Saturday, May 1, 2010

15 Books That Will Stick With Me

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. List 15 books you've read that will always stick with you. They should be the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag some friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your Profile page, paste rules in a new Note, cast your 15 picks, and tag people in the Note, upper right hand side.)

1. Harry Potter series [J.K. Rowling]
This is probably seen as a cop-out, using the series as a whole, but really, they ARE an entity of their own. What kid who grew up with Harry Potter will never keep that series in their hearts? The characters, the story; the whole thing is beautiful. Never have I been fonder of a friendship as that of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and all their friends, professors included. <3 Harry Potter changed my world of writing and reading. Of course it will stay with me.

2. Sarah Dessen books [Sarah Dessen]
I promise, this is the last cop-out. But Dessen has woven a world in which stories and characters cross back into each others’ lives. This continuity leads me to link their stories together. Most notably, this is inclusive of The Truth About Forever (auugh Wes, I LOVE YOU), This Lullaby (omg Dexter love you), Along for the Ride (I so admire Auden. And adored Eli), and Lock and Key (Ruby is probably the one character who changes the most.) Dessen completely changed the way I write, develop characters and construct the relationships between all my characters. Her voice is so authentic and unique to each character, they are all believable and realistic. From time to time, I find myself wondering about the characters, as I should with all good books.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird [Harper Lee]
Without a doubt, this book never ceases to make me cry. The movie, too, for that matter. The honesty and rawness of this book are painful, in a most beautiful way. I cannot describe the ache I felt from this story Рone not only of racism, but so much else, most notably the harsh realities of growing up, the lapse of naivet̩ and the tender pains of leaving behind childhood.

4. The Outsiders [S. E. Hinton]
I’d seen the movie many times before I finally read the book, but the movie could not even prepare me. Obviously, they are different and things are changed/left out, but it’s probably just because I connect so well to books that I was so affected. Oh, Pony Boy. How your story broke my heart. And Johnny… I am sure this movie/book is the reason I am so incredibly in LOVE with the name Johnny. Everything about this book just ACHES : their hard lives, the gang fights, the way the freaking book ends. And despite having seen the movie, despite knowing what is coming, I still bawl when I read it. I remember the first time I read it, I had to close the book, hug it to myself, and just CRY for a good half hour. Raw, emotional, REAL. Of course this book stays with me – I came to think of those characters as family of my own!

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower [Stephen Chbosky]
This book found me at the absolute right time in my life. During a time when I was filled of self-doubt and inadequacy issues, Chbosky fed me all the right lines, all the perfect quotes to get me through my issues. Such quotes as: “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be” , “Maybe it’s sad that these are now memories. And maybe it’s not sad” , “I don’t want to start thinking again. Not like I have this last week. I can’t think again. Not ever again” , “I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning” , while so very EMO sounding were exactly what I felt, what everyone, at one point in time, has felt. And this resonated SO STRONGLY within me. I remember crying so much when I read it – it was a painful read for me and the end shattered me, in a melancholy manner. But I love it dearly and continue to re-read it. Charlie is such an HONEST protagonist, and he holds nothing back – not the words we hide for ourselves, not the thoughts we’re too afraid to say, not the seemingly petty moments.

6. Feed [M. T. Anderson]
The first book I read by Anderson was Thirsty, and while it left an impression on me, it was nothing like Feed. This post-cyberpunk, dystopian story is set in a future where humans have become controlled by ads, to the point that they don’t even think for themselves. Feeds, connected to their brains at birth, feed them with advertisements, with a pop culture that not only grips, but controls them. Titus and his friends are perfectly content with their lives – they do not think, they do not read, they do not even write! Information is just at their fingertips (or rather, their brains) and life is EASY. When Titus meets Violet, though, she shows them the mess their lives are. While Titus never seems to understand this at first, it makes you THINK. I cannot say that for many young adult novels, but this book made you think. It wasn’t hard to understand the theme – our society is continually dumbing down, choosing convenience over work and intelligence. Like all the books on this list, I cried, and the ending, while bittersweet, was so honest. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for ages.

7. Looking for Alaska [John Green]
As with Feed, Looking for Alaska was not the first of this author’s I read. I was introduced to Green though the ever-so-witty An Abundance of Katherines and knew instantly I would love Looking for Alaska once I finally got to it, and I wasn’t let down. Yet again, another honest protagonist who tells his story through the mouth of a real teenage boy. His obsession with Alaska is one part amusing and alarming, one part tender and sweet. Green is a most amazing writer and while I recommend any of his works, this one, most certainly, has a place in my heart. His unveiling of the story of Alaska is a craft, a work of art, and it is done so well, I cannot help but reread it.

8. Peter Pan
I will confess now – I am a sucker for stories of childhood and innocence. Also, I am a sucker for Peter Pan – the book, the Disney movie, the live-action movie. Yes, like with all the books in this list, it makes me cry. In fact, I’m not entirely sure why I bawled when I finally read this book. Peter Pan represents an innocence that so many people give up, and I think I was most bothered with Wendy not only leaving him, but to become a boring adult. The very least they could have done is allowed her to grow up with a child’s heart! This, of course, was not the message, and I think it’s what made me feel saddest, emptiest. That this, supposedly, was to be our fate? To leave behind childhood, to grow up, and to remember the second star to the right, straight on to morning? What made me cry hardest, I recall, was knowing Peter would come back to visit, and always his friends would have grown older – and he would have given up on them! – and he would befriend the daughter, to continue this pattern forever. Bittersweet.

9. 13 Reasons Why [Jay Asher]
Asher created a most compelling tale here, complete with my silly tears. Clay tells the story of Hannah, who has recently committed suicide, through the use of a mysterious box shown up on his doorstep, containing cassettes. Each side of these tapes is intended for one of 13 people who contributed to her suicide in some way or form. Most haunting, I think, was their effect on her life, her decision to take her life, and the concept that people are so interlinked, whether we want to be or not. Of course, one of the sides of this tape is meant for Clay, who cannot imagine how he contributed to the suicide of a girl he was so fond of. Yes, I cried. Yes, I thought about this book for so long after. Dark, honest, raw, emotional. It was beautiful.

10. The Amber Spyglass [Philip Pullman]
I read the His Dark Materials series in middle school, and this one, the final of the series, stuck out most prominently. Don’t get me wrong – the whole series is fascinating, fantastic, well-crafted and well developed. What most makes this stick out in my mind, I think, is the ending, and the travel to the world of the dead. Both Lyra and Will change so indefinitely, so indescribably, and the ending tugged every string of my heart. Such an incredible tale most certainly sticks with me – the characters, those alive and dead, those who sacrificed and antagonized. Beautiful.

11. The Lovely Bones [Alice Sebold]
Within the third chapter, I believe, I was bawling. I remember talking to Angie while attempting to read this and encountering moments where I cried so hard I couldn’t see anything. I’m such a sucker for emotional aspects of stories. I cried when she told the story of being raped and murdered and I bawled through the aftermath of her family and their attempts to cope. Everything about this book is just DEVASTATING. Of course there is no REAL happy ending – the dirty deed is done and you know from the start. Haunting is an appropriate term for this. I can’t imagine how this wouldn’t stick with anyone after reading.

12. Elsewhere [Gabrielle Zevin]
I wasn’t entirely sure of what I was getting into when I read this book. I know Boo liked the book and it sounded appealing. I didn’t expect to ravish the book the way I did, though. Trucking through books is nothing out of the ordinary for me, but to ravish a book isn’t super common for me. To absolutely plow through it, eat it up, and hold it to myself. Elsewhere tells of a most fascinating after life – animals can talk, people are employed and, most curious, you age backwards from the age of your death, all the way back to infancy, when you are sent down the river, to be reborn. And, my goodness. I cried, so very much. It was beautiful! Told in simplistic writing, it was sweet, it was tender, and most of all, it was raw. And yeah, sort of depressing.

13. The Realm of Possibility [David Levithan]
This is not quite my favorite Levithan book, for my favorite is his collaboration with Rachel Cohn, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlits. However, this one does resonate far more strongly within me. This is a snapshot of the lives of numerous friends and acquaintances and how they are all interlinked, despite some who may have nothing to do with each other. Told through prose and free-form, poetry, song, etc, each character is unique, each character has a story. It was… a fabulous read. (P.S: I totally recommend his book, Boy Meets Boy, if you aren’t squeamish about boy love/anti-homosexuals. The book is not detailed in anything, but it tells a BEAUTIFUL story for a BEAUTIFUL world, where the football quarterback is also the head cheerleader, where gay hate is almost nonexistent and dance parties strike up in the self-help section of the book stores. It’s beautiful and hopeful.)

14. The Ruby Oliver Series [E. Lockhart]
I know, I know! Another cop out! But again, I cannot choose only one from this series. Lockhart changed my writing in so many ways. She writes a spunky, leper-slut who tries to do the right thing but screws up or gives into selfishness. Roo’s story is real – you don’t always get the boy, your feelings aren’t always reciprocated, and sometimes, high school – your friends included – really suck. Like I said, she changed a lot of my writing, my thinking, my development. Between Lockhart and the aforementioned Dessen, my writing has been greatly influenced.

15. Junebug [Ashley Poston]
What’s that? You’ve never heard of this one? Of course you haven’t! Written by a now-very dear friend of mine, this story is going to go places. Junebug tells the story of Junie Baltimore, who winds up running into her past by running into her recent past. Easily relatable, Junie has insecurities like any other girl, fears, inadequacy issues, etc. but her voice is so strong that, even though she is so like any of us, she is so very unique. Besides, I am a sucker for the story of two friends who SO belong together. I remember when I first started reading this – I was anxious, so anxious, to finish it and to find out how everything worked out. Poston brilliantly leaves the reader wondering if there will be a happy ending and if the happy ending is actually the right one. More so than many books I’ve read, I have honestly found myself thinking of Junie and Rob and Caspian and Mags, wondering what they’re all up to, how their lives have worked out. <3 Eghads. I suppose being friends with the author is a possible reason it sticks with me, but, really, I consider our friendship a benefit of this read.


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