Monday, September 22, 2014

And now for something completely different...

...well, actually, kind of the same. As promised, here is my expanded list of "honorable mentions." I could probably do 3 more of these lists and still have plenty more to say about plenty more books.
  1. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe by Edgar Allen Poe. Specifically The Fall of the House of Usher and Annabelle Lee, but this is a book list so I’m including the entire book. Plus, I mean, they’re all great. Dark, and creepy, and often sad, but great. Happy endings are lovely, but the sad bits have their place too.
  2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. I know this series makes its way onto lists like this all the time, but there is a reason. They are awesome. For a lot of people these are childhood favorites, but I actually didn't read them until my late 20s. Of course, I read all seven books in something like 2 weeks and cried my eyes out in the process. So not childhood faves, but lifetime loves.
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth. Ok, I admit it, I read a lot of YA fiction. I usually blame my job, I mean, when you make a career out of relating to teens you’d better be reading what teens are reading. Truth be told, I read them because I love them. Again, tears. Lots of tears. But the kind of tears that leave you somehow feeling better. You know, cathartic tears.
  4. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Believe it or not, this was a class assignment. I know, weird. Good weird, but weird. I love the movie (I've got gobs of hilarious stories related to the movie if you ever want to hear them), and I was honestly a bit worried that the book wouldn't be a funny. You guys, it’s funnier. I have cried over books more times than I can count, but laughing? Real, genuine, audible laughter? Over a book? That’s far more rare. I literally laughed out loud while reading this one. Like, a lot. 
  5. The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. Not at all what I expected, but in the best possible way. The story itself is great, but the reason this book really stands out is that it told me more about myself than any other novel I've ever read.
  6. The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom. I read this book at a point in my life when I really needed the reminder that we’re all connected and that even the seemingly insignificant interactions in our lives can be more important than we ever realize.
  7. The Client by John Grisham. My mom was a huge Grisham fan, so his books were ever present in the house. When I ran out of books of my own to read I began to read those belonging to my parents, and that meant i picked this one up when i was still quite young. I somehow thought that because the character in the book was a kid, the book itself was appropriate for kids. I was not entirely correct in that assumption, but I read the book anyway. I’m quite certain that I didn't fully comprehend the book, but I loved the whole mystery/suspense business which was new to me at that point.
  8. Watership Down by Richard Adams. It’s a book about talking rabbits, but not really about talking rabbits. I was also probably a bit young for this one, and I distinctly remember looking up some words in the dictionary (which may well deserve its own place on this list), but when I finally grasped the full magnitude of the story I was glad I had read it. I just wish more people would pick-up on my references to it.
  9. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Remember how I said To Kill A Mockingbird was the first book that shocked me? Well, that’s true, but the thing is, The Outsiders should have. I mean, *spoiler* there are a BUNCH of dead characters by the end and not one of them out of their teens. Why did that not shock me? Maybe it was because I happened to read it while I was in the midst of an obsession with West Side Story. Sidenote: How is it that I love West Side Story, but I hate Romeo and Juliet? They are, after all, the same story with different names. Maybe it’s the semi-hypnotic finger snapping...
  10. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Truth be told, I strongly dislike Hemingway. We read this one in high school, and I loved it. It’s just such a sweet story, and for a short time (really short. Like 2 days short) I thought it would be really cool to be a fisherman. I mean, I’m not a man, but you know, whatever. Afterward, I tried to read his other books, but I just couldn't finish them. I don’t think I even got past the first chapter of most of them. Turns out, Hemingway is not my style, but this book is the exception to the rule.
  11. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. UGH. I HATE this book with the fiery passion of a thousand suns! It’s unsettling, unhappy and supremely unawesome. It also made me doubt my previously resolute decision that if I had children I only wanted boys. That, my friends, is a powerful book.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them"*

So, I was tagged for this 10 book challenge. Now, those of you who really know me know that asking me to choose my favorite book is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. Not. Going. To. Happen. Top ten seems a bit kinder, but it was still REALLY difficult for me. Only ten? What about the hundreds of other books I love?! They will not be ignored!!!! They will, however, wait patiently for their turn to be recognized which is precisely what will have to happen here.

The rules: There is only one. List ten books that have stayed with you in some way; these don’t have to be the “right” books or great works of literature, simply books that have left and impression in some form or another. These need not be favorite books, but they must be influential.

For my own list I am omitting books of scripture, not because they don’t fit the rule, but because they do. So much so that I’m not sure it’s fair to include them.

And now, the list. Given that these are not necessarily favorites, they are also not ranked. In fact, the order is somewhat arbitrary—also, loosely chronological.

  1. Matilda by Roald Dahl. It’s a book about a girl who loves to read and *spoiler* she develops telekinesis which is a superpower I have always desired. This book spoke/speaks to my soul. Disclaimer: Matilda’s home life and school experience were both terrible. Mine were not.
  2. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. My initial introduction to sci-fi. I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time, but it was glorious and I loved it. So much so that I went on to read the rest of the so-called series, and many more from the genre.
  3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. This one was actually read to me. Well, not me personally, but my class. My fourth grade teacher read it to us and I am so glad he did. This was my first memorable introduction to the fantasy genre. Oh the worlds I have visited since… Also, I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a hobbit. They sure know how to get down in the Shire!
  4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Okay, maybe it’s cheating but I’m counting these seven books as one item because they really ought to be read together. I will admit that the magic in these books is often lost on adults, but as a child they were beautiful.
  5. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I read this for the first time because it was assigned to my Freshman English class. Truth be told, many of my favorites started out as assignments. It’s a good thing I was such a diligent student. *wink, wink.* More to the point, this was the first time in my life I remember being shocked by a book. This was the first book through which I was exposed to a world that was totally foreign to me, but which was definitely real. I wasn’t even entirely sure that could happen, until it did. I have since read this book a dozen or so times and each time I learn something new about myself, about human nature, about the world at large…it’s perfect.
  6. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Let me first say that I HATE THIS STORY. So why did I include it? Because this was the first Shakespeare play I ever read. I went on to read the Compleat Works (I skipped over Romeo and Juliet), I grew to love the author, and I took a Shakespeare class in college, none of which would have happened if I hadn’t been determined that The Bard redeem himself from this not-so-beloved work.
  7. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Dickens definitely isn’t for everybody, but I’m certainly a fan. Well, I’m a fan of this book anyway. And while I generally don’t care for 19th century literature on the whole, I very much care for Great Expectations. This is another one I have read multiple times, usually around Christmas, though I can’t explain why. Just for the record, I DO NOT like Estella and I cannot fathom why Pip (whom I do quite like) is so infatuated with her.
  8. The Odyssey by Homer. I went through a phase where I was really into Greek mythology. I also found this book to be a little slow and, at time, rather boring. Maybe I just got my hands on a poor translation. Whatever the case, I read it, and I find myself making reference to it more often than I ever thought I would. Also, the sirens are terrifyingly awesome.
  9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I have no interest in summoning all the politicos out there into a debate/argument, so I won’t specify whether or not I agree with the tenants Miss Rand puts out there. I will, however, point out that I found it to be an interesting read. Gosh, it was a long one though!
  10. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I loved this one enough that I devoted an entire blog post to it. If you haven’t read it yet, do. Also, if you haven’t read it yet, skip the rest of this bit because I don't want to ruin it for you. Oh, John Green, you cruel, cruel man. You crush my heart, but in a way that is just so tragically beautiful that I will submit to such torture willingly. I think I might be in love with Augustus Waters. Be still my beating heart. For real, I’m pretty sure my heart actually stopped when his story took its fateful turn. The gas station scene? Buckets and buckets of tears. 
Honorable mention: The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe by Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom, The Client by John Grisham, Watership Down by Richard Adams and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Actually, stayed tuned for a post in which I elaborate on my honorable mentions because they are at least equal to the books listed above. I told you they would not be ignored!