I keep getting tagged on Facebook (thanks, fellow book lovers, Stuart and Sheree!) to share the ten books that have made the biggest impact in my life. This started happening right before I went on vacation a few weeks ago and until now, I haven’t had the bandwidth to address to this mind-blowing ask.
Mind-blowing because I have been reading forever—and there are a lot of books that have impacted me. No joke since my mom was a teacher and taught me how to read before I was in pre-school, probably so I would amuse myself while she looked after my two years younger brother. Instead of napping (which I hated), I’d head to my room to read. And stay there for hours. No one ever had to encourage me to go to the library. Teachers never had to prod me to challenge myself—I read what I liked and looking back on it read books I probably didn’t fully understand when I was in elementary school.
But in the past 8 years, I’ve gotten out of the habit. Reading social media posts, blogs, snippets of information, and magazines have replaced the books in my life. TV too. It’s easy to keep looking at screens after looking at them all day. And that’s why I decided to abandon my iPad. Although I love the convenience of having lots of reading material at my disposal, those books and magazines are languishing behind the glass. I forget that they’re there.
A BIG thank you to my sweet friend Melissa for giving me the book Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life (perhaps a hint, but a nice read regardless) because it really and truly was the catalyst to reigniting my passion for reading earlier this summer. And reminding me just how much I really loved to hold a real book in my hands.
Then I read two books (Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s and Divergent) during my vacation and they applied a swift blow to my noggin with the long-lost steel-toed Doc Martins of my youth. “How could you have forgotten us? We’ve been friends for most of your life? We will not be replaced!” they said, speaking on behalf of the shelves of their brethren I’ve plowed through and cast aside. So now it’s back to paper for me.
I’m frequently mocked for being a fast reader. Truth is I’m a reading glutton. If I love a book, it’s a deliciously gooey and decadent feast. No matter how much I get through, I can’t get enough. I will devour that book—sleep, chores, whatever, be damned. If I don’t love it, I know myself well enough that it needs to be donated to charity immediately. Or returned to the library. Or left in an airplane seat pocket. Otherwise, it will languish on a dusty bookshelf until we move to another dwelling.
Yes, my name is Julie and I’m addicted to reading. Now that you know another of my dirty little secrets, you’ll understand why I’m reading more again. It’s a great vice for a middle-aged writer. And it won’t make me fat or put a hurting on the bank account.
Without further ado, here are 10 books I love that influenced my thoughts, perspective on many things, and writing. Admittedly I am cheating just a wee bit with the excesses presented in my list. And my list could change tomorrow once I ponder what I’ve forgotten, but today’s 10 are a certainly a diverse and motley crew:
1. Ogilvy on Advertising: Without a doubt, this is the book that made me realize that advertising was the right career for me. I was given it as a first day of work assignment by my first “adult job” boss and I polished it off in a couple of hours. Then I re-read it. And thought to myself, “One day, I want to work for this guy.” I never got that wish, but many years later, I worked at the place with his name on the door.
2. Neuromancer by William Gibson. Yes, I love sci-fi. And dystopian fiction. And all of William Gibson’s books. Nerd!
3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Canadian content that I didn’t realize was Canadian when I read it back in high school. And more dystopian fiction.
4. Anything by Dr. Seuss. I’m a big fan
5. The Bobbsey Twins entire series/Hardy Boys entire series/Nancy Drew entire series. And I am thrilled that my three little nieces will get to enjoy the ones my mom squirreled away in a box in her garage (they were hers too!) in a few more years.
6. The Little House on the Prairie series.
7. Lord of the Rings series (If it’s not obvious yet that I really, really, really like books that come in series, you may need to know that I also loved the Twilight series and all the Harry Potter books, although not the movies. Also all of the Shopaholic books and anything by Sophie Kinsella. Truthfully, I don’t really like the stories to end and the characters to leave me.)
8. The Diary of a Young Girl. It gave a face to something completely incomprehensible to me. Another book I’ve read many times.
9. The Catcher in the Rye. Yes, I could be a moody teen. I loved all of Salinger’s works and really do hope that he left us a manuscript.
10. tie: The Riverside Shakespeare and New Oxford Annotated Bible. Both of these books were critical to my undergraduate degree in English and what I learned in the classes where I used them has proven to be extremely useful in adult life for a whole variety of reasons.
And if you’re wondering if my book choices are similar to others, here’s a cool infographic.
If you’ve been missing the gratuitous dog photos because I’ve been too busy reading/gardening/working/vacationing/a whole bunch of things I’ll catch you up on later, don’t worry, here’s a cute one:
George snuggling with Guinness during a thunderstorm
PS: In the past few weeks I’ve been reading whole novels in one sitting. Real books, not on my iPad. I’m thinking I’d better renew my library card. I seem to be loving young adult novels: Tuesday night’s was The Fault in Our Stars and I plowed through Divergent on our flight back from London. Both were exactly what I needed to relax and enjoy some time well spent.