I've realized that I don't read hardly as much as I used to since I moved to the east coast and it bothers me. I feel like I just don't have time anymore, which I know is a very poor excuse, but it's partly true. Life is different out here. Busy, busy busy! But, I'm working on it. I'm already half-way through a book I started a few days ago and it feels good. I can feel the old dorky bookworm part of me coming back and I like it.
I always carry a book in my purse; it has been a must-do since I was 15 or so. I feel naked without one in there. Books are lovely and I can't get enough. My bookshelf here is so sad. I only brought a handful of books with me since my move out here was only supposed to be temporary, so I packed very light. The rest of my books are all in boxes in my friend's parents' basement back in Wisconsin. I miss them dearly. They're probably getting all moldy and stinky and it makes me feel bad. I hope they don't think I've abandoned them forever!
I'm dedicating this post to 5 of my favorite books. It's hard choosing only 5, but these are the ones that came to mind first, which obviously means they hold a special place in my heart, so, here we go!
1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
If you know me at all, you know that I have a serious obsession with Sylvia Plath. She was everything I strive to be as a writer. I could relate to her on a personal level, too, which always helps. She was a beautiful person, regardless of how crazy some people make her out to be. I love her. Visiting her grave in West Yorkshire is on my Bucket List. I WILL go there some day!
Anyhow, The Bell Jar is about a girl named Esther Greenwood who is struggling through her young life, just trying to BE. Reading this book was almost like reading my personal diary at times. Esther eventually gets put into a mental hospital, which mirrors Sylvia's time there. (The book is part fiction, part autobiographical.) It's interesting, heartbreaking, wonderful, smart, and everything in between. I highly suggest reading it if you're a fan of Plath's poetry, or if you've ever seen Girl, Interrupted and loved every minute of it.
2. Into The Wild by John Krakauer
Where do I even begin with this book? I've read it four times or so, and each time I learn something new, or find a new reason to fall in love with Christopher McCandless all over again. He was, by far, one of the most brilliant people I've ever had the pleasure to learn about. Jon Krakauer's writing is also phenomenal, which is another huge plus about this book. (I've also read Into Thin Air by Krakauer and thought it was incredible.)
Into The Wild includes a lot of Chris' actual writing from the journals that were found in the "Magic Bus" in Alaska, as well as letters he wrote to those he met on the road, and most of them brought tears to my eyes. He knew so much about life, and truly appreciated everything around him. I strongly believe everyone should read this book before they die, because it will change you in ways you never thought possible. (The movie is also a must-see! It's my favorite movie of all time!)
3. What Is The What by Dave Eggers
This is another book that will change you. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down. It's unbelievably good and after I read it, I don't think I shut up about it for months. It really stuck with me and I became obsessed with the Lost Boys and Sudan and did all of this crazy research and watched documentaries and followed Achak's blog and received emails about his foundation, etc. I couldn't get enough!
It's a true story about the life of a Sudanese refugee. He travels from Marial Bai, to Ethiopia, to Kakuma, to Kenya, and finally to the United States. His journey is breathtaking and he has survived more hardships than most people can even comprehend. What I found most interesting about the book, was the way he spoke about his life in Africa compared to his life in the states. It really opened my eyes to the way we live here. He spoke of how lonely he felt here, and of how much he worked just to survive, and of how tired he was, and how sad everyone seemed here, and how bizarre it is for most people to have a stranger simply say "hello" to them. He admitted to wishing he could be back in Africa at times, walking with the line of other boys in the dark, starving, exhausted, and afraid, simply because he at least felt a part of something then, and he wasn't as lonely as he felt here.
It's a really, really great read, so go read it! Right now!
4. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
This is definitely one of the most important books I've ever read. I consider myself somewhat of a Jonathan Safran Foer enthusiast, so when he came out with this book, I was completely and utterly overjoyed. I wanted to buy copies for everyone. I posted paragraphs from the book everywhere I could. I couldn't stop talking about it. I watched endless Jonathan Safran Foer interviews on YouTube. I wanted to marry him. No joke.
Anyway, the book goes in depth mostly about factory farming and how it's ruining everything. It's definitely not a book that only vegetarians would enjoy, either. It's unbiased and strictly facts. He interviews factory farm workers, small farm owners, peta members, butchers, etc. It's really interesting and what I love most about it, is that it isn't just an informative book. It's a story, too. It's personal and heartwarming and I'm so in love with it. I really want to encourage you to read it because I know you'll like it!
My friend Shaun met Jonathan when he spoke at Google in 2010. He was in line to meet him and I was texting him, all shaky and frantic. Shaun told Jonathan that he had a friend in Wisconsin who wanted to marry him. I was told he laughed. And because Shaun is so sweet, he got a book signed for me! I also got a shirt! It was amazing, and I am forever grateful. :)
5. The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer
I first read this book when I was 14. I picked it up by chance at a thrift store in Kenosha, WI. I remember having one of those moments where I needed a book, any book. This was the one I happened to grab, and I'm so glad I did!
It's a very simple story, which is one of the many things I love about it, but it's also a story of growth, change, forgiveness, love, loss and all the good & bad in between. I can't even count how many times I've read it. My copy is all broken and worn and all of the pages are highlighted and underlined and circled. Ann Packer writes with such feeling, and can describe things so perfectly and flawlessly. It's almost like watching a movie.
The main character reminded me so much of myself, and continues to do so to this day. I still have moments where I think of Carrie, and imagine I'm doing something similar to what she would have done in the book.
This novel means so much to me, and I don't know any other book that I've felt such a connection with, for so long. It's not only because I was so young when I first read it, but it's also because I've grown with it, and I think it takes a special kind of book to be able to make you feel like you can return to it at any given time and still feel like you're living it, and learning from it, regardless of how old you are.
That's the beautiful thing about books. No matter how much you change as a person, those pages never do, and they're always there for you when you need them most. ♥
"There is no friend as loyal as a book." - Ernest Hemmingway