Tagged by tehloneprospector
Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard—they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you. Tag ten friends plus me so I’ll see your list. Make sure you let your friends know you’ve tagged them.
1. Dracula, Bram Stoker. There are a thousand reasons why this book is important to me, but I’ll focus on one. Re-reading it as a young adult after being obsessed with it as a child was the first time I realized a person could write about one thing and be talking about another. The fact that the book about the coolest scary guy ever was really about repressed sexuality, yet it flew over my head the first fifty times, blew the young mind right out of my ears.
2. Hamlet, William Shakespeare. I love so many of Shakespeare’s works, but I went with old Hambone because I can quote almost all of it by heart. AND I DO, much to the annoyance of my workmates.
3. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger. Holden Caulfield’s the worst, but there’s a genuine sweetness to his affection for his little sister. Ok listen, I’m not proud of this one, but here we all are.
4. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens. Sydney Carton was the first of many tortured, brooding, cynical, but ultimately noble characters that I would fall hard for, plus I dig how my bro Charlie never met a heavy-handed metaphorical surname he didn’t like.
5. Moby-Dick, Herman Melville. Nathaniel Philbrick calls Moby-Dick an American Bible, and makes a damned good case for it in his book, Why Read Moby-Dick? (also great, and a much slimmer volume than its subject). Like some do with a Bible, I can pick it up, open it at random, read just one chapter and feel a bit more centered. As a writer, I take comfort ruminating on it and thinking to myself, listen—one time a guy decided to write an epic tome about a commercial whaling ship and spend an entire chapter talking about knots, so go ahead, champ, write that long-form essay on the dog from Fallout 3!
6. Changing My Mind, Zadie Smith. Zadie Smith is the kind of writer that makes me angry because there’s just no goddamned way I will ever be as good as she is. If Melville’s laser-focused attention to detail gives me comfort, Smith’s absolute mastery of the personal essay keeps me from becoming complacent.
7. The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper. This was the first fantasy novel I ever read, even before The Hobbit, and I devoured this story about an average, slightly beleaguered kid (named for Will Shakespeare, no less) who discovers he’s one of an ancient line of guardians against The Dark, and capable of wielding great power, besides. It might have been my first exposure to the Hero’s Journey. (Probably not—I must have had already seen Star Wars.) I initially didn’t realize it was part of a larger series and didn’t read the others until many years later, which may be why none of them ever quite produced the same spark.
8. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace. This is the only book I hated so much I didn’t finish it, so credit where credit’s due. I bet if I had read it around the same time I read The Catcher in the Rye I would have loooooooved it. I still keep a copy on my bookshelf in order to, as Cate Blanchett says in Elizabeth, always remind me of how close I came to danger.
9. Gnomes, Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet. I pored over this book so many times as a child. Poortvliet’s artwork is spectacular and Huygen’s “field notes” on the titular creatures are presented so unironically as to make me believe there’s still a chance I’ll catch a glimpse of a house gnome weaving between the legs of a dining room chair in my own home. This book was also very much the gateway to the graphic novels and comic books I enjoy to this day.
10. Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, Nick Bantock. This is my favorite book-as-object. The story is almost pedestrian, two lovers exchanging notes and letters, but it’s presented in a clever way—the letters and postcards are kept in envelopes attached to the pages, requiring the reader to open, retrieve, and sometimes unfold each piece of correspondence. I told my husband how much I loved it when we were dating in college, and he went to all the used bookstores downtown looking for the next two in the trilogy. One of many signs he was (and is) a keeper.
Tagging: danieljhogan eva-cybele gavinjcraig goseebananafish jervo sassy-gay-justice sillyraccoonknight startrekrenegades teatime-with-tigers wreckofthewinterwar
Bonus 11th tag because I don’t think she comes on tumblr anymore: fishwhofloatsideways