Normally I ignore the Facebook memes that go around. I’m not going to tell you what color my bra is, I’m not going to share the Bill Gates photo to get a million dollars, and I’m not going to like a page to win a free trip to Disney. I rule at ignoring “chain mail.” But then I was got. Had. Suckered in. Because I was asked about books. Books, people! I cannot ignore someone asking me about books! Two friends tagged me to “List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. It’s not about the ‘right book’ or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Doesn’t have to be in order.” This is the kind of topic that just gets me hot and bothered! While I didn’t have to say anything about the books on Facebook, the benefits of a blog is I can say whatever I like.
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera: Kundera was the one who showed me that a novel could be so much more than a novel. It could be historical, philosophical, and simply amazing.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg: Who didn’t harbor fantasies of running away to the Metropolitan Museum? This book fueled more childhood fantasies than any other.
The Attack by Yasmina Khadra: As I wrote on my Goodreads review of this book, “At 9 a.m. I started reading. At 3 p.m., I got up, dazed, completely submerged in Khadra’s world and feeling a bit shell-shocked. I can’t remember the last time a book grabbed me so much that I couldn’t stop reading it.”
Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: While his novels captivated me, I was so impressed with how Garcia Marquez could create such huge worlds on a smaller scale.
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson: My grandfather recommended this book to me in high school. It’s not just a wonderful book, but it’s a connection to my Poppy.
I Sing the Body Electric! And Other Stories by Ray Bradbury: I was obsessed with the idea behind the story “Tomorrow’s Child.” I still think about it, and I read it first in junior high.
The Portable Dorothy Parker: For how long did I want to be Dorothy Parker? Without all the suicide attempts, of course.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst: I don’t think this one really needs an explanation. To this day, we still say, “I think I’ll move to Australia,” when we have a bad day.
What She Saw… by Lucinda Rosenfeld: I first read an excerpt from this novel in New Yorker. This was one of the first books that I felt related to me, specifically, as a person.
Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1 by Naguib Mahfouz: Little known fact about me: Before I started working at Amazon.com, I applied to a Middle Eastern Studies program. I received the Amazon job offer and the acceptance to graduate school the same week. At the time, I was worried about supporting myself, so I went to work at Amazon with the plan of going to grad school a year later. Needless to say, my life took a different course. But as I was studying on my own (and during a course on Islamic Civilization), I discovered Naguib Mahfouz. This book introduced me to a new world, and I was mesmerized. I read the entire trilogy and then wanted to do nothing else but start it again.
Of course, as soon as I hit “publish” on this list on Facebook, I second guessed myself. “How is there no Judy Blume? What about Salman Rushdie? Midnight’s Children was a revelation to me when I read it in Post-Colonial Theory and Literature.” But alas, that is the nature of the game. Just ten books.
Interestingly, Buzzfeed put out a list of the most cited books of this meme. Going through the list was at first an exercise in regret, but then I realized I should own my list. It’s me. And now I realize I have some serious re-reading to do!