Giveaway :: Surprise Bag of Sunshine!

Thursday, September 11, 2014



There has been this meme making the Facebook rounds. I’m sure you’ve seen it. If you haven’t (or if you aren’t on FB) it goes something like this:

 List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They do not have to be the “right” books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. 

While I didn’t do the post on FB right away, I have been thinking about this ever since. We all have our list, don’t we? Mine changes, that’s for sure. Ask me throughout the year and my list will inevitably be different. But one thing remains: words have the power to change, to heal, to remind, to forgive, to move us somewhere we’ve never been. My favorite books are the ones that feel like a security blanket to me. They remind me who I am, what is inside me. I’m going to list my ten for you (and remember, this is off the cuff. Please no judgment!)

  1. Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself – Judy Blume
  2. The Temple of My Familiar – Alice Walker
  3. A Trip to the Stars – Nicholas Christopher
  4. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  5. Little Children – Tom Perrota
  6. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
  7. Geek Love – Katherine Dunn
  8. The Woman Warrior – Maxine Hong Kingston
  9. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
  10. The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

Oh, man. That was hard. There are so, so many other books that are now springing to mind because isn’t that what great literature does? Even bad literature does that. To be perfectly honest, my guilty pleasure reading (the kind of books I read when I don’t have the energy to pay too much attention or I want something I can finish quickly so that I can feel like I accomplished something) is of the mass-produced paperback variety. Mysteries, thrillers, detective novels. I inhale them. Those are my standard late night reading because often they are formulaic enough to be of comfort.

One of you lucky birds is going to get a little care package from me; a bag of sunshine, if you will. You have until Thursday, September 18th. All you have to do is tell us:

What book has had the greatest impact on you personally?

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  1. 1
    Chryselle says:

    Joan Didion’s ‘A Year of Magical Thinking’ has remained with me long after the last page was turned. This is a memoir of the months after her beloved husband died and her daughter was ill. Didion’s haunting account of grief, love and loss is so beautiful to read. A classic.

  2. 2
    Juliet Farmer says:

    To Kill a Mockingbird–I reread it every few years, and love it every single time–the message, the prose, the characters. 

  3. 3
    Heidi says:

    Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson is a book I love to re-read. A book from my childhood that I look forward to reading with my daughter is Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the rest of that series.

  4. 4
    Rinny says:

    I love to read; always have. When I was 10, I read The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. I read it so often that by the time I was 13, the binding had completely withered away. It’s a young adult book about a 13 year old girl who makes the voyage from England to the Boston area on a ship as the only passenger. She learns about class, racism, adventure, and about how to be a good person. It’s a wonderful book – at a young age, I felt empowered, that no regardless of my gender, I can make a difference. From time to time, I pick that book up and re-read it (even though it’s falling apart and I may be “too old” for it)…its message still resonates today.

  5. 5
    Pumpernickel says:

    Anne of Green Gables. Yes, it’s a “children’s” book but It has formed my imagination, artistic eye, love of nature and so much more. There is some sort of ethereal state of mind that goes along with reading an Anne book and even though I am more of a Diana than a Anne I am still mentally recharged for weeks after spending time with my tattered copy.

  6. 6
    Jenni Schaub says:

    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Until I read this book recently, I had completely forgotten how much a beautiful piece of prose could change the way you feel and breathe. I had been caught up in the world of YA and dystopian series full of action and grit. The Night Circus reminded me to breathe again, and imagine a beautiful world that I could escape to for just the night.

  7. 7
    sam says:

    The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  I received this book as a gift after going through a less than ideal situation.  I made a wall hanging out of the agreements and it hangs where all can see.  The agreements are simple enough for a child to understand yet can be very complex as we get older.  In short they are: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, and Always Do Your Best. 

  8. 8
    Kat says:

    Oh, The Places You’ll Go! – Dr. Seuss

  9. 9
    Michelle Murrish says:

    ‘The Chosen’ by Chiam Potok. 
    It’s an easy read, but the relationship between friend and families is something to which anyone can relate. It’s a great book to discuss with friends or at a book club.  

  10. 10
    Kim H. says:

    I would say The Lovely Bones, as I read it not long after my mother died and there was something about it that just brought me a great amount of comfort.

  11. 11
    Cindy says:

    Bossypants by Tina Fey. Her honesty with who she is, what she has been through and her ability to see humor through it all truly inspires me. And frankly, I can always use a good laugh!

  12. 12
    Susanna says:

    Funny, it’s the book series that first got me really excited about reading, Little House on the Prairie. I think it might be a main reason that I love history and the idea of primitive living and the reason behind my constant search for an old house to buy. 

  13. 13
    Jennifer says:

    I just finished Geek Love and loved it!

  14. 14
    Samantha S says:

    Oh man. This is the hardest question of all–I’m a literature grad student. I think I’d have to say John Webster’s 1623 play “The Duchess of Malfi,” because it’s the reason I am where I am today. I read it in college and subsequently decided to apply to grad school, write my first research project about it, study early modern literature, and it sparked the questions that drive my research. 

  15. 15
    Amie A says:

    Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block taught me to see my world through rose-colored glasses.  It is a  mood- elevating read, filled with a profusion of beautiful, magical description.   I still feel a defined kinship with the characters that is palpable, even all these years later.  As a result of the effect this book had (has) on me, I seek and find beauty and magic in everything… a glittery, silver star imbedded in the sidewolk, a broken keychain with the word HOPE shining up at me from the grocery store parking lot and even the whispers and belly laughs of the trees when the wind animates their branches.  

  16. 16
    Ellen L says:

    “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” Toni Morrisson. It taught me that there are others like me.

  17. 17
    Allison says:

    CS Lewis’ collection of essays – “The Weight of Glory” has been one of the most impactful books for me. The essays address a lot of different things, but I so greatly appreciate the perspective Lewis presents, and his ideas get me thinking and developing my own ideas as well.

  18. 18
    Nikki says:

    I love seeing what books matter to different people, and why! It was hard to pick THE ONE, but my mind kept coming back to The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. After 29 years of living a very narrow, suppressed life, Valancy decides to do and say exactly what she wants, and the whole world changes for her–it opens up in new and wonderful ways that far exceed her fantasy of living off in a blue castle in Spain. I love this book so much, my husband bought me a hardback copy off it because I kept talking about it. It’s a simple, old-fashioned story, but the way L.M. Montgomery writes makes it just beautiful. Valancy’s decision to speak her thoughts is so freeing that it has inspired me in my interactions (especially when I would naturally feel inhibited). I love being reminded of how the simple story of someone’s life is actually beautiful and (personally) epic.

  19. 19
    Lauren P says:

    My ‘To Read’ list just got a lot longer (thanks, fellow bright siders)!
    When I was 15 I read On the Beach by Nevil Shute. The book tells the story of a young family living in Australia after World War III. The Australians are the only remaining survivors of the nuclear war, but face certain death as the poisonous chemicals invade their air. The story had a significant impact on my (young and not yet fully developed) view of war and humanity. I learned that in trying to destroy others, we only destroy ourselves. Our planet and the people and animals who populate it deserve better care than what we often give. In order to survive we have to start seeing everyone and everything as together, not separate.

  20. 20
    Chelsea W says:

    It would probably be Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo. I read it right around the same time my brother was doing his first tour in Iraq, and it made a huge impression on me and my thoughts of war.

  21. 21
    Erin says:

    Watership Down by Richard Adams. I named my dog Fiver and (just like the Fiver in the book saves his fellow rabbits) he’s saved my life a few times.

  22. 22
    Trisha says:

    Oh man, narrowing it down to just one is so hard. There are so many great books that have impacted me in different ways. There are books that helped form who I am when I was a teen like 1984 or Mists of Avalon. Then there are books that were like a punch in the gut (in the best possible way), like coming home, as an adult, like How to Be A Woman or Ocean at the End of the Lane. 

    If I have to pick just one though, I’d pick American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It echoed my belief structures, while giving me a new way to look at the world. It made me really think about what I believe, and what sort of person I am. 

  23. 23
    ren says:

    does a collected works volume count? because “the riverside shakespeare” changed my life. i had read a little bit of shakespeare in high school, but once i got to college, that book gave me so much. i had a new understanding of what i wanted to study, how to study it and of…everything. there’s a reason that he’s someone we still study, and it really made a difference in how i looked at the world.

  24. 24
    Sparrow says:

    Dude. One? Sigh…I have been avoiding this on Facebook because it hurts my brain. But lately I have been thinking a lot about Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. I read it when I first got married and it was my first glimpse into after “happily ever after” from within the marriage institution and it just impressed how gentle we have to be with our spouses as both individuals change and how quickly life can change. A beautiful read. I’ll change my mind the minute I post this, but I loved this book and it changed me. I love literature so much. More than anything, it moves and inspires, and enlightens me.

  25. 25
    Emma L says:

    Kevin Greene’s book “The Archaeology of the Roman Economy”. It showed me what I did not understand about the connection between the physical vestiges of the past and the lost civilization whose society I was so interested in, and instilled in me the belief that even now, 2,000 years later, we have tremendously important lessons to learn from the Romans. Reading that book in my first semester of university was a transformational experience and it changed my life forever, and the direction of my career. I am now an archaeologist and a researcher, and every day, I think of how important it is to honor those researchers and scientists before me who have paved the way for young scholars like me. Their scholarship enables me to do what I do, and has created a disciplinary framework that makes my contribution to society not only appear meaningful academically, but in fact BE meaningful, full stop. I am endlessly grateful that I picked up Dr. Greene’s book, and I still keep it on a separate shelf in my library, where it receives if not homage and honors, my daily gratitude.

  26. 26
    Kate B says:

    I have a hard time with these because I inevitably forget stuff. I will say that “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” had a profound effect on me. I knew it was assigned to read at some schools, but it wasn’t assigned at mine. I read it and enjoyed it and figured out that “school” books could be books that I actually liked, not just books I was forced to read. It took another year or so before I started liking the ones I was assigned, but that initial discovery felt like a tell breakthrough.

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