Thursday, August 28, 2014

Books, glorious books! Hot sausage and mustard!

We recently spent a week in Maine. We rented a house through Airbnb, and everything about it was delightful, truly delightful.

On day two, however, Nick said, "Do you notice anything odd?"

No books.

I mean, there were a few coffee table books and some books of art in a basement bookcase, but otherwise, none. Not a novel, memoir, non-fiction book in sight.

The truth is that if I am at your house and given the opportunity, I will look at your bookshelves. (By "given the opportunity" I mean, I won't sneak into your bedroom so I can peer at your books. Only if they're right out there in front of God and everyone.)

Seeing what other people choose to read is one of my favorite things to do.

I love the window into your mind. When you have beloved books in common, don't you feel like it says something profound? Or anyway, something?

Apparently lots of people will peer into other people's medicine cabinets. Seriously. I'm not remotely interested in whether or not you take antacids or what kind of deodorant you like.

It's your psyche I want to rifle through. In a totally transparent, non-creepy way. I promise. So please still invite me over.

So yesterday my friend Wendy tagged me on Facebook. The instructions were as follows:

In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard - they don't have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, just the ones that have touched you.

Wendy is intellectual and a prolific reader, and I was interested to see what she'd said. I'm intrigued to hear which books others name.

How much do I love knowing this kind of thing? So much!

I mean, we choose books for a variety of reasons. Our beach read is not necessarily our depth-of-winter book. Sometimes a book grabs you because you read it at the perfect time in the perfect place. Or it squeezes your heart. Or feels a little too familiar.


I'm offering you 10 books, gathered quickly but thoughtfully, that have resonated with me enough to stick, in some large or small way.
  1. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller
  2. The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
  3. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
  4. The Little Prince, Aintoine de Saint-Exupery
  5. Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
  6. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
  7. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  8. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
  9. The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay
  10. Running in the Family, Michael Ondaatje
I'd love to hear some of your "stick with you" books.


  1. Gah! It ate my first comment. Oh well. Here they are again. The first 7 books that came to mind reading this:

    To Kill a Mockingbird -- Harper Lee
    Beloved -- Toni Morrison
    Jonathan Livingston Seagull -- Richard Bach
    The Kite Runner -- Khalid Hosseini
    In Cold Blood -- Truman Capote
    Oh the Places You'll Go -- Dr. Seuss

  2. Cheryl! Thanks for playing! I love all the books on your list. Love.

  3. Love this idea! I, too, am interested in what other people read or the books on their shelves. I love to read but am not prolific, I wish I made the time. I've only read 1 on your list, Lisa, so thank you for the recommendations!

    Book - my age at first reading (because I remember where I was/what else was going on)
    Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell. Age 13.
    The Geography of Bliss - Eric Weiner. 30's
    The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion. 32.
    To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee. 16.
    What to Do When Your Mom or Dad Says "Clean Your Room!" (Survival Series for Kids) - Joy Berry. 7.
    Domino The Book of Decorating Deborah Needleman. 30's
    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Winifred Watson. 30's
    Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen. 21
    The Tennis Partner - Abraham Verghese. 21
    A Painted House - John Grisham. 25

    1. Heather, I love the idea of putting ages next to them. For the most part, I didn't reach terribly far back for my books. Although now I'd kind of like to re-do this and chunk it by age. I recommend all of these books so immensely. My friend Jordan pointed out on FB that my list has a theme - and it is true. There are quite a few crazypants childhood stories on it.

  4. The Stand - Stephen King
    The Way of the Peaceful Warrior - Dan Millman
    Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret - Judy Blume.

    1. I read The Stand so very long ago, and can't quite remember it. I've since read Stephen King's On Writing, and he writes a bit about it.

      And Are You There God - definitely important from my early adolescence!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. 1. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
    2. Little House In The Big Woods (the whole Little House series really)
    3. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
    4. Firestarter
    5. Watership Down
    6. Men in Love
    7. The Ship Who Sang
    8. The Illustrated Man (most Bradbury)
    9. Lord of the Rings trilogy
    10. Eleanor & Park

    1. A number of these I have never read. The Little House series was so important in my childhood. So so important. And Watership Down...I bet I would enjoy re-reading that now, actually.

  7. I've seen this going around FB and am always thrilled when books are a topic of discussion. There's hope yet!

    And I also love it that some of your commenters are mentioning books from childhood. Some of those are the ones I remember best. The Hobbit, Are You There God, Forever. And OMG all those Beverly Cleary books I consumed over and over.

    The ones that have stuck with me lately are the Harry Potter series, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Night by Elie Weisel, Chelsea Cain's series featuring Archie Sheridan and that psycho Gretchen, and The Cracker Queen by Lauretta Hannon.

    How lucky for your kids, too, to be surrounded by books. I occasionally spend time around a little boy whose family are not readers and I have to resist the urge to shove books into his hands.

    1. Ohhhh, the Beverly Cleary books! Oh, joy and delight! The Harry Potters will be my friends for life, too. I started Major Pettigrew, and didn't dislike it, but didn't feel invested, and thus put it aside.

      I don't understand non-readers. It's one my greatest pleasures in life, so I just don't get not liking it. But apparently there are also people who don't care for chocolate, you know?


Tell me about it.