April 19th, 2008
I don’t know where I’d be without books.
I moved a lot as a kid, and books quite literally were my best friends when I didn’t have any others. I cried myself to sleep many, many nights, comforted only by my friends Ginnie, Trixie, and Nancy.
If I hadn’t read that other people feel lonely too, are disenfranchised, geeky, and sad, I don’t know what I’d have done. I may have turned to drugs, beating people up, recreational murder (but given that my family eventually settled in a Chicago town named “Buffalo Grove,” with a crime rate of below O (kids actually gave back the Cadbury Cream Eggs they stole from the White Hen), this theory is thankfully, unproven.
Anyhow, I credit any imagination I might have to the books I read as a child. I created whole worlds to entertain myself, born from the pages of the books I’d read. I often still live in those worlds, and believe in the magic conjured from the pages of a good novel. When I’m done with a particularly absorbing read, I stay awhile in its glow, loathe to let its music escape me, hate the moment its melody fades and I return to a world a little less lyrical.
To me, there’s absolutely nothing like the comfort of a good book, a bed/couch/back of car and a blanket. To prove my love, I sacrificed my eyesight to the book gods, since in the fourth grade, my eye doctor told me I had to get glasses most probably due to my habit of reading in bed well past the lights had been turned out. (Another fond memory: walking home from the Foster City Public Library with 15-16 wobbly books lovingly cradled under my chin.)
And finally, I decided to become a children’s book writer because I longed to create for myself a story like the ones I loved as a kid. When I was 8, I wrote a letter to Catherine Wooley, the author of the aforementioned Ginnie books, and she WROTE BACK and encouraged me and inspired me and made me feel like children’s book writers were the coolest people in the world.
And I wanted to be one.
Anyway, this was a meme. And I mucked it all up with the blithering and the blathering. I’m sorry MP.
So to recap: Mommy Pie tagged me, and asked that I honor the below rules:
With that, here are the rules:
1. List three books you’ve always meant to read, but haven’t gotten around to reading.
2. Share the two books that changed your life.
3. Recommend the one book you’ve been talking about since the very first day you’ve read it.
But first, some photos of our family book case (i.e. more blithering):
Now, my answers:
1. My husband’s favorite book is Pillars of the Earth, and he has tried in vain to get me to read it since the day we met (June 27, 1997) and for some reason, I just haven’t. I opened it a few times, but the type is so small and my eyes suck and that’s the only reason I can conjure.
I know, I know, I should read Water for Elephants. And it was great, and what’s wrong with me? I call myself a reader and I haven’t read it and blar de blar blar. It’s on the list, OK?
This one has intrigued me since it came out last year. It’s called A Good and Happy Child and its premise is provocative (young child haunted by demon others can’t see — and is the demon literal or metaphorical?). My kind of novel.
2. Yes, I’m one of those people who read Ayn Rand and quite non-poseurly, I can tell you that The Fountainhead changed my life perspective. I read it in 1991 (I’d just moved to Los Angeles, had no friends, no family close by and loads of time) and I loved it. I became enamored with independent thinking at this time, with staying true to yourself, with flying in the face of convention. And yes, I get it, Ayn Rand, you believe in objectivism and rationalism and individualism and sometimes you shoved it down my throat in The Fountainhead, but overall, thanks for writing this book.
The other life-changing book? Ismael by Daniel Quinn. Here’s what I wrote about it in 2002, when I’d first read it:
“If you’ve ever wondered why our culture associates success with material growth, why we all seem to need someone to tell us how to live, or why we so often treat the planet as our possession, when we know that treatment creates consequences we can’t control (i.e. that our planet can’t in the longterm sustain what we take from it (and do to it)), then I suggest you read “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn.
This book is fiction, but it can change your world view (or even your life, dare I say), if you let it. It completely reframes our reasons for existing and our origins. It explains where we’re headed if we don’t start living more responsibly and respectfully.
I really don’t think everyone will respond to it or are ready to read it. Maybe you have to be older, more disillusioned, or more sensitive than you are now, though I don’t think that’s it. I think you have to strongly feel as though something needs changing in your life or in the world. I think you have to feel that politicians and those who run the world don’t really get it. Or, feel as those there is a larger “something” at play in our culture that we’re all not getting…
Either way, read a chapter or two and see if it’s for you.
Oh, and it helps if you like gorillas….“
3. Maybe you’ve seen this in my Kitchen Sink section, but I’ve been recommending The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield since I first read it two years ago. I first heard about it from a New York Times book review, and meant to get it, but then my friend, Michelle, took it to a writer’s conference we attended together, and I absconded with it. From there, I kept it for almost a year, because my husband wanted to know what I was all adither about and he kiped it and took a long time to read it. Michelle finally got it back about a month ago. The Thirteenth Tale is gothic, epic (kinda like this post), ghosty (but not…or is it???) and poetic (kinda NOT like this post). Please get it.
And bonus track: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning. I’ll assume you read this already.
But if not, please do. For me?
And now, I tag a few people because I really, really want to know what they’re reading. Jenn at Juggling Life (if you haven’t done this already) — I’d like to remember some of the great books you recommended at our last Bloggy Bonanza, so I’m tagging you. Same with Jamie (you said you were reading again!) and Cheri. This is my shout-out to San Diego book meme. Holla!