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I'm No Art Garfunkel: My Top Three

Lonesome Dove, The Dollmaker, Jurassic Park, and What?

If you can believe Rolling Stone, the singer Art Garfunkel has shelf after shelf of all the books he’s read, numbered in the order he read them and coded on how he liked them. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

I’m not sure how many would be on my shelves, but it would be quite a few. At least it would have been before I gave away about 200 books a few months ago. I rarely read ink and paper and they were hard to move. There are still 50 or 60 on my shelf, mostly biographies, self-help and sales books, and a book of quotations. I have 301 audio titles on my iPhone today, and another 40 or so tucked away in iTunes. Of all those books, all I’ve ever read or listened to, I have three absolute favorites.

First, far and away, is Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry. I’ve read it 15 or 16 times, at least, and I’ve listened to it seven or eight times, and have yet to grow tired of it. At only 945 pages—or 36 hours in audio—I still feel cheated when I finish, and I miss the characters. I love the story and the people, but I am forever enthralled by the language, by McMurtry’s masterful attention to detail and word choice, small things that set up something that happens 200 pages later.

Second is The Dollmaker by Harriet Arnow. It is so painful, so despairing, so relentless in heartache that I’ve never been able to read it a second time. I tried again a year ago and I just can’t do it. It crushes me bit by bit. It is masterful, gripping, and filled with anguish. I still tear up thinking about it.

Third is Jurassic Park, one of Michael Crichton’s most compelling stories of greed and technology. It also is relentless in adventure and misfortune for the protagonists. It isn’t really great literature, but it is a fun read.

There are many, many books vying for the Number 4 spot, but I recommend any of these three for your reading and listening pleasure.

Now it’s your turn. What are your three long-term favorites?

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