Friday, March 23, 2012

My Canon of Literature

After reading a blog by The Bookshelf Muse last night, about 'canon of literature' I had a bit of a think about it. The blog entry I read explains that your canon of literature is a list of books out of all that you've read which touched you so deeply that you still go back to them years later. The Bookshelf Muse blog explains that it is important to identify your own canon; it shows where you came from and what you value as a writer.

So today, I thought I'd share my little list. I'm only 17 and was not a big reader as a child, so it's not an extensive list at this point. But here it is.

Jenny Angel by Margaret Wild. Yes, it's a picture-story book, wow! This was illustrated by Anna Spudvilas and I remember first reading it in yr 2... well, I remember my teacher reading it to the class. And I remember thinking that it was beautiful. After I moved schools and began to hang out in the library a lot, I remember seeing it when I was in yr 7 and picking it up to read it, because of all the books from my childhood, I remembered it. Since finding it in my school library, I have returned for the pleasure of reading that book over and over and over again. It's a sad story about a girl who's little brother is sick, and she believes that she is his guardian angel and can save him. Now I see that I value sibling relationships in my writing, which is very evident in my novel Evergreen: A Fallen Star, where the three protagonists are brothers and sisters, yet best friends all the way. I will eventually obtain my own copy of Jenny Angel... it's been a whole 10 years since I first read it and I'm still in love with it.

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke. I read this for the first time in yr 6, so I was about 12. How many times did I read it? At least 5 in that one year. It's by the same author who wrote the Inkworld trilogy (Inkheart, which I also loved, and Inkspell and Inkdeath which I am yet to read). This story is about a silver dragon and his brownie friend who are on a mission to find a new place for the other silver dragons to live safely, because humans are invading their home. On an epic journey to the Himalayas, they befriend a human and a manikin worker of their enemy; a gold dragon, who's diet had consisted of silver dragons until they had disappeared. Obviously fantasy and friendship; topics which I love to write. The idea of the epic journey to an unknown place, and an enemy who remains unknown to the protagonists for a long while, is found in Evergreen: A Fallen Star. I will admit now that the copy of Dragon Rider I own is actually my mothers, but she's never read it and never will, and I doubt she'll notice it's absence now that I've abducted it from her bookshelf and placed it on my own.

Hitler's Daughter by Jackie French. I read this first in yr 5 (so I was 11 yrs old) and I didn't understand much of it at all. But what I did understand, I enjoyed, and I fell in love with it completely two years later, when I had to study it for English at school, and understood it better. A girl tells her friend a story as they wait for their bus to take them to school; the story of Hitler's daughter. As far as her friends are concerned, it's just that; a story. But one boy is suspicious and curious and wants to know more, undecided on whether he believes the story to be true or not. All the while, the story is told beautifully to the readers as they flash-back through time to World War II. The end of the story has that good old sting-in-the-tail effect and leaves the readers unsure of how fictional the story is too. I can't think of any examples where this books has been reflected in Evergreen: A Fallen Star, except that on more than one occasion, stories are told between the characters. I did have a copy of this book at some point, but it's disappeared off the face of the earth. I'm pretty sure I gave it to my best friend's little brother when he had to study it for English a few years later, and I never got it back because the friendship fell apart and I am no longer on speaking terms with that family. Damn...

So that's my short list of canon literature, and my little rant about it. Has anyone else read any of these books? What about you guys, what do your canon lists consist of and why? I hope to add more titles to this list in due time.

- Bonnee.


  1. Greg GortonMarch 23, 2012

    antoine de saint-exupéry - The Little Prince
    G G Marquez - One hundred years of Solitude
    Chuck Palahniuk - Fight Club (and all others)
    Haruki Murakami - An Elephant Vanishes
    John Steinbeck - Of Mice and Men
    F Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
    Ian Fleming - Casino Royale
    Hunter S Thompson - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
    Patrick Suskind - Perfume

    And about a bijillion others,,,,

    1. That's a bigger list than mine for sure :) I'll have to read some of them!

  2. Pretty much anything by James Lee Burke, but especially his "Rain Gods" "Glass Rainbow" and "In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead."

    "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand.

    "Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon- Selected Poems" by Pablo Neruda.

    "Dracula," by Bram Stoker

    "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee.

    "Lush Life," by Richard Price.

    Each of these works is a crackling display of style and substance.

    1. I've heard a bit about the James Lee Burke stuff (I LOVE the titles, they sound AWESOME) and I've heard good things about Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged". I'll have to check them out some time. Thanks for sharing your list :)


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