This little top ten challenge is going around Facebook. I thought it might be fun to take some time here to explain my choices.
My top ten life changing books. Not my most favorite books, but books that changed my life in significant ways . (In no specific order.)
1. Lord of the Rings – when my family moved to SLC I was 12 years old. I was lost, sad, lonely, and assigned to sleep in my murdered uncle’s now vacant room. One closet was still full of his belongings. Of course I snooped through his things late at night when I couldn’t sleep. I was convinced he was haunting me. It was my way of getting revenge. Plus, I wanted to get to know this man better. I found his well worn copies of LOTR one night and decided to start reading.
I was instantly sucked into Tolkien’s world. It was so much better than my own I decided to swap. I began reading all night and sleepwalking through my days. My grades plummeted and my parents thought I was on drugs. What was I going to tell them ? No mom, I’m hot for elves?? It got so bad that after I read them all three times without stopping, I decided to read the index and learn to write in runes. On my fourth time through, I decided that I may have a tiny problem, and I put them back in the closet. The nice thing was that after that I slept better and felt like my uncle and I might have something in common now besides just a bedroom.
2. A Wrinkle in Time – my third grade teacher read this book aloud to us when I was 8. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on everything else L’Engle wrote after that. I typed her a letter at one point about how much I loved her books. I asked her how to become a writer. I told her I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She wrote me back. Her advice: keep on reading.
I’m still a huge fan. She taught me that girls can do anything.
3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – I used to watch this movie when I was a kid. When I moved to NYC I picked up the book. It was so sweet to find Francie, a girl I loved from childhood, and learn so much more about her life, family, and the city I felt was my true home. It’s a wonderful read.
4. Wild Swans by Jung Chang – a magnificent story of three generations of Chinese women. I read this book during college. It was the first time I’d really learned about the Chinese cultural revolution. I was shocked, amazed, and bewildered. It made me really stop and wonder about what else might be going on in our world while America gets fat.
5. To Kill a Mocking Bird – show me a person who has read this book and not felt changed afterward, and I’ll show you a person with no soul.
6. Blindness by Jose Saramago – I read this book while commuting to work on the subway in NYC. It’s an amazing “what if” tale. I literally wept in public as I turned the pages. Not for the faint of heart, but soul strengthening nonetheless.
7. King Lear – when I was a little girl I decided to take the hardest book I could find on my mom’s shelf and climb the willow tree for the day , hide there, and read the whole thing. I have no idea why I did this, but I did. The book I picked up was a collection of Shakespeare ‘s plays: Hamlet, King Lear, MacBeth, and The Tempest. I accomplished my goal, but long before I finished, somewhere in the middle of King Lear, I realized that I was enjoying myself. I could read Shakespeare and actually like it at the same time. Somehow, for me, this meant everything wash going to be ok. Not just that day, but for my life in general. I was going to make it.
8. This Side of Paradise – ahh fate. Once again, I was wandering NYC my first week there and I happened upon the NY public library – love those lions! I decided to drop in and get something to read. I wandered to the nearest shelf and picked up This Side of Paradise. I reasoned that it was about time I read another classic and I checked it out.
The following week I went on a date with a guy I was sure I would have nothing in common with. Then he told me he went to Princeton. I told him I was reading this great book all about Princeton. We were married 9 months later
9. The Book of Mormon – I didn’t just list this book to score points with God. I’ve read it more times than any other book I own. Each time I read it I learn something new, about myself, about the world, and about Christ and his love for us. It is a fascinating story from beginning to end. As far as literature goes, it’s one of my favorite tales, right up to the gut wrenching tragedy at the end. But as a religious text – and I’ve studied a lot of them – it’s truly the book that has brought me the most peace in troubles times.
10. Fahrenheit 451 – what can I say? I love books. I love Ray Bradbury. He loved books. This story made me want to be a writer. It made me want to fight back against those who don’t see the beauty in books. It made me want to share my stories, both true and dreamed.