gladly read again (and have), which is what constitutes a favorite for me.
- Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery), and the whole series, really. Also The Blue Castle and some of her other books.
- Gaudy Night (Dorothy L. Sayers), and most of the other Lord Peter Wimsey books.
- Gentian Hill (Elizabeth Goudge), along with A City of Bells, Pilgrim’s Inn, The Rosemary Tree, and several of her other books.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis), and the other Narnia books (except The Last Battle, which is not a favorite.)
- The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien). Also The Hobbit, though I don’t love it in the same way.
- Little Women (Louisa May Alcott). Also Eight Cousins, and to a lesser extent, the sequels to both of those.
- The Scarlet Pimpernel (Baroness Orczy)
- The Secret Adversary (Agatha Christie), and a number of her other books. (Did you know that The Secret Adversary is 100 years old?!
- The Secret Garden (Frances Hodson Burnett). Also A Little Princess.
- Twelfth Night (William Shakespeare), along with a number of his other plays. (Yes, I read plays for fun sometimes.)
These didn’t quite make the cut, for various reasons. In some cases (*), I loved the book when I was younger but haven’t reread it in many years — though I may well read it again in the future. In other cases (**), I felt I had put enough children’s books on the list already; otherwise, it would have been in the list above.
- At the Back of the North Wind* (George MacDonald)
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer* (Mark Twain)
- Ballet Shoes** (Noel Streatfeild)
- Frenchman’s Creek* (Daphne DuMaurier) Rebecca is good, and so is Jamaica Inn, but I loved Frenchman’s Creek in my youth.
- Jane Eyre* (Charlotte Bronte)
- Nine Coaches Waiting (Mary Stewart), along with several of her other books. This one was edged out by The Scarlet Pimpernel only on the basis of age, and because I thought my main list really ought to have at least one 19th-century novel on it! But in terms of how often I reread them, Stewart’s novels would win.
- Swallows and Amazons** (Arthur Ransome), and several of the sequels
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea* and The Mysterious Island* (Jules Verne)
- Winnie the Pooh** (A. A. Milne). Also The House at Pooh Corner.
- The Wizard of Oz** (L. Frank Baum)
This is where I should probably admit that there are a great many classic novels that I never read, and several that I read but didn’t enjoy. (Sometimes I think we do a disservice to our teens and young adults, making them read great novels before they have the maturity and experience to fully appreciate them.) And there are some that I keep meaning to read that I believe I will love, but haven’t gotten around to yet. Jane Austen falls in the latter category, and I really hope to pick up Pride and Prejudice before the end of the year.