I was recently nomination for the Ten Book Challenge by my sister on Facebook. I guess I'm supposed to choose ten books that have stayed with me over the years and somehow shaped who I am in some manner.
My first thought about that is how on earth can someone only choose ten books? Then, as I read the titles of her list, I wanted to know why and how those books shaped her. That's not something a person can really discuss on a Facebook status, is it? Not that she needs to; I'm sure it can be an incredibly personal experience and not all of us are over sharers like myself. So if I happen to nominate you for this Ten Book Challenge, feel free to do as you will with it. This is just how I choose to share.
But before I wow you with my existential depth and make you totally wish you were my best friend because my list is truly incredible, allow me to nominate the following persons to also come up with a list to share with us little folk (you know who you are): DB, Sunshine, Tess, Jenn, Kate, Bridgete, Debbie, Becky, Kim and Lindsey.
The following may be numbered, but are really in no particular order as to their importance to me:
1) 1984: I don't know if I need to explain to anyone why this book means anything to me. If you don't know...read it. Phrases like Big Brother, New Speak, Thought Police and Double Think and other Orwellian spookiness exist today because of George Orwell and this book. This book is at least partially responsible for the way many folks these days feel it's so important to question our American government so thoroughly. Read it and wonder how prophetic it just might be...
2) The Grapes of Wrath: I never had a very good history teacher (Sorry, Sammy). I didn't learn a lot about the depression, the dust bowl or the great migration west in search of jobs and food. Life was just fucking tragic back then and books like this just remind us all how good we really have it these days. Oh, and Steinbeck is a master at stringing sentences together in a way that makes your brain see them in color.
3) David Copperfield: My favorite book EVER. That is all.
4) Lamb. The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal: Go ahead, call it sacrilege if you must, but it's a good book. It's hilarious, in fact. Some of us non-religious types really want to know what happened to all of those unaccounted for years in the life of Jesus...and well, Christopher Moore has made a very good attempt at filling in those blanks. Yes, we all know it's fiction and not real, but do you?...don't be mad. Just read it and laugh.
5) The Bell Jar: Would you like a glimpse into the mind of a depressed individual trying to live a normal life? Much of life, for many people, is nothing but pretend. The fake it till you make it approach, if you will. And then sometimes a soul decides they can't fake it anymore. Believe it or not, this book actually helped me through a very tough time. Considering I spent the first half of my life surviving various shades of depression; I'm very grateful for Sylvia Plath's bravery.
6) The Clan of the Cave Bear (the full Earth's Children series): Despite Jean Auel's attempts to make new readers who may have picked up the series in the middle more comfortable by rambling and over describing things...a lot, this is still one of my favorite series to read. I read the whole thing about once a year. Ayla is my fucking hero and I love her. If I had a daughter I would've named her Ayla. She's a strong woman who survives in a world where she probably shouldn't simply because no one has ever told her that she can't. We can all take a lesson from that.
7) Autobiography of a Yogi: Yes. Because I'm a dirty, free loving, tree hugging hippie. But seriously, this book changed my life when I read it. I don't recommend it to everyone because of the spiritual aspect, but if you should find a copy in your hands then you might want to take that as a sign. We all start where we are, right?
8) A Study in Scarlet: I bought a very old copy in a used book store when I was about ten years old and I've been Sherlocked ever since.
9) Illusions. The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah: Ahhh....more new agey goodness from my youth. Richard Bach, ladies and gentlemen. Let's give him a round of applause for being there when I needed that spiritual feeling without the glass ceiling that comes with organized religion.
10) The Fault in Out Stars: Have you ever read this blog post? No? Well, give it a perusal right now and then go read this shit if you haven't already. Seriously. Bring tissues and a fluffy pillow and make sure your best friend is available when you need to call them and cry at the end.