30 Years in only 15 works of Literature

I saw a couple of lists of 15 top books in my feed from various blogs I enjoy visiting and I thought I would love to list some of the books that molded me and shaped me.  With each one is a descriptor and my age, and what that book did for me.  What a challenge this was, constructing it out of the perfect 15.  I hope you enjoy!

images-6Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brown

Before there was understanding, and before there was reading there was this story.  Some of the earliest memories I have are the strong crisp sounds of the pages.  This memory is combined with the equally as bold, and crisp images in this bedtime story.  The words were not important, it was about the crisp and boldness.

big fat Little Chase and Big Fat Aunt Mae Anne Butler

I loved cuddling up to my daddy to a good Bedtime Story, and though many times I loved to torture his poor dyslexic tongue with Fox in Socks and Hop on pop, my favorite were these tales.  Although it is no longer p.c.,I remember this series keeping me fascinated again and again and again.

encyclopedia_brownEncyclopedia Brown Donald Sobol

I could never get into Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys myself, my attention span was much to short, but Encyclopedia Brown was just right!  It was so exciting to figure out the problems, to and fathom a young boy, a child like myself, smart enough to work through the problems of his community.

 

 

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Amelia Bedelia Peggy Parish

I have no shame, I’ll add my girl Amelia to my life of great literature of my lifetime!  She was there for for me early on when no other book could reach my short attention span’s standards.  When I finally started reading I hated reading. The Amelia Bedilia collection was an entertaining, easy, quick read.  The illustrations were fun and I’ve always loved to laugh, she was excellent for a great laugh.  Having this collection was perhaps the only real practice I received in reading.

 

My_Brother_Sam_Is_Dead_cover

My Brother Sam is Dead James Lincoln Collier

When dad was dead there were no more bedtime stories and I still hated reading myself so very much.  I didn’t understand at the time what drew me to this book when I read its title on the faded vermillion frayed binding on the shelf, and it never occurred to me to question why.  Today as I write this I understand why this was perhaps the first real novel I fell completely engrossed in.  I remember still some nights curling up in the cubby hole of my brother’s bunk, with a tiny lamp, reading the words over and over again.

the-cay1The Cay Theodore Taylor

I feel like the school system failed me in making me any sort of a reader at all.  Perhaps it’s the censorship, but I can name maybe only one book per year that actually had an inkling to read that was assigned to us.  And if I didn’t have an inkling to read it then it was getting done.  The Whipping Boy, The Cay, and Of Mice and Men were the only three I really remember reading from 6th grade to 12th.  But really who wants to read something titled The Sign of the Beaver?  The Cay was the most excited and obsessed I remember enjoying an assigned book.  I was on vacation on the guadalupe as a preteen, and instead of tubing I was sitting on our balcony overlooking the river absolutely enjoying this book.


41mNYHo7VbL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Grave’s End
 Elaine Mercado

I am obsessed with ghosts.  I can’t stand the little collections of “true” ghost stories, that just any Joe, Jim, or Bob submit to some editor of the stereotypical tapping of the pipes or vision of blurs in the night.  If you have a ghost tale worth telling it’s going to be able to create it’s own book and this one did.  Though in preference this one comes in second to Don’t Call them Ghosts this was the book the introduced me to the actual true ghost novels, and it was quite the page turner for me.

 

 

Young-Goodman-Brown-for-webYoung Goodman Brown Nathaniel Hawthorne

In college I finally had a prof my freshman year that brought excitement to reading.  It wasn’t so much the content she chose (although that was terrific) it was the manner in which she perceived it.  She would go into the lives of the authors and the reflection the literature had to that.  Being a primarily non fiction reader this made fiction suddenly appealing to me.  She introduced us through short stories, showing us the author background, the method of Campbell’s monomyth, and symbolism. Suddenly reading became a puzzle.  Young Goodman Brown I believe left the strongest impact of everything I read in all of college.

originalLady Lazarus By Sylvia Plath

Ya ya I know, stereotypical privileged white girl, just hear me out.  When I was 21 I hit my second serious bout in depression.  I spent my days staring at blank walls weeping and questioning life.  I felt useless, I questioned life.  I had felt this way before when I was 15, and I felt just completely crazy.  I came across Lady Lazarus in my intro to poetry class and fell in love with the tale because I could relate.  I even went as for as to memorize and perform this poem at an open mic night at our local coffee shop.  It was exhilarating and really helped to pull me through the harsh darkness.  That’s actually the last performance I ever gave.

51OZaZ-YNzLAngela’s Ashes Frank McCourt

I can’t put into words what an amazing experience this book was for me to read.  McCourt’s childlike voice combined with the unique and tragic circumstances of his upbringing was quite fascinating.  It was just an all round beautifully written enjoyable and eye opening memoir.  Everyone should read it once.  The move does NOT do it justice.  Read the book, it’s all about his voice.

 

 

 

sunflower_sutra_by_paperchains702Sunflower Sutra Allen Ginsberg

I have always been a true hippy chick at heart.  I love the beauty of nature and believe in preserving it as best we can.  No I don’t have solar panels on my roof, nor are any of my appliances or utilities incredibly green.  I do believe in loving your neighbor, and meeting eye to eye rather than quarreling in life ending war.  Nothing is more important to me than your quality of life.  In college I spent six weeks writing a beautiful and amazing essay comparing this poem to William Blake’s The Sunflower, through the entire experience I was invigorated and enlightened.  I was only so proud of a paper one other time in my life…both were lost when the amazing geek squad cleared my laptop after saying backing up wouldn’t be necessary because they wouldn’t clear my laptop.

Eat,_Pray,_Love_–_Elizabeth_Gilbert,_2007Eat Pray Love Elizabeth Gilbert

Okay, ya I know two terribly stereotypical books on this list, but hey, if so many people find it inspirational, than maybe there is something to it.  My first marriage didn’t work out, and about the time of our separation this book brought my at peace with myself.  Most of the fault was on my side in the crumbling of that ship, in fact many times I will bear all of it in my heart.  I will forever feel guilt, and I will forever harbor some inkling of grief over what could have been had I not been so young.  But this book helped me to discover…me.  It inspired me to travel, find a balance in spirituality, and open my mind to greater possibilities.  It helped me to own who I am, so that I could be hear today a somewhat successful mom of 2 1/2 and a happy wife.

 

Outlander-blue-cover-198x300Outlander Diana Gabaldon

After college I became completely engrossed in my career and books became a thing of the past.  Literature lost its place in my life.  And with that life became quite mundane.  There was no spiritual growth or inspiration, instead there were numbers and the same tired methods to success.  There was job insecurity around every corner, and impossible unattainable expectations in times when our customers were facing foreclosures and repossessions of their belongings they had already purchased in the past.  So when I became unemployed quite suddenly I yearned for some enlightenment that I had only found before in literature and began a book club to also help with my baby blues.  It was great, and exciting and got me back into reading.  Our first real book discussion was for The Outlander, which reawakened my excitement for books with the simple question, “Was the ghost outside the window in Part 1 indeed Jamie Fraser?

5194Yo0pYDL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_-2Night Circus Erin Morgenstern

This is the book I most recently finished.  What a beautiful book.  No really just everything about it is beautiful.  I am not a fan of imagery, in fact if a book is too wordy on imagery then chances are I won’t read it.  Somehow Erin Morgenstern made imagery exciting as her images were in constant movement, and helped to tell the tale.  When the book was crawling towards an end I actually would go weeks between pages just so that it wouldn’t have to end.

 

 

43641Water for Elephants Sara Gruen

I suffer terribly from gerascophobia, or the fear of aging.  30 is a big deal, motherhood is a big deal, time is a thing that can’t be turned back, life continues moving forward and there is nothing I can do about it.  I have been mistaken for suicidal or afraid of death in fact I’m just afraid of the act of dying.  Just waiting in anticipation and slowly but surely growing to a state of uselessness.  This book really gave me a lift in a time of darkness, I really felt at the beginning me and this book were going to have problems with how the character begins, but I had wanted to read it for so long I pushed through.  In the end you find that growing old only stops you as much as you let it.  I must remember age is a number and 30 is only a signifier of experience and not another step closer to the end.

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