Wisdom From Kammbia 2.24: If You Had To Start Your Library Over Again What Novels Would You Choose?

by | Jul 16, 2012 | Wisdom From Kammbia Column | 7 comments

Well here in San Antonio….it is summer and the heat wave is no joke.  Also, we are in the midst of hurricane season.  So far so good on that front.

However, I was thinking that what would happened if I lost my entire library?  What novels would I choose to start over again?

I would have to choose from novels that I’ve already read and I can choose up to ten.  Here are my choices:

1) Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin (My second favorite novel…but first on the list.  Go Figure! This is one of the most beautifully written novels and it shows the power of fantasy and imagination as real literature.)

2) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (My favorite novelI would have never thought that in a million years.)

3) The Testament by John Grisham (I had not read a Grisham novel until this one.  A great story about redemption and the effects of wealth on a family.)

4) Lost Mission by Athol Dickson (This is a powerful novel about how faith can transform lives in the most unexpected ways.  Dickson deserves to mention along with John Irving, Richard Ford, and Richard Russo as one of the best writers in contemporary literary fiction.)

5) Home Is the Sailor by Jorge Amado (The father of modern Brazilian Literature wrote a playful but powerful tale about truth, gossip, and social status.  This novel is not well-known but is worth reading.)

6) Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright (In fantasy literature, there is the big two of C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien.  However, Wright’s novel deserves to make it a big three.  This underground utopian classic is unlike anything I have ever read.  And the fact he invented an entire world that was never meant to be published makes it even more fascinating.  Also, there are three sequels published by Mark Saxton (Wright’s editor) that add to the richness of the Islandian universe.)

7) Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (A modern classic that deals racism and what is means to be human.)

8) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Another modern classic deals with racism from a southerner’s perspective.  I must admit I didn’t think I would like this novel.  However, I thought it was a good story and it showed a young girl growing up in a difficult time.

Those are my choices.  How about yours?


  1. LaCharmine L.A. Jefferson

    I liked your post. Interesting choices, especially To Kill a Mickingbird. That’s one of my favorite classics. My own list would include Trying to Sleep in the Bed You Made by Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant, Big Girls Don’t Cry by Connie Briscoe, Better than I Know Myself by Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant, Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan, Vivid by Beverly Jenkins. These are a few of the books that had the most impact on my desire to become an author. Other books would include invaluable writing resources.

    • kammbia1

      Thanks for your comment, La Charmine!

      I heard that Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan was considered her best novel.


  2. Steve Myers

    1. Francine Rivers, ‘And the Shofar Blew.’
    2. Frank Peretti, ‘This Present Darkness/Piercing the Darkness.’
    3. The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers, Amy Hollingsworth
    4. The Lonestar Series by Colleen Coble (1-4)
    5. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
    First replacement if I lost it though would be a Bible though I have every one I’ve owned in my lifetime on a shelf – some tattered and well worn. Great post.

    Steve Myers

    • kammbia1

      Thanks for your comments, Steve.

      I just added Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness to my reading bucket list. That was from another post I did a few weeks back. I’ve been wanting to read that novel. I’ve heard very good things about it and Peretti is considered the predecessor to people like Ted Dekker and Mike Duran.

      I wanted to keep it to fiction….because the Bible would be my first choice as well if I added non-fiction. LOL!


    • kammbia1


      I noticed your choices and I’m wondering if you have ever read Athol Dickson? I put his Lost Mission novel on my list.

      He has become one of my favorite authors and deserves wider recognition.


  3. markbeyer

    Hi, Marion…
    The ”Lost Library” is a real thing, these days, as I have moved from the USA to Europe (Prague, now, for 4-yrs), so my library is in flux. The TOP 5 novels I have with me always are:
    1. ”Mating” by Norman Rush (a lush novel set in Africa and where the ritual of mate selection (love!) takes center stage; but how this happens is more important than why)
    2. ”Sabbath’s Theater” by Philip Roth (the ”Monk of Fornication” brings another ribald character whose life is dissected and, surprise, he’s found to be terribly human)
    3. ”A House for Mr Biswas” by V.S. Naipaul (the life of the extended family is explored, via the society of a Caribbean nation and Indian family; a hilarious story of misconception and misconstruence)
    4. ”The Message to the Planet” by Iris Murdoch (a philosopher has a Big Idea to deliver; or does he? Someone is trying to find out, and only discussions straight from the horse’s mouth will do.)
    5. ”Rabbit, Run” by John Updike (the first of his ”Rabbit Angstrom” quartet, where a young man finds that life has closed in, and his only way to react is by instinct)
    Each of these novels grapples with the universal themes of family, relationships, love, and what it is to be human. Thoughtfully written, thought-provocation, and ultimately fun.

    • kammbia1

      Thanks for your comments, Mark.

      I hope your move to Europe went smoothly as possible.

      You have some interesting choices. I just read my first John Updike novel, S., a few months ago. I know that novel was not considered one of his best. But, I had to try something of his that was not well-known.

      Also, I have heard that Mating by Norman Rush is an excellent novel. I used to work at Borders Books in Albuquerque, NM in the late 1990s and that book was a steady seller in that store. I had kept that in mind to read that novel, but never got to it. Thanks for the reminder.




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Marion Hill