This one was a challenge for me. Not because it was hard to come up with any books, but because my memory only works by forming sensory bonds. I remember moments (not facts) in crystal clear detail, like flipping through photographs. For the first time in many Top Ten Tuesdays, I had tons of books on my shortlist. It was a very heart-filled trip down memory lane.
Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen
A few years ago, I spent my first Thanksgiving away from my family. I’m incredibly lucky to have a close (but crazy) family, so the fact that it was my first holiday away from my folks in my late twenties shouldn’t have been a big deal, but my parents had moved away for a year and I just couldn’t get away from work. I got an invite from a friend/coworker to spend Thanksgiving at her house with her family, and I almost said no (which is is probably only finding out now as she reads this). I was crazy anxious when we were figuring out menus, anxious at the grocery store shopping for ingredients, anxious picking up her brother who came in to town to spend the holiday, anxious cooking all morning. ANXIOUS. When everything was prepped and in the oven, I picked up a book from her shelf to just kind of hide away from the bustle. I picked up this book, I plopped on the couch and read it cover to cover. I can’t say I remember anything about the book itself. It was fine. What I do remember is feeling so loved and welcomed. I remember how the collard greens tasted, and learning to play cribbage, and how someone who was a friend became someone who is now my family. A month later, we strapped the biggest tree to my tiny Civic and repeated the whole chaotic thing. I subjected everyone to Emmet Otter’s Jug-band Christmas after dinner and those two holidays are now among some of my most treasured.
Isolation – BexChan
I’ve loved Harry Potter since the sixth grade. I have read it countless times, and a year ago I decided to dip my toe into fanfiction. One chapter in and I became utterly obsessed with this fic. I would snag a coffee on my way home from work so that I could stay up all night reading. I would read, ahem, certain scenes over and over again. I’ve since read a few dozen fics and this one is the best.
The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer
I know, I know! This title seems super out of place on this list, but let me set the scene. Flash back to 2008, Katy Perry was kissing girls (and liking it), Obama was about to become president, and I was entering my junior year of college, where you could find me arguing with my adviser. I signed up for a Milton class, but instead got stuck in Chaucer. Oh, the problems of a lit major. See, I needed a specific credit and if I didn’t suck it up and take Chaucer, my graduation was going to be delayed an entire semester. I’m stubborn, but practical, so I took the class…and hated everything about it for the first five or six sessions. It was around that third week of class that the know-it-all guy next to me slipped me a note that matched in both rhyme and meter to the story we were working on, and just so happened to be asking me out for coffee. I furrowed my brow and shoved his note in my book and got back to studying this impossible book for this class I never wanted to take. Each class I would get a new note. Each class I would flip open my book, put it with all the others, slam my book closed and leave without a word. It wasn’t until we had to write our own poems mimicking one of the stories, and he read the full version of the poem he had been writing me for weeks to the entire class, that I came to see this boy was really “the boy.” Twenty year old Dani thought she was heartbroken from her first boyfriend, and was just trying to focus on school and work. Thirty year old Dani wants to scream at her former self and mourns all those extra weeks she could have had with her first love. You know that question, if you could go back in time and redo anything, when would you go? This is my moment, and all because of a book I was never supposed to have to read.
My Horizontal Life – Chelsea Handler
I snagged this book off a friend’s bookshelf while I was house sitting. That week, while I watered her beautiful garden and tended to her goat (Peggy Sue), chickens, and kitties, I lounged in a hammock reading this book and laughing my ass off. It’s one of the first books I remember being open and funny about sex.
Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs – Chuck Klosterman
Oh, I thought I was so edgy when I bought this book. Sex and drugs in the title, I was such a badass. Right here is a good time to point out that I never rebelled during my adolescence. I never drank or went to parties, I never did drugs, I had very politely kissed two boys in my lifetime. After I bought this book, I very impolitely kissed my third boy…in public, thank you very much. Since that time, this book has come up again and again, entangled with my romantic life. There is a chapter that contains a list of twenty-three very thorough and bizarre hypothetical questions. These and other questions over the year have become this sort of list I use to help figure out if I can love another person. It sounds crazy, but I am kinda crazy, so it works.
When the Wind Blows – James Patterson
Plain and simple, this was the first book I ever read that had sexy sexxxxx in it. I borrowed it from our communal bookshelves in the house and was really into the sci-fi thriller. One night of reading, I got to a juicy scene (which I now know was so not juicy), and that book never left my possession again. Sorry for stealing from the family library.
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
Aw, first review I ever wrote! I can still feel it now, how completely critical and nervous I was, because it’s how I still feel every time I write a review. I’ll always remember this as the start to wherever this crazy blogging adventure leads.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – J.K. Rowling
The day of the release, I was schedule to hang out at our local Barnes & Noble doing geeky HP things all day. I hopped out of the shower and saw I had missed two calls from my bestie and we are NOT phone people. When I called her back, she told me there was a wildfire by her house and she was being forced to evacuate. I rented the biggest u-haul in existence, and white-knuckled and sometimes nervous-cried the hour and a half drive to her house. (Background: I had recently been in an accident that totaled my tiny car, so I was nervous driving something normal, let alone a twenty-six foot truck.) I then lied to several officials in order to keep driving past the evacuation zones in my monster moving truck. We loaded up her entire house, and then started our four hour caravan with all of the other evacuees back into town, with frequent stops because the fire had completely surrounded us, trees had fallen across the road. It was the craziest, stupidest, bravest thing I’ve ever done. When we made it back into town, we pulled into a neighborhood, rolled up the gate and sat down on her couch in the back of the truck. She turned to me and said, “Didn’t you have plans today or something?” Me: “Uh, yeah, but it’s getting late and it’s not a big deal. This was obvs more important” Her: “What were you going to do, we can pretend that’s how we spent the day?” Me: “It’s Harry Potter release day. You know how I always wait like a dork until midnight for the next book. It will still be there tomorrow.” She looked at the clock on her phone, “It’s only 11:30, we can still totally get you there on time.” And that’s how I showed up at the Cursed Child book release party like a total Gryffindor – my favorite Harry Potter t-shirt covered in soot, ash still in my hair, crazy adrenaline in my eyes. It’s completely, subjectively, my Harry Potter book all because of how it came to be mine.
Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
My first class, my first day of high school, a teacher stood on her desk and started performing this play, and then one-woman comedy-style broke it down into modern language. It was like Dead Poets Society, with more swearing and teenage angst. It was also the moment I knew literature was my first love. Some days, I daydream about quitting my boring cubicle job, going back to school, becoming a teacher just so I can make kids love books the way this teacher did or me.
The Nympho and Other Maniacs – Irving Wallace
Go to bookstores if you don’t know what else to do and aren’t quite ready to go home. Pick the strangest titles you can find and toss them to your friend to make her laugh. Cue some Migos, make it rain, believe that there is still luck and goodness for you in the ways of the universe. The end.