Some personal favorites

Review by Lynda La Rocca

Books – December 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

My taste in books is all over the map. Often, that map is not in any atlas. I love books about mystical, magical beings from other times or worlds.

When it comes to fantasy writing — and fantastic writing — no one will ever out-Tolkien J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s epic, three-volume account of the War of the Ring in the Third Age of Middle-Earth, is a breath-taking, awe-inspiring adult fairy tale. Similarly, his The Silmarillion, which predates in time the events of The Lord of the Rings, is a wondrous collection of the legends of the Elder Days of the First Age of the World — a creation story for the hobbits, dwarfs, ents, elves, and other fantastic creatures who take center stage in the Rings trilogy.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is a vivid, touching Christmas story about a silver bell from Santa’s sleigh which rings only for those who truly believe. Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, about a tree who gives everything she has to a little boy, poignantly depicts love that endures despite time, hurts, and change. Although both are children’s books, adults can learn much from these simple, beautifully told tales.

As a devoted Anglophile who is especially consumed by all things Tudor, I consider The Autobiography of Henry VIII, a novel by Margaret George, to be a triumph. George’s compelling, imaginative, and thoroughly-researched narrative of the monarch who shaped the first half of 16th-century England unfolds as a journal written by the much-wed (and divorced and widowed) Henry himself.

Finally, in the category of the American West, Wallace Stegner’s classic Angle of Repose, parts of which are set in Leadville, is unforgettable.

— Lynda La Rocca