steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Comment with the words "Top Ten" or "Top Five", and I will reply with a subject for which you will generate a top ten (or top five) list. Post the list and instructions in your own journal.

I've never done a meme before, so let's find out if it suits me. At first I was tempted to read this (from lilliburlero) as an invitation to list the top five books I'd written, but that would be putting the 'Me! Me!' into meme perhaps a little too stridently. Nor do I have the chutzpah to list the Top Five children's books ever, since there are so many classics I haven't even read. So this is just a list of the books that do it for me personally.

The Owl Service, by Alan Garner. The book that reinvented children's fantasy. No quest, no dark lord, no prophecies, no kings in need of restoration, no spells, no portals, no wishes granted - and a Chosen One only in the sense that character is fate. It's also a modernist classic, forty years too late. 

The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper. A wonderful and deceptively simple conception, and a profound feeling for place and myth, which magickified the Thames Valley for me (something that had never seemed likely before).

Fire and Hemlock, by Diana Wynne Jones. Not a typical DWJ book, but my favourite all the same. I love it for its subtle interleaving of the magical and the quotidian, the mythic and the mundane, which strikes me as absolutely true to life (in all the important ways...) It's also a great take on the 'Tam Lin' ballad, for those who are fans of that story, of whom I am one.

The Changeover, by Margaret Mahy. This book keeps going in and out of print, but I see it's just come back in, so I'm celebrating! Like Fire and Hemlock it's a supernatural romance and magical coming-of-age story, but is different in almost every other way. But DWJ and Mahy both produced some wonderful books in the early-mid '80s, as witnessed by the fact that they've shared the ChLA's Phoenix award for the last few years. This is Mahy's finest, IMHO: it uses witchcraft in a way that's since become perhaps a little cliched, post-Buffy - but this is the original and best.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis. My favourite of the Narnia books. No apocalypse or battles, but an Odyssean journey to the world's utter east, in the company of the more companionable Pevenseys - and Reepicheep!

Tags: books, meme
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