That 10 books meme…

So, I don’t really do Facebook, and because of that, I’m a little late to this party. But, I heard there was a meme a few weeks ago where everyone was posting about the “10 books that have stayed with you in some way…

I made a list of the 10 books that stayed with me, and then I narrowed that list down to the 5 books that are my “desert island” books. Because I like “Top 5” lists.

These are the books I read that stayed with me hard enough, that are loved well enough, loved so much that I own either a well worn paperback copy, or a deluxe hardcover edition, or maybe both. These are the books that I’d put in my go-bag for the Zombie Apocalypse. These are the books that, if forced to give away all the books on my bookshelves, I would keep hidden and never give up. By default, they are books that “stayed with me” and would otherwise be at the top of the “10 books that stayed with me list.”

May I present to you my Top 5 desert island books list:

  1. Dune by Frank Herbert — I read this book in college, for fun, while traveling with the crew team to some spring race (I don’t remember which). One of my rowers recommended that I read it. I resisted at first. Then I started reading it and instantly fell in love. This is still my favorite (hard) science fiction book. Maybe even my all-time favorite book.
  2. Sassinak by Anne McCaffrey — I’ve only mentioned this book on my blog about a hundred times… or at least that’s what it feels like. I think I first read this book in high school. I think I found it in a second-hand book shop. Sassinak has become my gold-standard for kick-ass heroines, and McCaffrey is my favorite female sci-fi writer.
  3. The entire Harry Potter series… but, since that’s probably cheating, if I could only take one: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (aka the book where things get “Sirius” and Harry goes all emo) — my favorite part of these books is always the “back to school” scenes: from shopping for supplies in Diagon Alley, to taking the Hogwarts Express, to the big back-to-school feast in the dining hall. The reason I’d pick OotP as my favorite, is that this is the book where everyone grows up. It’s frustrating and sad and thrilling and so many of the excellent peripheral characters get a chance to shine in this book. (for a quick and funny refresher on the story/plot check out BuzzFeed’s post on “What It’s Like To Watch “Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix” For The First Time“)
  4. An Acceptable Time by Madeline L’Engle — I first read this when I was in high school, I think. The opening chapters created a perfect image for me of my dream house, complete with dream mud-room and indoor pool surrounded by glass. I also love almost-grown-up Polly (from The Arm of the Starfish). She’s my model for well-written, well-rounded female protagonists.
  5. Living By Water by Brenda Peterson — I picked this up on a whim from a bargain book table at a Barnes and Noble (RIP) during my first year out of college, my first year living in Seattle. My copy is a thin, unassuming blue hardcover without a dust jacket. I remember reading it and thinking the author effectively put into words exactly why I moved to Seattle and exactly why I loved Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest.

Now that we got that out of the way… There are other books that “stayed with me” for various reasons and that I would highly recommend to others if you haven’t read them. They didn’t make my desert island book list, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important to me. They’ve each made a serious impression on who I am, and if I had room in my go-bag they’d come with me, too. But for the most part, these books aren’t my go-to comfort food books. They’re not the ones I find myself re-reading again and again. They are:

  1. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut — this book was assigned reading in my high school American Lit class and it was the first time I read anything by Vonnegut. It was the first time we read anything for class that I would have read for fun, and Vonnegut instantly became my new favorite author. “So it goes.”
  2. Graceling by Kirstin Cashore — I love this book and this series. This will be one of the first books I will give to my nieces (when they’re old enough). Katsa would come in right after Sassinak on my Top 5 kick-ass heroines from a novel. Come to think of it… that should be a future post…
  3. The Arm of the Starfish by Madeline L’Engle — we’ve been over this recently, so I won’t repeat myself, just go read my other post if you missed it.
  4. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson — I don’t really remember the details of this story, I only have fuzzy memories of the plot, but I remember deeply loving this book when we read it in elementary school.
  5. Little Men by Louisa May Alcott — yep. That’s not a typo. Little Women was fine, but I really loved Little Men and it stuck with me way more than Little Women did. I loved the idea of having a boarding school for boys.

So, if you haven’t read any of those books, you should go check them out. And if you already did this meme, post a link in the comments. I love learning about other people’s formative books. Maybe there are some I need to add to my reading list.


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