I try to read a lot, but I often go through reading phases. Sometimes I find an author I love and read every book he or she has written; other times, I take several weeks off in favor of watching whatever Lifetime or AMC crap is on during my usual reading hours. But I love books. Really, really love them. And because I now teach a non-fiction class, I even find myself loving the nonfiction, which as a kid was only something I even considered if I was “doing research.” Here are some of my favorites, from various points in my life.
#1. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
I’m a Dickens fan. I like the soap opera drama that is sometimes so predictable… and really, I can enjoy most things Victorian. Even the drafty houses.
GE was something I read in high school and immediately loved. The “mysteries” within were fun for me to solve, and the sort of poor boy/rich girl scenario interested me. And once I saw the film versions? Forget it. Probably the first book in high school that I read that I remember thinking about long after we finished studying it. I’ve read it several times since and for someone who has such a terrible memory like I do, I remember the details often.
#2 Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
The simplicity of the language is perfection; the message is sharp and brutally emotional. I’m lucky to be able to share the book with my students, who for the most part read it with an open mind and find humor in the absurdity of Billy Pilgrim. And yes, the controversy appeals to them. It appeals to me, too. And I love the aliens.
#3 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
So well written that I can forget it’s about cells and science, both which I historically have had a serious aversion to learning about. It’s heartbreaking what happens to a family that loses the one person who seemed to hold it all together. This fall I was lucky enough to listen to Henrietta’s son Sonny Lacks and the author talk about what it was like to be a part of this family and of writing the book – an amazing learning experience for me, and for the students I brought along! I’m excited to see what Skloot writes next.
#4 Anything Sookie Stackhouse – Charlane Harris
Fast, escapist reading. Cheesy. Vampires. Werewolves. Waitresses. Can’t beat it.
#5 The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
The scenes in this book stick. I was introduced to this in English 398 at OSU, thanks to Professor Garcha (my favorite). Set in India, it’s about siblings, religion, race and clashing cultures. Incidentally, it seemed to help me become more familiar with some aspects of Indian culture… my boyfriend at the time was an Indian dude (now my old-ish husband). It’s beautifully done, with some truly sad (and weird) scenes. (That seems to be a theme with my favorites… brutal sadness, messy relationships, but with some kind of interpretation of life as still beautiful.)
#6 Anxiety Free – David Leahy
Saved me. Truly.
#7 Wherever You Go, There You Are – Jon Kabat-Zinn
A book about meditation and mindfulness, this is so simple but is to me powerful. Its format is genius too – short chapters that are easily digestible. My favorite line: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” Great advice.
#8 Wench -Dolen Perkins-Valdez
For some reason, this is another one that stuck. It’s about four female slaves in Ohio who try to escape their various realities. The four characters take turns telling the story, which turns out to be an effective way to learn about each. A shorter novel, it’s one of my more recent reads.
#9 – Anything by Geraldine Brooks
I love historical fiction. She wrote a sort of sequel to Little Women that is SO good. I admire her as a researcher… as if simply writing isn’t hard enough! A hell of a lot of work must have gone into her novels, that’s for sure.
#10 Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
It was the movie versions of this story that led me to read the book. Again, the whole historical piece always attracts me, but I also am drawn to the “strong female characters” (is so cliche, but also true for me). And I always wanted a sister. Duh.
I WANT MORE BOOKS! Comment/message me with your suggestions – please!