Originally published October 5, 2018
Anyone that’s come this far into my 50-day writing challenge knows that this blog started all because of books.
I can’t tell you why I started sharing my annual book list with friends via email years and years ago. Mostly, I think, it was just a way to connect with old and new friends, to let them know I was thinking of them heading into a new year and using a common interest to tie the thread together. Books are such a great way to open yourself to new acquaintances and to learn more about them, in a super casual, non-confrontational way. It seems like book lovers are just less judgmental that way. No one hates on you because you like thrillers while they prefer the classics, right? It’s all about the engaging with stories, no matter the kind.
So it seems fitting to wind this writing challenge down with a list of favorites — the ones that over the years stuck with me. They’re not necessarily all critical favorites, but they made a difference to me. If you get a chance, let me know what’s stuck with you — I always find other peoples’ favorites fascinating:
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. I read the Box Car Children books, Nancy Drew and Free to Be You and Me, but I think of all the books I read as a kid, this had the most significant impact. I can’t say for sure when I read it first, but I know when I lost my birth father when I was almost 12, this story of a daughter searching for her father and the power of love seemed so profound.
The Stand, by Stephen King. Still probably my all-time favorite King book. It’s good versus evil. It’s knowing the good guys often sacrifice so much to win the war. It’s about hope when it just seems so damn hopeless.
A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s about love and friendship and it’s tragic and beautiful and I recommend it to everyone I see.
The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. This too, this too. Just a really really good story, with baseball as a backdrop. I will never forget Henry Skrimshander.
A Mind at a Time, by Dr. Mel Levine. This book saved my life when I was trying to understand my oldest in his elementary years. Of all the parenting books I have read, this just made sense.
Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris. This was my first Sedaris book and I am so grateful I picked it up. It was the gateway drug to all of his work. Anyone with a sense of humor should read this.
Mischling, by Affinity Konar. This was one of the hardest books to read from an emotional standpoint but the payoff at the end is so worth the gutwrenching experience. It is not for everyone, but it remains in my head to this day.
The Double Bind, by Chris Bohjalian. Another first read for an author who I enjoy immensely. Everyone has that go-to author whose book you pick up as soon as it comes out, knowing you are guaranteed to be entertained, and Bohjalian is one of a handful for me. This and The Night Strangers are my favorite of his thriller-esque reads.
The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta. Another of my go-to authors. It makes you think about life after death on both sides of the equation, and the improbability of making sense of the inexplicable. The bonus was this book also is the jumping off point for some pretty outstanding television.
I could round out the list with an even 10, but there are too many to choose from, many of which are linked here below. I love to read. I love stories. I love to know what you think about your favorite books. I am so looking forward to another few decades of really talented authors and fantastic novels and nonfiction. Onward!