Posted by: jt | July 5, 2009

soothe me with your words

Given my ridiculous affinity for memes…well, Amber did it first. I blame her.

“This meme asks for a quick list of 15 books you’ve read that will always stick with you – list the first 15 you can recall in 15 minutes. Don’t take too long to think about it.”

In absolutely no order whatsoever…

  • A Murder for Her Majesty – Beth Hilgartner – I read this for the first time when I was nine. The protagonists are eleven, they’re smart, they’re sassy, and they’re self-sufficient. They’re also musicians and it’s historical fiction. And they take down the hypocritical authority figure. It really could have been written just for me.
  • Between the Bridge and the River – Craig Ferguson – I knew Craig was a little smartypants from devotedly following The Late Late Show, but this just proved it – in spades. It’s well-written, beautiful, funny, thoughtful, tongue-in-cheek…it’s Craig. Read it, dammit.
  • The Trial / Der Prozess – Franz Kafka – I was approaching the end of this book and didn’t really feel like I got it until one sentence made the entire novel coalesce for me. This book can be interpreted so many ways and some days, I swear, I am Joseph K. It pains me that Kafka wanted all his writing destroyed upon his death and it pains me that his friend didn’t follow his wishes. But I’m so, so grateful for it.
  • The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera – Reading this book felt like crawling inside the consciousness of the Prague Spring – the elation and jubilation, followed by bitter disappointment and disillusion. I really don’t like the way Kundera treats women (characters), but I can’t bring myself to stop reading him. And I’m yet to see anyone else come close to illustrating the yearning, desperation, and frustration of 20th century Central Europe.
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach – I remember the aesthetic of this book and the determination. Mostly, for me, it’s about aesthetics.
  • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins – Dr. Seuss – This was the longest book we had in our regular cycle of bedtime stories when I was a kid. It was my top choice, to stay up later. In retrospect, it’s all about othering and tolerance and typical Seussian brilliance. Geisel really was a genius.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee – Somehow I didn’t read this book until I was 27 years old and it pissed me off that I’d been deprived for so long. It might be the most perfect novel written, to date.
  • The Book of Esther – Yes, the one in The Bible – Esther was my hero as a kid. She was a kid, who kicked some serious ass. She outsmarted the adults and the scheming men to, oh, prevent the genocide of her people. Esther fucking rocked and I totally wanted to be like her.
  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories – Salman Rushdie – Again, with aesthetics. This book is all about the imagery for me. Yes, it’s Rushdie and there are 5 million layers and references I know I’m missing, but…it’s gorgeous and lush and decadent writing. Glorious.
  • The Giant Jam Sandwich – John Vernon Lord & Janet Burroway – This book has been read aloud so many times by so many members of my family, we can all recite portions of it at will. “‘What can we do?’ And they said, ‘Good question.’ But nobody had a good suggestion. The Bap the baker leaped to his feet, ‘Let’s make something good to eat!'”
  • The Long Winter – Laura Ingalls Wilder – Aesthetics yet again. I would physically get cold while reading this book. The story was so powerful for me – cold, hunger, desperation – I would read it curled up as tightly as I could under my comforter and take the tiniest nibbles off a piece of bread.

Is this more information about me than you should know?

  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen – I kind of hate that this makes the list, but that’s part of why it makes the list. I don’t want to like Jane Austen nearly as much as I do. But I do love Lizzie and, dammit, Mr. Darcy. The bastard. *sigh* Yes, I’m a fucking cliche. Shuddup.
  • The Devil Wears Prada – Lauren Weisberger – I was an executive assistant when this book came out and OH MY GOD THIS WAS MY LIFE. So. Damn. True.
  • Survivor: A Novel – Chuck Palahniuk – This was the first Palahniuk novel I read…and then read them all (to date) in the span of about 3 weeks. By the end, I was sort of ready to slit my wrists. Love this book though. Love them all.
  • The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde – I went into Micawber’s Books after my Palahniuk spree and told them what I’d done. The gayboys looked at me in horror, and led me to Jasper. This book is so hilariously brilliant, fresh, smart, and surprising. Fforde is a bibliophile’s dream and this is one where you know you’re missing countless inside jokes, but it’s totally worth it for the ones you catch.

It’s late. I’m caffeinated from watching fireworks with Palestinians, and I’m getting up at 5am to watch Roger in the Wimbledon final. I am so screwed.



  1. Johnathan Livingston Seagull was the 16th book I thought of. What a great book. ANd I have a signed copy! (Signed to my mom – Richard Bach did a book signing when she worked at the Book Corner in Augusta when the book was released.)

  2. WTF is the Book of Esther and why have I never heard of it?

  3. Somehow I’m just getting to comments on this…having a functional laptop would be helpful. Let me rephrase, having the funds to fix my laptop would be helpful. Perhaps in August, post-move.

    The Book of Esther is Old Testament – Bible and Torah. There’s actually a (minor) Jewish holiday celebrating how Esther saved the Jews from a pogrom that was instigated by Haman (the evil dude she outsmarts and outlasts).

    I haven’t read it in ages, but…she was my hero as a kid. I used to fret over how, if I ever had a daughter, I’d want to name her Esther, but I don’t really like the name. It was quite concerning.

  4. +1 for your use of the word “pogrom”

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