I compiled this list in September, 2014 in response to a Facebook meme. The idea was to list the first ten books and/or authors that came to mind and describe why they are important. The books that came to mind (without the aid of my bookshelves) are those that are connected to a shared reading experience.
I dug this out of my writing notes today because I just finished reading Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen, his memoir. It prompted me to consider what episodes and texts in my life I might include in a memoir.
Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter.
This book was given to me by my Grandma Anna Mae Kelley as a Christmas present when I was around ten.
Reading his thrillers in high school was one of the first times I got drawn into the excitement of waiting with a friend for the next book by an author.
Reading anything by him when I was in high school was intense. Again he created a little society of readers who dared to read him. The experience of reading Gerald's Game in one night through the dawn was terrifying. I didn't read him again until The Cell.
The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss
This was a key book at my high school graduation and at my wedding. I loved rereading it recently and noticing how the difficulties of life are so vividly portrayed.
Blindness by Jose Saramago
This is a hard book. I like hard books. And that scene on the balcony is worth the entire book. And I'm afraid of going blind.
The Red Tent By Anita Diamant
This book is on the list because of the foundational role it played in my book club. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd also makes the list for the same reason.
The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
It is an epic tale of living in America as an immigrant. It is a book I've found myself giving to people.
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
It is a short book, yet it captured life in contemporary Japan and caught the imaginations of my classmates at Saint Mary's.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
I am not even sure why/when I first read this. Not even sure why it is on the list other than perhaps it was one of my first tastes of the modernist style. And I once quoted it at length in a love letter.
The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
This play became the heart of many relationships for me.