10 Books

Recently I was challenged by a friend to list the top 10 books that have had a major impact on my life.  Because I’m a verbose person and take challenges seriously, I couldn’t just answer his request with a few blanketed answers. Here they are in no particular order with their explanations:

     The Outsiders is a book you get something out of at different stages of your life.  Recently for a class we re-read the classic, it was mind blowing to find out it was written by a 16 year old.  

outsiders21

     Eat Pray Love.  This is a great book for any one who has ever experienced divorce and tried to make sense of it.  This book made me want to travel, get lost, make new friends and then write about it.  It taught me how to put some of my past behind me and work though some life lessons.

NewCover.EatPrayLove

     If you ever want to impress a literature professor, drop the name Rex Stout.  When I finally resided alone in my apartment in St. Louis I knew I would be restless at night. The answer to listlessness was found in a fabulous mystery The Sound of Murder.  It was originally written in the early 40’s at the dawn of industrial espionage.  With quirky characters and a foresight of an upcoming industry in a new material called plastic, the setting Mr. Stout paints in so surreal yet believable.

sound-of-murder

     The first book I remember falling in love with is, I Mean It Stanley.  This is the book my parents started reading to me and by the age of two, I had it memorized page for page.  Every night I asked them to read it to me before bed, each word drilling it’s way into my brain.  When my Grandparents came down for a visit, my Parents suggested to my Grandma she should read me a book that night.  So I retrieved this book, sat in her lap and as she turned the pages I started reciting the text.  My Grandmother was a lot like me, she was a former teacher and had a sense of wonder.  She thought I was reading the book.  She didn’t know my parents tirelessly read this to get me in the habit of a sleep routine.  She looked in amazement at my parents thinking I might be a genius.  Then my Dad cracked a smile and the gig was up.

And I Mean It Stanley

     Everyone needs a good Doctor in their life.  Mine had the last name of Seuss.  My first grade teacher asked everyone in class to pick their favorite book to bring to class and read.  I poured over my selection at home. It was between Fox in Socks and 101 Dalmatians.  In the end I chose Fox in Socks, mainly because in the beginning of the book, Dr. Seuss goads the reader with this graphic:  Fox in Socks     How could you resist?  At the young age of six I wasn’t willing to back down from a challenge and for once settled who won the tweedle beetle battle with paddles on poodles eating noodles.

     If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I doing in the Pits? This book I read because it had been sitting in the drawer of my Parents’ end tables and was begging to be read.  The cover wreaked of late 70’s artwork and humor.  I was 17 when I first picked it up, read it on a Journalism class trip to Chicago and for the first time in a long time was caught laughing out loud to a joke no one could hear.  This book appealed to me because I felt displaced, and Erma Bombeck made sense of everything.  Life is a bowl of cherries

Batman a Death in the Family was my first experience with a gritty plot only capable of taking place in between the pages of (at the time) my favorite Super Hero’s life.  Little did I know in comic books characters can perish at the hand of a madman armed with a crow bar.  Until then I was only exposed to characters who died of natural causes.  This may have been when I learned the word bludgeoned250px-Batman_Death_In_The_Family_TPB_cover

     Any Archie comic EVER.  In the 80‘s and early 90‘s Archie was all I ever read during the summer, sometimes in between Garfield books I checked out at the library.  I devoured these wishing I could be Betty Cooper. Unfortunately, one of my best friends growing up had blonde hair, where I learned the ugly truth, only she could be Betty because she had the correct hair color.  These books taught me blondes had more fun and brunettes were snooty, confusing my idea of what a woman should be.  Eventually along the way I realized these were just characters and nobody should have to be compartmentalized into either image.  Instead I developed a crush on Jughead and a love for art by trying to re-draw the images.  Archie comics also helped to forge the way for me in a literary sense.  The featured cover below is the one they published an interview I did of my Aunt. Archie Comic

     When my parents realized comic books were no longer just a hobby but something that could cause my two loves to collide they wanted to help.  They purchased two books by Will Eisner in which he states the best scenario for comic book writing is when the artist and the writer are the same person.  If this isn’t the case, he goes on to illustrate what can happen when people get their ideas mixed up.  Even if you aren’t into comics, it’s a wonderful book explaining the process with beautiful illustrations.Will Eisner

     The next book is something everyone needs to read to understand how to become a better writer, even if it only pertains to correspondence.  The Groucho Letters is a book of letters exchanged between Groucho Marx, some of his colleagues and son.  This was a gem I discovered at my parents house.  It probably belonged to my Grandma and one of my Aunts at one point.  One specific part in the book stuck out to me.  Groucho had built a rapport with a fellow funny person who was at the time living in Maine.  By the third letter of catching up, the friend wrote to Groucho, “The town is so boring the tide went out and never came back.”  This book goes to show how friendship can bring you unexpected things, like the gift of laughter or witty writing.

Groucho Letters

     To my friend, hopefully this answers your challenge. To my readers…what are some of your favorite books and which ones have influenced you the most?

 

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8 thoughts on “10 Books

    • Thank you! Did you read The Outsiders in school or as an adult or both? It had to make my list, it impressed me three times! 🙂 By the way, S.E. Hinton is on Twitter, her feed is fun to follow. Eat Pray Love I read a while back, it really is a wonderful book, even though my situation wasn’t EXACTLY like Elizabeth Gilbert’s, I could identify with trying to put your past behind you when it somehow continues to bubble up. Her method for quelling it and making peace was interesting. Recently had way of finding peace too, such a great book! 🙂 Who would be on your list?

  1. Dig this post! The Outsiders takes me back 🙂 A few I’ve never heard of some of these titles; I I will be exploring more when I head back to the library.
    A few of my favorites include Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, which was assigned in class in the 10th grade and I read it cover to cover by the time we got back to school the following Monday. Holden was cursing…and I was fascinated that this book would be assigned in school 🙂 ; The Last Lecture…so beautifully written and so sad that my introduction to him was his appearance on Oprah and you learn how the book came to be; and lastly The Alienist, which is a cool murder mystery which takes place in NYC back in the day at the very beginning of forensics…it’s CSI, late 1800’s style!

    • These books sound tantalizing! I still haven’t read Catcher in the Rye but it is on my list to read before becoming a teacher! What is The Last Lecture about? (Just want to know your perspective on it.) The Alienist sounds VERY cool, that might be something my Husband and Mother would like to read as well! You’ve already got me hooked! 🙂

      • The Last Lecture…in a nutshell..computer science teacher from Carnegie Mellon University (and that’s just one of his jobs…he did lots of interesting things including working for Disney at one point) who was asked to give a lecture as many professors are asked to do at that university. What made his different was that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the year prior. His lecture was on how to achieve your childhood dreams. As a soon to be teacher, def check this book out. At the very least, look him up on you tube. It’s inspiring without being hokey…and the book is pretty timeless. I re-read it every year or so…and when you check it out, you will understand why. Let me know what you think 🙂

    • Yes! She was a hilarious, witty smart woman! When you get a chance to read it please let me know what you thought of it! There are quite a few books by her, here is a list I found on Wikipedia: At Wit’s End, Doubleday, 1967.
      Just Wait Until You Have Children of Your Own, Doubleday, 1971. Written with Bil Keane.
      I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression, Doubleday, 1974.
      The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, McGraw-Hill, 1976.
      If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?, McGraw-Hill, 1978.
      Aunt Erma’s Cope Book, McGraw-Hill, 1979.
      Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession, 1983.
      Family — The Ties that Bind … and Gag!, 1987.
      I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise: Children Surviving Cancer, 1989. American Cancer Society’s Medal of Honor in 1990. (Profits from the publication of this book were donated to a group of health-related organizations.)
      When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home, 1991.
      A Marriage Made in Heaven … or Too Tired For an Affair, 1993
      All I Know About Animal Behavior I learned in Loehmann’s Dressing Room, ISBN 0060177888 HarperCollins 1995
      Forever, Erma: Best-Loved Writing From America’s Favorite Humorist, Andrew McMeel Publishing, 1996

      There is one called, “Forever Erma” which is a compilation of her works. My parents purchased it for me one Christmas, it is a wonderful book. There was one in there about the child who would always come over with one of her kids, and wound up in a way becoming one of her own children. It reminded me of my childhood best friend and how she was always over at my parents’ house with me! She tells the story from a parents perspective.

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