Tuesday, November 20, 2007

B is for Books

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.
~ Groucho Marx

What am I without books? Books that have changed my life:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
"Why?," You might ask...Well, it was the summer between 8th and 9th grade. I'd devoured The Babysitters Club series left lying around the house. My Jack Weyland collection had been read and re-read twice that summer. I was out of Seventeen magazine articles. Worst of all--nobody could take my license-less booty to the library for a few days--and my mother always told me public transportation was out. All that was left in the house was a ratty old copy of Jane Eyre left over from an older sibling's high school days. I picked it up, started reading, and I have never been the same since. It was my first "classic" (i.e. "old") novel.

My Antonia
by Willa Cather

Why not. It is my favorite novel. I've already posted about it. Simply put--the woman makes my heart swell about a Nebraskan prairie I've never even seen before. And that, my friends, is good writing.

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams

It is about the landscape in which I was raised. It was one of those books that entered my life at the moment I needed it to. Sometimes that is all it takes. And her prose is exquisitely perfect.

Dream Work
and/or A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

As a poet, Oliver is my hero. Her Handbook was my textbook for my first poetry class in college. She dared me to try it. I did and now "novice/hack job of a poet" skims that list of titles I hold.
Oh, and how could you not love something like this:

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Don't bother with the movie. The book is the thing.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
One of my all time favorites. I never was a fan of sci-fi, but this was perfect for my 4th grade self.

I could go on. A true confession would reveal that every book I read changes me in one way or another. Each time I slide the bookmark from its page I am given a gift. I slip into another life, another skin for a brief time. Whether the book makes me think or simply entertains, each book I read seems to come to me at the exact moment I need it to. Every book I've read has changed my life. And isn't that the beauty of it?

1 comment:

Alice said...

Yay for books. I think we underestimate the impact a book can have on us. Even if it is little and only something we notice? Interesting to think about for sure.

I was just thinking, I am not sure I have ever read any of YOUR favorite books? Thats weird. I wonder what that says about me?