I'm copying a blog/website that I like to read: www.lit-wit.com. She is quite the reader. If only I had as much time to read as she does. Alas---she posted some answers to these questions. And I love lists. So here is my book list:
A book that changed your life: This is a toss up. A few years ago I stumbled upon A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. I’m not sure how I found or even chose this book from the book store. If I recall it was when I was on maternity leave with my first child---who was colicky---and with Jamie traveling frequently it was all I could do to make it through the days. Luckily I figured out how to read while feeding Conor and those moments were both relaxing and needed. Needless to say I think I stumbled upon this book at our local used book store---a short walk from our home at the time. It was such an eye opener for me about how close to poverty and how precarious life is for millions, and millions of people. These are realities that I was not unaware of, but this book really helped me see the world in a different and more detailed way. So too, was the effect of Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner. Wow. From the first line, this book sucked me in: "I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid and overcast day in the winter of 1975." I received the book as a holiday gift while staying at my in-laws. I think I finished it within 2 days---and we were heading out on skiing afternoons and excursions and I still found myself reading at every possible free moment. As with A Fine Balance, Hosseini’s book opened me eyes to how dramatically different one’s life would be if by some cosmic turn of fate you were born into a whole new world.
A book you’ve read more than once: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee never gets old for me. I often teach this book---but I still re-read it each time. But each time I find some new and exciting---and I’m always pleased with how satisfying this book is for me. It’s so well-constructed and well-written. It's a wonderful book to teach as well, because there are so many wonderful examples of literary device, argumentative structure, narrative set-up, and just flat out a fantastic narrative! Besides---it's got a fantastic heroine! I only hope my Kendall loves Scout as much as I do.
A book that made you laugh: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. This past summer I truly enjoyed both Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead and The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (however this also made me cry too) by Junot Diaz. Please, please someone read this last one so we can talk about it. It's a bit risque!
A book that made you cry: A few years ago a colleague recommended The Chosen by Chaim Potok. It was a wonderful story about family and friendships. While it was a tough read for me because it was about a world and upbringing so much different than my own, the themes resonated nonetheless. I also enjoyed and cried at the end of Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. This book was a bit crazy, and at times I wondered about the madness of where the narrative was headed. However the ending was a surprise and the shock! And of course who could forget Charlotte dying at the end Charlotte’s Web? I'm mean as an adult you know her life is going to end, but as a young reader it is a startling and poignant moment.
A book that you wish YOU had written: I just love E.B. White. Whether it’s Charlotte’s Web or Stuart Little, each sentence is a treat on its own. And Cider House Rules by John Irving was a real treat. It is filled with neat characters (some that you love, loathe, and just don’t quite know how to understand). And the story is so thought-provoking. It really addresses the grays that get lost in the partisan discussion that always seems to accompany anything dealing with abortion.
And a book you wish had never been written: This is a really hard one for me. I just don’t finish stuff that I don’t enjoy. There are some selections for my book club at work that I haven’t been so jazzed by, but I don’t know if they’d fall into so extreme that they don’t exist---but I did think the bestseller The Shack was pretty ridiculous. Ridiculous. I still don’t understand what all the appeal was all about.
Books that you’re currently reading: Arghhh. There are always too many books on my bookshelf. My general rule is to commit to the first 50 pages. If at that point I’m not drawn in it goes back to the library. There are way too many books to be read in this world to mess with one that you aren’t enjoying. I figure you can always go back if you’d like. I’m currently involved in Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian. I got Stones into Schools Stones by Greg Mortenson and have just begun to flip through and look at all the pictures first! And I'm re-reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe since that is what my students are reading right now.
A book you’ve been meaning to read: Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I WILL get these read this summer while enjoying my trips to the local farm market!
What are you guys reading?