I was challenged on Facebook to come up with the ten books that have inspired me most in my life.
Facebook is bossy lately.
Here - dump some water on your head! I DARE YOU (that's coming, I swear). Here! NARROW DOWN EVERY BOOK YOU'VE EVER LOVED - I dare you. It's a double dare, I suppose, since I've been challenged twice.
Do you know what it's like to ask a girl that has loved books for her entire life to narrow that biz down to ten? It's impossible. So I refuse. Here is a list of ten that I love, but they aren't the only ten. They are ten of many.
I love you like I love the smell of new books,
1. Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte
I read Jane Eyre on a Saturday afternoon in the fall of my junior year of college. I sat in a green recliner and turned pages, filled the book with notes in the margin, and when I was finished - I started again.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
2. On the Road: Jack Kerouac
The words from this book tumbled over me on a bus in Italy. I took it with me with the intention of leaving it when I finished. I didn't. Its pages are highlighted and its cover is worn. I love it.
“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgandy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”
3. The Divine Comedy: Dante
I sat in the front row of Dr. Clemente's English class my senior year of college with this book open in front of me. Italian filled one page, and the translation in the next. Page by passionate page, we went. And I fell deeper and deeper into Alighieri's web. I keep this book on my shelf at school.
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in great moral crises maintain their neutrality.”
4. Wuthering Heights: Emily Bronte
My very first senior class of all time and I read this together during my first year of teaching. I think they thought I was a flake. They probably still do.
“He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
5. Eat, Pray, Love: Elizabeth Gilbert
Because sometimes, when a girl is standing in the middle of life with her hands on her knees, she needs to read about someone that's made it to the other side.
“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”
6. Letters to My Daughter: Maya Angelou
One of the best books my dad ever gave me. I read it on a plane home from spring break and it sits on the shelf next to my bed.
“I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and the dragons of home under one's skin, at the extreme corners of one's eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.”
7. To Kill A Mockingbird: Harper Lee
High school sophomore English with Mr. Dallas - his grainy voice read aloud bits and pieces of chapters. He wore short sleeve white button up shirts and he always had a mustache. He was fearless. He was one of my favorites.
“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts.”
8. Man's Search for Meaning: Viktor Frankl
I read this book in the spring. I stopped what I was teaching and we spent a week on excerpts from this book. Sometimes, school is more than standardized testing. I promise. Sometimes? Sometimes, it's a teacher sitting on her desk, so passionate about something that her students can't help but be passionate about it, too.
“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
9. Walden: Henry David Thoreau
I knocked this bad boy out one summer while visiting Ryan Bailey repeatedly in Kansas City. It took me awhile - probably because there are about 9,000 lessons inside that require you to stew and think. I dig that about good ol' Henry. Turns out, Henry and I had more of a future than Ryan and me:
“Things do not change; we change.”
10. The Prophet: Khalil Gibran
Given to me by an old friend, this book is also on the shelf next to my bed. It's pages have been folded and highlighted and the margins have scribbles. This is one I think of fondly.
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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