Building a Personal Canon of Books: Part 1

There are some books that are so uniquely powerful in my life that I return to them over and over. Over time, I have built up a personal canon of books. Certain books I have read enough that they are like revisiting old friends. They are my personal classics, and provide a richness each time I reread.

Do you have a personal canon of books? This would be a set of books that have been the most influential in shaping your life, and that are worth reading again. I would love to share with you some of the books that have shaped me the most.

Gone With The Wind

People who know me well won’t be surprised by this one. I’ve talked about what a huge impact Gone With The Wind had on me before, so I won’t fully rehash it. I read this book every year, because Margaret Mitchell was a true master of understanding human behavior.

Jane Austen

I really think Jane Austen should be on everyone’s list to read. Her writings are relevant in our current times, because she highlights many of the ways that people can misunderstand one another. She also shows marriage relationships in all their variety. I have had so many great discussions with others about Jane Austen’s works. She is a great author to open up discussion about great ideas. My favorite is Persuasion, but I love them all.

Les Miserables

This is one of the most tragically beautiful books I have ever read. So many lessons about how people can change and how a life’s work can enlighten, or not. This book has much to teach me about human suffering and endurance.

Vanity Fair

To be completely transparent, I’ve only read this one twice. However, it profoundly effected me. In this book, almost every decision the character’s make is terrible. When I first began reading this, I was so annoyed by the terrible decisions. However, as the book continued I realized that all these bad decisions were having realistic consequences. I now think of this book as a great example of consequences.

Charles Dickens

Sometimes when life is rough, it is nice to be reminded of how really, really blessed we are. Dickens books always help me have gratitude for the many amazing blessings I have. He also helps me realize that I have choices no matter what my current circumstances entail. I love David Copperfield and Hard Times, especially, but every Dickens is worth the read. (Not that I’ve read them all, yet. Working on it.)

So that’s a list of some of my most meaningful book experiences. This post includes the fiction half of my personal book canon. I realized about half way through that I need a separate list for nonfiction, so come back next week to read all about those!


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