Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ah, Books

One could say I'm a fan of the written word. It's partly hereditary -- my mom is quite the avid reader herself. Were I to shamelessly boast, I might tell you that I knew how to read before I was in kindergarten. Not because I was kid genius, but books have been a part of my life since I was a tiny nugget in a crib. As I hear tell, my dad used come home from work and read to me from a giant stack of Little Golden books. As kids, my siblings and I would lay around the house after school, on the weekend, in the summer, and in the car just reading the hours away.

My absolute favorite book as a small child was called The Very Bumpy Bus Ride. A moving tale about a group of people, animals, and produce who take the town bus to the county fair. From what I remember, it was a bumpy ride. I don't want to give away the ending, but hijinks ensued.

Not all my literary choices were so high-brow. Nothing could turn around a bad day like the cardboard box full of Archie comics. I don't know how widespread Archie and the Gang were but in my house, they were top pick for reading material. More than one fight erupted over who got to read the new ones first. To this day, I am still astonished at how much food that Jughead can put away.

As I got older, I became a devourer of all things mystery. I am almost 100% sure I have read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book ever published. And we can't forget The Boxcar Children. What's not to love about four plucky orphans solving mysteries with their little dog Watch?

After I ran out of those, I discovered The Babysitters Club. Yet another series that I probably read in its entirety. A group of girls navigating middle school, relationships, life challenges, and babysitting jobs. So you know, it basically paralleled my own life at the time I was reading them.

Those were the standouts of my adolescence, and I'm sure a few of my American readers will agree. As I got older, my tastes evolved: Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter forever, huzzah!), Agatha Christie, John Steinbeck, George Orwell.  Guided by education, I discovered a love for the classics, poetry, naturalist philosophy and even, (don't hit the snooze button) nonfiction.  I wouldn't say I'm particularly well-read. I know more than anyone (and as you have seen) my reading tastes and education are very much Western school of thought.  Not much cultural diversity here.  But I'm very much open to discovering writers from all countries of the world!

I'm not going to take you through the whole catalogue of all the books I've enjoyed in my lifetime, but I don't want to leave without mentioning a few of my adulthood favorites. 

Current Bookshelf Favorites:

1) Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin
A ridiculous, but intensely well-written story of two people on a quest to prove their worth before inheriting the throne. Epic and hilarious, one of my all-time favorites.

2) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
Not everyone thinks it's ok to mess with a Jane Austen classic but Grahame-Smith manages to maintain all the appropriate reverence while jazzing it up with a few creatures of the dead. 

3) The World According to Garp by John Irving
Very well-written, enthralling, and highly disturbing. There is no simple way to sum up Garp, though the pages and pages of literary praise at the front of the book try their hardest. 

4) Sarah's Key by Tatjana de Rosnay
Deeply moving fictional story based on the real account of the little known Vel' d'Hiv Roundup of the Jews in Paris during WWII. If I were the type of person to cry while reading a book, this would be one of them.

5) 1776 by David McCullough
A very well-rounded look into the events surrounding the beginning of the Revolutionary War. David McCullough is a fantastic historical author. 

6) Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz
Had to read this for a class last year but fell in love with it. Anyone interested in the Civil War and its presence in the modern day needs to read this. So, basically just me and anyone who ever had Janney as a professor. 

7) Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Ok this is actually a collection of poetry but I love it dearly. There's nothing quite like the spark of inspiration I get from reading "Song of the Open Road" for the 200th time.

So, what were your favorite books as a kid and what are they now? I'm always looking for some new reading material.


  1. I gave you book number #2! Glad you still like it!

  2. I feel the need to say, I took a class with Janney and loved that woman hard.

  3. I feel so honored Garp made the list!

  4. you couldn't have posted this at a better time. i'm dying to have something new to read! i'm going to get your current bookshelf reads tomorrow at the library!

  5. I still love the 'Little House' books from childhood. I read the set once a year until about 15 years ago or so.

    A recent favorite is Louis L'Amour's 'The Walking Drum' (historical European fiction- part of the book takes place in ancient Kyiv and the hero meets disaster on the steppe of Ukraine- what's not to love?).

    And- Lord of the Rings- have read and re-read those 4 (including The Hobbit) the last 10 years.
    Nothing earth shattering just now. Hard to find good stuff...

  6. Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel comes to mind... Now, well it's NFPA 921 Guide to Fire & Explosions. Heavy Duty stuff. Also Jack Daniels Running Formula. We miss you, hope your enjoying your time.


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