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Friday, September 12, 2014

10 Books That Have Stayed With Me

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
I was recently tagged by my friend Eva on Facebook to list 10 books that have stayed with me.  The instructions are as follows:

List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way.  Don't think too hard.  They don't have to be the "right" books or great books of literature, just ones that affected you in some way.  

I'm not really big on posting to Facebook, but luckily this meme is book related, so I thought it would be more fun to bring it to my blog.  So here we go!

1. Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë

I'll just get this one right out of the way.  Obviously, reading this in high school was a profound experience.  Just being so obsessed with a book was a new thing for me.  I re-read the book and parts of it alternately over and over again.  I would do fan-art (not great) and watch adaptations, and found just about anything surrounding it to be interesting.  The book also helped me make the decision to go away from home for college (it was only to Northern California) but it was a big thing for me to be so far away from home.  (And also the best thing!)


2. Fairy Tales

I loved reading these short magical stories when I was younger, and having them reinterpreted into Disney movies really cemented my love for them.  They represent some of the best, most imaginative and clever storytelling - and it's even more amazing to know how old they are and how much they affected the fiction of our culture with their iconic motifs.

3. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain

This was my first real classic literature novel.  I remember I started to read it when I was maybe 10 or so years old and couldn't get into it, so I DNF'd it (my first DNF?) but in high school I picked it up again, and loved it.  The way the story was told was so different to me - way more mature, and it opened my eyes to the importance of a good exposition to set up characters.  And the subtlety of the humor!  At least it seemed very subtle to me at the time.  It wasn't something I could really tell like a joke, but the humor was in the situation and the characters.  And that was so eye-opening to me.  This isn't my favorite Mark Twain novel (that'll be Huckleberry Finn) but I'll always remember this fondly as the book that got me started reading classics.

4. The Big Four
by Agatha Christie

This is my favorite Poirot novel and I have such a particular memory of being unable to put this down as I was trying to read quickly before my class started.  It was also raining on that day and there were worms all over the walkway.  Ah. Memories.  I loved this book for how different it was from the other Christie mysteries I read, and for how exciting the storyline was.  Even if a bit improbable (I didn't notice that at the time though.)  And I feel like this was one of the first times I ever had a book hangover, because no book could compare to the wonderful, thrilling conclusion, and the trick that Poirot played in the end.

5. And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie

I have to put another Christie novel in my list, because this is the book that got me started as a Christie fan.  I had seen the film version before and I knew how the murderer committed the crime, but I still couldn't put this book down.  It was a great lesson for me in how important character and atmosphere is to a story because it was those things that kept me glued to the pages.  This is such a brilliant book, and after being such a fan of mysteries as a child, this book showed me the pinnacle of the genre.

6. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams

I can't remember what first made me want to read this book - or if I heard the radio series first (I think I did...) but the droll British humor, the clever and silly story, and the lovable characters won me over immediately.  I adore this book (and series, and every iteration) because it was the first time I really appreciated a book that could make me laugh so much.  This story is a wonderful adventure, but it's also one that makes you think about your place in the universe, and just how ridiculous humanity can be.

7. Twilight 
by Stephenie Meyer

A friend recommended this book to me and it was pretty much my first introduction to the modern YA genre, and really captivated my imagination.  I so loved these characters, and the immediacy of their emotions.  It felt like they were very real to me,  which is an aspect of YA that I love.  And the romance was just lovely.  As a side note - I think this was one of the first books I really pressed my Mom to read and while she wasn't that enamored with it, after the movie came out she loved it.  Now I get to press more books on her and sometimes she will read them.  Win.  When I finished this book, I was ruined because I was only in the mood for a book that would make me feel just as completely invested in the characters, which was hard to find - thankfully Stephenie Meyer had a book recommendation on her website which I followed through on - a little book called The Hunger Games.  I am so fond of Twilight as my gateway YA book.

8. Hatchet
by Gary Paulsen

I read Hatchet when I was in grade school, and it had a pretty big impact on me.  I have not read it since, but I remember some parts of the story so well - like I had actually been there.  This book was a great introduction to survivalist stories with it's beguiling mix of adventure, danger and perseverance.  The story is so much in Brian's head too, so we get a great perspective on his thoughts and his reasoning.  Because of this book I knew not to eat unknown berries in the forest (nevermind that I'm not near any forests), I can possibly make fire by striking a blade against the right kind of stone, and I realized I really wanted my own kind of cave hideaway.  And then there's the appreciation of nature and fantastic character growth in Brian as be becomes more self-reliant that really appealed to me as a kid.

9.  Austenland 
by Shannon Hale

This is such a cute and fun story - a chick lit romance about a girl who takes an immersive Jane Austen themed vacation to get over her Darcy hang-up.  But of course she finds her happy ending in a fluffy, charming romance.  I love that part of the novel to no end - it makes me smiley with glee to get to the ending - but it's the main character's personality that really made this book stay with me.  I understood and identified with her obsession with Pride and Prejudice (of course for me I would substitute another book) and her sense of humor about it, and the silliness of Austenland, while also wanting to let herself go in it would probably be just how I would react.  And the idea of whether or not such happy endings in books can exist in real life is wonderfully explored in the novel.  For chick-lit romance, this is my standard to which I compare all others in the genre.  If it doesn't quite make me feel as giddy and as invested in the characters, than it has failed me.

10. The Sword of Truth series
by Terry Goodkind

This is an epically long fantasy series (and possibly the longest series I've ever read at 11 thick books) but it is my ideal of an involved fantasy series.  Everything works in these stories for me - there's lots of darkness, magic, quirky, endearing characters, and an epic romance.  And above all, there is this philosophy of justice and the power of the individual and inner strength.  It's such a satisfaction to me that in this series people get what they deserve.  Not always of course, and not always immediately, but there are so many moments when people come to realize that they can't escape their punishment and that sense of justice always appealed to me.  Just be kind, and things will work out for you.  Even though each book can be very long, I was always so invested in the story that I didn't care, and I enjoyed diving into each installment.  Sometimes I can feel overwhelmed with starting a long book, but after reading the first book in this series - Wizard's First Rule - I didn't mind the length at all.

And I just saw this article that lists the most common choices from people who took this meme on Facebook.  I only have two of the most common books on my list.

Time to tag some people to do this!  Only if you have time of course and apologies if you've seen this done to death on Facebook!  But I would love to see the book choices from -

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