Wow...I can see that a lot of people read out there.....I had no idea how universal some authors are. I picture a whole group of us with our copies of A Secret Garden, tucked away in our little corners as children.
When I hit junior high, I became an even more earnest reader. Most of the books I liked were not available in my school library, so I would make a list and save up and whenever we hit a city with a bookstore, I would go buy my stash. To this day, I can't read The Catcher in The Rye without crying.
"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids and nobody's around--nobody big. I mean--except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff--I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be." Catcher in The Rye.
God, it just breaks my heart all over again.
I went on to read To Kill a Mockingbird and decided that if I had a daughter, I would name her Scout. (I didn't. But, I would have named a boy Jeremy.)
ATree Grows in Brooklyn is still on my shelf. I bet I have read it ten times. And every time, I think to myself that I will never begrudge a child anything, be it health care or whatever. There is always a Francie Nolan in any group of children. You just have to take that on faith and act accordingly.
Thanks to a nun, I discovered William Shakespeare. I was unprepared to fall so deeply in love with his works. We read Romeo and Juliet and it is still my favorite of all of his plays.
"Two households , both alike in dignity. In fair Verona, where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny. Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star crossed lovers take their life...." Romeo and Juliet.
And....Mercutio's wild lament:
"A plague o' both your houses! They have made worm's meat of me...."
Who can resist the first moment of realizing that you are in love? As Romeo says:
If I profane with my unworthiest hand this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this. My lips to blushing pilgrims, ready stand that smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss."
I think I must have watched the Franco Zeffirelli movie of Romeo and Juliet about twenty times. I can still recite whole sections of the dialogue. This once bewildered Bing as we sat with some friends and I discovered a kindred soul in a table mate and she and I actually said whole pieces of the play back and forth to each other.
Now, as an adult, I still ready daily. DAILY. I take a book with me everywhere, the bathroom, in the car when I have to wait to pick up Liv in the school line, at the dentist's office. Everywhere. My tastes are firmly in place and I like all kinds of books.
My favorite authors are many. I like David Sedaris, Bill Bryson and Garrison Keillor when I want to just relax and enjoy myself. David Sedaris is so funny that I have actually snorted soda pop through my nose in public while reading him on an airplane. Bill Bryson and Garrison Keillor are of a more gentle humor, less biting, less cynical, but just as good.
I will read anything that Anne Lamott writes. I first discovered her when Liv was an infant and I came across Operating Instructions while sleepily browsing in a book store. I immediately identified with her love of her child, in spite of having deep misgivings at the prospect of being a mother:
I am much too self centered, cynical, eccentric and edgy to raise a baby..."
Amen. I had met my match. I have since read all her short stories, all her fiction (Try Rosie or Crooked Little Heart if you want a great read) and even her books on spirituality. I am not the die hard believer that she is, but I just like the way she doesn't smack you across the face with her beliefs. She lets them sneak up on you. My kind of gal.
I love Elizabeth Berg too.
"When it's new and important, you have to rest in between time. And anyway, even when I like a person there is a weariness that comes. I can be with someone and everything is fine and then all of a sudden it can wash over me like a sickness, that I need the quiet of my own self. I need to unload my head and look at what I've got in there so far. See it. Think what it means. I always need to come back to being alone for a while. I guess I sort of got used to it when I was younger and now it's mixed in my character like eggs in a cake. I wonder, does this mean I'll have to be a nun or something?" Joy School.
I read her books and feel as if she can see inside my head. And heart.
Anne Tyler rocks. I have so many favorites of her books, that I need to list them:
1) A Slipping Down Life.
2) Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant.
3) The Accidental Tourist.
4) Breathing Lessons.
5) Saint Maybe.
I mean, how can anyone resist a book that starts out with:
"Maggie and Ira Moran had to go to funeral in Deer Lick, Pennsylvania..." Breathing Lessons.
Kaye Gibbons wrote Ellen Foster, which is as far as I am concerned, the best book written. Her writing is spare but packs a huge wallop.
"When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure out this or that way and run it down through my head until it got easy..."
And...I can't leave out Alice Hoffman. I love the magic in her books. She doesn't worry about the boundaries between imaginary and real, she skirts all over them and it works. I would love to live next door to her. I think everything she has written is well, magical...but At Risk and Practical Magic are my favorites.
I now feel very sure that I am leaving some important books out. Let's see...a few more...
Oh, yes...Rough Strife by Lynne Sharon Schwartz and Miracle Play by Susan Richards Shreve and...yes...yes...Tending to Virginia by Jill McCorkle.
And god...it goes on and on...Lorna Landvik, Bobbie Ann Mason, Jo-Ann Mapson...
So many books have shaped me, changed me, helped me....
I've heard about your childhood book favorites...how about your current ones?