Monday, January 16, 2017

Top Fives with the Kid

The internet works in mysterious ways.

Recently I got a comment from a heretofore unknown person, Olivia at Books in Blankets.  It was a nice comment, so I drifted over to her blog to browse.  I liked what I saw, and fell down one of those "let me now stalk this blog's archives" rabbit holes.  She wrote a post awhile back about her five favorite books, the ones she'd keep if she was only allowed five books for the rest of her life, which thankfully is a hypothetical situation.

I mean, can you imagine?

Anyway, this ended up starting a game for my ten year old and me last night after dinner.  We picked our top five in several categories.  Then, at her insistence, we had to pick our number one.  SO HARD.  But also just for fun, so I tried to not get too obsessive about getting the "right" answers.

And now, highly influenced by Olivia's post, I'm sharing our choices with you.  Feel free to play along in the comments!  (Thanks, Olivia!)

The kid's picks:

  • Burmese Mountain Dog 
  • German Shepherd
  • Corgi
  • Siberian Husky
  • Pomeranian
My picks:
  • Siberian Husky 
  • Newfoundland (I would've chosen Burmese Mtn. dog too, but wanted variety)
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
    My beautiful Tilly Jane.  You can't tell from here, but she had one brown and one blue eye.  And she was so FLUFFY!
I grew up with a Scottie, and we added a Husky when I was in 8th grade.  The Winemaker has terrible allergies--and winemakers need to be able to use their sense of smell--so my poor kids aren't able to have cats and dog.  So all of this is highly theoretical, and based 99% on the dog's looks.  Her number one choice was Pomeranian "because I couldn't decide between Huskies and Corgis!" and mine was a Husky.  

The kid's picks:
  • Polar bear
  • leopard
  • white tiger
  • harp seal
  • African elephant ("Which is different from an Asian elephant, Mom.")
My picks:
  • caribou
  • grey wolf
  • Siberian tiger
  • sea otter
  • blue whale
What can I say?  We're mammal fans.  Her top choice was the white tiger, but she whispered her answer so her stuffed leopard wouldn't be offended.  I went with wolves.


  • bald eagle
  • red tailed hawk
  • chickadee
  • barn owl
  • downy woodpecker
  • kestrel falcon
  • snowy owl (Hedwig!)
  • chickadee
  • pileated woodpecker
  • stork
Top choices were the hawk and stork.  I so loved seeing actual storks and their gigantic nests when I was living in the Baltics.


  • Harry Potter series
  • The Princess Bride
  • a recording of the Nutcracker ballet
  • The Lion King
  • Zootopia
  • Up
  • The Princess Bride
  • Life is Beautiful
  • Lord of the Rings (since apparently we can choose series)
  • The Sound of Music (which I kind of have to sing along with)
We watched Princess Bride together recently and have been quoting it right and left, so we both chose that for our current fave.


  • trillium
  • daisy
  • water lily
  • rose
  • bluebell
  • trillium
  • Gerbera daisy
  • Indian paintbrush (how's THAT for an insensitive name?  Love the flower though.)
  • lupine
  • calla lily
Her favorite is the water lily, which I did not know.  Mine is the trillium, which she did know, give that it's her middle name.  


And now for the good stuff!  She insisted we separate our books into two categories, because she wanted to be sure we had a cookbook, but didn't want to give up any fiction for it.  Also, she declared series to be acceptable as one answer, then chose all the long series she could think of.  I held myself to a higher standard.  Ahem*.

  • a book about wolves
  • a book about Lithuania
  • a book about animal care
  • How to Cook Everything
  • grandma's gigantic National Geographic atlas 
She settled on the atlas as her number one choice (which is so cool, I think), and I'd have to hang on to the recipes.  


And--grand finale--
Her list
My list
That was super hard, of course, because we were both thinking about length and complexity as much as "did I love this book?"  If you don't have many books, you want them each to be meaty.  For a more complete look at my favorites you can either click on the "Falconer's Favorites" page above, or check out my "100 Books I Could Survive On" shelf on Goodreads.  I should go in and do some ruthless curation of that--I don't think I've updated it in a couple of years, and there might be some bumping required.  

* Okay, if I HAD allowed myself to pick series, I think I'd have:
  • Reginald Hill's Pascoe and Dalziel series, with 24 progressively better mysteries total
  • Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series, with only three books, but so inventive and moving!
  • Neal Shusterman's Unwind series is one of those trilogies that expanded to five books, HURRAH!
  • L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, because as much as I love HP, Anne was my childhood series
  • Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley series, because even when the recurring characters piss me off, the mysteries are so much more than mysteries. Plus Barbara Havers is my alter-ego.  I would love to not give a fuck as spectacularly as she does.  

Play "top five" with YOUR family!  I think our topic choices say as much about us as the items selected.  What categories would you include?  What are some of your top fives?  


  1. My favorite dog is a husky. I want to get one someday, but I’m kinda scared of the dog hair situation. They shed a lot. My favorite nonfiction book is Winterdance, and my favorite fiction book is The Handmaid’s Tale. My favorite flower is a tiger lily. I’m not sure about movies or wild critters. I haven’t picked favorites.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Tiger lily! How did I forget?!? Columbine is another good one. Delphinium, lobelia, avalanche lily--now that the pressure is off I can remember all sorts of good ones.

      Yeah, we had to not only vacuum a lot, but scrape the area rugs with damp cloths. Once my mom collected enough husky fur to give to a friend who was a spinner, and the lady ended up making a sweater. Kind of weird, but cool.

  2. This is such a fun post! I have yet to read the Unwind series, although I have the first book. So many books, so little time.
    For animals I would say:
    dog, wolf, owl, cat, all other birds
    Books would be really hard. Right now I would say:
    Throne of Glass (series), Hunger Games (series), Walk on Earth a Stranger, Flamecaster, And I Darken.
    That's just if I had to choose today. Who knows what I would choose tomorrow, or in a week, or in a year.
    Thanks for sharing this prompt, I might just do it with my kids.

    1. I kept having to reassure myself that it was okay if I didn't get "the right" answer to these--it was just in the moment, for fun!

  3. This was fun! I loved that you included your daughter's choices and made it a bonding activity. I'm not sure I could narrow mine down to 5! I'd really have to think about it!

    1. It was surprisingly challenging. The final choices are always somewhat arbitrary, but it was still fun trying to come up with them.

  4. I love what you've come up with. I'd definitely take the Australian Shepherd, because I've got one and they're gorgeous. I'd like Husky but I fear it's too warm here? We don't get snow (the entire country stops the one day it does snow and then it's 3 flakes). I like the Belgium shepherds (Tervuren and Malinois). And I'd definitely save the owls! For wild animals. All of them, if you get to choose entire book series, I get to choose ALL owls! Also checking out the books that I didn't know on your list now :) Great post!

  5. What a fun activity. I'll have to do this with my daughter on a random afternoon. She likes this sort of thing. She is also obsessed with the Warriors books. She's read them ALL like four times (which is saying something since there's over 30 of them). I love Australian Shepherds since I have two of them (mixes, but still).

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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