Monday, July 27, 2015

My Book Bucket List

Growing up, my mother tried to expose me to as much of the world as possible.  I've been to plays, musicals, and live performances of all kinds.  I've been exposed to music of all kinds.  Dad loved all things old timey country music, which explains my love of Johnny Cash, while mom was a total Elvis and Streisand fan.  I've met all sorts of people.  We traveled a lot when I was a kid.  As a result I've visited 49 of the 50 states (Alaska remains the last state left to visit), been to the Bahamas, Canada, and Mexico.  I've seen and experienced quite a lot in my lifetime.

But for the most part, my worldly exploration would take place from the comfort of my own home, in the form of books.

While my parents wanted me to see and live as much as possible, they also wanted me to be able to visit these places without having to leave my own room.  My mom was usually only too happy to enable and feed my book addiction.  As a result, I was a pretty well read kid.  I liked everything from L.M. Montgomery to Stephen King.  I didn't (and still don't) have a favorite genre.  I'd read anything that was put in front of me.  I'd even go so far as to read the cereal boxes, since books weren't allowed at the table.  As a kid I was a smaller, female version of the character Henry Bemis from the Twilight Zone (btw, if you get that reference, you're tops in my book!).

My best friend, Tammi, and I have spent some time discussing things we'd like to read before we die.  A bucket list of books.  A booket list.  There are a lot of books that I'd love to read and I've been doing some research about what should be on my to do list.  I recently found a list of 100 books to read before you die, and I feel pretty good about it.  If I counted right, I've read 18 of the books on this list.  Not too shabby.  I've started a few and failed to finish (have any of  you ever tried to read a badly translated copy of Anna Karenina????), but didn't count those.  I like this list, it seems pretty well rounded.

What I really wanted to talk about are some of the books I've read that have influenced my life in some way and have found a permanent home on my book shelves, both the wooden variety and the cloud variety.

I've sort of separated them into three different stages of my life: when I was young (preteen), teen years through twenties, and my "grown up" years.

Those that most influenced my life as a child, and still haven't left me after all these years, include:

  • Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McClosky - just a truly beautiful children's book!  I still have a super old copy that was mine as a kid.  It's a much loved book!
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl - this is quite possibly my most favorite book of all time.  I loved it as a kid, and I love it still today.  Every time I wanted to escape my horribly mean and unreasonable mother life, I found James and we escaped to the peach with Ladybug and Miss Spider.  Always a good read!
  • The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks - I loved trying to anticipate what kind of trouble Omri was going to get into with his cupboard.  None of my cupboards were remarkable.  Not a single barbie was brought to life.  Ever.
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame - arguably my second favorite book of all time.  It's a contender for first, it was a close call.  I still have a stuffed badger doll (named Mr. Badger, of course).  I have an affinity for talking animals.  And also toads.
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I grew up in California near a little school house that always reminded me of Little House.  I wanted so badly to be Laura.  
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien - might be a close third.  I love this one so much that I've read it with all of my kiddos.  I remember reading it with my mom and just couldn't wait to read what happened next.  I was so worried that Timothy wouldn't make it.
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - what little girl didn't want to find a secret garden?!?!?  Mary seemed like a bit of a spoiled ass biotch, but c'mon, of course I wanted to go with her to find the garden!
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery - oh Anne, Anne, Anne.  What's not to love about Anne Shirley???  I've read this book so many times I feel like I know Anne personally.  I think every girl ever should read this book.  So  much love for that carrot headed girl.
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls - another one I've read with all my kiddos.  This one calls forth a real range of emotions  Admittedly, the last time we read it, I had to keep pausing my reading so I could ugly cry.  We read it aloud and at the end, when Billy buries Old Dan and Little Ann loses her will to live...well, it wasn't pretty.
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson - two sort of loners who create a beautifully imagined world to escape to...yeah, I could totes relate.
  • A Wrinkle in Time by  Madeleine L'Engle - this is really a remarkably well written children's sci-fi book.  I loved reading about Meg and the tesseract.

During my teens and twenties, these were the books that were making an impact:

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell - we are all pigs.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding - I have never been terribly afraid of monsters or demons or ghosts or boogie men.  I fear humans.  This book here is a good example of why.
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - I've read this book so many times I have to buy new copies because the old ones fall apart.  I'm so in love with Katie Scarlett O'Hara.  She's so feisty and headstrong and stubborn and driven.  A woman who is used to getting her way.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I love visiting with Jem, Scout, Atticus and Boo Radley.  Such a great read!
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - "It is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done."  Might be my favorite line ever.  Probably not the easiest read, but so worth it!
  • Needful Things by Stephen King - this book just says so much about the human condition.  We are greedy and selfish and quite often very ugly.  Well done Mr. King, well done.
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - really a depressing read, but paints quite the picture about a time in history where life was hard and grim.  My grandmother once recounted to me her life during the depression.  Lots of hardship and struggle.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I still remember with vivid clarity the first time I read about the rather gruesome scene of the woman being hit by a car.  Loved Daisy. 
  • Cujo by Stephen King - this book terrified me.  I'm always afraid of being trapped in my car by a big rabid dog, anytime I go down a dirt driveway.  It's a silly irrational fear, I know.  But it's a fear I still have now.  Thank you Stephen King.

Now, as an adult, these are some of the books that I've loved most:

  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - I'm so jealous of Harry.  The whole constantly fighting for his life thing aside, he led a pretty magical life!
  • Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley - like I previously stated, I love Katie Scarlett.  I just had to read (and re read) this book.  Not quite as Margaret Mitchell as Margaret Mitchell, but it'll do.
  • Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I love these two books.  I took British Literature in high school and that's when I fell in love with Ms. Austen.
  • The Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz - there is something about this short order cook that I just love.  He's so sweet and pure and oh so loveable.  I'm always dying to find out what kind of trouble my odd one is going to get into next.
  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom - really kinda gave me something to think about.  I'm not religious or terribly spiritual, but this book spoke to me.
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins - I volunteer as tribute.  'Nough said.
  • The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis - sadly the only Narnia story I've read, to date.  Not sure if I should've started here or not, but I did.  Great read!
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - the only book I've read in this series, but it was so effing good!
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin - nasty teenaged asshole kings, a dragon tending chick, a crippled kid, and Hodor.  Need I say more???

At this point I feel my list may be getting a tad bit out of control.  However, I'm not wrong, these books are amazing!

Books have long been an escape from my world to another reality.  Books take me to places I've never seen.  Books allow me to meet new people.  Books teach me about things I previously knew nothing about.  Books are my companion on long trips and have seen me through many a sleepless night.  Books are an invaluable resource we should be sharing, freely.  Books are my friend!

What books have influenced your life?  What books can you not live without?  What is your absolute most favorite book ever???

Go lose yourself in a good book!

No comments:

Post a Comment