My friend, Nancy S. Thompson, challenged me on Facebook the other day. The challenge? Name ten books that have stayed with me through the years, without overthinking.
Of course, I’m not big on doing this sort of thing on Facebook. To me, Facebook is best used for posting funny pictures, and sitting back and making witty comments on other people’s posts. Also, I am big on overthinking, so to the blog it goes. Here’s my list, which will not make it to ten. These are in no particular order, except maybe the first one:
1. Salem’s Lot, Stephen King. I read this when I was about ten years old, a critical time in my life when I was stepping into that nether world between ‘kid’ and ‘teen’. It didn’t exactly make me say “I want to be a writer when I grow up!” but it was part of the fuel that burned so brightly when my sixth grade teacher struck a particular spark a few months later. King in general has been a huge influence on me, and this was the one that started it for me. It’s still my favorite vampire book.
2. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving. This one may actually be my favorite book of all-time, and I’m not good at picking favorites of anything! It’s definitely my favorite Irving book. It’s a great story full of unique characters, and Irving hadn’t quite gotten so hung up on delivering lectures in literature yet. The book is thought-provoking, frequently funny, and still makes me tear up. There, I admitted it.
3. Ever Since Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould. I first ‘discovered’ Gould while leafing through Natural History magazines at a summer job. When the new issues would come in, the first thing I went to was Gould’s column, This View of Life. Gould was a brilliant scientist who wrote about science, evolution, Darwin, and life. He did this in a way that was intelligent without being pretentious, and never talked down to his audience. Gould’s essays could seem to wander off topic, yet he always wrote with a point, and those things that seemed to have nothing to do with the topic at hand always made sense in the end. He was a writer I very much admired, and very much wanted to be like.
4. Arctic Dreams, Barry Lopez. Someone loaned me this book many years ago and I loved it so much, I had to buy it myself. This is a beautifully-written account of an inhospitable (for many of us) world, an excellent account of its people and its wildlife, and how land and climate shapes life. This is the sort of writing I aspire to, but, sadly, don’t reach.
5. Hamlet, William Shakespeare. It’s got everything you want in literature–Great language! Humor! Treachery! Revenge! Hamlet is one of the most maddening characters in literature–you want to grab him by his tunic and slap him around and yell, “Stop dithering and get on with it already!” You want to run him through for what he does to the hapless Ophelia, not to mention the ill-fated Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Yet that maddening element of his personality–his inability to make up his mind when face with a huge decision–is what makes him relatable. After all, killing a king is not something you should rush into. Sadly, his desire to be certain leads to a pretty big body count of (mostly) innocent victims. My favorite Shakespeare.
OK, I’m done, well short of ten, but that’s okay. Now, I had considered trying to turn this into a meme or whatever, but I’m too lazy for that, and I don’t want to burden anyone by tagging them. So I’ll ask: How about you? What books have stuck with you through the years? Feel free to list them below, or make your own post (and link it in the comments). Have a great weekend, all!