I dislike jumping on bandwagons, but a books bandwagon is pretty hard to resist. A week or so ago, someone shared a simple challenge on Facebook: List 10 books that have “stuck with you.” They don’t have to be high literature (a.k.a. in my family as “smart-people books”), just books that have been influential or memorable or personal to you. I’ve been thinking about this challenge since then; in fact, in the past months I’ve been pondering quite a bit about the books that I’ve loved, the ones that have influenced me, the stories that seem to bubble up again and again in my everydays. It has occurred to me that perhaps these books might have something to do with my sense of call… not only in that they have (obviously) shaped me, but in that they show me where my heart is. They take me back to the girl, the teen, the young woman I was when I first got lost in them; and every time I read or even just remember them, they show me the way once again. These books are still challenging me with questions and still comforting me with answers.
Even as I type up these titles, I feel guilty for certain omissions. There are books that both break my heart and buoy my spirit (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple). There are books that drop me in a place and time and make me connect with characters far outside my own experience (The Shipping News). There are books I simply couldn’t put down, and it’s lucky I read them as as adult because I’d have gotten grounded for staying up all night reading them by flashlight (Harry Potter).
But they can’t all be the top, so here’s my list of the ten books that are, simply, home to me. It hardly seems necessary to say (but I will) that this is not exclusive; I could make a “top ten” list of books for any given feeling, situation, day. I’m also following my Facebook-sharing friend’s example and putting the Bible in its own category (thereby freeing up a spot on this list! haha!). Finally, I am barely resisting the urge to add my reasoning to each of these choices, but I’ve been thinking of sharing book reviews (or, more accurately, book reflections or book responses) on this blog… so… watch this space.
These, then, are my “desert island” books, in no particular order:
1. My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok
2. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
3. Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott
4. The Trixie Belden series, by Julie Campbell (and other authors under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny)
5. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
6. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
8. The Shepherd of the Hills, by Harold Bell Wright
9. The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
What are yours?