entering my 30th year

medically speaking i have officially entered my 30th year… matt tactfully brought that to my realization yesterday. i should have something to show for that many years of life, shouldn’t i? but like many times throughout our lives, i’ve hit a slump. granted a lot has happened in a short amount of time. i got a boyfriend who rapidly became a fiance who even more quickly became a husband. i switched coasts. i quit a job and i am still without one. after sending out more resumes… i decided to be realistic. even with a college degree and 5 years working experience, in one major and one not-so-major city, i needed to look outside the box. i narrowed down my back up job search to trader joe’s and barnes and noble. i figured i liked food and i liked books so i couldn’t go wrong. last week i stopped by b&n just to fill out an application. i quickly found myself sitting across the table from a manager… answering questions about customer service, long lines, favorite books and what i was currently reading. the impromptu interview ended. he said they’d be making calls by mid next-week (which technically is tomorrow). i thanked him for his time.

i have a very large appetite for reading. it started when we were little. every summer we participated in the public library reading program. our visits to the library were actually little luxuries. i remember bringing home the weekly reader in grade school and counting out spare change when i could to order a new book. sometimes our tv-viewing at home was contingent upon the amount of literature we had read to merit watching saved by the bell. upon entering other people’s homes i’m drawn to their book cases… or i am completely puzzled as to where all their books are. it was hard to understand that some people just aren’t readers. that was definitely a deal-breaker where dating was concerned.

so on this momentous day which i share with the late president ronald reagan (and some random 96-year old woman who serenaded us on our delta flight from salt lake city to seattle yesterday) i would like to share with you my personal library list.

  1. bridge to terabithia by katherine patterson – while i am excited that later this month a movie is coming out of my all time favorite book, i am also already, very disappointed. the newbery-award winning book is amazing without changing the story and that is exactly what has happened from the previews i’ve seen. i remember reading this book for the first time in fifth grade. i was in mr. johnassee’s class. we met in a portable. we were reading the book out loud but the night before i had read ahead. i was inside jess and leslie’s world… and i needed to know the end. i finished the book and cried my eyes out. i can read that book over and over.
  2. cry, the beloved country by alan paton – my parents instilled a love for reading in me… but my passion for shakespeare and all things african was born my junior and senior years of high school thanks to mrs. buehler and mrs. brahs. africa came alive. i could see the red earth. i could smell africa. i longed to be there and i would finally visit and work there 8 years later. i also love ah, but your lands are beautiful & tales from a troubled land. why mosquitoes buzz in peoples ears by verna aardema is also a favorite.
  3. the poisonwood bible by barbara kingsolver & don’t let’s go to the dogs tonight by alexandra fuller – my obsession with africa continues… the characters in the poisonwood bible came alive for me… at the time one was identical to my six-year-old sister… during a tense part of the book i had to call my family to make sure that little sister was alright. i read the other right before i went to africa. african authors have a way of conveying the love affair they feel with their land and country.
  4. killer angels by michael shaara – more thanks to high school teachers… i read a portion of this book freshman year of high school in mr. lowes’ history class… i would later attend the national young leaders conference in dc, complete an internship in dc and live in that area for almost five years… seeing many historical sites including gettysburg. i have a weakness for anything war related. this book opened my eyes while making me color blind… i did not worry about blue or grey, only about the survival of those characters.
  5. the things they carried by tim o’brien/black hawk down by mark bowden (a journalist) – my obsession with war continues… but these two books are amazing. and for the record… black hawk down the book is much better than the movie.
  6. many waters by madeline l’engle – i love love love madeline l’engle. she came to speak at my cousin’s graduation and i was extremely jealous. while i love all of this set (wrinkle in time, window in the door, swiftly tilting planet) this is by far my favorite. i really enjoy seeing how christian authors can weave a story without having it be overtly religious. it is a very interesting take on the noah and the flood story.
  7. la noche de tlatelolco by elena poniatowska (also a journalist)- i was in mexico the fall of 1998, exactly 30 years after a terrible massacre that occurred in mexico city before the olympics that year. the tv stations ran old pictures of young faces that were killed that night so long ago and i remembered those faces when i got home. the way this book is written using bits and pieces of numerous interviews is incredbily gripping.
  8. wuthering heights by emily bronte/jane eyre by charlotte bronte – i am heathcliff! although these books tend to be dark… i really really loved them.
  9. by the river piedra i wept by paulo coelho – i did not jump on the alchemist bandwagon. i read it but did not have an awakening while reading it… i did however have a powerful experience with this book.
  10. richard scarry’s best mother goose everover christmas my mom showed me this book and a rush of memories came back. definitely a must have.
  11. where the sidewalk ends by shel silverstein – i remember this book as early as second grade. i even memorized his poem sick to perform for the third grade talent show… and on occasion i’d wished to sell a brother!
  12. little critter by mercer mayer – i collect these and LOVE these.
  13. children of promise series by dean hughes it’s not often that you get to take two separate english classes from one of your favorite authors. since one of my favorite eras is world war II this series was a perfect fit… i’d read each book in one day.
  14. nancy drew collection – my fascination with the yellow bound books with bright blue lettering may have something to do with my love of veronica mars currently… that and nancy drew got away with calling things “gay” as in bright or lively, especially in color: a gay, sunny room.
  15. harry potter by jk rowling – after i’d been in the heart of brazil as a missionary for about 15 months i got a new missionary to train… and she told me all about harry potter. i had never heard of him. and i thought that jocelyn was a little crazy to like the books so much… but i changed my tune when i got home and becky let me borrow 1-3.
  16. nana upstairs nana downstairs by tomie depaola – beautiful!
  17. anne of green gables by lucy maud montgomery – probably the one book where the movie is actually amazing!
  18. crossing to safety by wallace stegner – i thank my book club (and chris walker) for getting me to read this amazing book. i still need to read others of his.
  19. star girl by jerry spinelli/speak by laurie halse anderson/walk 2 moons by sharon creech – these books (& others) were inspired by a mini book club i started with my sister asia… i’d send her books i liked and she’d send me ones she liked… i finished walk 2 moons somewhere in a plane over peru. and i cried.
  20. night by elie wiesel/hiding place by corrie ten boom – it is amazing to me that these authors, especially elie wiesel, can write about such unspeakable things with light and hope.
  21. a separate peace by john knowles – i read this for the first time in 8th grade. i have re-read it repeatedly… the friendship and story make me ache but it is still so incredibly powerful. because of this book i take extra caution when walking down marble staircases.
  22. the scarlet letter by nathaniel hawthorne
  23. to kill a mocking bird by harper lee/one flew over the cuckoo’s nest by ken kesey – the summer after my sophomore year of college i decided to read all of the books that i never had… and re-read some you read when you are little like lord of the flies, catch 22 etc… these books, while classics, speak very differently depending on the age of the reader.
  24. les miserables by victor hugo – while i cheated and only read the abridged version… i instantly fell in love & fell in love again in new york city.
  25. farenheit 451 by ray bradbury- i got on a semi-sci-fi reading kick with books like war of the worlds and welcome to the monkey house… this one was just super intriguing.
  26. giver/gathering blue/messenger by lois lowry- i had read the giver… and been slightly disturbed. and then i discovered the next two books which erased any disturbance i had previously felt.
  27. house on mango street by sandra cisneros/in the time of the butterflies by julia alvarez – like africa… i consume anything latin america. these are just a few… but they are the best.
  28. hamlet by shakespeare
  29. the bible & book of mormon – i have fallen in love with the old testament. it seems to be overlooked so often but the men and women are vivid to me as well as in the book of mormon.

**please tell me what your favorites are**
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6 thoughts on “entering my 30th year

  1. >No wonder we are friends. Many of these are on my list of favorites as well. Anne of Green Gables (I’ve read those over and over again) and who doesn’t love Katharine Patterson? I’m trying this year to expand my reading horizons but reading your list makes me want to switch gears and revert to my old favorites. Another favorite is “Ginny and the Cooking Contest” – I must have read that 100 times when I was young. From one unemployed one to another, I hope you get a job at B&N, selfishly I can’t wait to see the book themed posts that will result…

  2. >let’s see, some faves:Catch-22, Joseph Heller. You mentioned it, but I just love this post-modern classic. Jarring in every way. The disconnected chronology of the whole thing is tough enough to wrap your brain around as it is, without throwing in all the convoluted characters on top of it all.White Noise, Don Delillo. Now this one I just can’t speak highly enough about. Pure genius. Delillo comes at post-modern culture and families and our fear of death in such clever ways. This is probably the first “academic” or “real” novel I read because I wanted to. Before that, they were simply required reading. Perhaps that might explain some of the deeper feelings I have for this one. Highly accessible and recommended.The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon. Since I seem to be a post-modern fan, here’s a short one to throw into the mix. Less than 200 pages, so a fairly short read, but the conspiracy-theory laced tale is so complex, so chaotic, it definitely feels a lot longer. The world that Pynchon creates for his characters, especially the LA suburb of San Narciso, is fantastic and creepy and wild, all at the same time.Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams. Never really given enough credit by a lot of people. Wonderful science-fiction comedy. Had me rolling the first time I read it, and I still start giggling when I know that a real funny bit is coming up. I credit this entire five-book trilogy (you read that right) with instilling my love for language, or at least fanning the fire with gusto.Ender’s Game/Speaker for the Dead/Xenocide, Orson Scott Card. Ender is one of the most amazing series I’ve read. Science-fiction (which I know will scare a lot of people off from the get go), it’s about a third child born in a time when families are limited to two, but done so at the request of the government because of his parents’ genetic superiority. An outcast from the start, he’s also a genius, drafted into military training at the tender age of eight (if I remember right, it might be younger). The fate of the world is eventually placed in his hands. And that’s just the first book. Great philosophical questions and themes as well. I love to reread these whenever I can get my hands on them.Seventh Son, Orson Scott Card. This is the first book in another amazing series. Based on the life of Joseph Smith, Jr., but without being overtly religious, it takes place in a world of folk magic come alive, where a seventh son of a seventh son is endowed with great powers. A wonderful read into the way life might have been.Harry Potter, JK Rowling. Love them. To pieces. Especially the way they’ve galvanized youth and brought them into books in amazing ways. I also love how the complexity of the language grows as Harry does (there were tons of words in book 6 that even I didn’t know).To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. Didn’t appreciate this in high school. It wasn’t until I taught this book a couple of years ago that I realized what a masterpiece it really is. Meant so much more after I had matured (some).Holes, Louis Sachar. Disney turned this into a movie that’s quite fun. It’s written for 5th-8th graders, but is such a fun read. If you haven’t seen the movie, it will be so much more wonderful as it weaves so many strands of history together into one pivotal moment…truly a great book to escape to.I must get me some more “real” books to read…I’m jealous of your breadth there, Robin.

  3. >I take credit for In the Time of Butterflies.And, it’s not just “medically speaking”. It’s matter of fact. Again, that’s just my inner ED honesty coming out. You can say the same to me next month. I’ll try to write my list up soon. In the mean time, as soon as you get your BN discount, buy and read Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Matt

  4. >My list tends to lean towards children lit. I find that they usually have just as much depth and power as adult lit and fit into my reading time frame (I can only ignore the kids for so long:-)The Singing Tree- Kate SeredyThe Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death- Daniel PinkwaterThe hundred Dresses- Eleanor EstesAll-of-a-kind Family Series- Sydney TaylorJames Herriot BooksRebecca- Daphne Du MaurierA Long Way From Chicago- Richard PeckSeven Daughters and Seven Sons- Barbara CohenA Girl of the Limberlost- Gene PorterEsperanza Rising- Pam Munoz RyanStrawberry Girl- Lois LenskiMrs. Pollifax- Dorothy GilmanThe Ruby in the Smoke- Philip PullmanLyddie- Katherine PatersonHalf Magic- Edward EagerAny Lloyd AlexanderLittle Women- AlcottThe Witch of Blackbird Pond- SpeareA Tale of Two Cities- DickensThe Diamond in the Window- LangtonDark is Rising- Susan CooperElizabeth Peters booksMy Name is Aram- William SaroyanOur Own May Amelia- HolmKildee House- MontgomeryMrs Mike- FreedmanOK, I will stop now, but you did ask! LoveBecky

  5. >Reading’s the best way to pass your time. Well, that and sleeping or eating.I love a lot of the books on your list – the Harry Potter series, as you know; The Poisonwood Bible is a top five; and By the River Piedra I Wept, which I thank you for lending me; Night just blew me away. As for others, I love Pride and Prejudice, A Widow for One Year (more so than other John Irving books, with maybe the exception of The World According to Garp), almost anything by Shakespeare, The Kite Runner, Crime and Punishment, Snow Falling on Cedars, and Invisible Man. Actually, this list could go on, but I’ll stop there and check out some of the books on your list I haven’t read yet or don’t remember as well as I should, like Cry, the Beloved Country

  6. >great! this is awesome… now i have more things to do while i’m not doing anything!!! but for the sake of space i may have to check some of these books out from the trusty library.

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