Wednesday, April 8, 2015

#30PhotosInBetween: Words

I love books. 

Anyone who knows me knows that reading and books are a huge part of my life.

I have 3 dedicated bookshelves at home, as well as books scattered on pretty much every flat surface - people often say "you have so many books!" as soon as they come in. My office at school has a giant bookshelf that is packed full. I always keep a book in my purse, at least one in my car, and there are usually at least 2 or 3 books in my bed at any given time.

I can't think of a time since I remember knowing how to read that I haven't been reading a book. Even if I'm too busy to sit down and read all the time, I have one dog-earred or bookmarked that I'm in the middle of.

I throw quotes from books into everyday conversation.

Some of my best friends are characters from books.

I've cried at the deaths of characters and authors.

Basically, I love books.

I may only have one life. But I've lived thousands, hundreds of thousands, of lives in the 25 or so years I've been able to read.

Part of that love of reading came from circumstance. I am a middle child, but my sister is 14 years older than me, and my brother is 7 years younger, so I was alone, or at least without playmates, most of my childhood. I'm a naturally talkative person, but, at least as a child, I never had much in common with my peers - most of them had lots of siblings, or didn't like to read, or fell victim to the above-average illiteracy rate of my childhood home.

Plus, if y'all think I'm an awkward adult, you should have seen me as a child.

So books were my friends.

And, even today, when I have amazing friends (and yes, my friends all love books as much as I do!), books are still my allies and confidantes, my escape, my dearest friends.

This is in no way a pity party, but the sad truth of the world is that, as much as you love someone, people can hurt you. 

People can wake up one day and decide they don't love you anymore.

But books, books are always going to be there.

Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

So books have been my constant companion. I grew up poor, and often alone, with a mother who instilled a love of reading in me very young. Over the years, I've collected quite a few books that mean the world to me.

This is in no way a complete list - just some of the ones that have consumed me, and that I recommend to others!

Jojo Moyes, The Girl You Left Behind
This book is absolutely wonderful. Warning: It will make you cry. The dual setting of modern day and WWI France makes for some great writing.

Stephen King, Joyland
Probably my favorite Stephen King work. Whether or not you like horror, or his stories, the man is a damn fine writer.

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens
One of the funniest books I've ever read. Don't think the apocalypse is funny? You will after reading this.

Nora Roberts, The Witness
I love Nora Roberts, and, while many of her books are kind of predictable, this one is very fresh, very dark, and very good. If you liked Gone Girl, give this one a try.

Anne McCaffrey, The Dragonriders of Pern
This is actually the first 3 books in a very large and expansive series. But once you read these, you won't be able to stop. These introduced me to fantasy, but they also introduced me to some wonderful characters and fantastic worlds. Thanks, Anne.

Edward Rutherfurd, The Princes of Ireland
I like LONG books, and expansive family histories, and this book, like Anne Rice's The Witching Hour (which I only have on ebook sadly) follows a family and loosely connected group of people in one location over centuries. Part history, part fiction, all good writing.

Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches
So, not going to lie, Deborah Harkness is kind of my history crush. Yeah. She's a professional historian of 16th century England and alchemy, AND she writes amazing novels set, partly, in her professional field. She's awesome. Plus these books are addictive.

Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
I don't often say that a book changes my life, but this one did. Just read it. You'll be more interested in the golden age of comics and come away feeling like your heart was torn apart by these characters. In a good way. I think.

Norah Lofts, Anne Boleyn
This is non-fiction, but it was the first "grown up" history book I read. Not the newest scholarship, but  great work on a fascinating subject.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
I can't say much more about this book than what has already been said, but I read it on the bus everyday in London, which, in all honesty, is probably the best place to read it. :)

Lois Lowery, The Giver
Forget that the recent movie happened. This book is amazing.

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
I've written about my love of Outlander and Diana Gabaldon before, but basically, this book series (8 main books plus a few novels about side characters) is one I can read again and again. The series on Starz is great, and Gabaldon is one of the most innovative, personable, and creative writers out there.

Ayn Rand, Anthem
Okay, I hate Ayn Rand's politics. But this book is great, and has a fantastic twist at the end.

Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
A classic for a reason. I was convinced as a child that Meg Murry and I were the same person. Now if I could just find my Calvin O'Keefe. 

Terry Deary, The Rotten Romans
The book that sparked my love of history. I just got a box set of the entire series, and I can't wait dive in and read them all!

Jean M. Auel, The Clan of the Cave Bear
I read this when I was probably way too young, but I've loved it ever since. True story: On the day the next to last one was released, I showed up at the bookstore in my home town at 5am, thinking there would be a line and it would be chaos (it's a hugely popular series and it was the first new book from her in 12 years!). So I sat outside, with my book and my coffee, at probably 17 years old, alone, until the bookstore opened at 9. I was the only person there. I bought 4 copies. This may be the introduction to my memoirs.

Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca
Best opening line of all time, best use of an unnamed narrator, best twist, best adaptation (despite censorship). This is the book I keep in my car at all times, just in case I get stuck in traffic or have to wait or whatever.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
Read this book right now and tell me your rights in this country aren't in peril. Tell me you aren't a feminist. Tell me you think being a second-class citizen is okay.
Then drink some whiskey and go tell the patriarchy to fuck itself.

Scott O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins
One of my grandmother's favorite books, I read this as a child and was absolutely devastated by some of the events that take place. Still one of my favorites. Still devastated.

Donna Tartt, The Secret History
I relate WAY too much to Henry in this book. For those of you who've read it, I'll leave it at that. For those of you who haven't, do.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon
Want to read about some badass women? Here you go.

Not pictured because it's in my bag at school:
Michael Ende, The Neverending Story
I've read this book at least 100 times. I've never read the same book twice.

And, although I don't read them much anymore, I will forever be attached to this series of books, which my mom scrimped and saved to buy me. Such great stories, and just as fun for grown-ups as kids:

What are YOUR favorite books?


  1. Nothing better than book recommendations! I will definitely check out some of your favorites. :)

    1. Agreed! I love hearing what other people are reading - I've found some of my favorites that way!

      Love your blog by the way! I love travel too!

  2. I'm a book lover myself, and you've got several listed that I've been meaning to read (but haven't) or need to look into. You ask for our favorites. Some that pop into mind: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell...and I have a weakness for crime/thriller/mystery books with interesting characters.

  3. Thank you for this list! I normally have loads of books lined up to read next, but I don't have many books on my to-read list. This has given me lots of inspiration!

    It's also so heartening to see that other graduate students still love reading for pleasure: I sometimes feel like I'm a weirdo.