I am a Reader.
I spent most of my school years sitting at my desk with my nose stuck in a book. I did not make many friends. Not because I couldn’t, but because I didn’t feel the need to. Recess time was spent eating really fast so I could take a new book out of the library.
I took a new book out almost every day.
I’m older now, and I have friends. Lots of them. I also have a job that takes up most of my time, nephews who need my attention, skills that I neglect and side projects that I struggle to keep afloat. I have a lot more to deal with and a lot less time. But I still read quite a bit. And over the past 23 years or so, (assuming I’ve been reading proper sentences since age 4 – I could be wrong,) I’ve found books that have made me laugh and books that have made me cry and books that have made me learn to make music and books that have made me stop dead in my tracks and feel smaller than ever or larger than life or terrified or mortal or tired or thankful. Or intensely, unbearably human.
For months now I’ve been thinking that I should make a list of books that have moved me. So I finally got down to it. Here goes.
An Ordinary List Of Extraordinary Books
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. You already know this one of course. It’s a lovely, lovely coming of age book about growing up and coming to terms with things and just simply getting better at being. Also, I love the protagonist: I love how he is so wise and so naive all at once. I borrow things from Charlie all the time. Like when I sign off my posts here with ‘Love always’.
You should read it if you haven’t read it already. Because really, everybody should.
- Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood. Because Margaret Atwood is an extraordinarily gifted writer and very few people can make such magic with words. Because there is something about a story when you meet the protagonist’s past and present selves all at once that makes it more intriguing. Because it will give you goosebumps when you’re done. And because girls like Cordelia are real, the scars they leave behind are real.
“Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life sized.”
You should read it if you’re in the mood for something that digs deep into the psyche of a character. Or if you’re in the mood for words that read like music. This is a book that needs some commitment though. It’s not a light read as such.
- We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Lionel Shriver should be a shrink. Nobody dissects people’s heads like she does. This book is a series of letters that Eva Katchadourian writes to her husband after their 15 year old son walks into school one day and murders 11 people. Kevin is slow to pick up but when it does pick up, Fuck! It’s unputdownable. It’s horrifying and panic inducing and it will fill you with despair. And you will still go on reading it because this is clearly not your average book at all. It feels like one of those that you come across only a few times in life.
You should read it if you’re in the mood to dig deep into a character’s psyche and if you’re interested in psychology. Kevin is not an easy read either. The pace only picks up towards the end but stick with it. It’s the most intense reading experience I’ve every had.
- The Good Luck Of Right Now by Matthew Quick. A man with Aspergers (I think) loses his mother who has been taking care of him all his life. After the incident, he starts writing letters to Richard Gere, meets a strange assortment of bruised and broken people, uncovers secrets from own past and slowly grows and finds ways to cope with life. This book is beautiful and uplifting and heartbreaking. And it’s a very fast read.
You should read it if you’re in the mood for a quiet, simple book that does wonderful things for your soul.
- All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. This is a collection of essays and anecdotes about all the wonderful little things in life. It’s simple and it’s lovely and if you don’t like it, you have a heart made out of stone.
You should read it if you’re feeling down about things and need some cheer. Or if you’ve spent too long doing something joyless or complicated.
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Theo Decker survives a terrible accident that kills his mother. The boy makes his way through life passing from guardian to guardian, sustaining much damage along the way. A little painting travels with him all along, pulling him deeper and deeper into the art underworld. The Goldfinch is about loss and beauty and obsession and fate. And it is also a constant reminder of how things are seldom black and white and that humans, for the larger part, wade though large swathes of grey.
You should read it if you want a good long page turner of a book.
That’s the list, for now. Maybe I’ll add to it later.
Good bye, Zonk.