By Beckie Carlson
I used to be an avid reader. I hesitate saying that I am currently an avid reader because the only books I have read recently are text books. Text books, although very useful for gaining knowledge, holding up lopsided tables and smashing bugs, are rather lacking in the 'reading for pleasure' aspect I look for in the books I read. Now that I am officially done with school (for a month) I am going to dive into a few books that will be mostly brain candy, frivolous, and totally enjoyable. I have been collecting a stack of books and book titles for just such a break from school. I just need to remember where I put them....
While thinking about reading, and books, and all things literary, I came across a Facebook post where someone was 'required' to share the top ten books that impacted their life in some way. I wasn't tagged or otherwise 'required' to share the same list, but I thought it was a cool idea. Thus, I shall hereby list the top ten books that made me laugh, made me cry, or in some way 'moved' me, in no particular order.
1. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. This is one of those books that I saw from across the book store. It spoke to me, beckoning me closer. Maybe it was because it was dark purple with silver vines all over it. Maybe it was the cryptic title. Maybe it was the amazing innards that could sense I was a person who would appreciate the twisted tales of familiar characters in not so familiar settings. It is beautiful and very disturbing at the same time. I highly recommend it.
2. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares. Although the ending of this book made me want to find the author and punch her in the face when I finished reading it, I really loved it. It is an amazing story of love and loss and life and struggle and.....remembering who you are when all around you have forgotten. This is the kind of book that sticks in your brain and influences the way you see the world. I may have to read it again soon.
3. The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I know, you saw the movie...and the movie was actually really close to the book. But seriously, you must read the book. It was beautiful and amazing in how it was woven together. Niffenegger has taken control of time. She commands it and shapes it in such a way as to make you question where you are in it.
4. The Incarnates of Immortality by Piers Anthony. Hey! I remember him, you say....yes, a well known author back in the day. This is a whole series of books about the 'offices' of immortals. Time, Death, Mother Earth, Fate, etc. I can't pick which one is my favorite, as they all have amazing tales to tell. These books shaped how I think about the world in many ways. One of my favorite parts is where the main character wears rose colored glasses that show him how things really are in the world. A lesson to be learned in these books....maybe more than one.
5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. The story that is in this amazing book is one that everyone should know. It is the story of one man's small mistake and the lifetime he spent to repay his debt. He shows us the example of love, caring, character, and losing oneself to help others. This book is more than a book, it is an experience. It teaches how to be selfless and to see beyond the outward appearance of people, into their very souls.
6. East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It's an oldie, but a goodie. I read it originally because it was going to be required reading for my kids in high school when we lived in Alabama. I was amazed at the material it covered and wondered why on earth anyone would want teenagers to read it. I still wonder that...but I found a beautiful lesson in it's pages. It is a story very like the story of Cain and Abel. They did what they did, because they could. Choices. Adults only please.....
7. Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland. A beautifully written story of a painting and the journey it takes in and out of people's lives. Vreeland does an amazing job of intertwining lives throughout time.
8. The Passion of Atemesia by Susan Vreeland. What can I say? I like this author! This book is about a woman painter who lived when it was taboo to be a woman painter.She is tried as a witch and has her fingers broken. It is a painful story of struggle to do what one loves.
9. The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. This is the story of Michelangelo and the struggles he went through to be able to do what he wanted. I wish my second choice talent was amazing as his! While reading this book my hands seriously ached to touch marble. I was convinced I would also be able to see the figure hidden within the rock as he did.
10. Serendipity of the Spirit by Richard M. Eyre. The book is good, but the part I read over and over is the tale of three princes that set out on a quest and end up finding themselves. This book taught me how to embrace the twists and turns that come in life and to look for the good and the learning opportunities in every situation. If you only read the story in the book, it is worth it.
Anyone that has been to my house knows that I love books. I have bookcases in every room overflowing with books of all kinds. I rarely pass a bookstore without finding a book I can't live without. Lately, when I go in a bookstore I feel a pain in my soul. I look at all the books on the shelves and wonder why mine isn't there. I have to finish and get them out. All the stories that are stuffed into this little brain of mine are getting restless. I love writing....I need to do it to feed my soul. Nobody else may like it, read it, or even use it to line a bird's cage, but it's what I need to do.
So, here's to getting my butt in gear and getting some writing done. Starting tomorrow....cause I said so.
Photo credit: walrus.wr.usgs.gov