Friday, December 30, 2005

Is it Friday Already?


And you know what Friday means...another installment of gratitude. After finishing The Secret Life of Bees and being so touched by it's story I decided to dedicated this weeks Grateful Friday post to books that I'm thankful for, books I have loved over the years and that have changed my life and the way I look at the world.

I've loved books for as long as I can remember. It all started with my grandmother. She is a big reader and I vividly recall sitting in her lap as she read to me. One of our favorites was a sweet book called In Grandma's Attic. She still has a copy of it to this day. One of my all time favorite Christmas gifts was the tape recorder my grandparents gave my sisters and I one year. Not only did we get the tape recorder but my grandparents had the creativity and foresight to record their voices reading stories to us. My tape included Meme reading Beauty and the Beast and the flip side contained Grandad reading the story of David and Goliath. Once in school I loved trips to the library. Some of my favorites were the Mrs Piggle Wiggle series, the Superfudge books, all the Ramona Quimby tales, and anything by either Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary. And of course, I'm a big Shel Silverstein fan. My summers were usually spent reading. While my sisters were into boys and sports and Atari games, I was into books. I loved participating in the library's summer reading club. To this day there is nothing that will get me more excited than a Scholastic book sale. So here are just a few of the books I'm grateful for...

  • To Kill a Mockingbird...I always put this book on the top of the list because it's the first book I remember being really impacted by. I read it one summer when I was a teenager and have re-read it so many times since. Every time I read it I feel changed. The story of Scout, Jem, Dill, Atticus and Boo always gets me.
  • Gone With the Wind...I read this the summer before I started high school. It's quite a book. My sisters and I were visiting my grandparents with my Dad and I pretty much secluded myself in the basement soaking up the incredible story of Miss Scarlett O'Hara. If you've only seen the movie then you must read the book. There is so much more to this Civil War love story than David Selznick gave us with the movie...not that the movie isn't' one of the greatest movies of all time.
  • The Color Purple...If anyone asks me what my favorite book is I say this one. It's short and easy to read but, man oh man, it packs a big punch. I usually read this one at least once a year.
  • Beloved...I think I keep coming back to this book over and over again because it's such a mystery to me. There is so much about it that I don't understand and I read it again and again to gain a little bit more each time. If God had skin I think she would be Toni Morrison.
  • The Bluest Eye...Another Toni Morrison classic. This book makes me ache, literally ache, with the pain of Pecola Breedlove and my own attempts to be something I think will finally be acceptable by others.
  • The Red Tent...This book totally rocked my world. Growing up Southern Baptist, with a grandfather who is a preacher, this book changed the way I looked at childhood bible stories and made me feel incredibly proud to be a woman with strong familial bonds.
  • East of Eden...Priceless. I read this the summer Oprah picked this for her bookclub and fell in love. I was so moved by this story that after finishing it I followed it up with reading the journal that Steinbeck kept while writing this classic. For Britton's first birthday I got him a pocket knife (to be kept in a safe place until his old enough to have it) with the Hebrew word timshel engraved on it.
  • Ten Poems to Change Your Life...I've always had a love-hate relationship with poetry. I've always loved it but never felt like I really "got" it. After reading this book I felt my life open to poetry. I never knew that it could mean so much and that maybe I could "get" it.
  • Cries of the Spirit...This is a beautiful collection of women's poetry and essays giving a unique glimpse into women's lives, women's relationships, and women's roles.
  • A Return to Love...I read this regularly to remind myself of how I want to live.
  • Mary Oliver's New and Selected Poems Volume I...She is the first poet I fell deeply in love with. She sees and writes with a depth that I long for. I've read and re-read this book so many times it's in terrible shape. I think I'm going to have to break down and purchase a hardback copy.
  • Eat Mangos Naked...This is my favorite SARK book. Of course all her books are fantastic but this one just resonates with me for some reason. When I need to be inspired and redirected this is the book I turn to.
  • The Artist Way...I'll read just about anything Julia Cameron writes. She is a creative coach extraordinaire. This books opened up my world in incredible ways and gave me permission to call myself an Artist.
  • Alice in Wonderland...My favorite children's book.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit...This is the children's book I give as a gift the most. I think all my nieces and nephews have received a copy at one time or another. To me this book is the quintessential book about life, which is the process of becoming real.
I'm sure I have left some out and those of you who know me best will probably be able to call to attention some that I love but have forgotten to list. Like Jane Eyre and all of Jane Austen's novels (especially Emma and Pride and Prejudice). I've read all her work and love her spins and twists on the romantic. And there's The Prophet and The Four Agreements and Out of Africa and She's Come Undone and Anthem and The Bell Jar and The Vagina Monologues and Poemcrazy and Girl, Interrupted and The Hours and Reading Lolita in Tehran and the Eloise books....oh I could go on and on but I'll stop here.

I'm fascinated by the books that people choose to love. I think it can say a lot about who we are, what we need, and where we are on our journey. And I think it's interesting that one person can love a book so much and yet another person just can't get into that very same book. For instance Trey's two favorite books are This Side of Paradise and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I can't manage to read either of those. I think I've started Paradise three times and have never been able to complete it. Amory Blaine just doesn't hold my attention.

So, this Friday I'm thankful for books, for stories, for the fiction and non-fiction that has the canny ability to reveal pieces of ourselves to us in gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, ways, and always, if we allow it, offers the possibility of healing. And what new books will enter my life in the future? I don't' know but I cant' wait to see. I started The Poisonwood Bible today and last night I received a $100 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble from Trey's dad for Christmas. Ahhh, the gift of books...nothing could be better.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Beansprout said...

Amazing list of books to be grateful for! Some are definitely on my list of favorites and others I look forward to discovering. One of the books that I love is Dorothy Alison's "Bastard Out Of Carolina". I love her voice, the heart-wrenching honesty with which she writes. And if I didn't say it already...I love your resolution idea of reading a memoir or biography once a month. It's on my list.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Marit Cooper said...

Having read your quote from 'The Velveteen Rabbit' earlier I bought it for my husband this Christmas. He read it aloud to me and we both wept, as we do, because we are both very emotional. Thank you for sharing.

3:25 AM  
Blogger acumamakiki said...

Be STILL MY HEART!! First the photo is beautiful and books! They are my life blood and one hope I have in this life is that I pass the love of reading and books onto my girl. We share many favorites but I have to say my all=time favorite on your list is The Hours. That book kills me and broke my heart in tiny peices. I think I've mentioned before that I have the soundtrack and listen to it often. I even try to get my patients to listen to it when they're on the table although usually by the next session they are begging for the new-agey stuff! (=

4:34 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

omg...i literally clapped my hands
when i saw what friday's grateful list
was going to be about...
i LOVE books...LOve them, loVE them and
LUUUUUVVVV them, heehee...

i can't wait to do a list of my own,
but i need to think it out first...
and i need to write out your list...
and i need to write out the lists
of anyone else who posts to this...
(i'm obsessive-compulsive that way)
(heh)

5:49 AM  
Blogger ESB said...

Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume! Wow, that takes me back....

7:19 AM  
Anonymous lela said...

"The Poisonwood Bible" is a FABULOUS book!!! hmmm... i should read it again (i don't usually do that. once and i'm done.)
a $100 shopping spree at B&N!?!!! how wonderfully delicious. i would be in heaven!
i love this photo. in fact, i really like your eye... you capture some awesome images.
grateful friday is such a wonderful thing to do for your soul. i love reading your grateful lists.
happy new year, my friend!
xoxoxo

7:33 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Such great books you've listed. I've read some and want to read others. I'm excited about a new year of discovering books.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

Didn't you just love Bees?! I love that story. The Poisonwood Bible...I've read a lot of Kingsolver, but I consider Poisonwood her masterpiece...I've read it three times, I think. (Not that I love it or anything...) :) You listed many books I've loved...and some I'm embarrassed to say I've never read, including Mockingbird and Velveteen Rabbit. But then I came to reading late...as a child I read only when a school assignment forced me to. How very lucky you were to have family members who enjoyed reading enough to record themselves reading stories to you--what a gift! Fabulous list.

Happy New Year to you, Trey and Britton! Getting to know you has been a highlight of '05 for me. xoxo

10:03 AM  
Blogger Frankie said...

I also love books. There are so many fantastic choices here and some that I'll have to go check out. I love to read, and I love, as you've said, what loving books says about a person. The line you wrote about the books we choose to love and what it says about us as people is so insightful and wonderful. What a great way to sum up 2005. Have an AMAZING new year Michelle!!!

10:20 AM  
Blogger Living Part Deux said...

Oh, your list is soooo wonderful. And The Secret Life of Bees was my favorite 05 book for sure. I shook my head vigorously with many of your selections and, like Marily, realized there are some treasures I have not read. This next year is going to be filled with filling myself up with good books and good relationship. I'm thankful to have found you and joined your journey and had you join mine. All my best to you and your family!

11:31 AM  
Blogger Swirly said...

How wonderful! And I loved seeing that many of your favorite books are also mine. :)

11:43 AM  
Blogger Michelle Fry said...

"Peonies" Mary Oliver's New and Selected Poems Vol 1 is the best poem I have ever read. It is profoundly beautiful and makes me want to embrace life on those days when it's hard to do so. I too love books and am grateful for all the authors who have made my life richer.

11:55 AM  
Blogger kiki said...

i love a good list of books and i'm grateful you shared yours. i hope you have a fantabulous 2006.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Bethany said...

I love you list! I agree...it's so interesting to me other's favorite reads and why...and like you, I would have a hard time pinning them all down (there's just so many!)

I recieved a multitude of books for Christmas...I'm so excited to dive into them all! Have a blast at Barnes and Nobles! I love shopping for books!

Have a grand New Year's...happy, happy 2006!!

2:28 PM  
Blogger liz elayne said...

Oh yes books! Love this. So many good ones here. And others I need to discover. Some that are sitting on my bookshelf that I have not opened yet but am reminded once again to read them. Thank you.

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Toryssa said...

I also LOVE books. What a great list, so many good ones!

I'd forgotten Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. I loved those books!

9:16 AM  
Anonymous laurie said...

loved, loved your book list. i always wish i had never read the poisonwood bible when i hear that someone is reading it because i want to read it again like it's the first time! an all time fav. enjoy. also, i discovered a new, "suppose" to be a children's book this summer. The Pennderwick's. good. check it out.

6:03 PM  
Blogger mati rose said...

i just picked up gone with the wind for the first time! love it! great list! happy new year!

11:27 AM  

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